Did Jesus die to save Hobby Lobby from its sins?

By The Beacon | April 3, 2014 12:23am
Maggie Hannon, sophomore, english, I'm very happy about the change. Women should be able to go into combat if they so choose.
Media Credit: Picasa / The Beacon

Maggie Hannon |

Last week, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments for a case involving Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store chain whose owner claims the federal government’s requirement that corporations provide emergency contraceptives including IUDs and Plan B, violates Hobby Lobby’s religious freedom.

Hobby Lobby thinks the requirement is in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. This law requires that law “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless it is the least restrictive means to further a compelling state interest. Although Hobby Lobby is willing to provide other forms of contraception, if the Court decides in favor of the company, this would allow for a for-profit business to claim an exemption on coverage of all types of contraceptives.

The thing that puzzles me, though, is that corporations believe they have the right to exercise religion when it’s obvious that they don’t.

In Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, corporations were given First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, which allows for businesses to donate to political organizations. Companies can obviously benefit from this since their political speech in the form of donations can influence the growth of a company. But I don’t understand how a company benefits from the promotion of religious belief.

Corporations may not benefit from this fight for religious freedom, but it’s obvious that the owners do. Arguing for religious rights for a for-profit organization is simply the owner or CEO placing his or her own beliefs on the rest of the company. Although legally a corporation is supposed to be a separate entity from its owner, Hobby Lobby wants to argue that the owner’s religious belief should be placed on everyone in his company. Separate from its owners, Hobby Lobby does not have any religious value. I mean, it’s a crafts store.

Even if the Court decides companies can claim religious freedom, there is an obvious state interest for the requirement of businesses to provide free contraceptive care for women. Contraceptives not only provide birth control as a way to prevent unplanned pregnancy, but there are diseases that are treated with contraceptives. Would “religious companies” argue that using contraceptives for the treatment against disease is a burden on their beliefs? Although contraceptives are probably not most often used for these cases, it is still an important area of health care that a lot of women need.

A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby could also undercut the value of the Affordable Care Act. The Court already allowed exemptions for nonprofits. If they allow exemptions for for-profit companies, the law could become muddled and companies could simply pick and choose which areas they wish to follow.

Also, why should a “religious corporation” impose its belief on its employees, when it is not a nonprofit or reveal its religious nature in any way? Take Hobby Lobby: Why would a person applying for a job at a crafts store have any reason to believe that this is a religious company? Many argue that if one does not like the values this company holds, he or she does not need to work there…because it’s so easy to get a job just anywhere these days.

The Court should decide against Hobby Lobby. A ruling in their favor has the potential to severely expand the power of for-profit corporations. While the Court hinted that this decision would not affect public corporations owned by a number of shareholders, a win for Hobby Lobby will only lead to more cases involving whether for-profit businesses need to follow the law when it goes against their so-called religious beliefs.

Maggie Hannon is a junior political science major. She can be reached at hannon15@up.edu.