I reposted on Facebook an image that declares, “Change ‘Christian’ to ‘Islam’ in the Hobby Lobby case, and the same people arguing for it would be frothing at the mouth against it. It’s called hypocrisy.” This got a response from one connection (a friend of a Facebook friend): “I’ve never asked a Muslim co-worker to buy me bacon, and I wouldn’t demand that a Muslim employer buy bags of pork rinds to put in his vending machine or to fead me with at a lunch and learn session. So in the name of eschewing hypocrisy I take it everyone re-posting or liking this meme also supports having their tax money go to ‘faith based’ charities that provide essential services, err I mean human rights.” Here is the response I wrote to that:
Best solution to the Hobby Lobby issue: not have private companies involved in essential health care. In the civilized world (not including the US) health care coverage is mediated directly by the government. Supplementary coverage for some things the government plan may not cover (e.g., massage, dental, eyecare, prescription drugs) may be handled through plans that are contracted through employers (but paid for at least in part by employees), but the bulk of health care coverage is handled in a far more efficient and effective way as a single-payer public service rather than an inefficient marketplace of multiple levels of profit-taking. Costs are much lower and outcomes much better, and we don’t have the risk of direct employer interference.
Everyone pays for things they don’t like through their taxes. Tax breaks and grants to charities go to organizations that sometimes have directly competing interests. The same government that pays for the army gives breaks to pacifist groups; Zionist and Palestinian relief groups may both get benefits; governments run lotteries and at the same time support through tax relief and, sometimes, direct grants religious organizations that are strictly opposed to gambling. The owners of Hobby Lobby can’t avoid indirectly supporting things they don’t like any more than the rest of us can; government is there as an organism for all of the country, and all of the country is a very diverse set of people with multifarious needs and desires. But of course they don’t want to seem to be supporting it directly. Also, like so many other companies, they are trying to find a way out of the government mandate. Many companies have been looking at cutting their staff hours so that their workers are exempted. Another example of why leaving employers out of the crucial nexus would be better.
But I think it is a very fair statement that many people who see religious rights as being trampled on here are concerned about their religious rights but less so about the religious rights of others. It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find people who are very strongly in favour of the rights of Christians of their particular stripe to exercise the dictates of their interpretations of their consciences who at the same time are directing streams of invective and bigotry against Islam.
This is not so much an analog of asking Muslim co-workers to buy you bacon, anyway. It is a closer analog of a company whose boss is a Muslim setting a strict policy that meal expense accounts can only be used for halal food, and absolutely in no case ever for pork. But it’s not a perfect analog of that, either. Hormone therapy – “birth control pills” – is used not just for birth control but for various other medical conditions as well. And in some cases where it is used for birth control, it is because the woman is taking another necessary prescription drug that is a known teratogen. Some people have chronic conditions that are life-threatening or strongly deleterious to quality of life that can currently be treated effectively only with medications that have a high risk of producing birth defects. Preventing women who are taking those medications from using birth control is telling them that they have a choice of 1) no sex life, even if they are married, 2) a risk of children with severe congenital impairments, or 3) going without treatment for their condition.
But I’m not arguing for employers making exceptions for people with special needs. The would accept the assumption that the employer has a right to dictate how employees receive their health care and live their private lives. The very idea that your employer should have any say in how you live your private life – except inasmuch as it directly affects your employer (e.g., through Tweeting compromising statements about them) – is unacceptable, a throwback to feudalism, and only the United States among all developed countries seems to have a problem seeing that.