Why the Hobby Lobby Decision is a Victory for People of Faith and for Society

Why the Hobby Lobby Decision is a Victory for People of Faith and for Society

Guest Post by Daniel Ortner

The recent Hobby Lobby decision has been widely praised in the conservative media and greeted with deep alarm among the left. Yet, in reality the decision was a modest one that will likely have almost no impact on the employees of Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood. Indeed, the most likely outcome is that the government simply offers to religiously motivated for-profits the same accommodation that they are currently offering churches and religiously affiliated hospitals whereby upon certification of a religious objection, the health insurance providers cover contraception at no cost to the employer or employee.

So why is this case nevertheless a big deal? Why should members of the LDS Church and other people of faith celebrate the ruling? The threshold question in this case was whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which congress passed in the early 90’s to protect religious people of conscience applies to religiously motivated for-profit companies as well as churches and other people of conscience.

In other words, the key question is whether individuals who form for-profit entities lose the ability to assert religious freedom claims under the RFRA. For the dissent, because “an individual separates herself from the entity and escapes personal responsibility for the entity’s obliga­tions,”[1] by incorporation, that individual cannot argue that a government requirement violates his/her individual conscience. In other words, because the law removes personal liability from most business decisions, the dissent suggests that an individual should be expected to compartmentalize or separate his faith and his business activities.
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The Problems with Moral Equivalence – A Response to Geoff B.’s Perspective on Ukraine

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[This is a guest post by Morgan Deane who is a military historian that teaches history for BYU-Idaho. He is an Mphil/PhD student at Kings College London and writes at http://mormonwar.blogspot.com and http://www.arsenalofvenice.com. He has written a book titled, “Bleached Bones and Wicked Serpents: Ancient Warfare in the Book of Mormon”, which will be released shortly. His guest post is in response to Geoff B.’s recent post: Perspective on Ukraine]

Every time the U.S. might take potential military action there are a variety of people who argue that these tyrants and dictators are little different from the U.S. This article in particular caught my eye, since it contained so many of the common moral equivalence errors. Despite the legitimate mistakes made in American foreign policy, America is a different and better country than Russia and our foreign policy is morally superior to that of Putin’s. The quotes are from this article from Geoff B.

The United States is currently occupying Afghanistan

Occupy is a loaded term with a negative connotation. We have troops there, but the most frequent criticism about Obama is that we are leaving too soon. We just left Iraq and the leverage we had there, so I’m amazed at how consistently America is attacked over “occupations” when we seem to be heading towards the exits like scolded gorillas. Continue reading

Selling a Life—Missionary Work

As I explained before, sustaining the law supports agency just as much as sustaining choice. You can’t support one to the detriment of the other without destroying agency in the process. It is a common misunderstanding that laws unrighteously apply force to individuals, so long as they are just and reasonable. They do not force obedience, but they do attach a consequence to behavior that some might perceive as force because they don’t like it.

Participating in a community is an implicit contractual agreement. There are guaranteed to be some laws you don’t like. I have heard this referred to as “tyranny of the majority” which is an empty catch phrase. “Tyranny of the majority,” in any meaningful sense, is ALWAYS present in life. Whoever has the majority of people behind them has the power. That is not the prerogative of democracy, and complaining about it or imagining it away is merely an exercise in fantasy.

The advantage to democracy is that it exposes this underlying reality to the open air and uses it to slow corruption. Note that it won’t stop corruption, only slow it. I believe that we are currently in a situation where corruption is present throughout the system. Theoretically, democracy should be capable of cleaning out the sump unless the majority of the people also succumb to corruption. It remains to be seen whether or not that is the case in the USA.

That being said, there is nothing inherently good about democracy, just as there is nothing inherently good in ANY form of government, even anarchy or decentralized government. The key to a good government is not structure, it is righteousness.

Alma said it much better. The preaching of the word of God has more power than the sword or anything else which had happened to his people. Power to change minds. Power to change hearts.

I believe that if we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stop preaching party politics and begin to preach the word of God in the political arena, we will affect true and righteous change. This doesn’t mean proselytizing, necessarily. This means to preach gospel principles. Frugality, self-reliance, charity, peace, patience, acceptance of others’ weaknesses, hard work, hope, sacrifice, unity.

If any of us truly wish to save the collapse of this country, it will not come by finding the political party which best suits us or trying to convert others to our cause. It will certainly not come by vilifying those who do not agree with us. It will not come by government overhaul. It will come because there are people who eschew politics in favor of peace, power in favor of charity, rightness in favor of righteousness.

Unless that happens, there truly is no hope.

Selling a Life—Marriage

I have spent countless hours mulling over the loss of my marriage covenant, what went wrong, what mistakes I made, and what meaning my experiences have for the larger picture of life. I believe I have gleaned yet another lesson by comparing marriage to the contract of citizenship.

Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with parents who have a strong marriage, I was taught what a marriage entails. There are many explicit agreements, including a wife listening to her husband when he listens to the Lord and the covenant to remain together throughout eternity. Even as a teenager and before I had a husband, I took the marriage covenant seriously enough to study it and to shape my life around its expectations. In doing so, I adopted several implicit obligations in a covenant marriage, including the expectation to grow together, to be patient and forgiving of my spouse’s faults, to give everything I had.

Under the government, in one sense my life and my liberty are theoretically unalienable, which means that even I do not have the right to sell them or trade them. I cannot put myself into indentured servitude or slavery, request a doctor to end my life to donate organs to save another, nor legally volunteer to be executed or incarcerated on another’s behalf.

But like everything, there are shades of grey. I can accept employment which pays me far less than the work is worth, or risk my life to donate organs to save another, so long as death is not guaranteed. I can sacrifice my time, talents, and even my personality for another. I can be raised or manipulated to believe I have no other choice. So these so-called unalienable rights are not as unalienable as we sometimes think. There is not really any such thing as an unalienable right in reality, only in the world of legality. And many people, as I claimed in the last post, confuse the difference between reality and legal rights.

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Selling a Life—Politics

A great many seeming unrelated conversations have sparked a flurry of self-reflection. Discussion of political concepts like “inalienable rights,” “liberty,” and “force,” and reminiscing mission stories with my brother over the Thanksgiving holiday, have crept into my analysis of the collapse of my personal world which is always lurking in the back of my mind. Like many of the best science experiments, unexpected contamination is breaking new ground in my journey to be a disciple of Christ.

Since it is too complicated for one post, I’ve broken down my thoughts into three loose groups, politics, marriage, and missionary work. I will cover the other two in future posts.

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