The Supreme Court heard opening arguments in the Hobby Lobby case today, and things did not go well for supporters of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.
The Court seems prepared to rule that corporations, or at least some corporations, have religious rights previously extended only to individuals. Likely swing vote Anthony Kennedy apparently believes that allowing the contraceptive mandate to stand could someday force businesses run by religious conservatives to pay for abortions, while Chief Justice John Roberts says, in effect, that the contraceptives in dispute induce abortions if the plaintiffs feel that they do. (Ian Millhiser at Think Progress: "Roberts, however, suggested that someone's mere belief that something is an abortion is enough to trigger an religious exemption to federal law.")
In response to all this, David Atkins writes:
... abortion has been set up in its own special category by conservative male legislators in this country. I am forced to support corporate welfare, Creationist schools and immoral wars with my tax dollars. But for some reason my conservative neighbor doesn't have to support abortion rights with his tax dollars. And if Hobby Lobby gets their way, my conservative neighbor will be able to pay any potential employees differently based on whether they use birth control.Maybe we just need to embrace the notion, promulgated by right-wingers over the years, that we evil lefties have a godless religion called "secular humanism."
That's not justice. If this country wants to move in that direction, then perhaps progressives nationally should reorganize into a "religion." Sounds like a pretty cool perk: organize politically without the pesky IRS, and enshrine a bunch of political beliefs into a discriminatory legal code.
Some believe (erroneously) that the Supreme Court found secular humanism to be a religion in 1961. In fact, Justice Hugo Black merely referred to it as a religion in a footnote in the case Torcaso v. Watkins, which reaffirmed that there can't be a religious test for any U.S. public office. Since then, however -- Rick Perlstein runs down the history here -- right-wingers have argued that, yes, liberals are trying to establish the religion of secular humanism in America. A sample:
In 1976, an Arizona congressman named John Conlan -- now obscure, but at one time Evangelicals' first choice for president -- introduced an anti-secular humanism bill. It passed a House of Representatives in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans 291 to 144. This is potent stuff. The conservative group Concerned Women for America began donating legal services for parents wishing to challenge the supposed teaching of secular humanism, predicting that 300,000 school districts might come under challenge in 1986. Megachurch minister Tim LaHaye (who later co-authored the "Left Behind" series) said secular humanists were not qualified to hold government positions -- neatly inverting ... Torcaso v. Watkins.... And in 1985, congress passed the Education for Economic Security Act to improve science education, including funding for magnet schools -- to which conservatives added an amendment prohibiting its use for "teaching secular humanism," conveniently omitting to define "secular humanism," except to note that local school boards could define it themselves.If this is how right-wingers think, maybe we should go for it. Maybe we should start churches of secular humanism and assert our rights under the new post-Hobby Lobby order. We struggle to advance the cause of climate science, or evolution, or reproductive rights by appealing to reason -- maybe we'd do better if we could whine that our enemies are guilty of religious bigotry. How much worse could it get?