DSC_7628On November 19th, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain, and other for-profit companies must pay for the coverage of contraceptives such as birth control, the “morning-after pill” and the “week-after pill,” regardless of the religious convictions of the owners. In his ruling denying an injunction on certain provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Judge Heaton said “…the court has not found [that]… for-profit companies such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

Hobby Lobby and Mardel, owned by the same family, have a clear conservative Christian influence. There are 18 Hobby Lobby stores in Alabama, and every one of them closes on Sundays, plays praise and worship music, and displays Bible verses and other references that uphold their core beliefs. Mardel Christian and Education sports a Bible verse at the top of their website, sells Bibles, religious literature and Vacation Bible School materials. Unlike some religious organizations, Hobby Lobby has no qualms about paying for some forms of birth control, but takes issue with the morning-after pill and abortifacients. Founder and CEO David Green said of his company, “We seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

There is no question of the religious basis of these two companies; yet, because they are for-profit entities, they are being denied their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Not-for-profit organizations with religious convictions, such as Catholic churches and parochial schools, have already received waivers allowing them to exercise their religious principles. Essentially, Judge Heaton told business owners across America that their religious beliefs are not protected under the First Amendment because of the tax status of their organizations.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling found that business owners’ expenditures toward political ends, such as funding political action committees or running advertisements against candidates, are expressions of free speech. Why is this same reasoning not carried to other sections of the First Amendment? Why can business owners display their preferences and honor their convictions when it comes to their political convictions, but not religious ones?

The first section of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment was specifically designed to prevent laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. Period. Is not the enforcement of a law that is directly in conflict with the exercise of a religion directly contrary to this most important of rights? There are at least 1722 organizations that have already received waivers from other portions of the Affordable Care Act. Any company that does not wish to comply with a provision it finds morally and religiously objectionable should be granted the same respect, regardless of the tax status.


The Shared Foundation of Liberals and Conservatives

Political discussion in the United States is often framed by party allegiance. When people are asked to explain the rationale behind their choice to identify with a specific party, however, they often cannot give an answer beyond listing particular positions that they support or oppose. While an understanding of specific policies is important, limiting debate […]

Alabama can do more for its military families

According to a recent survey, a majority of military family members do not feel that they belong in their local civilian communities. This means that less than half of military families that live in our neighborhoods, shop at our malls, and attend our places of worship feel at home with us. Why is this the […]

Taylor’s Top 4: Legislative Review for Week 8

Our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to Representative Allen Treadaway and his family after the loss of his daughter Kelsey Treadaway earlier this week.  If you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to API’s Daily Clips. 1. Changes to ethics […]

MORE ON Fiscal Policy

Tax Incentives: Not Always the Answer for Alabama’s Economic Struggles

Last month, the state rejoiced with news that Alabama would be the home of a new Toyota-Mazda plant. The plant is expected to bring over 4,000 jobs and billions of dollars in net revenue to the state. With the execution of this deal, known as Project New World, state and local governments will give the […]

API Joins 36 Conservative Groups and Activists: Congress Must Stop New Obamacare Taxes

Lawmakers must act to prevent Obamacare taxes from going into effect next year, 36 conservative groups and activists wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Absent Congressional action, the Obamacare health insurance tax and medical device tax will both go into effect in 2018. […]

MORE FROM Elizabeth Robinson

Public School Choice: A Personal Story

Alabama is a beautiful state with many attractions, both in its natural beauty and in the slower pace of living our hospitable people prefer. While our drawls and small towns are a quaint reminder of our heritage, the refusal of state  policymakers to implement the educational reforms necessary to make our schools more successful and […]

Diverse pro-life groups present loving choices for mothers and unborn babies

One of the oft-chanted maxims of the pro-choice movement is “Keep your hands off my body.” And it is a mantra that has never settled with me.  While I can certainly understand wanting to keep a stranger’s hands away, I have always wondered why those advocating for abortion never allowed the unborn child to voice […]

Is it the Government’s Job to Create Jobs?

In a recent campaign speech, presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for pushing his agenda on healthcare when the economy is in such dire straits. “The President’s responsibility is to put people back to work, and to get people out of poverty, and to help people have good jobs and have prospects for a […]