Tina Dupuy: Freedom for Hobby Lobby’s religion
Conservative Christians cheered when Hobby Lobby was able to deny working-women of childbearing age birth control coverage though their company’s insurance plan. They called it a victory for “religious freedom.” I would like to see those applauding this newly discovered corporate-conscience also stand up for other religions’ freedom: Islam, Flying Spaghetti Monster or Scientology. Otherwise they’re not really for religious freedom — they’re for Conservative Christian legal protection while tweeting the word “freedom.”
Is Conservative American Christianity a monolith like they claim to be? Are they in solidarity with each other under the same basic religion? Are they open-minded to any differences as long as you believe in Jesus? Are they accepting of all “faiths” that are based on the Bible? Really? The country is about to see.
The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores decision is not the end of Hobby Lobby and its billionaire-fueled fight for their specific Christianity. No, quite the opposite. Hobby Lobby has launched a crusade to insert their opinion of their religion into American life. Hobby Lobby, the store that is to birth control what Citizens United is to campaign finance, also wants to teach your children about the merits of the Protestant Bible.
How will Christian Conservatives feel when the “hobby” is teaching our kids about the Green family’s denomination in public schools?
A draft of the bible curriculum has already caused an uproar. Mainly, because it claims Adam and Eve were historical figures and asserts lore like Noah’s Ark and the Holy Grail are evidentiary facts. Why? Bible says so. It’s a literal reading of the Bible as many have pointed out.
“Our goal ... [is to] reintroduce this book to the nation,” Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, said last spring. “This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. We need to know it. And if we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”
Green goes on to say in his speech he’d like for this curriculum to one day be mandatory instead of elective. (Note: birth control coverage, elective — teaching one literal interpretation of the Holy Bible —mandatory).
I have two problems with this endeavor: The first one is if a billionaire Muslim wanted to get American students to learn about the Koran and study it as the literal truth, then poured millions into a similar project saying otherwise the country is in danger, there would be rioting in the streets.
The other is this Bible project seemingly bowdlerizes the Good Book and injects modern day values into an ancient tome. The draft of the course says early feminism, freedom of the press and human rights are in the Bible. Maybe in crayon, but not in the regular text. Not that I would ever accuse a religion of just making stuff up as they go along.
Speaking of the actual text, Hemant Mehta at Patheos points out, “The textbook utilizes only four versions of the bible, all protestant: the New Living Translation, the New International Version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version. Catholic, orthodox, Jewish and other biblical traditions are omitted, leaving only one particular sect.”
Catholics are the largest Christian denomination in the country and they don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of god. So this project isn’t about Bible study, it’s about promoting Protestantism in the classroom.
Will that be controversial among any of those who lauded the idea a legal entity can have religious objections?
Hobby Lobby was able, through the guise of religion, to carve out a tiny niche of people they could treat differently: their female employees. The decision specified it didn’t give all religiously affiliated companies the right to discriminate at will. It ruled in favor of just what Hobby Lobby thinks is wrong in the Affordable Care Act. The Court’s opinion reads, “This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandate e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discriminations a religious practice.”
It’s worth noting just last week Pope Francis said the church is reconsidering its stance on birth control.
So while this seemed to be a “religion freedom” Kumbaya moment for conservative Christians — we’ll see how it goes when Hobby Lobby starts teaching our kids in public schools about what they think the Bible really means.
What’s a little Protestant Reformation among friends, huh?
Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.