As the Hobby Lobby decision goes . . . so should the country.

If Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to go against its convictions, neither should anyone else.

Over two years ago, a small business owner’s life was turned upside down by seemingly simple request:

“We’d like you to bake us a wedding cake.”

Despite turning down financial gain and simultaneously setting himself up for legal woes, Jack Phillips declined—stating that his religious convictions prevented him from condoning the couple’s gay marriage by baking the cake. 

In the months and years that followed, Phillips indeed did face national legal scrutiny, as state officials in Colorado and nationally-known institutions like the ACLU got involved.

Eventually, Phillips was given a set of orders from the state of Colorado (where, incidentally, gay marriage isn’t even legal). He must from this point on:

  1. Bake wedding cakes for gay couples,
  2. Submit himself and staff to state-run sensitivity training and
  3. Present reports on a quarterly basis to the state, proving his compliance.

Phillips did not commit a hate crime. Phillips did not ask the couple to leave his shop. In fact, Phillips offered to bake them anything else they wanted. He simply declined to provide a specific service (a wedding cake) based solely on staying true to his religious convictions.

Phillips is not alone. Take Elaine Huguenin, a New Mexico photographer who similarly declined to provide her services to a same-sex couple that wanted to hire her for their commitment ceremony based on her beliefs—and was likewise persecuted. Huguenin and her husband were ultimately ordered to pay the same-sex couple $7,000 dollars.

(It’s also worth noting that though it became legal in December of 2013, gay marriage wasn’t even legal in New Mexico at the time of Huguenin’s refusal to provide services.)

Oregon resident Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa also turned down a request to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. After protests, death threats, and an anti-discrimination lawsuit filed by the lesbian couple with the state, the couple finally collapsed under the immense pressure—closing the doors of their bakery permanently in January of 2013.

Stephen Beale of Crisis Magazine listsother similar cases, including Jack Phillips and Elaine Huguenin, and ranging from wedding venues to flowers to more bakeries.

In the midst of these and other battles over a business owner’s right to operate according to religious convictions, Hobby Lobby was just dealt a major victory . . . and with it, there’s a chance to rectify the ills that these and so many other businesses have faced for standing up in defense of their faith.

The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby—a closely held corporation—doesn’t have to provide the four controversial forms of birth control that it deemed contrary to its deeply-held religious belief about their abortofacient properties.

So, why should Jack Phillips, Elaine Huguenin and Aaron Klein—et al—be any different? Why should any business owner be forced to provide a service (whether to its potential customers or to its employees) that runs in direct contrast to the faith that they hold about marriage, life in the womb, or any other tenant when the 1st Amendment (firmly bolstered by the 14th) clearly states that our freedom to believe as we please is to remain entirely protected?

In a day and age in which religious freedom has been under more attack than ever before, we must ensure that our nation looks to the Hobby Lobby case as precedent. What about pastors who refuse to perform gay wedding ceremonies? What about religious schools that teach that marriage exists between one man and one woman, and that ending a pregnancy is bad? What about parents who teach these now socially “uncouth” beliefs? We need the protection that a precedent like this Hobby Lobby decision sets in motion.

The ruling isn’t all encompassing—indeed, as  Senator Dan Coats has noted, “the Court’s ruling applies only to a narrow group – family-owned, for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby – most faith-based organizations, charities, hospitals and educational institutions are still required to facilitate insurance coverage that includes contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, despite their religious beliefs and moral objections.”

It is, however, a pretty good start.  

6 thoughts on “As the Hobby Lobby decision goes . . . so should the country.

  1. What happens if a small business owner refuses service to black, native American, foreign born, handicapped, old, other religion or otherwise “different” persons because of their individual “religious” beliefs? Should they have the right to do so despite supposed protections of those other persons rights? Should individual “religious” rights take precedence over all other rights? If so, what about radical moslem beliefs that all non-moslems should be killed – do they have the right to exercise such beliefs?

    • One may use their faith as the basis for which to do any number of things– as long as it does not deny a person their one fundamental right, and that is life. Something is not a right (i.e. admission into a store, or being served by a particular vendor) if it infringes upon the rights of others.

      • Imagine a society where common religious beliefs dictated a woman’s ability to make purchases without the expressed permission of her husband or father. Really imagine that…it’s not to far off from relatively recent history or even current societies. Imagine your life if you could only shop in a few stores because most were owned by men with these beliefs. Really think about that scenario. Really think about whether you want to advocate for a society where that is a possibility.

        I still maintain you look at the world from a narrow and naive perspective and I hope you seek to further consider ramifications beyond your current desired outcome. Seek to understand better those that are different from you. Listen more and preach less. Live life with more compassion than you can currently fathom.

  2. Actually, Michael—my view is far wider and broader than yours. Yours dictates that certain people be suppressed so that others won’t feel offended or be inconvenienced. You are essentially advocating that to cater to the beliefs of some, the beliefs of others must be silenced and/or prohibited. There are ways to live in harmony in this world—conflicting views and all—without causing ONE group to lose freedoms over another. How? By simply letting people make decisions for themselves about how they wish to run their lives and their businesses—providing that they aren’t calling for the harm of someone as part of their “religious rights.” (i.e. I wouldn’t say that honor killings under Sharia Law are permissible under the guise of religious freedom, because that’s removing someone else’s right to life.” BUT—that means that a certain level of common sense and personal responsibility come into play. We’re not prohibiting birth control—we’re saying that HOBBY LOBBY shouldn’t have to leave its beliefs by the wayside to provide it. (By the way—Hobby Lobby does provide certain types of birth control; just not the abortifacient kinds.) In this free country, that means that either the employee chooses to use one of the provided types… or he or she then seeks it elsewhere either on their own, or by changing jobs. See? Then everyone’s free. Hobby Lobby is free to do as it sees fit; the employee is free to seek it elsewhere or find a company that shares their values.

    You’re extrapolating this to extremes that no one in “my camp” would ever want—nor does it EVER have to become like that. We’re simply advocating that people be allowed to believe and live as they deem fit.

  3. Mary – to what view of mine are you referring? I suspect you constructed one and then proceeded to argue against it.

    You seem to advocate for a scenario or society where we all just sell or provide services to those we want… Seriously placing the minorities in society at a disadvantage. Easy to advocate for when you speak from the position of the majority or plurality.

    Based on your upbringing, as you described it, you were raised into privilege and now you advocate so you can have even greater privileges. I believe you want good for people and most of humanity; I don’t think you understand or know how to achieve that because you haven’t really walked in the shoes of those who you inadvertently seek to oppress. I hope someday that Jesus will open your eyes to the deeper meanings of His teachings.

  4. I’m referring to your view that MY view is narrow.

    Haha… raised into privilege. If only I were so lucky. I was raised with nothing. Oh… and I’m married to a minority. I ONLY make reference to my personal life that because I want to nip this in the bud; that is, that it doesn’t matter what your background is or who you are– the idea that I’m advocating here is that we all ought to have the freedom to do as our faith dictates, insomuch as we are not advocating for the harm of anyone. This is just bonkers. The very same freedom that should allow Hobby Lobby to provide only what it feels is morally correct to its employees is the very same freedom that allows another company to go ahead and provide whatever it wants to its employees; the very same freedom that should allow a bakery to refuse to participate in a certain ceremony is the VERY SAME FREEDOM which just this month allowed a gay baker to refuse service to someone who wanted a cake celebrating an “anti-gay” view. Good grief. Don’t you see? By seeking a path of Constitutionally-framed freedom, we’re seeking not to oppress ANYONE. Conversely if we lived as you’re advocating, someone will ALWAYS end up silenced. I encourage you to read this piece of mine:

    This might possibly help yo understand what I’m trying to say.

    Lastly– let’s get one thing straight. We can sit here and debate political ideals, but as to my personal belief in Jesus Christ? With all due respect, you have absolutely no right to assume you know what I believe.

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