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Are Laws that Favor One Religion over Another a Violation of the First Amendment?

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posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 09:35 AM
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First Amendment:



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Congress passed The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. This congress-passed law is the basis of the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby contraception mandate case.



“Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”


The recent Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby referred to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in its decision, claiming that the word "person" in the above sentence applies to the billion-dollar corporation of Hobby Lobby.

In my opinion, the SC decision favors one religion over others. Alito even made a point to specify that other religion's objections are not protected by this ruling. So, Jehovah's Witnesses are not protected (they cannot refuse to pay for blood transfusions) and Christian Scientists (they cannot refuse to pay for vaccinations) are not, either.

The Decision Bottom of page 5.



This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.


Hobby Lobby: A Flood of Religious Objections to Follow



The Roberts Court does nothing in small measures, so when Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, insists the decision granting closely held corporations religious objection rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is limited only to the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, don’t believe him. It’s not.

Like the Court’s decision in McCullen v. Coakley and Town of Greece v. Galloway, which also greatly advanced conservative causes but under the guise of “limited” First Amendment opinions, the decision in Hobby Lobby is an exercise in radical incrementalism. The 5-4 majority decision did not strike altogether the birth control benefit, nor did the decision rule broadly that corporations have First Amendment religious rights independent of the RFRA—but it set the path for future courts to do so.


So, I have these questions for you:

If the highest court in the country is favoring Christianity over other religions, what does that mean to you?
Is it all good to you because you are a Christian?
Do you think it's right that one religion should be protected by the state, but others are not?
Does that trigger any controversy in your head?
Have you considered the precedent this sets for further court cases, based on religious grounds?
Do you feel that this trend toward theologically-based governance is a good idea, considering how well that works in countries who are further along this path than we currently are?
And finally, is it all right with you that a billion-dollar corporation is considered a "person"?

What are your thoughts on this? (Please - This isn't about whether or not you agree with the ruling - it's about the idea of the government making laws that favor one religion over others.)
edit on 7/1/2014 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:03 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic



If the highest court in the country is favoring Christianity over other religions, what does that mean to you?

If they were, it would be a bad thing.
But,
I don't believe that they are, in that a closely held company owned by a Muslim would be granted the same exemption as the Christian companies in the suit.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:16 AM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
I don't believe that they are, in that a closely held company owned by a Muslim would be granted the same exemption as the Christian companies in the suit.


That's still favoring Christianity and Islam (protecting their religious objections) over those who who may have other valid objections on religious grounds.

For example, would a closely held company owned by a Christian Scientist be granted an exemption to pay for vaccinations of their employees and their babies? No. What makes the contraceptive objection weigh more than the vaccination objection?

Also, even if you don't agree with me, can you respond to these questions?

Have you considered the precedent this sets for further court cases, based on religious grounds?
Do you feel that this trend toward theologically-based governance is a good idea, considering how well that works in countries who are further along this path than we currently are?
And finally, is it all right with you that a billion-dollar corporation is considered a "person"?

And one more: Did you support Citizen's United, which claims that corporations are people?



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:24 AM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic

For example, would a closely held company owned by a Christian Scientist be granted an exemption to pay for vaccinations of their employees and their babies? No. What makes the contraceptive objection weigh more than the vaccination objection?


That's covered in the written decision. Something about greater societal good of vaccinations.

An argument could be made for or against the greater societal good of children as per burden vs. long-term care shortfalls.

I'm not religious and I hate children so the decision doesn't really affect me in any way beyond getting some joy from any little chip that gets busted off the government megalith.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic


This Scotus ruling would fall apart and be unenforceable if Congress rewrote the RFRA, which is in their power to do. Also, the Citizen's United case, which allows corporate personhood, could also be reverse if Congress redressed the law that they wrote that made corporate personhood a reality.

We need to petition Congress to make these changes and voice our opposition at the polls. movetoamend.org...

I see a Democratic White House for decades to come!






edit on 1-7-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-7-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic




For example, would a closely held company owned by a Christian Scientist be granted an exemption to pay for vaccinations of their employees and their babies? No. What makes the contraceptive objection weigh more than the vaccination objection?

This is just conjecture, as the court ruled only on the four specific birth control methods.




Have you considered the precedent this sets for further court cases, based on religious grounds?

Yes. It could be a slippery slope.




Do you feel that this trend toward theologically-based governance is a good idea, considering how well that works in countries who are further along this path than we currently are?

I don't view it as such. It is simply a ruling telling the government that it can't force a person(s) to violate religious beliefs (formerly held as a right in this country) by mandating that they pay for someone else to prevent a birth.




And finally, is it all right with you that a billion-dollar corporation is considered a "person"?

yes.




And one more: Did you support Citizen's United, which claims that corporations are people?


I was hesitant to support it at first, but I do now. Big money buys elections.... if the government thinks it okay for labor unions to buy elections, why shouldn't they let other groups buy elections too... more money in the pot for them.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:34 AM
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My personal opinion is that our government should remove itself from making any decisions based upon religion. Practice your belief in your church or in private, but don't use it to justify a law or abolishing one.

I find it ridiculous that religious organizations and charities can be tax exempt when they clearly use the same services as the general public. They also receive income from fund raising, donations and raffles. It clearly puts the tax burden on the rest of the public, and laws are altered and changed to benefit these institutions.

Ask yourself, when does the general public get a break when compared to religious institutions, charities, welfare recipients, immigrants and corporations? If it wasn't for the majority, these institutions and programs wouldn't exist.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:36 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

The government of the US should treat all religions equally, up until the point where the allowances made for one, infringe on the rights of another. For example, making a ruling which prevents a person enacting their right to religious freedom is wrong, unless ruling otherwise would cause another religion or individuals rights to be impinged.

So for example, a Muslim store owner,must be allowed to offer his staff the opportunity to pray the regulation number of times a day, but may not make it mandatory for all employees, regardless of their own faith. Also, a Muslim may not institute a faith based system of law in their community, because to do so WOULD impinge on the freedom of others.

Similarly, a Christian who runs a business, should be allowed to refuse to sell certain items, or services, if they disagree with his or her beliefs, but must not be allowed to prevent others from providing those services or goods.

And, an atheist can do what they please, sell whatever they want, do whatever they want, as long as those things do not impinge on the rights of people who have an actual religion. So for instance, it must never be illegal to shout "Jesus is LORD!" on a street corner, because to ban it would impinge on a Christians religious freedom, and to allow it to continue does not impinge on the rights of an atheist. In this example, the atheist has just as much right to scream "there is no God" on the same corner, as does the Christian and the Muslim to pronounce their fealty to their respective deity at any time and for any reason, without fear of rebukes .

In the specific example of the Hobby Lobby caper, the business is clearly an extension of the family from which it spawned, and the family is very much involved with its upkeep and its corporate identity. If the family who own and manage the business as a whole, disagree with contraception, then they should be allowed to refuse to purchase it for their staff, as long as that does not infringe the rights of the staff. That question however, is rather one for the members of staff themselves.

To be totally frank, if it's employees cannot afford contraceptives without company assistance, then there are bigger issues at play here, than whether or not they are covered by the healthcare package attached to a contract with the company.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 10:37 AM
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a reply to: butcherguy




This is just conjecture, as the court ruled only on the four specific birth control methods.


That is patently untrue!



The Supreme Court delivered a blow to universal birth control coverage on Monday, ruling that closely-held corporations can refuse to cover contraception in their health plans for religious reasons.
www.huffingtonpost.com...


Any qualifying employers can deny any and all birth control to their employees based on their "sincerely held beliefs. Catholics have banned ALL BIRTH CONTROL, and Catholic closely held corporations are exempt, under this ruling, and can legally deny all contraception coverage to their employees.




edit on 1-7-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 11:38 AM
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originally posted by: windword
a reply to: butcherguy




This is just conjecture, as the court ruled only on the four specific birth control methods.


That is patently untrue!



The Supreme Court delivered a blow to universal birth control coverage on Monday, ruling that closely-held corporations can refuse to cover contraception in their health plans for religious reasons.
www.huffingtonpost.com...


Any qualifying employers can deny any and all birth control to their employees based on their "sincerely held beliefs. Catholics have banned ALL BIRTH CONTROL, and Catholic closely held corporations are exempt, under this ruling, and can legally deny all contraception coverage to their employees.




I still haven't seen anywhere that they covered anything other than the ones listed in the suit specifically. If they mentioned other methods, then they are affected by the ruling. If they didn't, the ruling is on what was included in the suit.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 11:39 AM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic
For example, would a closely held company owned by a Christian Scientist be granted an exemption to pay for vaccinations of their employees and their babies? No. What makes the contraceptive objection weigh more than the vaccination objection?


I chose this portion of your argument to pick apart, mainly because it seems the most disingenuous.

What makes the contraceptive objection weigh more than the vaccination objection?

You carefully worded your opinion in such a fashion that you place vaccinations and contraceptives on the same pedestal, which couldn't be further from the truth. You also made it a point to leave out an important piece of information, that only EMERGENCY contraceptives were a point of discussion in this court case.

You are purposefully spreading misinformation.

The effects of even a small unvaccinated population places the health of all in jeopardy (a great example of this is would be the rates of TB in illegal immigrants, a disease that had been all but wiped out in the US), no one plans on contracting smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, or any other number of communicable diseases. All of the diseases that we have developed vaccinations for have served to safeguard us all from the ravages of nature (and just to satisfy the anti-vac crowd, yes mercury is dangerous but the positives of a healthy population outweigh the dangers to the extreme minority).

Sex is optional, recreational and there is no shortage of ways to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy isn't a communicable disease that has the potential of causing the deaths of untold numbers because you decide to carry to have unsafe sex/carry to term.

Something else I noticed is you failed to mention that if one wants emergency contraceptive it is available at either your local Free Clinic, or at your pharmacy OTC. You're demanding it be treated in the same fashion as a a prescription drug when it comes to health insurance paying for it, but I have the suspicion that you would also be against it being returned back to only being available via prescription.

I would also like to interject my own opinion, which is that the expansion of EMERGENCY contraceptives is incredibly dangerous and making it essentially free removes the last bit of barrier that prevents their abuse. I'm sure that you realize that they aren't as safe as aspirin, yet making it as readily accessible as Tic-Tac's is disturbing.

All birth control has risks associated with it, but emergency contraceptives essentially turn your uterus inside out with a mega-does of hormones and there is some data out there that shows an increased risk of stroke than typical BC.

Personally I would be happier to see typical BC available OTC. Its shown to be safe, effective and the likelihood of serious complications and side effects are much lower.

IMO the elephant in the room is the lack of access to REAL BC and your argument ignores the real problem and does a disservice to the women you are defending.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:07 PM
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originally posted by: butcherguy
This is just conjecture, as the court ruled only on the four specific birth control methods.


I believe that is incorrect. The court ruled on the entire contraceptive mandate, giving those with religious objections an exemption from the mandate. A company with religious objections to contraception does not have to provide any. Hobby Lobby just objected to four, but will be providing the others.


edit on 7/1/2014 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:09 PM
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originally posted by: thisguyrighthere
That's covered in the written decision. Something about greater societal good of vaccinations.


What's the greater societal good of an individual receiving a blood transfusion or an individual seeing a psychiatrist or having an operation (where a blood transfusion may be necessary)?



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:10 PM
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This is a hard one for me to decide on.

on one hand, I think corporations have some rights as far as what they should be forced to cover.

on the other hand, the contraception they are talking about has actual beneficial medical uses beyond birth control. and it can be argued that its preventative medicine.

so its a hard one. if one contraceptive is allowed, even if it's used in a preventative medicinal manner, wouldn't that mean all contraceptives enjoy the same status?



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:11 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic


What Justice Alito doesn’t note is that protections have never before been used to burden the rights of employees to the benefit of corporate owners.

...where corporate interests are trying to hide behind constitutional protections to deprive their employees of their rights.

What is this broad talking about, is she nuts?

Rights of employees? What "rights"? The "right" to have your birth control paid for by someone else?

Hide behind? Wow.

Can we first acknowledge that the mandate known as Obamacare is unconstitutional. That forcing someone to buy a service or product is the exact opposite of freedom.

"But the Supreme Court said so".

You mean the same Supreme Court which upheld slavery and Jim Crow laws? That Supreme Court?

Do a search of the many insane decisions shoved down our throats by these mental patients known as the Supreme Court. Not saying they always get it wrong but come on.

And if anyone thinks for one second that the SCOTUS is NOT politically motivated, you're kidding yourselves.

They twist their "interpretation" of the Constitution to fit agendas.


edit on 1-7-2014 by gladtobehere because: wording



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:16 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

Again. SCOTUS did not hear and did not rule on the science of contraception. It ruled on belief. If an employer believes that contraception is immoral, they can deny all contraceptive benefits.

Trust me. The 5 Catholic Justices that made this ruling did NOT discriminate against Catholics. All birth control is fair game.

As a matter of fact, I don't see any reason why an employer couldn't qualify that only their "married" female employees should get birth control benefits, based on their religion, under this ruling.


edit on 1-7-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:17 PM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic

originally posted by: butcherguy
This is just conjecture, as the court ruled only on the four specific birth control methods.


I believe that is incorrect. The court ruled on the entire contraceptive mandate, giving those with religious objections an exemption from the mandate. A company with religious objections to contraception does not have to provide any. Hobby Lobby just objected to four, but will be providing the others.


USA Today....


The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case doesn't currently affect the birth control methods that are most commonly used.

USA Today

There you go.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:25 PM
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a reply to: windword



Again. SCOTUS did not hear and did not rule on the science of contraception.

Irrelevant.
I haven't been speaking of the science of contraception anyway.

You have had time to see the links. The SCOTUS ruling did not affect all contraceptive measures.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:27 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

This will not lead to a slippery slope...we are already on the slippery slope. The Hobby Lobby ruling is just a downstream consequence.

Sure we can parse this is favoring one religion over another and there probably is merit to those views. BUT the religious discrimination (real or percived) misses the mark. That is not the cause but merely a consequence. We need to head up river to kill this stuff.

With corporations are people and money is free speech, expect nothing but more of the same as this is the insanity this road produces. The 1st Amendment becomes jibberish.



posted on Jul, 1 2014 @ 12:29 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

The Supreme court granted an exemption to the contraceptive mandate.

Most contraceptives in the Hobby Lobby case will still be provided by Hobby Lobby and are therefore not affected. That's what USA today is saying.

From the Decision



Held: As applied to closely held corporations, the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA. Pp. 16–49.
...
)
HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31–38
...
The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga . . . would deny [their employees] access to contraceptive
coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure”)



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