Don’t get me wrong — I’m not anti-religion. However, one would have to be in a coma, or willfully ignorant, to not see the relationship between over-zealous believers and recent tragic and controversial events. One very obvious example is the mess in Iraq, where atrocities committed by Muslim factions are apparently justified by their differing interpretations of their religion.
Closer to home, we have the recent controversial Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The company owners have the right to abstain from the use of contraception if that is against their religious beliefs. But why do they have the right to leverage their personal religious beliefs to deny others from obtaining basic reproductive services? If they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, would they also have the right to prevent their employees from obtaining blood transfusions?
The response given to these questions is typically something like: “Well, they’re not preventing their employees from obtaining these services, they just don’t want to pay (in the form of providing insurance coverage) for these services.” In response, I say that all of us pay for public services that we may not agree with. My Christian friend doesn’t like having her taxes used to support drone strikes that result in deaths of innocent people, and I don’t like paying taxes for a waterfront tunnel, when a reinforced viaduct would have been just fine. My retired neighbors don’t support school levies because their kids are grown. But these individual preferences shouldn’t compromise the development of prudent public policy, or access to important services that benefit the vast majority of people.
As the conservatives on the Supreme Court continue to erode the boundaries between personal religious beliefs and government operations, our country moves more and more towards a theocracy. Although the Hobby Lobby case was purported to be a “narrow decision,” can there be any doubt that clever lawyers will use this ruling as a precedent to challenge any regulation with which their corporate clients take issue with, using religion as the pretext?