Hobby Lobby, which employs 13,000 people, is suing the federal government. Hobby Lobby says their religious liberty is threatened by the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) because they should not be forced to participate in what they view as “life-terminating contraception, including IUDs and the so-called morning-after pill.”
The thrust of the argument is based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law passed in 1993. The RFRA requires that the government show “compelling interest” when a person’s religious rights are “substantially burdened” by what the government wishes to do
As the News-Gazette points out, the only problem for Hobby Lobby is that it is not clear whether that law’s protections extend to companies.
The backdrop for this showdown is a changing landscape, where the Bush-era defeats of same-sex marriage – including several state ballot initiatives that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman – are now being pushed aside. Same-sex marriages and civil rights are winning. In fact, some are asking if the Southern Baptist Convention is giving up on the same-sex fight altogether.
But evangelicals are looking for a new front on which to fight the war. And that front is now called “religious liberty”.
The Washington Examiner says that Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is seeking to redefine their battle, this time in an effort to make sure that, even if they can’t keep homsexuals from marrying, they can at least not be forced to be ok with it.
And, of course, this extends into politics, candidates that evangelicals should support, and policy pushes. When asked about his ideal candidate for president in this new landscape, Moore said:
“I would want a presidential candidate who understands the public good of marriage, and one who is not hostile to evangelical concerns, and who is going to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience. We have been saying, ‘Look, same-sex marriage is inevitable in American culture. It doesn’t mean we should stop talking about it … It means we need to start preparing our churches for a new generation.”
Essentially, what this position means is that, even though evangelicals realize they have lost the same-sex marriage battle, they want the beliefs of Americans who oppose homosexual marriage on religious grounds be respected. What they do not say is what that means in terms of real-world actions, responses, and policy.
Some see this “religious liberty” argument as a convenient receptacle into which to pour anything that someone sees as a religious basis to deny others rights, whether it be marriage or birth control. Once in that receptacle, their actions would be protected by that umbrella, even if that means denying business service to gay people, unmarried couples, Muslims, or people with tattoos.
But the term “religious liberty”, though it is not a new term , will be much more of a buzzword from here on out than it has been in the past.
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