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,” 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.