SCOTUS rules in Hobby Lobby case: a summary and discussion

Cara Schulz —  July 3, 2014 — 177 Comments

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States [SCOTUS] ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that some for-profit employers with religious objections do not need to provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Wild Hunt breaks down the ruling and features commentary from Pagans from across the U.S.

Basics of the case
Under regulations written in 2012, after the ACA was passed in 2010, all employers with over 50 employees were mandated to provide female workers with no-cost access to twenty different kinds of FDA approved contraceptives. Male contraceptives, such as vasectomies, are not covered under the ACA. The regulations were immediately challenged by religious groups and non-profits who objected to paying for contraceptives. The Obama administration worked out a compromise where religious groups and non-profit corporations would not be forced to pay for contraceptives.  Women would still receive no-cost contraceptives, either paid for by the insurers or the government. It’s estimated that a third of Americans are not eligible for employer-provided, no-cost contraceptives.

In 2012 the families that own Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties filed suit to opt out of providing four of the twenty women’s contraceptives on religious grounds, citing the Clinton era 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). These four contraceptives include the morning after pill, Ella, IUD with progestin, and the copper IUD.

RFRA is a federal law that prohibits the government from imposing a substantial burden on a person’s ability to practice his religion unless that burden advances an important government interest and does so in the least restrictive way possible. The question on which SCOTUS was asked to rule was whether the contraceptive mandate burdened Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga Wood Specialties’ religious rights under RFRA. There are five steps to the legal test to check if any rights are being violated.

Person
The first, and publicly most contentious, hurdle was determining if Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation, is a “person” under RFRA. Corporate personhood has a long history in American law. The first mention of corporate personhood was the 1819 case Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward. In this case, corporations were ruled as persons so they can engage in contracts and be party to lawsuits. In the next almost 200 years, corporations have been ruled as persons with rights in matters ranging from protection from illegal search and seizure; to free speech; to the right to own property. Yet corporations do not have all the same protections and rights as individuals.

In the Hobby Lobby ruling, Justice Samuel Alito emphasized that corporate personhood falls in line with historical precedence. It’s not really about faceless corporations; it’s about the individual people who own the corporations. He states, “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends….When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.”

Yet a stronger case exists in the The Dictionary Act of 1871, which set the definitions of words unless a law specifically defines them another way. The Dictionary Act says “the words ‘person’ and ‘whoever’ include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” RFRA did not spell out another definition of the word person so the meaning is defined by the Dictionary Act.

Practice his religion
The next question that needed to be answered was: Can corporations practice a religion? They can’t go to a house of worship, nor can they pray. Yet the government and courts have acknowledged in the past that non-profit and for-profit corporations can exercise religion. In the case of for-profit corporations, they can have a mission other than making a profit and many list charitable causes and actions in their mission statements. For legal experts who dispute the ruling, this is the area on which most of them focus. Although they agree that corporations can be people with rights, they do not feel freedom of religion should have been granted to for-profit corporations.

Substantial Burden
Hobby Lobby had to demonstrate that complying with the contraceptive mandate would be a ‘substantial burden.’ The company said the mandate could add as much as $475 million in costs and would require the company to go against its religious beliefs.  Despite medical evidence, Hobby Lobby contends that the four types of contraceptives cause the abortion of fertilized eggs.

For this legal test it didn’t matter if Hobby Lobby’s beliefs are correct. The court wasn’t to pass judgment on the reasonableness of its beliefs, just to ascertain if the beliefs were sincere. The court believed Hobby Lobby was sincere in its religious beliefs and that there was a substantial burden placed on those beliefs by the contraceptive mandate.

Important Government Interest
SCOTUS only addressed this in passing. The justices assumed that the government has valid and important reasons for requiring employers to provide their female employees with no-cost birth control.

Least Restrictive Way Possible
If the government does have an important interest in mandating employers pay for contraceptives for their female employees, is that enough? Under RFRA the answer is no. The government must choose the method which is the least restrictive on religious rights.

The court noted that the government already has another way of ensuring women receive no-cost birth control – the same method it proposed and uses for non-profit corporations. Under the compromise to the contraceptive mandate, non-profit corporations do not have to pay for contraceptives for their employees; yet women still receive them at no cost. The insurer or the government pays for them. SCOTUS decided that the government could do the same for employees of for-profit corporations.

Unintended consequences
The court took pains to note that the case was not to be considered a slippery slope and that it was very limited in nature. It only applies to “closely held” corporations where a family owns the company and is actively managing the operation. They also said that the ruling doesn’t give corporations the right to avoid paying for things like vaccines or blood transfusions; nor can they racially discriminate in their hiring practices. Justice Kennedy, who agreed with both the majority’s reasoning and its result, even wrote in his concurring opinion that this decision is “a ticket for one day only.”

But is it? In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ginsberg said that this could open the floodgates to future cases on any procedure to which an employer objected on religious grounds, and all cases would now need to be reviewed under the RFRA “substantial burden” test. Another concern was if GLBT discrimination would be allowed since sexual orientation is not a federally recognized protected class. The dissenting justices disagreed that Hobby Lobby could practice its religion and felt the majority went too far in granting rights to groups that should be reserved for individuals.

Ginsberg’s position of dissent could come back to haunt her. When Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion which struck down the Defense of Marriage Ac (DOMA)t, he said this ruling shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Justice Scalia wrote a scathing dissent saying the majority opinion did exactly that. Lower courts, when striking down state gay marriage bans, used Scalia’s dissent as justification. Ginsberg’s dissent could be used in exactly the same way.

Now that we’ve looked at the case and heard from the justices, we wanted to give Pagans from around the U.S. a chance to sound off about the SCOTUS decision.

Pagans sound off on ruling

Rev. Philipp J. Kessler [photo credit Phil Kessler]

Rev. Philipp J. Kessler [photo supplied by Phil Kessler]

I’m a man, I’m gay, but I am a person. SCOTUS is granted the legal right to make decisions that may have direct effect on me and others in the United States. When others in the United States seek to use those decision to have discriminatory effect on other citizens then they, in this case business, are over stepping their bounds. Fine, Hobby Lobby and certain other privately owned multi-million (multi-billion) dollar companies have won their case with SCOTUS and do not have to follow the Obamacare requirement to provide coverage for certain forms of contraceptives, including abortion. That does not open the doors, on moral and ethical grounds, for other companies to apply for religious exemptions when it comes to hiring and firing of people that they perceive to be gay, people that are of another national origin or race. Etc. Etc.   –  Rev. Philipp J. Kessler, from an op-ed on Scotus Reproductive Rights

Lauren Snow [photo supplied by Lauren Snow]

Lauren Snow [photo supplied by Lauren Snow]

I’m not just freaked out here because I’m a woman. I’m also freaked out about this – perhaps more so – because I am not a Christian.

I consider myself a member of earth-based religion. (Or, perhaps more accurately, Universe-based religion)… I am devout in my relationship with divinity. I am passionate about interfaith work, as I see that the more differing faith practices are understood between people, the more we can sense a common thread of unfolding love unifying them together.

Here’s the thing. Conservative government officials keep saying they’re ruling in favor of “religious liberty”, but they’re not. They’re ruling in favor of Christian supremacy. And it scares me deeply. How can you shout “religious liberty” while forgetting about the religious liberty of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Humanists, Agnostics, and Atheists? Are we not Americans? Are our faiths less “legitimate”? Have we, along with women, been banished from legitimacy as second-class citizens? Where is this slippery slope headed?

Ruth Ginsburg said, “The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.” – Lauren Snow

 

Victory White [photo supplied by Victory White]

Victory White [photo supplied by Victory White]

Although I am addressing this as a Pagan, I feel very strongly that the religious reference to this case is masking the more important issues that are secular. I’ll address one of these here; it is important to understand the way health insurance works. For years people, including the news media, have blamed health insurance providers for every rejected medication or treatment option. We have all been led to believe that it was completely the insurance companies who decided which medications they covered and which they did not. This is not entirely true, I learned while working at one of the largest prescription providers in the US, that the formularies which we all go through whenever our doctor prescribes a new medication, are a negotiated compromise between our employers and the insurance provider they choose. How this is affected by the Hobby Lobby decision is to me more a potential problem than any religious connotations. With this decision the SCOTUS has opened the door for employers who object or who don’t feel like paying for any category of drugs for “religious” or other moral objections they want to impose. That to me is the main danger of this decision and the precedence it sets….

…The real problems of affordable health care have been hijacked by politics, religion and sexism; and meanwhile people die every day who might have lived had they been able to afford the appropriate care in a timely fashion. All this media driven miss-direction drives the profits for drug companies, insurance companies higher and we all come out the poorer for it as people and as a society. The main reason I am upset about this decision is that using religion inserts a huge amount of emotion in a subject that has already saturated with too much emotion and not enough logical thought. I ask myself how Socrates would look at this and what questions would he prod us to think about? Victory White

 

Anne Hatzakis [photo from Anne's blog]

Anne Hatzakis [photo from Anne’s blog]

Religious beliefs about things vary. And as a corporate “person” cannot actively participate in actual religious activities, I have trouble with the idea that the corporation’s “religious beliefs” should be able to trump mine — especially when their religious beliefs are not supported by actual science and only target insurance items that one sex utilizes while allowing things for the other sex.

Hellenic Polytheism, in my opinion, is a faith tradition that actively allows for equality of the sexes in modern society. Although the Gods and Goddesses fulfill different roles, there is no such thing as a “weak” goddess in our faith, and there is no need to “control” what those goddesses do — something that this ruling seems to do for women in our society. This ruling seems to be more about controlling a woman’s ability to manage her own life in accordance with HER religious beliefs than it is about anything else. And THAT is something that I cannot agree with. –  Anne Hatzakis

 

Kayla Loy [photo supplied by Kayla Loy]

Kayla Loy [photo supplied by Kayla Loy]

As a Pagan and a Libertarian I am tickled pink about the Hobby Lobby ruling. I find the Affordable Care Act to be just another way for government to be involved in my life. It is a terrible law, and anything that is poking holes in it is fine by me. Also, if you are really that tore up about your employer not paying for your birth control, drop the $30 a month out of your own pocket, and buy it yourself. – Kayla Loy

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Robert Anthony Parobechek [photo supplied by Robert Parobechek]

Robert Anthony Parobechek [photo supplied by Robert Parobechek]

This country is run by corporations… simple enough. The main way the government keeps people complacent about it is with organized religion and its flagrant endorsement of it. Bust your ass to keep the corporate elite because it is part of God’s plan… here is the problem. There is no God, intellectuals who know what is really going on (meaning the smart people ) cannot stand this government. So it is OK for one company to deny someone health coverage for this religious belief and that…. what happens if a Muslim company wants to do it because it violates sharia law… like denying a woman the right to see a doctor after she was beaten by her husband? Should the supreme court uphold that too? Religion belongs in private institutions and out of the government period. Frankly the men on the Supreme Court are traitors for not doing their jobs properly in my book!  – Robert Anthony Parobechek

Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.
  • Derek Bionelli

    The issues where touched on by not expanded. If people were allowed to buy their own policies instead of this crazy set up we have tired to your job, consumers would have access to price and the free market would kick in. This demand that companies pick a plan and pay for it hurts the individual, drives DOWN income and puts a business in a situation that is not their main focus. In addition, as a free person I can go and purchase a soda, plan B ect…no one is stopping me from doing that. I could not demand that you pay for my soda, and I don’t see why you should be demanding I pay for your plan B. As a free person, go out and do it. You are only stopping yourself. Why do you need someone else to hold your hand?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Derek, you and I are on opposite sides of most of the points you make here, but can we agree that granting soulless corporations religious rights is a much slipperier slope than the majority seems to think?

    • kenofken

      The free market idea is a crock, at least in this context. The health care market is not free. It is completely rigged, and a lone person has zero leverage to negotiate anything. There is absolutely no transparency to the pricing of services. The supply of services is maintained at an artificial level of scarcity through medieval guild like systems.

      There is no competition which acts as a force to lower prices and enable consumers. We are held captive to the highest drug prices on the planet. You can’t legally or easily shop around overseas. If our drug companies decide they want $1,000 a month, or $1,000 a day for pills (yes there really are treatments that expensive), you got two choices: come up with it or croak.

      Why do we need someone to “hold our hand” in the healthcare market? Because our government and health care industries are presently holding our hands behind our back, robbing us blind and leaving us to die.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    This decision privileges those who are already privileged. That seems to be a touchstone of the four consistently conservative justices.

  • Must be nice to write this off, as some do, as merely disemboweling the Affordable Care Act. No worries at all, apparently, about giving religious horses their head — since this morning there is news that Obama has been asked to allow religious exceptions to discrimination against gays and lesbians on religious grounds — to show “deference to religious prerogatives”, yeah, sure. No worries. As a humanist, a pagan, a feminist — I find the entire thing chilling in the extreme. I’ve already been told to stop castigating “good Christians” even though I see them celebrating in the streets. Frankly, it reminds of those scolded for castigating “good Germans” after WWII. We may not have foresight, but I’d think we could consider hindsight as a warning. (Herlander Walking & Experiential Pagan)

  • Lamyka L.

    As far as I can tell this ruling is being toughted it is a big win for the religious right but honestly it’s very very specific. It does not allow for four specific forms of contraception to be paid for by these “closely held” companies; take that as you will.

    I think the biggest problem people have with this ruling is that it insults the spirit of the Law. On a sidenote doesn’t anyone think it’s a little bit weird that the employer is being given almost parent or owner-like status over their employees?? What chills me the most is that this reinforces the societal entitlement and ownership of others–aka, you get me my coffee so I can treat you like dirt, as a customer I pay you therefore you are my servant, I am your employer you will do whatever I say because I pay you. THIS is my problem with this ruling, one of anyways.

    • Bianca Bradley

      They aren’t being given parent or owner like anything over their employees. They aren’t entitled through Hippa to know what the employee is doing at the doctor, the insurance just wont’ pay for what the company has been given through SCOTUS the exemption.

      The lower courts may have used the dissenting opinion, but I bet when it goes to SCOTUS, I wonder if it will stand.

      • kenofken

        The entire premise of the so-called “pro-life” movement is that women are mentally and morally unfit to make reproductive decisions for themselves and that men, and society, should assume a parental oversight of them.

        You can see this in the laws they pass or try to pass to outlaw abortion by increments. They mandate waiting periods and graphic counseling sessions/ultrasounds. Virginia tried to pass a law that would have subjected women to medically supervised rape in the guise of mandatory transvaginal ultrasound probes before they could obtain an abortion.

        • Bianca Bradley

          The laws they are trying to pass aren’t parental. It’s because they are very pro life. They are using what they can to stop something they are very opposed to.The pendulum will shift Pro choice movement will have to be more adaptable. This is akin to PETA doing everything they can to outlaw furs. Us vs Them only polarizes this country and is doing a lot of harm.

          • Deborah Bender

            I recognize that some people sincerely believe that abortion is murder, just as some animal rights activists believe meat is murder. I am sure they both think their struggles are like the slavery abolition movement in 1850.

            PETA would shut down every cattle ranch and dairy if they could and make it illegal to purchase meat, milk, eggs, or medicines developed through experimentation on animals. They don’t have the power to do so. I can agree with some of PETA’s critiques of how animals are treated (I do) and support some legislation that PETA favors, without wanting PETA’s entire program imposed on me and mine.

            Likewise, I deplore the number of abortions that are performed in this country but I also think that reducing women’s access to contraception as a solution to that is nuts. So do most other Americans.

            Unlike PETA, the political and religious organizations that oppose women having access to any form of contraception or abortion are having a lot of success. They are making birth control too expensive for ordinary women to afford and abortions difficult to get, by shutting down all the low cost women’s clinics with TRAP laws, especially in states with Republican controlled legislatures. Their rhetoric and belief systems are absolutist and they aren’t willing to compromise. Go talk to them about Us vs Them and see what reception you get. Some of them have murdered doctors who perform legal abortions. Some of them hail those assassins as heroes.

            In this country, religious pacifists are required to pay taxes that support the military, or they go to jail. No right is absolute when it comes into conflict with the rights of others.

          • Bianca Bradley

            They are having success within the scope of the laws. I HAVE talked to “them”. Unlike here we end up agreeing to disagree and I don’t get yelled at defending ‘bad behavior’. About half of my real life friends are Conservative Christians. Try again about that reception. One of those “Conservative Christians” was at the birth of my second child and defended my Pagan ass against her Parents.

            So if we want to argue us vs them, the ones I know exhibit far more respect and tolerance.

            Not only that but I am a proud American. I grew up as a military brat, where a whole variety of different people and politics were not different people but green. I take great exception, to if your not one of us, you are with them mentality. It’s understandable in war, it’s not on political opinions among adults.

            Yeah pacifists have to pay taxes. So do tea party Conservatives who don’t like social programs. So do strange Libertarians.

            Ok so Pro Choice is loosing in a few states but gaining in others. Welcome to the political process. If you are loosing, try another tactic but the guilt trip, isn’t working and won’t work. The Pro Life movement found another way, after they lost for decades.

          • Deborah Bender

            My father was career military. You and I are not totally on opposite sides about political strategy. Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote several years ago that she thinks Roe v. Wade did the movement to legalize abortion no favors, because it short circuited the process by which people in the states were being convinced to loosen or abolish restrictions, one state at a time. I watched that happening. Roe v. Wade hardened attitudes and gave the anti-choice people a rallying point.

            My mother told me how things were when she was young and abortion wasn’t legal anywhere in the U.S. My late mother, who was fifty years married and a homemaker, joined NOW and wore a NOW gold charm in the shape of a coat hanger as a necklace pendant specifically for the purpose of getting into conversations about abortion rights with checkout clerks and other women if they asked why she was wearing it. Mother told me this and I saw her do it; my mother was in her seventies at the time. That’s talking person to person.

            I think Justice Ginsberg is right. When people have deeply opposing moral convictions, If you can’t find a middle ground, it’s best to keep on trying to change their minds.

            I think what happened is that Brown v. Board of Education really was a last resort, because despite the Civil War, Reconstruction and the desegregation of the Army, large parts of the South were not going to give Negroes full rights of citizenship except at the point of a Federal gun barrel. Roe v. Wade came after. The right to an abortion did not need an immediate federal remedy. It was being worked out in the states and should have been left to cook there a while until a national standard emerged.

            I hope you did not mean to suggest, on Independence Day of all times, that people who disagree with you are unpatriotic. You don’t know me well enough to judge my love of country.

          • Bianca Bradley

            If I”m going to call you unpatriotic, I’ll do so. I don’t do the whole subtle inferring stuff. This is why I wrote what I wrote: “Go talk to them about Us vs Them and see what reception you get. Some of them have murdered doctors who perform legal abortions. Some of them hail those assassins as heroes.”

            Sometimes I agree with Ginsburg, sometimes Scalia or Alito have good points. I’m probably closer to Kennedy and am a fence sitter.

          • Deborah Bender

            Fair enough.

          • Jennifer Locke

            Respectfully, Bianca, to “lose in a few states” is to profoundly change the lives of people who do not wish it to be so. A pregnant teen in my state gets to go back to school and hang with her friends next week, while a pregnant teen in another state has to quit school and forgo any future plans she might have had. Simplistic, maybe, but true in far too many cases.

            And since we’re so off the topic of HL anyway, hasn’t the earth reached its carrying capacity? Do we really need more unintended births? Do you never complain about traffic or parking or the line at the ladies’ room?

          • Bianca Bradley

            In what state does the pregnant teen have to leave school? Also plenty of people go on with their life with GED’s vs highschool degrees.

            I’m Pro Choice. I’m not Pro Eugenics.

          • Jennifer Locke

            I don’t know that dropping out of school is mandated anywhere, but it is a common result. BTW, the GED is viewed as inferior to a diploma, rightly or wrongly.

            OK, the traffic comment was flippant but there truly is a limit to how many people the earth or our country can support (just bring up immigration at a party to get an assessment on that one). Bringing unwanted children into the world is folly and bearing large numbers of children is irresponsible, but I’d never advocate mandatory sterilization. It’s none of my, the employer’s or the government’s business.

          • kenofken

            It is “Us vs Them” at some level. The religious right and most pagans, and certainly this one, hold radically incompatible and irreconcilable views on a number of issues and how those views should legally order our society. That’s not antagonism. That’s reality.

            It has nothing to do with hating “Christians” in the aggregate or even personally. The fact that some of them are very nice folks one-on-one has nothing to do with anything. Most of the white supremacists and outright Neo-Nazis I met over the years were, on an outward personal level, very affable folks. That’s great, but that doesn’t mean we could just “agree to disagree” on that One Thing.

            I support the right of fundamentalist/political Christianists to advocate their position in politics, law and cultural persuasion – every legal avenue available to any citizen. I expect no less of them. At the same time, their views and their agenda are morally and personally repugnant to me, and they can expect that I will work against their agenda at every turn and with every fiber of my being.

            I also take them seriously when they say they mean to inflict their most extreme agendas upon us. I take them seriously because they have demonstrated in word and action that they are sincere about accomplishing these things, sooner or later. For some reason, you seem bent on trying to minimize their agenda and pass it off as Pagan/anti-Christian hysteria.

            Whether you’re Pagan, Christian or None of the Above, I can’t quite figure out your interest in trying to airbrush their agenda. They’re owning it quite openly and most of the rest of us are taking it seriously because they have demonstrated themselves to be serious opponents.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I don’t find what many of them advocate to be all that hand waving serious or something to get bent out of shape about. The slippery slope you guys are projecting just doesn’t seem to happen.

            I take them seriously as I do any group advocating agendas. Their agenda is no worse than the NRA or Greenpeace’s, or the Unions. It isn’t airbrushing it’s understanding that they aren’t an enemy but Americans with different views.

            Comparing White Supremacists to Christians, seems a bit much don’t you think?

          • kenofken

            “I don’t find what many of them advocate to be all that hand waving serious or something to get bent out of shape about.”………

            All I can say about that is that we have very different set points about what is worth getting bent out of shape about. From where I sit, the slippery slope of Christian dominionism is not some fanciful thing which might happen in the distant future.

            It has happened at every instance in which they have had the political ability to make it happen. I happen to think policies – their policies, which imprisoned gays and lesbians until Lawrence v Thomas is worth getting bent out of shape about. I think DADT, which destroyed the careers of countless service men and women simply for being gay, was worth getting bent out of shape about.

            The decade long campaign orchestrated by conservative Christians to deny proper burial honors to pagan veterans? – kinda troubled me, and several others in the community. I found the Virginia ultrasound bill, which sought to legally mandate rape as a tool to dissuade women from exercising their legal choice of abortion, was was worth getting bent out of shape about. Rape, and especially government sanctioned rape, bends me out of shape, shrill priss that I am.

            Are Christianity and white supremacy inherently equivalent? No. The moral reasoning, rhetoric and tactics of the anti-same sex marriage movement are, however, exactly the same as those of Jim Crow racism.

          • Bianca Bradley

            DADT was put in place by Clinton, not some Christian Domionist. Having any sex that isn’t missionary goes against the UCMJ(yeah that includes blowjobs) but was used for Gay servicemen. You blame Christians but it wasn’t just Christian Dominonists. It wasn’t until recently that the military was ok with Gay military people. How do I know this, arguing about it on mil.com

            Decade long campaign to deny Pagan burial services, was it by Conservative Christians or bureaucratic Veterans Administrators? I don’t think anyone would argue the VA needs a clean up, and a kick in the arse, whether they are a Conservative Christian vet or an Atheist vet.

            Lawrence vs Texas is one of those SCOTUS rulings I’m glad that Roberts wasn’t the majority. However it needed to have people imprisoned to bring it up to SCOTUS, because it was a fourth amendment issue. It was an old blue law that was being used to hurt people, and the separation of powers WORKED in this case, which is WHY I am not that concerned.

            The anti Gay marriage people are not the same people as the White Supremacists bigots. It is so easy to ignore what they say, by painting them that way. Then you don’t have to bother to listen to their concerns. Unfortunately you are taking people, who used to be on the LGBT side and turning them into bigots to. Not something I agree with at all.

          • kenofken

            Oh, well, now I know the Christian Right had nothing to do with any of this, despite their laying claim to it and raising millions of dollars to pursue these things. They just happened to be in the neighborhood when it all went down and got a bad rap.

            It must have been Clinton, or bureaucrats acting in isolation, or punk kids out on a drunken lark or something. Thanks for clearing that up. I feel so much better. It’s OK folks, we’ve nothing to fear at all from the religious right. It was all a big misunderstanding on our part. I bet we’ll all have a good belly laugh about it next year at PSG, when Pat Robertson and David Barton join the drum circle and whoop it up at a same-sex handfasting!

          • Bianca Bradley

            Where is the Dominist Christians in this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_ask,_don't_tell

            Ironic that the uber Conservative argued for open service whereas Barny Frank did not.

            Here again, you point at Dominist Christians when nope it’s the Va bureaucracy. Yet you are getting sarcastic at me for pointing it out. http://www.medicalcorpse.com/pentacle.html

          • kenofken

            Incredible. Your entire online presence as a pagan consists of apple polishing for Christian fundamentalists. But you’re not one of them just trolling here or anything…I do give you credit for mastery of a core skill of propaganda: If you’re going to tell a lie, tell it big, tell it without flinching and never, ever, let them get you off message. You’re the Potempkin Village tour guide for evangelical America. “Everything’s fine here folks. Everyone is happy.”

          • Bianca Bradley

            I give you two links, asking you to show me where the big evil Christians are and now I’m lying?!!!

            DADT was created by Clinton, not Robertson. The Pagan VA headstone thing, was about VA bureaucracy not Robertson. Oh and the scandal is the VA would not PAY for the headstone to have a star inscribed in it, why, because the symbol wasn’t 86 years old nor historical. The family could have paid for it themselves and it would have been ok. I know because I read the VA site at the time. Instead they took it to SCOTUS who ruled in the family’s favor.

            Your the one saying these are proof of Christian Dominonists, and yet when I show you two links you won’t or can’t show that big meany Christians. And I’m the liar?

            edited the word showing in the above paragraph to the word saying.

          • kenofken

            Liar is too strong of a word. I would say either truly ignorant of the circumstances and context of DADT and the headstone issue, or else you’re willfully ignoring those facts to spin the issue. My guess is the latter.

            DADT was signed by Clinton, yes. He wanted to end the service ban on LGBT and was forced into the “compromise” by overwhelming opposition which was, and is, essentially 100% driven by evangelical and conservative Catholic Christianity. DADT, and the subsequent witch hunt culture which ended the careers of more than 13,000 service men and women, would not have happened but for political Christianity. There is simply no way to discount or blur that connection except through the “black is white, night is day” revisionism you employ.

            Again, with the headstone issue, you’re simply spinning the facts or don’t know what you’re talking about. I was involved in that fray for several years and friends with people who were deeply involved in the litigation.

            That conflict was in no way driven by bureaucrats acting in isolation who simply were unfamiliar with the pentacle symbol. Our victory did not come through a SCOTUS ruling. It came in a settlement, which the government was eager to sign because pre-trial discovery found clear proof that the denials were motivated by religious and political favoritism, by and on behalf of evangelical Christians. I quote this directly from this very blog on the date of Jan. 31, 2012.

            “Lawyers familiar with the case said that some documents suggested the VA had political motives for rejecting the pentacle … During his first campaign for president, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ in 1999 that he was opposed to Wiccan soldiers practicing their faith at Fort Hood, Tex. ‘I don’t think witchcraft is a religion, and I wish the military would take another look at this and decide against it,’ he said. Lynn, of Americans United, said references to Bush’s remarks appeared in memos and e-mails within the VA. ‘One of the saddest things is to learn that this wasn’t just a bureaucratic nightmare, there was a certain amount of bigotry,’ he said. ‘The president’s wishes were interpreted at a pretty high level. . . . It became a political judgment, not a constitutional judgment.’”

          • Bianca Bradley

            http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/juneweb-only/123-12.0.html?paging=off Date 2006 I have also read while googling and most of the info seems to be in Pagan sites, forums from Georgia hunting, who have said the soldier died, let him have what he wants, even if we disagree with the faith.

            Leaked emails do not a Christian conspiracy make. They settled, because they aren’t stupid, Regardless of whether or not Bush thinks it’s a valid religion and frankly I never had an issue with his point of view, he’s entitled to his opinion. It wasn’t meany Christian policies it was Veterans Admin bureaucracy. The VA is awash with scandals btw and is known to have red tape overload.

            Quit making it more than what it was.

            Hell Freepublic, who are so Conservative it’s not funny also say let him have what he wants. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1660708/posts

            Out of pages and pages of googling, whether or not the va denied it due to religious discrimination I have yet to see one unbiased source say so. They all point out the VA symbols of approval had to do with historic connections.

          • kenofken

            Barry Lynn’s actions and his motivations give his word much higher credibility to me and those who worked on the issue than does yours. Americans United won justice for us.

            You’ve done bupkiss, and attempt to ridicule and de-legitimize our struggles at every turn.

            In addition, I know people who personally sifted through those discovery papers. Lynn’s description of the case also comports with the entire history and factual trail of the case over nine years. None of what you have said does.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Your knowing people who sifted does not a fact make. It would be more credible if they were given to the press, they weren’t, or else I’d have seen them on Washington Post or others.

            There is however a history of the Va being bureaucratic butholes. You choose to ignore that to focus instead on some hidden Christian thing.

            This wasn’t a Christian Dominist thing. Hell even the Christian Dominists were pulling for you. See the link for Christianity today, Free public and this.http://christianfighterpilot.com/blog/2006/08/17/a-wiccan-symbol-on-a-va-memorial/

          • Deborah Bender

            (written before kenofken’s reply posted)

            IIRC, when Clinton was running for President, he supported gays being allowed to serve openly in the military. DADT was not what he wanted. It was a compromise forced on him by Christians who believed homosexuality to be an evil perversion. Clinton was not in a good position to stand firm because of his own avoidance of military service. This is a matter of public record.

            I don’t usually attribute to malice what can be blamed on incompetence. The reasons for the long delay in the VA approving the pentacle symbol for gravestones in military cemeteries are not matters of public record. In the absence of a thoroughgoing FOIA investigation, they have to be inferred and will remain matters of opinion. Given that the VA had previously approved the religious symbols of a number of tiny Asian religious sects that no one has ever heard of, and given also that various politicians at the time were publicly opposing any recognition of rights for Wiccans in the military, I think that the long delay was religiously motivated and not merely bureaucratic indifference. YMMV.

            Requiring the government to pay for the symbols of some religions to be inscribed on the tombstones of veterans while requiring the families of the vets to pay for other religious symbols because they are not government approved is on the face of it an establishment of religion. One of the good results of the pentacle quest is that it led to reforms in the standards and procedures for getting additional symbols approved.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Those Asian religions likely had a longer historical proof then Wicca did. As for Clinton, he was the commander in chief of the military. Not only could he have stood firm, it was within his power to change the policy to let Gays openly serve and the Christians could not have done anything about it. So him saying he was forced in this compromise is bullcrap.

          • Deborah Bender

            He didn’t say so; that’s my evaluation of the politics of the time.

            Clinton deferred to the military establishment a lot. I attribute that partly to his lack of military experience, partly because it would have been easy to attack him as a draft dodger, and partly because his entire political strategy was to split the difference between what the liberal wing of the Democratic Party wanted and what the GOP wanted. I think Clinton believed that DADT would give gays serving in the military some privacy and did not foresee that it would be twisted to purge them.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I think it’s because Clinton was a Coward who had to put his finger up to see which way the wind was blowing on everything. Then again I dislike him immensely after black hawk down and mogadishu.

            I voted for him but i was young and stupid at the time.

            Oh I forgot a colossal lech. I cannot believe he is STILL defended by feminists today.

          • kenofken

            Do you realize the absurdity of what you’re saying? You’re saying on the one hand that “Christians had nothing to do with persecution of gays in the military. Clinton just didn’t have the backbone to do an end run around Congress.” Well, why would he have had to do that, if not for evangelical Christian intransigence? Who should he have stood up to, that was obstructing all decent and regular avenues for addressing it? Was it Roswell aliens? Mossad? a veto-proof majority of rogue ultraconservative Zoroastrians? No. It was evangelical Christians.

          • Bianca Bradley

            He was commander in chief. He had within his executive powers to let Gays serve openly.

          • kenofken

            Suspending their discharges would not have been the same as letting them serve openly. And again, why would he have had to invoke that level of executive authority to accomplish even an approximation of justice (which would have ended the minute he left office)?

          • Bianca Bradley

            Because it is within his authority to do so. If he wanted Gays to serve openly, he had the executive power. He chose not and instead chose DADT.

          • Deborah Bender

            Not just evangelical Christians. Most of the military brass said they were against it.

          • kenofken

            It was in no way within the purview of the president to unilaterally change the policy. It was embedded in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and through Defense Authorization Acts passed by Congress. Congress was also moving at the time to codify an absolute ban into law. The most Clinton, or Obama, could have done is to issue an executive order which would have suspended enforcement of the rules under some obscure emergency powers/”stop-loss”. It would have changed nothing beyond that president’s term and would have short circuited the impetus to deal with the issue properly.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Bill Clinton compromised on DADT because of electoral politics. He wanted a second term. The GOP passed DADT assuming he would veto it and they could hang it around his neck in the 1996 election. He signed it, pissed off part of his base but got re-elected. (Be careful what you wish for, it may get you.)

          • Jennifer Locke

            Oh, I don’t know they are very pro-life, Bianca. Conservatives’ antipathy toward the poor and universal access to health care belies that assertion. As the chant goes, “Blow your whistle, toot your horn! We love children ’til they’re born!”

          • Bianca Bradley

            That’s a viable critique.

    • Elysia

      Unfortunately, although it’s a specific ruling, it will have implications for all the cases that are currently pending in lower courts; including those which are seeking exemptions from all forms of birth control, not just the four that Hobby Lobby objected to. This will definitely have a sweeping effect because, as you read above, it’s all about whether this is putting too much of a burden on their religious beliefs, not the actual forms of contraception, nor what they actually do. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/hobby-lobby-case-myths-debunked

    • Jennifer Locke

      What I find troubling is that the court stated it was for contraception alone and nothing else. Why contraception? Are there no other medical issues that religious people object to? Had the Jehovah’s Witnesses filed the complaint, would some Americans not have their blood transfusions covered? Probably not. This is a ruling against only women, and is therefore discrimination.

      And yes, the employer ownership issue is indeed chilling.

  • JasonMankey

    This Roberts Court has a history of issuing “limited rulings” that are then used as precedent for larger decisions. This tactic was used to decimate the Voting Rights Act in 2013 using a “narrow decision” in 2009 as precedent. This is what will ultimately happen as the result of Monday’s decision.

    I take exception to the idea that “Also, if you are really that tore up about your employer not paying for your birth control, drop the $30 a month out of your own pocket, and buy it yourself.” because that’s completely dishonest. IUD’s, which were a part of this case, can cost up to 1000 dollars. And while thirty dollars a month doesn’t sound like that much of a burden, that’s 360 dollars a year, a substantial amount of money for a person making ten dollars an hour. Think about it this way, out of 160 hours of work a month (and this is supposing full time) three hours of that work just goes to pay for birth control.

    “Birth control pills” are also used for a whole host of medical uses, not just to prevent pregnancy. The issue is far more complex than many let on and shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s “$30 a month out of your own pocket.”

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      My inbox is already spewing appeals responding to efforts to apply this decision to permit discrimination against BGLTs on religious grounds.

    • Bianca Bradley

      That’s 30 bucks from a doctor, not from say family planning clinics or other areas where you can get it lower cost. That’s 30 bucks for non generic birth control.

      Also from my research the IUD is the cheapest to use long term. The implant of it would not be paid but the doctors visit likely would.

      • kenofken

        We have the highest drug prices on the planet in America, and it is the result of a massively corrupt and manipulated captive market.

        Generics are not, as many people assume, universally cheap. Brand name makers bribe manufactures not to produce generics after patents expire. There are fewer and fewer manufacturers and competition, and so it is not unusual at all for those remaining to jack up the price of generics five or ten times, and to gin up “shortages” of product, driving prices through the roof. This last problem is not particular to birth control. It affects really basic life saving drugs.

        Birth control drugs are not at all interchangeable, and they are not all $30. My wife’s is $60, generic. Another migraine med, which is generic and off-patent for decades, runs about $200 a month. The ingredients run, tops, 20 cents a pill. This is not a debate about some trivial sum of money. Family planning clinics are at best a patchwork fix to price and access issues. The religious right is fighting around the clock to eliminate them, and with some success in red states.

        Legally, we can evaluate the Hobby Lobby case as an isolated phenomenon, but not in the context of the culture war and landscape. The strategy of the religious right is to define Christian religion as legally privileged in every way and a law above the law in all matters. The goal of the “pro-life” movement, in its Catholic wing at least, is to de-legitimize and ultimately outlaw contraception for everyone, regardless of who is paying for it.

        The bishops and other movement leaders don’t like to trumpet that because it’s politically unrealistic in the short term, but it’s undeniably part of their long game.

      • Jennifer Locke

        No roadblock to contraception is acceptable. It is a legal, responsible, necessary and private health concern and, like all other health concerns, is not the business an employer or anyone who fancies themselves acting on “moral” grounds.

        • Bianca Bradley

          Scotus disagrees, in regards to private corporations. I can’t say I disagree with their decision. Also no one in any of the decisions is saying or ruling that women don’t have ACCESS to contraception, employers don’t have to PAY for it. There is a difference.

          • Crystal Hope Kendrick

            You’re being extremely obtuse. It absolutely DOES limit a woman’s access to contraception. You would have to be completely blind to the culture war going on for the better part of a century to come to any other conclusion. Not every woman can drop that 30 bucks a month, especially on the sh** wages Hobby Lobby pays and yes, right wingers have been incredibly successful in closjng down free women’s health clinics. In my area I had to drive over an hour to find one and that was years ago. I’m pretty sure it has long since been closed down. The only “women’s health clinic” near me is a christian operation that shames women into keeping pregnancies they don’t want and can’t afford through disinformation and outright lies they refer to as “science”.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Then provide better information.

            All of your arguments are Christians are icky, that isn’t an argument, that’s an opinion. None of this has a whit to do with the ruling, which was 1st vs 4th. Well letting the company not pay for contraception doesn’t impose on her 4th and upholds the 1st.

          • TadhgMor

            Why is it you CONSTANTLY come here to defend bad behavior from Christians? I mean I’ve never seen you do anything else.

            As for the problem, you don’t see an error with “corporations have religious rights”? A definition that even big business lawyers like Ted Olsen (of the Citizens United case) think is too far (as he points out, corporations have always had speech. They have never before had religion).

          • Bianca Bradley

            Corporations don’t have religion. Privately owned family run corporations have the right to under the law that was passed in 1993 to not pay for contraception on moral grounds. See the ruling.

            I don’t have an issue with “Christians” or anyone else, standing up for what they believe in. It isn’t “bad” behavior. It’s a difference of opinion. Maybe I see nothing wrong with loving my neighbor and doing unto them as i would have them do unto me. I also see nothing wrong with divorcing my vehement Pro Choice beliefs and understanding on objective levels that this ruling isn’t a “bad ” thing and that it’s ok if Pro LIfe people are vehement about their beliefs. Cause welcome to America.

          • TadhgMor

            Did you read the bloody ruling? It states that “closely held corporations” (a definition Alito made up wholesale) have religious rights, which under RFRA (which was never meant to apply to corporations) means that they can deny coverage of any contraceptive they reject for religious reasons.

            Bad behavior is trying to institutionalize your preferences and force your religion into the public square, which is what this and Greece v. Galloway are.

            Don’t try and take the moral high ground about “choice” and “objectivity” while you defend Christian moralists seeking special treatment. That’s ironic, and not in a funny way.

            Further, you didn’t actually answer the question. You have consistently defended bad behavior from Christians are far more issues than this.

          • Bianca Bradley
          • TadhgMor

            Alito doesn’t define it for the purpose of the RFRA. I should have been clearer. The term is defined, but it’s relationship to this religious freedom bullshit is not.

          • Deborah Bender

            Would you say that the legal importance of this ruling is what you say in your second to last paragraph, that it extends RFRA to closely held corporations?

            If so, do you have any predictions about the future effects of the ruling?

            Honest questions, I’m not trying to score points.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I’m still thinking about the longer term ramifications. I don’t believe it’s going to extend to closely held corporations to stop blood transfusions and the like. I don’t agree with all of Ginsburg worries. I do think that Hobby Lobby and nonprofits and colleges should have the right to say no to things they find morally objectionable.

            If Congress decides to repeal the law, well that will be an interesting set of new cases before SCOTUS.

            I don’t mind debating with you, you have shown as has Baruch to not be (in lieu of other terms and in lieu of reverting to an adolescent) a buttwipe lol

          • Deborah Bender

            “I do think that Hobby Lobby and nonprofits and colleges should have the right to say no to things they find morally objectionable.”

            I have some sympathy with that view, because I believe that the only way people can get along with each other in a diverse society and still maintain any personal freedom of choice is to leave some things in the private sphere. That’s the genius of the establishment of religion clause. For example, I think it would have been wiser to replace the word “marriage” with “civil union” in all our law codes than what’s currently going on. To that limited extent, I’m a Libertarian.

            However, I’m not clear what the distinction is between between the argument you are making and the arguments made by small business owners in the Jim Crow era that they should be free to turn away non-white customers (which in some instances was out of religious conviction). Rand Paul when asked by Rachel Maddow whether he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act, came near to saying that he agreed with the parts that banned state-mandated segregation but not the public accommodations section. That’s perfectly consistent with libertarian doctrine as I understand it. Man has a right to do what he wants with his own property, and all that.

            Do you see a legal distinction between the two situations? I’ll check in with you later, if Jason doesn’t close down this thread.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Honestly… While I disagree strongly with racial discrimination, I fall more under the line of business owners should have the right to decide for themselves who they want to serve. If they are arseholes, then let them go into bankruptsy.

            Some states let you have that option and others don’t. I think that is where some of the don’t serve Gays lawsuits came under. The Bakery in Washington state for example. I’d really have to look at it more.

            But my personal views, I think that business should have the right to refuse service for whatever stupid reason they want. If it’s truly asinine and heinous then the public can make sure they don’t stay open, by taking away their business.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Under color of the right you describe here, African Americans from the North visiting relatives in the South could not find a restaurant, a restroom or a motel on the entire trip. They were locked out of the traveling economy. It’s hard these days to appreciate conditions that existed within living memory.BGLTs do not suffer the same level of economic oppression today but the template for arbitrary mistreatment of a class of customers has been baked into our political culture as a matter for public scrutiny.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Bianca frequently posts on controversial matters that have a legal facet, upon which she attempts to throw light. I haven’t noticed her being consistently pro-Christian.

          • TadhgMor

            I have, and I am far from the only one. This isn’t the first time it’s been noted in a thread.

            Also, her legal analysis is not accurate either, for what it’s worth. She sidesteps around uncomfortable facts.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Thank you. I happen to enjoy politics and legal stuff.

      • TadhgMor

        IUDs cost, on average, a full month’s salary if you make minimum wage.

        Somehow I think that’s not going to be a big option for someone working at Hobby Lobby, unless it’s supplementary income.

        • Bianca Bradley

          That still has nothing to do with 1st vs 4th amendment rights.

          • TadhgMor

            You mentioned IUDs. I responded. You don’t get to shift the goalposts now.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I said they were cheaper in the long term. That’s all I said. You moved the goal posts, I pointed out it’s a 1st vs 4th

          • TadhgMor

            You are a strange person. I don’t see how you can claim I moved the goalposts by responding directly to one of your assertions.

            Plus I just love the “conservative Christians are more tolerant than pagans bit”. Get back to me when some pagans physically assault you. Otherwise, you’ve built a big old false equivalence.

          • Bianca Bradley

            It was an inch away from having a transgender person physically assault me because I wouldn’t agree with her.

            People are people, some are buttwhipes and others aren’t. It doesn’t matter what their religion or lack thereof is. I just happen to have found Christians vs the Pagans I meet tend to be a lot less of the buttwipes.

          • TadhgMor

            You know what? Just f*** it. You seem to love Christians more than anyone else, and you’ll constantly defend their bad behavior, which you’re so biased you don’t even see as bad.

            This is a place full of people who have suffered emotional and physical violence from Christians, and many of us suffer discrimination in our daily lives with some frequency as well. Your constant attempt to slur people here while defending Christian supremacists should dishonor you, if you actually care about honor.

            People are people, but some ideologies encourage and attract certain types of people. You seem to be one of the rare ones that holds to much of their logic and reflects their prejudices but holds a different identity.

            I do not understand you, I find your repeated behavior (defending bad Christians) absolutely loathsome, and I sincerely do not understand why you come here if not to aggravate others.

          • Bianca Bradley

            No this is a news blog, not a place full of psychological stuff. I’m not going to pussy foot about because life can be painful. To assume that everyone that reads here is having the equivalent of a combat vet having PTSD from fireworks I find to be disrespectful.

            I come here to read and to comment on stuff I personally feel is imp. You choose to read into stuff more than it needs to be imho. I do not understand why you take such a big umbrage that not only do I disagree with you, but I can argue it. As for your “bad” behavior, that’s your issue, I don’t feel they are exhibiting bad anything, just different viewpoints.

          • TadhgMor

            Since I never said that, I’m not sure why you’d assume it. But your continued focus on yourself strongly suggests some sort of ideological individualism is what is fueling this. No wonder you hang around so many right wing Christians.

            Different viewpoints that harm the rights of others, including yourself. Saying “it’s just a different viewpoint” is pretending there is no real world harm or policy implications. That is naive in the extreme.

            As to why I’m taking umbrage? I really resent being called worse than people that in my past have assaulted me, physically not in some metaphorical manner, over my faith. If you can’t understand that, then I really don’t know what to tell you.

          • Bianca Bradley

            So basically you are mad I won’t take your side or agree with you.

            I’m a Lokean. Ideological Individualism, yeah I got that. I’m a military brat that only fuels it. I’m Sagitarrius, yeah that defines my sun sign. I’m a German American who grew up in Yankee America, and yet you throw around Ideological Individualism like it’s supposed to be an insult. Oh yeah and I went to college where the slogan was Dare to be different.

          • TadhgMor

            No, basically I’m mad that you come here to constantly defend conservative Christians.

            Libertarianism is a childish excuse for an ideology, an attempt to justify personal flaws through tortured logic. As for Lokean…I’ll let Asatruars take that up with you, but if you’re turning your back on Norse culture while worshipping Norse deities that is…odd. The Norse, like the Gaels, were very community oriented.

            Also, not all military brats turn into radical atomists. I know more than a few, and I expect they’d find that characterization a bit wrong, if not offensive.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Your under some assumption I’m Asatru. I’m German American, my mom is German, my dad has a lot of German in him. You don’t understand the German culture enough to tell me I’m not acting German enough either.

            Radical Atomists? Whatever…

            Has it ever occurred to you, that YOU are exhibiting bad moral behavior by trying to tell me what I may think, act, or post? Your not my dad, your not a relative and the last time a relative tried to tell me how to act, I put her in her place. What gives you the right? Also where do you think that you are in MY community?

            If you have painful issues with Christians, that isn’t my issue. It’s your personal issue, please stop trying to make it mine. Whatever empathy I may have had, is gone under the constant never ending your being a bad Pagan posts.

          • TadhgMor

            You called yourself a “Lokean”, which is a term with some specific meaning in my experience. Also one with some less than positive connotations that you’re exhibiting, but I decided to avoid that. By that term do you mean you’re part of the subculture that obsesses over Loki like teen girls do over boybands? I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming not, rather that you honor the Norse Gods and Loki is your patron.

            Radical atomists is a term for fundamentalist individualism. One of my old professors used that phrase so many times it’s sunk in.

            It’s a public bloody forum. If you want to post things you know will aggravate others, for that purpose it seems, then complain when people push back that seems a bit dishonest. As for the why, I firmly believe in calling out bad behavior and ill-logic when possible.

            I never called you a bad pagan. I’m not sure there is anything that fits under the term “pagan” objectively anymore. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve implied that I fail to understand how your behavior matches with your chosen identity, but I have not called you a “bad pagan”. Nor will I. I will simply say you are acting badly. I doubt that has anything to do with what deities you honor.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Loki is my Patron, I don’t find tom Hiddleson at all sexy. I like my men, hairy and viking like and more cavemen like.

            You sure as heck are implying that i’m a bad Pagan.

            Yeah it’s a public forum. I post my thoughts. If people are aggravated by my beliefs thats not my problem, but theirs. Again with the whole be more like others stuff and implying I’m a bad Pagan.

            Just because I honor Loki, doesn’t mean I’m Asatru. Lokeans come in a WIDE variety of flavors. For the record I’m an Eclectic devotional Polytheist and Loki isn’t my only Patron.

            But being an individual sure as heck fits with Lokeans. Good Gawds you are one of the first who is even suggesting being an individual is even a bad thing.

            Politically speaking Asatru would agree with what I’m saying, at least the ones I know and have argued politics with. smh

            How bout this, focus on yourself and your own actions. Stop trying to parent me. I don’t need nor appreciate it. Nor do you have the right. Nothing I say or have done is morally wrong in my book, so stop trying to make me fit in your moral niche.

          • TadhgMor

            Of course you’re a bloody eclectic. That was never in doubt.

            F*** this. Forget it. Go off and be selfish and slur other pagans by calling them worse than your far-right Christians friends. Continue your self-centered behavior. Turn your back on history and culture. Facts don’t matter if it suits your whims.

            I’m not the one cheerleading legal rulings that harm the pagan community.

          • Bianca Bradley

            This does not harm the Pagan community. Heck it doesn’t even harm women. It means if they work for hobby lobby, or Christian non profits they will have to come up with some things on their own dime. Its an annoyance, which if you listen to Kennedy is probably not even much of an annoyance.

            As for being selfish. How the heck does this have to do with being selfish. I’m selfish because I hold a different opinion and that makes you mad? I’m not sluring other Pagans. I am talking about my experience with some Pagans vs Conservative Christians.

          • TadhgMor

            90% of companies in the US meet that definition, and it’s now established that corporations can avoid generally applicable laws based on religious complaints. If you don’t see how that hurts pagans, the none of your patrons have granted you wisdom.

            Selfish involves everything here, but it’s not really worth going into the explanation of Romanticist individualism and how it harms community oriented groups and history.

          • Bianca Bradley

            They get the exemption from the RFRA law. You still can’t discriminate based on religion. Plenty of stare decis to cover that.

          • TadhgMor

            You are a very trusting person, considering Greece v. Galloway recently institutionalized discrimination (which the court doesn’t count as discrimination).

            Especially considering in the days since the ruling the court has continued expanding the ruling, first to all birth control, and then suggesting that the compromise might not be enough (Wheaton College) which immediately undermines the logic used in Hobby Lobby.

          • Bianca Bradley

            You are using hypberbole. NO they did not legalize discrimination.

          • TadhgMor

            Legalizing Christian only prayer in official settings isn’t discrimination?

            One of the pending cases is in my own county you arrogant woman, I bloody well know what it looks like on the ground.

          • Bianca Bradley

            And which ruling was that. Both Hobby Lobby and Wheaton are on contraception.http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/supreme-court-birth-control-wheaton-college-108567.html

          • TadhgMor

            Greece v. Galloway. I’ve mentioned it three bloody times. Look two comments up.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I see no issue with that ruling. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-696

            I don’t believe you’ve made your case, nor what this ruling has to do with contraception either.

          • TadhgMor

            Of course you bloody well don’t.

            Forget it. Go back to apologizing for Christian privilege. That’s clearly how you think.

          • Genexs

            What a nice dose of nullification. If anyone can’t see the dreadful impact on this–on every one but the Opus Dei branch of Christian community–I don’t know what it would take. It’s funny that you think this is about whether you are a “bad Pagan” or not. I think you missed something, it’s about whether you are a PINO (Pagan In Name Only) or not.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Everyone huh. Nice of you to talk for people, who are quite capable of talking for themselves. The end of the world theme is not an argument, it’s an emotional spiel.

            NO this isn’t about whether you feel I”m a PINO or not, your feelings about the matter are irrelevant. Just who do you think you are anyway? Deal with your own spirituality.

          • Genexs

            OK, I will. Now I trust you will attend to your own, which seems to derive exclusively from the History Channel’s “Vikings”.

          • Bianca Bradley

            That the best you got?

          • Genexs

            Naw, but that’s all the snark an arm chair Pagan deserves.

          • Deborah Bender

            Who died and made you the Pagan Pope?

            RINO is used by the faction that has run most of the moderates and nearly all the liberals out of the Republican Party. They arrogate to themselves the right to judge who is and is not a Real Republican, and it’s a pure power play.

            The pagans I know would be repelled by the assumptions underlying a moniker like Pagan In Name Only.

          • Genexs

            Heh, Pagan Pope. Just imagine the target on the back of one who is that. I have enough of a target being the HP of a local Coven for the last 6 years. It’s just that nothing in your writings speaks of anything Pagan.

          • Deborah Bender

            If I were going to voice an opinion about something that requires specialist knowledge, like the maintenance of electronic control systems on interurban light rail, I’d cite my experience and credentials.

            Nobody here is reciting their Pagan c.v. before commenting on a pagan topic. If I were to do so, people would be bored. I’m not a BNP with a website and books, so not easy to look up, but I’ve been around for awhile. If you are interested, please ask me a specific question or two about my background and experience and I will be glad to answer you.

          • Genexs

            Boring to some, but everyone is the hero of their own lives. Sadly, that is probably off topic. Since you’ve asked I offer up a specific question, maybe I should do so. This again is off topic, but how do you feel about something like “global warming”? Do you think the data about it is a liberal plot, or else think it’s actually something that is occurring and most probably human-made?

          • Deborah Bender

            It’s definitely occurring and it’s mostly human-made. Basic physics shows that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects the retention of heat from sunlight. Scientists have determined the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere going back 800,000 years by pulling it out of bubbles trapped in ice cores in Antarctica and Greenland. The levels have been a lot lower in the past. We have data for the past 150 years or so from direct atmospheric measurements.

            We know that the first significant human contribution of atmospheric CO2 began with the development of farming and animal husbandry during the Neolithic Revolution about ten thousand years ago. Some geologists and astronomers think that were it not for the NR, the Earth would be heading out of its current interglacial period into the next ice age right about now.

            When fossil fuels began to be burned in massive amounts at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution a couple of centuries ago, the human contribution to CO2 buildup greatly accelerated. The oceans soak up heat so there is a time lag before the effects are obvious. Atmospheric CO2 is now above 400 ppm, a level not seen on Earth for hundreds of millions of years.

            We don’t have a lot of commercially extractable oil left to burn, but there’s enough mineable coal to make things even more unstable.

            Liberals want everyone to be prosperous. There’s no political advantage from telling the public that the energy sources our industrial economy depends on are killing us.

          • Genexs

            hi: A appreciate the long discourse, but it was not necessary. I just wanted to see what we had in common, and what we agree on. I agree with most of what you are saying above (except the ‘no political advantage’ part, I believe that is changing rapidly). I think it’s best to concentrate on things we have in common, than to stress differences.

          • Deborah Bender

            Lokean? As in John Locke?

          • Bianca Bradley

            No as in Loki, Norse God of being a pain in the arse.

          • kenofken

            It gives the lie to the contention by the pro-life movement that birth control is universally cheap and that there is no need for workers to legitimately press for coverage for it.

          • Bianca Bradley

            While that may or may not be true, it doesn’t enter into the 4th vs the 1st which is the heart of the case for me.

          • Jennifer Locke

            However, the it isn’t the heart of the matter for most of the women this ruling affects. For most working women, it’s all about the nuts and bolts of getting the bills paid at the end of the month, an increasingly difficult thing to do, no matter how hard they try. For SCOTUS to throw an arbitrary (yes, arbitrary – the Green family is A-OK with contraception and abortion in China, so clearly that isn’t their true objective) roadblock in the way of a woman just trying to get by shows their complete ignorance of the way it works down here in Realworldville.

          • Bianca Bradley

            You might want to take another look at the job of SCOTUS again. Nowhere in it, are they supposed to be concerned about whether not people are going to be happy about their ruling, or whether or not people can afford stuff. Your critique of their ruling shouldn’t even be along those lines. That’s never going to enter into it, nor should it.

            Just because they buy cheap chotzkies from China does not mean they are aok with abortion. I wonder how their buying policy will change after many Conservative Christians are protesting it.

          • Jennifer Locke

            Your point about SCOTUS being not being concerned with people’s happiness is well taken, however my comment was meant to be more about the implications of the ruling than the case itself.

            That said, I’m appalled the Court didn’t (chose not to) sniff these control freaks out. I’d like the justices to behave professionally, approach their task with dignity, and to have at least a glancing familiarity with Americans’ realities, given the gravity of that task. But instead, we get a bunch of tools. I don’t expect history to judge the Roberts Court kindly, but I digress.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I think the Fourth Amendment reference regarded the right of privacy the Warren Court found in the umbra of the Bill of Rights, largely the Fourth.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Nods. I believe that right is still in play, employers don’t have access to health care records. Their HR dept tells the insurance company what they will or won’t cover.

  • Chas S. Clifton

    Good article, Cara. People who think that RFRA was some sort of right-wing Christian plot should know that it was passed in the aftermath of the Smith decision (follow link), in which an American Indian follower of the Peyote Way was fired from a state job in Oregon because of his so-called drug use. The “compelling interest” argument was tossed around a lot in that case as well.

    There was heavy lobbying from the Native American Church and its sympathizers to get a law passed to avoid such situations. Then it was partly declared unconstitutional in Boerne v. Flores, a zoning case, but it still affects the federal government—in this case, Obamacare.

  • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

    Outsider perspective:

    Doesn’t it seem a bit, well, creepy to get your employer to pay for your birth control?

    Also, I don’t get *why* an employer should pay for such a thing. The vast majority of employers are not humanitarian organisations – they operate to maximise profits and minimise expenditure. Other than ensuring that their employees are not taking off maternity leave all the time, what is the benefit to employers in funding employee contraceptives?

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      You pack in a lot of questions here.Around the end of World War II the US had wage control, so companies that wanted to increase an employee’s compensation started offering health coverage. That became an American staple, health insurance from your employer. It’s still a form of compensation and, if you are a valuable employee, it’s a way employers can compete for your services, like offering dental. They’re still not humanitarians.After the Sixties, contraception was a right and not something you acquired furtively like dope. It’s a medical commodity. Women’s contraceptive costs in particular can be steep and, beginning around 1970, feminists proposed that women’s health plans not including contraception were failing to cover women completely though the same plan covered men completely. So contraception went from a sneaky under-the-counter item to a sort of entitlement in my lifetime. (Sometimes it’s nice to be old.)

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        I live in a country with a national health service (the National Health Service, in fact), it is not a perfect system (I am extremely vociferous about its failings a lot of the time) but in this context, at least, it does work.

        Rather than having your employers pay, people can get contraceptives (possibly including abortions, but I am not 100% on that) funded by the state.

        Obviously, this is something funded by the tax payer, but that is enlightened self interest, when you think about it.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I don’t live in a country with a national health service, and I wish I could without changing countries.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I don’t like our NHS in the model it is, but I do think that a national health service should be a basic facet of any decent country.

            It isn’t even about communism, it is about enlightened self interest.

            It must be said, the only positive thing I have found about Obamacare, or whatever it is being called, is that I appreciate the NHS more now than I used to.

          • Deborah Bender

            I think the German model, which IIRC from a documentary involves regulated not for profit insurance companies, would have been well suited to the US, but the political difficulties of getting any reform at all turned the legislation (both Clinton’s and Obama’s) into a dog’s breakfast.

        • Northern_Light_27

          A lot of us envy you your NHS and wish we could do that here. But there’s too much corporate corruption and any form of nationalized anything sounds like ZOMGCOMMUNISM to a substantial part of the electorate, particularly a substantial and substantially uninformed part of the electorate.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Left-right politics always amuses me on the international stage, the American left seems to be further right than most of the European right.

            It’s that whole cult of the radical individual you guys have, I think.

          • Deborah Bender

            The American left, what remains of it, would be center-right by European standards.

            The cult of radical individualism does have a good deal to do with the left’s weakness here. Something that De Toqueville noticed but is less appreciated by many European commentators is that America has traditionally had a very robust culture of grassroots creation and support of community organizations which carry out a lot of functions that are taken over by the government in welfare-state countries. These community groups, until fairly recently, were participated in by all classes and were the preferred method for doing many things. There’s been decline in the rate of participation in these sorts of local organizations over the past forty years.

  • Anna Smyth

    Yeah… Lotta controversy over this. I like the differing comments. Interestingly enough is the ACA doesnt require mens contraceptives to be covered. I dont know how to interpret this. Does the ACA postulate men aren’t responsible for reproductive health or is this discriminative toward men and in favor of women for a change?? it reads:

    Plans aren’t required to cover: Drugs to induce abortions Services related to a man’s reproductive capacity, like vasectomies.

    Do I like that!?

    But more important to me is it’s all willy nilly, random, rhyme or reason. The ACA contraceptive mandates, the holly hobby determination and the comments here and everywhere. how these things are determined. it should be separation of religion and state. scotus are humans.

    We are a bunch of humans bumping into each other. So imperfect and fallible. I still always go back to my favorite quote “the biggest assholes are the ppl who don’t know they’re assholes.” everything is subject to change and will change. I need to accept many things and exert my influence when it seems i need to and much of the time even when I do I then find out things aren’t as I thought they were and my mind can be swayed to understand the other point of view clearly and easily equally valid.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Plans aren’t required to cover: […] Services related to a man’s reproductive capacity, like vasectomies.My next question is, are plans required to cover tubal ligations for women? If not, then it’s at least parallel treatment. If so, it’s a tilt against men as a class.

      • Cara Schulz

        Yes. The ACA says tubal ligations for women are covered.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Thank you. I don’t think the implied tilt against men will keep me up nights, but I wonder why the difference.

          • kenofken

            I don’t really know why for certain, but it might come down to health implications. When women opt to have ligations, it is often because further pregnancies pose serious risks to their health.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I think it’s different for every woman.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Well, that’s sexist.

      • Franklin_Evans

        Based on my anecdotal data — my mother often spoke openly about her reproductive health, as did my three sisters, as well as being a fly on the wall for conversations amongst women — the whole-body health implications are in fact the reason why tubal ligations are covered. Sometimes, a woman has that choice along with a hysterectomy, which is more drastic and has other consequences.

        The parallel with vasectomy is solely biological. It is exceedingly rare for a man (does one even exist?) to be offered a vasectomy due to health or life threatening conditions beyond his reproductive system.

  • Deborah Bender

    Something that the liberal cable news commentators I was watching the other night didn’t say, probably because it would be inflammatory, is that the religious makeup of this Supreme Court is historically unprecedented and may have contributed to the way the decision broke. It consists of six Catholics and three Jews, no Protestants at all.

    The majority side consisted of five Catholics. The dissenters were one Catholic and all the Jews (Breyer, Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor). The only Catholic to dissent from the majority decision was a woman (Sotomayor).

    I mention this partly because one of the TV commentators pointed out something very odd about the decision, which is that it selected forms of birth control that some deem to be equivalent to abortion for special treatment, while explicitly saying that the decision did not apply to other kinds of medical treatment that some other religious sects forbid, such as blood transfusions. No reason was given by the court for making this distinction.

    When it comes to abortion, the Abrahamic religions do not march in lockstep. Various Protestant denominations have differing views. All branches of Judaism _require_ abortion (even very late term abortion) when necessary to save the life of the mother. Orthodox Judaism frowns on abortion in most other situations, while the more liberal branches of Judaism are more permissive. It’s well known that the Roman Catholic Church forbids abortion even to save the mother’s life and a recent Pope canonized a woman who left her children orphans when she refused a medical abortion while pregnant with another.

    Judges are human and their world views, life experience and personal morality
    are going to affect their judgement. At the very least, this decision is an argument for maintaining more diversity of all kinds among Supreme Court nominees.

    • Jennifer Locke

      Perhaps the six Catholics should have recused themselves.

    • Rhoanna

      As a counterpoint, Hobby Lobby is owned by Protestants, and the Catholic Church considers all forms of birth control immoral, although most Catholics ignore that.

    • Bianca Bradley

      I don’t think the religion plays a role in this. The 4 dissenters are known liberal the constitution is a living document, two of which are very liberal. Kennedy is a swing vote and has historically been a swing vote. The other four are more Conservative, with Roberts I know being an originalist. It’s not their religion but how they view the Constitution.

      • Deborah Bender

        That could be the case. If so, the reason for the narrow ruling to get the camel’s nose into the tent, rather than to privilege objection to abortion or contraception generally over other religious objections to medical treatment. We shall see.

      • Genexs

        And how they “view the Constitution” is a tortured rat maze that one must follow to reinforce their Dominionist philosophy.

        • Deborah Bender

          I think you are stretching the meaning of Christian Dominionism. Christian Dominionism is a Protestant sect that originated in the early twentieth century. If it came to power, it wouldn’t be any friendlier to the Roman Catholic Church than to mainline Protestant denominations and non-Christians of any stripe. The Dominionists reject the U.S. Constitution wholesale and the only religion they believe should have any rights is their own sect.

          There is open collaboration these days between the conservative American Catholic hierarchy and religiously conservative Protestant denominations, but it’s hyperbole to call all these factions Dominionist.

          • Genexs

            And I think you are rationalizing. You are over intellectualizing a situation which is understandable by simple inspection. This is a shot across the board at what many us hold dear. Your pretend failure to understand that is very telling.

          • Deborah Bender

            Telling what?

            What is it you “hold dear” that you suppose I do not? Have you been active in public Pagan organizations more or longer than I have? I doubt it. Have you been a member of a religious minority longer than I have? I doubt it, unless you are older than I am, because I was born into one. Do you know more about the history of Christianity in the world or in the US than I do? You haven’t shown any sign of that on this blog.

            I’m an actual RINO. I changed my party registration to GOP more than ten years ago solely for the purpose of voting against Christian Right candidates in primaries. I donate to civil liberties organizations. I actively support Wiccan participants in interfaith organizations, where they punch well above their weight compared to the other religions represented in those groups–I know a couple who are now trustees and regional directors.

            Are you doing anything useful at all to oppose or change what you fear? Or are you content to go after the soft targets, other people who post comments on this blog?

          • Genexs

            I’ve been spit on, beat up, attacked, and had my life threatened by Xtains. I’ve had an M-16 shoved in my face, had guns pulled on me, marched in dozens of rallies, and had the screws turned against me more than once, and so and and so on. Big deal. But very little of that had anything to do with my Pagan beliefs, it has to do with other beliefs I hold dear. I certainly applaud your efforts to vote against Xtain extremists. Good on you! But again though, I don’t see anything Pagan in your writings. Granted, I certainly may have missed something. However, others have pointed this out as well. As far as the age thing, you are correct. I am only 58 years old, and should indeed cleave of a modicum of respect for my elders.

          • Deborah Bender

            Okay, I’ve only got seven years on you, not enough to count.

            I have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley (group major since there’s no Religion Department at UCB), big whoop, and am a minimally observant Jew as well as a (W)itch with initiatory authority in the NROOGD tradition and coven experience in three others (Feminist Dianic, 2nd Degree Gardnerian, 1st Degree Kingstone Tradition of Central Valley Wicca), former coven leader (twice), fifth degree initiate of the OTO, my women’s coven Ursa Maior was a founding member of the Covenant of the Goddess in 1975, I’m currently co-First Officer of the Northern California Local Council of CoG which is in no way responsible for any opinion I post here, a former several times national officer of CoG, organizer and ritual officer for a great many public Craft rituals mostly under the auspices of NROOGD, author of a number of ritual scripts for public sabbats, creator of the Elderflower Womenspirit Festival whose website URL is http://www.elderflower.org, composer of a few pagan chants which have gone into circulation and folk process in the West Coast Pagan community, co-edited five issues of a zine called Women’s Coven Newsletter/Homebrew, edited six issues of NROOGD’s The Witches Trine, author of a few published poems and articles in Pagan zines back in the day, now all out of print. I and my first coven are mentioned in the first edition of Drawing Down the Moon and probably in subsequent editions. Those are some of the high points of my public pagan history. Pagan enough for you?

            There are thousands of Pagan and Wiccan elders who have given service to the Pagan movement and are known in their home communities, and perhaps beyond, without being famous.

          • Genexs

            Dammit! This is what I was afraid of: If we met IRL, we’d probably get along famously over a few pints of mead, or wine or beer or what have you. I once was in a flame war which lasted for years. Eventually, both of us wound up being guests at the same Horror/SciFi convention in Denver. People gave me the “heads up” when he arrived, and some actually left the room when he was coming my way. Withing 15 minutes we were yucking it up. We were on the a couple of the same panels, and had a great time. He even wound up publishing one of my short novels a few years after. (Like some of your writings, much of my work was before the internet really took off, and has been entombed in the dead tree world of zines, although some of my work get’s reprinted from time to time, where I don’t see dime-one.)

            Having said that, I was not lucky in my ‘first contact’ with the Pagan community in the early 80’s. Those I met were were extremely anti-male. At one point I was even told, to much ridicule, that “Wicca was a religion for women, not for men–you silly man-person”. Fortunately, in the early 90’s, I met a wonderful Pagan fellow who was active in the community (which was very small in Upstate NY). He reacted with shock when I explained the above and pointed me in the right direction. A few years after that I was again in luck to meet a local HPS, who shared my Greco/Roman leanings. A short while later, when the HP left, she chose me to fill those shoes.

            Again, Fate (but probably Isis or Hecate) has stepped in. By an incredible chance I found myself seated on a long flight next to someone who turned out to be college professor–of Greek and Roman history. He also shared my fascination with numismatics. So, as my scientific career is winding down, I now get to pursue a new one. His college is out of state–making tuition a bit expensive, but I’m somehow getting it together.

            So, you mentioned the history of Christianity and Rome in one of your previous posts. As that is my area of interest, I would like to comment. Surely you are aware of what the Christians did once they gained full power in Rome. They moved decisively (and brutally) to wipe out Paganism. This is what I find most troubling about the Hobby Lobby decision. Most everything the Christian right believes about such things as reproduction and the environment took hold in that time period, the late 300’s to the late 400’s. Reading some of it, you’d think you were reading a blog post at some stridently religious political site. Hobby Lobby has been a force for this for years. They are trying to manifest an extreme and very twisted Christian agenda, and are now having luck getting it codified as law. As has been demonstrated in recent news, there is a tidal wave of this stuff coming–aimed at SCOTUS–where it now will be welcomed in a comforting embrace, at least by 5 pairs of arms. I strongly feel this decision is already having a horrible impact, and is only the tip of the iceberg.

          • Deborah Bender

            Good. I enjoy a respectful exchange of views, and I have an interest in understanding why people I disagree with think what they think.

            I’m sorry but not surprised to hear about your unfortunate first contact. Ursa Maior was an all-woman coven because we wanted to work on women’s stuff, but the mixed-sex Pagan community couldn’t have been more welcoming and respectful to us and some of us got together on both ritual and non-ritual occasions.

            Of the four Craft traditions I have practiced, I’m most attached to the NROOGD, which has more Greek influence than most other witchcraft trads. For example, one of our major seasonal rituals is based on the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries.

            I agree with most of what you say in your last paragraph. I just think there is more to the story. There isn’t space or time to get into enough detail to make a case that might convince you. I will mention two points just to give you more of an idea of where I’m coming from. The first is that the Christian Right doesn’t represent all Christians.

            The second is that Christianity began as a Jewish sect and developed into a separate religion as a result of taking in influences from Greco-Roman pagan religion and philosophy. Classical culture had always been patriarchal. By the beginning of the Imperial period, the predominant current of thought in Classical philosophy was that the body was a prison and that the way to spiritual advancement was to detach yourself from physical desires and to release the soul to ascend into the divine realm which is (symbolically, not necessarily literally) a long way from Earth.

            Some Pagan philosophers who were very popular didn’t like sex because it ties you to the body and produces more bodies. Christianity got a lot of its anti-sex ideas from late Classical paganism, not from the Jews who had more moderate views on the subject.

          • Genexs

            hi again: At some point, shortly, I believe the “reply” function will be terminated here, but this is a good dialog. As to your last two paragraphs, I agree with most of what you have said. Some of the elite Pagan movers and shakers were indeed rather stilted. Julian II wrote a scathing letter of warning to a number of Pagan priests–to mind their manners, to stop ‘hanging around in bars’ and other such naughtiness. He even went so far as to mention that some of the stoic (how ironic!) behavior of Christians was something to be admired. Also, as I’m sure you are aware, Christian ideals of prohibitions against infanticide (especially of females), preferable late marriage, and discouragement of divorce, were often admired by many Pagans. But it’s important to keep in mind that none of the Pagan centers of thought wished to dominate or eliminate the other. The other problem we have, in late Imperial times, is sampling error. What’s only survived are the opinions and ideas of the elite. How religion was practiced–and how people acted–is open to debate. But it’s good to call out the Christian attitude that Pagans were drunken and orgiastic in their practice.

          • Deborah Bender

            I’ll just add that the Christian Right doesn’t even represent all Evangelicals, though it seems to represent the majority of them right now. Historically, most synods or whatever they call them of the Baptist Church have been strong supporters of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and I believe that is still true of Baptists other than the Southern Baptists. The history of Protestantism in America shows a repeated generational pendulum swing between an emphasis on the Social Gospel (helping the poor, freeing the slaves) and the kinds of issues that the Christian Right cares about. Some observers think that pendulum is starting to swing back.

            I think we have taken this conversation about as far as it can go right now.

  • It really annoys me that the Court totally ignored (as well as many commentaries in the lead-up to the decision) the very nature of health insurance benefits in the workplace: namely that they are part of an employee’s compensation package, as much as their wages, and it should be the employees who decide how that is spent. It’s the equivalent of my boss telling me how I’m allowed to spend my paycheck, even more so because I, like just about every other worker these days, pays a substantial portion of the cost of my benefits through payroll deduction. Someone else’s religion should be irrelevant to the spending of my hard-earned money and benefits. And why should a woman have to fork out extra money rather than be able to use the benefits she worked for and paid into already?

    The next thing is the idea after the ruling that only 4 methods of birth control are not being covered (pushed by right-wing media). The case was *brought* concerning those 4 methods, but the ruling (last page of the Opinion of the Court, I think p. 49) declares that the contraception mandate itself violates the RFRA, not just those 4 drugs, and new lawsuits are already pending because of that. Even if it were “only 4 methods” that religious owners of non-religious for-profit businesses “sincerely believe” are abortifacients, their beliefs are still scientifically incorrect and should not be forced onto others. What about the religious freedom of the employee?!

    Another thing is, if you read through the decision, they’re not even addressing the 1st Amendment… they’re ruling based off the RFRA, which may as well be a “Freedom to Push Your Religion Onto Others Act.” This act puts limits on our 1st Amendment rights, and this is just one of the many ways it could be used. As the religious right is fond of saying “It’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM,” but actually the 1st Amendment gives us both (because you can’t truly have one without the other), while the real-world effect of the RFRA is to deny people their freedom FROM when on the unwelcome receiving end.

    I may not have a dog in the fight on the birth control decision, as strongly as I disagree with it. But I do work for a company with a very religious CEO… I see this case as a test of what the RFRA can be used to accomplish, and I expect to see more abuses of it from the religious right, which obviously makes me very uncomfortable as a Pagan.

    • mptp

      Another thing is, if you read through the decision, they’re not even
      addressing the 1st Amendment… they’re ruling based off the RFRA, which
      may as well be a “Freedom to Push Your Religion Onto Others Act.” This
      act puts limits on our 1st Amendment rights, and this is just one of the
      many ways it could be used.

      Have you even read the RFRA, and the history behind it?

      Maybe you ought to, and see what triggered it.

      • I understood how and why it came to be… but the *intention* of a law and how it ends up being *used* are unfortunately two very different things. It may have began as a protection for certain minority religions, but it is being used to enforce the privilege of the majority religion by many right-wing religious groups. There’s a difference between a member of a minority religion being prohibited from free exercise and a majority religion trying to make others live by their religious tenets.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Nicely put.

        • Bianca Bradley

          The RFRA was used to let non profits not pay for contraceptives. It should not be that surprising that the court ruled that privately owned family business have that right.

          • Terraluna

            I feel the need to jump in here and correct the idea that these employers were asking for the right to not pay for contraceptives. More accurately, they were asking for the right to deny insurance overage for contraceptives. Insurance plans that cover contraceptives are less expensive than those that don’t, as contraception is much cheaper than maternity and infant care. So they sought the “right” to pay higher premiums so that they could impose a financial burden on some employees who don’t adhere to their corporate overlords’ religious beliefs.

            I just wanted to clarify that this is not about these employers being forced to pay for something they find offensive. It is about them being permitted to impose punitive costs on employees whose private behavior does not adhere to their religious strictures.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Except they already cover contraception, they sought exemption for 4 contraceptives, but cover 16 others.

          • I think we have a total difference of opinion of what constitutes an employer “paying for it.” As I said above, benefits are part of an employee’s compensation – it is an *earned* benefit, and just about always paid towards by payroll deduction of the employee in addition to that. If they “believe” they’re paying for it by providing health insurance that will cover it, then they must also be “paying for it” by paying the wages of an employee who will use their paycheck to buy it on their own. Same exact thing: the money still came from them originally. Unless you think it’s okay to have your boss tell you how you can spend your paycheck too…

  • Silver Skin

    I don’t know whats all the griping all about. As I see it, whether your employers religious or not, their under no obligation to pay for any conceptive measures what so ever. Employees are responsible for their own sexual behaviors, thus they are responsible for any unexpected results for making the choices to engage in certain sexual practices. You can always choose not to have sex, that is a choice. But then again I don’t believe in the mandatory health care law, because its not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution that health care is a Right.

    • Genexs

      5 Neanderthals on the SCOTUS “see it” like you do as well.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        First of all, let’s not insult Neandertals. They weren’t as stupid as reputed.Second, Silver Skin, the Constitution doesn’t mention an Air Force or the Interstate highway system either, but we seem to be involved in that, to our national advantage.

        • Genexs

          Point taken on the Neadertals. I recall the paper “Neanderthals: The First Flower Childen”, as pollen was found in their graves, meaning the bodies were covered with flowers.

          Also, good points about the highways and Air Force. Some people have a “kaleidoscope” view of the constitution. They only see in it things which enforce their prejudices.

        • Bianca Bradley

          Ahem http://constitution.findlaw.com/article1/annotation41.html

          Constitution and military(the air force falls under military).

          Constitution and interstate

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause

          • Silver Skin, scraping away

            Well the way I see it, as a “Citizen” I have a vote, and I’m not voting for or buying into this Great Society Sh*t. As for the Affordable Care act and the Homosexual Agenda, I really don’t see it lasting past the Obama Presidency. Which as I see it, does have much time left, if thing keep going as they are.

          • TadhgMor

            The “homosexual agenda”?

            What praytell is that?

          • Genexs

            Heh, what get’s me is that it took this long for the posters homophobic and hateful “agenda” to be revealed.

    • Crystal Hope Kendrick

      OMGz! Where do you people crawl out of? I can’t even begin to address your multiple misguided and ignorant points. It would take a blog post at least as long as the one we’re commenting on. Insurance is a part of your compensation package as an employee. The employer should have absolutely no say in how you use that, period. I as an employee pay part into that as well and it’s none of my boss’s bloody fecking business. I also really hope you’re a christian troll and not a Pagan because a Pagan should be ashamed of this statement: “You can always choose not to have sex, that is a choice.” Shame on you, religious right status quo upholder.

      • mptp

        Insurance is a part of your compensation package as an employee.

        Is it, anymore, now that it’s mandated by law, for companies over a certain size?

    • Deborah Bender

      “You can always choose not to have sex, that is a choice.”

      Indeed it is. Does your name, Silver Skin, imply that you are a heterosexual male who always volunteers to wear a condom or to forego sex if the woman you want intercourse with doesn’t want your child? Condoms are relatively cheap and don’t require a prescription.

      That would be consistent with your position and would not lay the burden of all the consequences of your sexual gratification on someone else.

    • Jennifer Locke

      About sex being a choice.. in the truest sense of the word, yes it is, but I think the statement completely denies human nature, which is a problem I see over and over again in the right-to-life movement. The states which have made it most difficult for girls and women to obtain contraception and abortion – and even factual information for that matter – have the highest number of teen births.

      Those two 15-year-olds in the back seat of the car, just like those parents in bed, know for a fact that they better not go any further if they don’t want to risk pregnancy, don’t they? Does it matter in the heat of the moment? Sex happens, whether the self-righteous like it or not.

      • Never mind the fact that a lot of women using contraception are already married/in committed relationships and may or may not already have children. This idea of birth control pills being used only by promiscuous single women is totally inaccurate. But even if that was the reality, so what? If someone wants to believe that sex is only for procreation, fine, but the whole idea of freedom of religion is that others shouldn’t have to live by someone else’s beliefs.

  • TadhgMor

    I don’t understand how anyone can be a libertarian and a pagan. Even New Age Wicca has more community than most libertarians can accept, despite the Romanticist “you’re all a special snowflake” stuff that gets a bit thick at times.

    This ruling can’t be separated from other recent rulings. Those defending it try and pretend it is alone, but when viewed in the context of Greece v. Galloway and others it is clear; this “religious freedom” is a way to institutionalize Christianity and Christian preferences, and the benefits to non-Christians will be unequal if they reach us at all.

    • kenofken

      The libertarian movement is chock-full of Christian dominionists. At a more fundamental level, I don’t see it as compatible with my pagan values because pure libertarianism, when you boil it down, is social Darwinism.

      • TadhgMor

        Yeah it is. They pretend they’re religious neutral, but I’ve never seen it to be true.

        Radical atomism is not something I can understand. I’m in the middle of some fairly deep studies into Old Irish law and texts, and in a short paper I did as a proof of concept I titled it “For the Good of the Tuath” because that really sums up the aim of the political thought. The community is too important for me, and that’s backed up in Gaelic culture.

      • Deborah Bender

        I don’t agree your second statement. Social Darwinism is unfettered competition, no holds barred. Classic libertarian theory states that one of the few legitimate functions of a government is to prevent violence and theft. That is the justification for a libertarian advocating that abortion be prohibited; some of them define abortion as violence against a not-yet-born human being.

        It seems to me that “pure libertarianism” is libertarianism that is aware of and consistent with classical libertarian theory. Just as with other political categories, many who embrace the label either haven’t studied the theory and principles, or only care about the principles that benefit them.

        I have doubts about your first statement too. If I understand Christian Dominionist theory, it is absolutely antithetical to both libertarianism and social Darwinism. In slightly oversimplified terms, libertarianism advocates the most limited possible government that can protect the people against anarchy and being conquered by a foreign power. Social Darwinism advocates allowing the struggle for existence to proceed unchecked. Christian Dominionism advocates rule of the true church of Jesus over all governments and people.

        That wouldn’t prevent adherents of these different social philosophies from making strategic alliances, nor someone who doesn’t care about logical consistency from marching under more than one banner.

        • TadhgMor

          Whether or not Dominionism conflicts with libertarianism in the abstract, in reality there is a significant crossover between the two groups. It’s a known phenomenon, however they justify it.

          • Deborah Bender

            That’s interesting to me. Can you direct me to any of your information sources on this phenomenon? I’m not following the libertarian movement very closely right now. My sources on the Dominionists are periodicals of the ACLU and SPLC. The Dominionists scare the hell out of me; Libertarians, not so much.

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t have anything off the top of my head, but if you get into general sites that catalogue the far-right the links start popping up. Generally Libertarians have a questionable relationship with racist elements in the US, but almost always Christian racist groups rather than the folkish pagan groups most of us would think of. You can also look into Ron and Rand Paul and their statements, and the statements of many of their supporters which are much more radical as well.

    • Franklin_Evans

      I recommend to you an alternate perspective, an approach to which I’ve held (reflected, perhaps not clearly, in my top-level post this morning) all of my life.

      Christianity was already institutionalized. The Christian hegemony in the US was so embedded and taken for granted it could sincerely be denied by those to whom the benefits flow, because it was as much a part of living as blue skies and green plants. We are near the end of nearly a century of decline in that hegemony, a slow decline — too slow for many of us, myself included — but the decline is there. Modern Christians who are even more removed from conscious awareness of their hegemony than their predecessors, are fighting that decline.

      The first battle is to make them aware of their positions of privilege in ways that bring them to agreement that it needs to be changed. I assert that no minority will succeed in changing that power dynamic without allies within the hegemony… with violent revolution the only alternative, at least as I see it. As a comparison point, I offer the Protestant Reformation.

  • Franklin_Evans

    I use the following rebuttal when arguing with Christian originalists — those who assert that the US was and ever will be a Christian nation — and IMO it’s needed here:

    The US was founded upon a secular morality, defined collectively in the Preamble to the Constitution, the no religious test clause, and the Bill of Rights. This is certainly an arguable point, but every intersection of conflict between sectarian morality and that secular morality takes place and is resolved (as much as it could or can be) within that collection of statements and laws.

    It is emphasized more in the failures to uphold it than in its application. I must acknowledge that. Blue laws were at their core the imposition of religious morality upon secular life. Mandatory prayer in public schools, ditto. The point, and the problem, is that this secular morality is an abstract. It does not define, provide or address specifics in the conflict. It leaves the details to legislation and litigation.

    That is where the inequity lies, not that Christians get to rule and not be questioned, but that minorities are afforded recourse but not the same ease of access. It’s not that women, or Pagans, or LGBT or any minority is being attacked per se. It’s that their recourse is difficult.

    One would be hard pressed to find places where the original blue laws are enforced, let alone still on the books. Mandatory prayer was removed by force of law, and subsequent attempts to bring back fail to reverse that. All of that took place over years and decades. We are not going to see equal access for LGBT or the end of discrimination against them, us or women in general without a similar passage of time.

    • kenofken

      Fundamentalist campaigns against LGBT and non-Christians are not akin to blue laws which arose as formal codifications of the near-total social compact consensus of some past century. They are deliberate and calculated assaults on basic civil liberties in the same way that Jim Crow laws and institutions were.

      They will not be cured by the “passage of time.” Nothing was ever achieved in any civil rights struggle by “waiting for the right time.” It was done by unrelenting struggle and unconditional demands for one’s dignity and equal rights before the law. It was done by making the positions and institutions of bigotry utterly untenable and unbearable to those perpetrating those systems.

      • Deborah Bender

        There were sodomy laws in nearly every state in the Union fifty years ago. That was a formal codification of the near-total social compact consensus of my youth.

        Fifty years before that, it was against the law to send _information_ about barrier methods of contraception through the US Mail. In the late 1930s, my parents as an engaged couple had to take separate rooms on different floors of a hotel.

        The idea that the right of privacy that is implicit (not explicit) in the Bill of Rights extends to the consensual sexual behavior of adults has gained ground pretty recently, which is to say within living memory. I don’t think it is fair or historically accurate to characterize all social conservatives as bigots.

      • Franklin_Evans

        I will require of you, with due respect, to refrain from putting words in my mouth or reinterpreting the plain statements I make. Understanding how long change takes is not possibly reiterated as “waiting for the right time.”

        You made an erroneous assumption. Next time, just ask.

        How long has it been since the passage of the Civil Rights Act? And in that time, how close to 100% of its intended changes have actually taken hold? That is the benchmark for change in the US, and in that time we have ample examples of unrelenting efforts towards change that produced results, and essentially violent attempts to force change that failed completely. Time gets progress. Pushing for immediate change or a faster pace of change too often makes things worse.

  • Lucius Svartwulf, Helsen

    Does this ruling change things…Yes and No.

    I’ve seen a lot of talk about how this is a step back for women and their rights. This…is not true. No birth control has been removed from the market, they are free to buy it themselves just as they were before the ruling. In this, nothing has changed.

    Does this mean more religious freedom? I think it does. Not just for Christians, like everyone says, but for all religions, but only slightly. It means that a religious business owner cannot be made to pay for things for their employees that violates their conscience in terms of healthcare. But it doesn’t extend beyond this. We’ve already seen that instances where religious belief would mean denial of service to those said business owner finds morally objectionable has been pretty much overturned. And laws are in place which prevent discrimination based on religious in terms of hiring practice. This ruling doesn’t change that. Nor do I think that any will be able to make it so based on the words of both the majority and minority justices.

    I would like to point out though, that the ACA itself seems to have violated both the law and constitution, when it did not make employers pay for male birth control along with female birth control. No law is to be made which privileges one class/group/sex over another According to the Civil Rights Act. Since the ACA did not rule that contraception for both sexes be made covered by employers, it violated the law. Regardless that “male birth control” is cheaper and easier to obtain than certain “female birth control” methods (which is an argument I’ve heard) equality is equality, regardless of price. 😉