The Spectacle Blog

Hobby Lobby and the War on Nuns

By on 6.19.14 | 5:51PM

The "war on women" continues, but not in the way you might think; in fact, the HHS mandate of Obamacare might be more of a "war on nuns."

This mandate, which wasn't passed by Congress, is the "Thou shalt provide birth control for thy employees" aspect of Obamacare. Among its victims are the Little Sisters of the Poor, a congregation of nuns who serve the elderly, and Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network. Other women are also concerned that this new commandment interferes with the original ten, including Barbara Green and her daughter Darcy Lett, who are part of the family that owns Hobby Lobby. Green's and Lett's case will be decided by the Supreme Court by the end of the month.

Hobby Lobby began in the Green family's garage on a foundation of free enterprise and their evangelical Christian beliefs. With this goal in mind, the family has tried to look out for their employees, but Obamacare has made this difficult. The Greens do not object to twenty-six of the thirty drugs on the HHS mandate list, including "the pill," but only to four "abortion-inducing" drugs, according to Ade'le Keim of the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, the Greens' legal counsel, who spoke today at the Heritage Foundation.

The Greens say these drugs end a young life, which violates their religious beliefs and controverts their desire to protect their employees' well-being. To this, government officials replied that they could drop the employee health plan entirely for a small fee of $26 million. Such threats, said Keim, hardly indicated government concern for the employees.

The Hobby Lobby case is only the first of a slew of such arguments to reach the Supreme Court, as similar concerns have been voiced in federal court by several religious universities, the Catholic media network of Mother Angelica, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, whose case Keim expects will be heard by the Supreme Court before June 2015.

"It sounds like the federal government is waging a war on nuns," Keim said of these religious freedom cases.

Yet despite the efforts of the Greens and the Becket Fund to keep the argument on the intellectual high ground of religious liberty, their opponents will insist on making everything about sex. After the case was argued before the Supreme Court, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, made this comment: 

What I also saw today was the importance of having women on the Supreme Court, with the three female justices raising important questions about women’s health and rights.

If cases against the HHS mandate are indeed about protecting women from pregnancy rather than tormenting craft-selling Christians and a service network for nuns, female federal court judges seem not to know it. When these cases have been heard by female judges in federal courts, the majority have ruled in favor of religious freedom and "against" their sex.

Sometime between June 23 and June 30, the Supreme Court justices of both genders will issue their own decision and determine how long the war on (religious) women and men will continue.

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