The Hobby Lobby Case: Why Knee-jerk Moral Crusades Must Be Stopped

By Niles Wimber

Between writing on the Internet and working at a large retail store, I’d like to say that I have a lot of experience with knee-jerk crusaders. These are people who have the energy and moral fortitude to champion human rights everywhere and the attention span to know nothing about it. With the 24-hour news cycle and the current culture war in America, it’s easy to join up: just read the latest headline and then form an on-the-spot opinion based on what sounds the most right to you and then defend that to the death: the death of rational, common sense thinking. Using the Hobby Lobby/Affordable Healthcare Act lawsuit as an example, let’s look at this phenomenon in action.

The company in question. Source: Wikipedia

Who knew scrapbooking was so edgy? Source: Wikipedia

Hobby Lobby has a case pending in the Supreme Court this month on whether or not privately owned corporations can have religious exemptions to socially controversial laws based on the religious beliefs of their owners. The situation at hand is the fact that the Affordable Health Care Act or, popularly, Obamacare requires that jobs with health insurance benefits must include contraception coverage. Part of this contraception coverage is free (no co-payment) “morning-after” pills. Hobby Lobby’s Christian owners refuse to provide these on the grounds that the possibility of life starting at conception means these pills are essentially mini-abortions.

This is where things get muddled. While the Supreme Court must decide on logical arguments like how many rights business owners retain in a private business, organizations like Planned Parenthood have added that a pro-Hobby Lobbby ruling is denying women access to birth control and giving businesses free reign to discriminate. These are pretty serious charges so let’s talk about it.

First off, let’s look at the original article that I’m drawing from. The comments section is particularly telling as this issue is the ultimate bait for people too lazy to actually read about it. I’ll be looking at three in particular; you can read the others here. [These are unedited.]

A corporation’s rights now supersede the rights of an individual. This crap has to stop.

Let’s pause real quick. The right at stake here is the right to free contraception, specifically the “morning after” pill. Hobby Lobby’s owners said they are okay with condoms, diaphragms, regular birth control pills, literally everything except the morning after pill. If the government rules that Hobby Lobby gets an exemption, you get free access to every type of contraception except for the morning after pill, which means you’ll just have to pay the disgusting sum of $30 over at Walgreen’s if you really must have the option that’s only for emergencies like rape or the dreaded condom failure.

This is getting ridiculous. So any company can claim they shouldn’t have to provide contraception coverage to their employees and get away with it? This is getting scary.

If you read more carefully, you’ll see how they are actually totally okay with everything but the close-to-an-abortion option. It’s hardly refusing to provide contraception coverage, which I might point out has only become free and nationwide because of Obamacare. Seems like we got along okay without free condoms and the like all those years before.

What’s next? Hobby Lobby requiring as a condition employment the right to search your home to see if you’re eating a Biblical diet? Inspecting your wardrobe to ensure you are “modest” enough in your dress? Questioning your spouse to see whether you’re engaging in the “proper” bedroom positions?

Unless you’re a slave, employers have no right to dictate what you do with your body – and no right to impose their religious beliefs on you.

Ignoring the obvious goading at the beginning, the last sentence is the most telling point of all. I’m going to point out that nothing is forcing people to work for Hobby Lobby. All of their employees applied for their jobs. They applied for the right to work for Hobby Lobby before the existence of Obamacare. That means all 13,000 of them already agreed to having no free “morning after” pills. By continuing to work there, that means they are okay with that. This entire debate is totally based off of other people being offended on their behalf. Thank you, other people, for donating your “offendedness”.

Bonus Buzzword Confusion Corner!

Leave it to the gop to try to repeal separation of church and state, why izit do difficult for people to see them for what they are? They will do ANYTHING to get control. Sick disgusting party, truly is .

Yep, this article is about a private corporation, not the government and doesn’t mention any political parties. This commenter really picked up on the key parts they needed to know about. Which are none.

It’s call the separation of church and state. Do they pay taxes??

Guess we should emphasize what the “state” part means a little more in school.

Please Supreme Court, do not open this can of worms for special interest groups…keep Church and State separate…besides they aren’t even a church or affiliated to a church.

At the end of his post, this guy actually seems to realize his mistake mid-sentence. I suppose just deleting that part was too much work.

I’d like to conclude with a statement from Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. Her article in the Huffington Post takes the above a step further by saying that a pro-Hobby Lobby ruling will make general discrimination legal nationwide based on religious exemptions:

If the Supreme Court sides with Hobby Lobby, corporations might not need state laws like the one Governor Brewer vetoed — they’ll take the ruling as a free pass to discriminate, as private businesses pick and choose which laws to follow. This case could turn the clock back on decades of progress and radically reshape the balance our nation has struck to respect individual religious beliefs while protecting everyone’s rights and liberties.

It could also have extraordinarily far-reaching consequences. An employer could decide to cover reproductive health care for male employees, but take away birth control coverage for women. A company could refuse to provide insurance coverage for HIV medication. A bank could refuse to give loans to single mothers.

Yes, giving Hobby Lobby the right to exclude free morning after pills from their insurance means that you could deny people coverage for AIDS medication if your religion is against AIDS sufferers, somehow. Pills that prevent unwanted children are just like pills that treat unwanted diseases, right?  Also, there are religious banks that hate single parents and this plays right into their hands! Holy fearmongering, Batman!

On a more serious note, the Supreme Court’s job is to uphold the sanctity of the US Constitution as the most authoritative and stable law in the country. There’s a politically moderate viewpoint they take called judicial minimalism: applying narrow case-specific rulings along the general current of society.  In short, it’s deciding the current case but not declaring that the ruling is now the foundation for every law related to it everywhere. This addresses the matter at hand while limiting mass change to current laws, precisely to avoid chaos that would result from widely applied rulings. Ms. Richards’ theory about the Court potentially allowing businesses to do literally anything they want, legal or not, as long as it was in the name of religious freedom will fortunately never happen.

So, moral crusaders on Facebook and the rest of the Internet, let’s trust the Supreme Court on this one and keep the armchair activism to ourselves, okay?

5 responses to “The Hobby Lobby Case: Why Knee-jerk Moral Crusades Must Be Stopped

  1. Let people buy their own insurance, not tied to one’s employer and the whole problem would be fixed. Very good argument. Love your blog!


  2. Dear Sir,

    You start off by making a good point– people often get riled up before getting all the facts. However, you then walk into the exact same trap.

    Taking the morning after pill is not like getting a mini abortion, not even by Hobby Lobby’s standards. Taking the morning after pill delays ovulation– if you’ve already ovulated and if the egg has implanted, the pill is basically useless/harmless. The fact that a corporation doesn’t understand how certain contraceptives work does not mean that people should not be able to get birth control as part of their healthcare plan.

    Not to be snide, but maybe try researching how the morning after pill works before launching into a rant. It makes even your good points seem moot.

    Someone who cares about science


    • Thanks for your input! That’s a great point that Hobby Lobby’s owners may be mistaken as to the effects of the morning after pill. I will point out that I’m merely repeating why they disagree with the mandate to provide the pill and not personally advocating what its effects are.

      The fact that a corporation doesn’t understand how certain contraceptives work does not mean that people should not be able to get birth control as part of their healthcare plan.

      Also, if we are getting all the facts here, Hobby Lobby is not objecting to all birth control, only the morning after pill and specifically whether or not the government is allowed to force them to provide it. In my understanding, other methods such as condoms and pills like Seasonale are perfectly fine with them.


    • “Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, morning-after pills may act by one or more of the following actions: delaying or preventing ovulation, blocking fertilization, or keeping a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” (From…

      It seems likely that the Hobby Lobby owners have religious objections to the possibility of “keeping a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” So, the root of the question remains… is the owners’ free exercise of religion more important than the employees’ free morning-after pills? One is a constitutionally-protected right, while the other is merely a perk.


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