We're known as a creative people. But until the other day we didn't realize how vigorously the Supreme Court practices this talent.
A decision by the court, or more accurately, a decision by a majority of the court consisting entirely of five conservative men, held that a corporation, Hobby Lobby, may deny its employees contraceptives as part of their health care packages. Federal law requires employers to include birth control in such packages.
An astonishing aspect of the decision was that the five found the corporation is a person having religious beliefs. Corporations long had been thought to be bloodless paper entities invented by lawyers to facilitate business and commerce. But by a feat of magic creativity, the five transfused into the corporation the religious beliefs of its owners. So, voila, we have a Catholic corporation that rejects birth control. It follows, says the majority, that, in exercising its belief, Hobby Lobby may refuse to supply birth control to its workers.
Of course, no law requires individuals, corporations or anyone else to violate their beliefs by using birth control. However, under the pretext of practicing their religion, employers are now empowered to impose their religious beliefs on others. What an irony it is in this matter! Catholic employers may now keep contraceptives from their workers while a large majority of U.S. Catholics use, or have used, birth control.
In a nation founded on the principle of separation of church and state, it is deeply disturbing that employers may now press their religious beliefs on others in defiance of federal law and to the detriment of their employees' health. Even more disturbing is the precedent this decision sets. Now, a pro-life pharmacist surely may refuse to fill a prescription for a contraceptive. Further, if the rationale of the "fab five" proliferates and predominates, we may contemplate that businesses, instead of operating as public accommodations, may well be able to turn away any customer who fails to meet their scriptural specifications.
One certainty can be drawn from all this -- elections do make a difference.
Bob Lowerre, Woodstock