Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Christian? Hang onto your wallet

My daddy, who always carried his billfold in one of the breast pockets of his overalls, used to grab his chest sometimes when driving past business signs emblazoned with Bible verses and say, "If a guy tells you he's a Christian and you haven't asked, hang onto your wallet --- tight."

Not bad advice, and I kind of feel that way about, among others, Hobby Lobby, which won a notable Supreme Court case Monday; notable in the sense that the 5-4 decision established a precedent that publicly held corporations (and by implication sole proprietorships and partnerships) have religious rights, too. Those rights are limited at the moment to denying female employees access to company-sponsored insurance coverage for forms of contraception they disapprove of.

The contraceptive methods in question include so-called "morning after" pills and IUDs, both of which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in a uterus. Although often called "abortifacients," abortion-causing, they are not technically that. The notion behind the objection is that a free-floating fertilized egg is somehow a little person with a soul.

The subtext is that women, if their genitalia are not carefully monitored by men, will use them for some recreational  purpose --- rather than breeding.

In Hobby Lobby's case, some 13,000 employees --- many of them women --- are involved. Most likely the government --- taxpayers in general --- now will pick up the cost of services denied by the two employers (and perhaps others in the future). In other words, taxpayers in general will subsidize the religious convictions of some private businesses as we already do those of churches and their subsidiary business concerns.


Although the language of the ruling apparently is intended to be restrictive --- to contraceptives and not to medical procedures in general; to "closely held" corporations with a limited number of stockholders --- it's the "personhood" precedent that many worry about.

Not, by that way, that private businesses meddling with the reproductive organs of female employees isn't adequate cause for concern.

But some, including dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others, worry with a good deal of justification that "Christian" and perhaps other religiously-identified businesses now will assert their personhood and push to broaden the scope of religious exemptions; to establish judicially rights to discriminate against employees or customers on the basis, for example, of sexual orientation, race, religion and other factors.


I'm interested, too, in just exactly what a "Christian" business is --- and what sorts of hypocrisy hauling that concept into court will expose. Hobby Lobby, for example, announces quite often that it operates on "Biblical principles."

Others have pointed out, however, that nearly all Hobby Lobby merchandise is produced by impoverished Southeast Asian workers in unregulated factories in societies, such as China --- where abortion is a government service and a major tool used to enforce the nation's "one-child" policy.

Then there's the inconvenient fact that the corporation's investment portfolio includes some of the companies that manufacture the contraceptives it categorizes as "unchristian."

So apparently, in Hobby Lobby's case, Biblical principles are conditional --- imposed or not based upon how they affect the bottom line.

Trotting out "Christian" in a business setting is akin to planting a "Jesus" insignia on your rear bumper --- be prepared for heightened scrutiny.

Personally, I'll just keep avoiding so far as possible commercial firms that make a big deal of their religiosity, as I've done for years with Hobby Lobby --- and follow Daddy's advice and keep a firm grip on my wallet, too. I've been prepared since childhood to anticipate the worst from loudly-proclaiming Christians, and see no reason to change that policy now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Their 401 is not administered by them. it is managed by a fund manager that buys stock in a multitude of companies, based upon their earning capacity. with various types of birth control being widely available, even for free from some organizations, I find it ironic that some express their need for the convenience of being able to obtain it in the course of their normal routine. my contention is that with the ready availability of contraceptives, if I am being required to co share the cost of it through an insurance policy cost, or taxes, I'd prefer to be the reason for it's need. I take exception at someone demanding that I be financially involved in another's failure to practice self control or indiscretion for the sake of a minimal cost or inconvenience of one more shopping stop. a little intelligent abstinence works EVERY time.