In 2012, the Committee on Energy & Commerce released a report where the 112th Congress voted 55 times on women’s reproductive rights1. In that period of time, Congress did not vote on a single jobs bill or anything else to help pull this country out of the worst recession in modern times.
In a three month period in 2013, legislatures across the country voted 694 times to put restrictions on abortion and women’s reproductive rights, including:
- Prohibiting all abortions
- Banning abortions at a specific time in the first trimester
- Banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy
- Defining that “personhood” start at conception that bans nearly all abortions2
Then, on July 3, 2014, came the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court that allows employers to decide if women can have birth control based on religious beliefs. Not only does this decision infringe on a woman’s right to choose, it infringes on the religious freedom of all of us.
I read quite a bit about English history. When Elizabeth I was in power, she believed in uniformity and conformity to one entity: The Church of England. She believed that everyone should read the same prayer book and attend the same church. Really no different
from the Catholics (who thought everyone were heretics). Both Protestant and Catholic believed deep in their heart of hearts that their church was the one true church. And each murdered people in the name of God equally.
Our Founding Fathers were wise to this history. I believe the First Amendment to the Constitution speaks directly to European religious history. Our Founding Fathers want people to have the freedom to worship how they please, when they please, where they please. We even have the right to not worship at all, to be an atheist or agnostic. To be Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. Or humanist or Wiccan. Or practice Native American spirituality. That is the beauty of our country. That is true religious freedom.
I’ve seen postings from my conservative acquaintances on Facebook that the Hobby Lobby decision is true religious liberty. I challenge that. What if the Hobby Lobby owners religion isn’t YOUR religion and you are forced to follow their principles? That is what is happened with this decision. Their religion is being forced on their employees and on the rest of us.
What’s next, will they be able to claim tax exempt status because all of a sudden they insist on being called a church?
People say that this decision is about a woman’s freedom to choose. In part, it is. And it is an important part. However, the Supreme Court decision goes much deeper than that. This is a big baby step towards the erosion of our constitutional freedoms in favor of religion, specifically the far right-wing Christian religion. Will we all be forced at some point to worship as Queen Elizabeth insisted her country men and women worship? Or how the Inquisition forced thousands (millions?) to die because of some trumped up heretic charge?
It seems to me that the right-wingers want it both ways. They want to dump the 1st amendment to favor their religion. Yet, they want us to uphold the 2nd amendment so they can terrorize all of us in Target with their AR-47s.
As James Madison and John Adams both said, this is not a Christian nation. It is a free nation. I hope and pray that there are more people in this country who believe in a free nation and will fight for that instead of giving into, or being afraid of, the religious fanaticism and extremism we are seeing today.