If Hobby Lobby is a person of faith, then why has it never taken communion or been baptized?

On March 25, the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate will be tested as the Supreme Court holds oral argument in the case Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius.

The case represents yet another absurd application of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the family of laws that got Arizona in trouble recently), and of the anachronistic Free Exercise Clause — only this time the federal versions are at issue.

The facts are pretty straightforward. Hobby Lobby and Mardel are two corporations, both owned by the same devout Christian family, the Greens, who run each business as a “closely held corporation” (complicated legal jargon meaning, essentially, that these are family-operated businesses).

The Greens’ devotion to the Christian faith is not in question. In the 10th Circuit decision, which was decided in their favor, the court wrote that “the Greens allow their faith to guide business decisions for both companies”; they are closed on Sundays, they purchase newspaper ads “inviting people to ‘know Jesus as Lord and Savior,'” and they “[refuse] to engage in business activities that facilitate or promote alcohol use.”

birth control pills

Pills via Shutterstock

Now, they have their sights set on what they believe to be the anti-Christian nature of some contraceptive methods; the Greens “sincerely” believe it is “immoral for them to facilitate any act that causes the death of a human embryo.”

As I see it, there are really two issues worthy of discussion in this case.

First, does the Affordable Care Act’s, aka “Obamacare’s,” contraceptive mandate, which forces businesses to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their female employees, violate the business’ rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause?

Second, do for-profit corporations have rights as religious persons? (Yes, you read that right–it has seriously come to this. John expanded on this “Citizens United for corporations” concept in an earlier article).

I will address the latter question in this post and the former in a separate post, coming soon.

Corporations Do Not Practice Religion

Personally, I think the most interesting fact about Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius is that Hobby Lobby and Mardel are for-profit corporations. The free exercise right that has been asserted in this case, which the 10th Circuit actually endorsed, is thus the free exercise right of a for-profit corporation.

Now, I ask: Is there not something ridiculous about the suggestion that a corporation has religious rights?

We have already been through the Roberts’ court’s devastating conclusion that for-profit corporations have free speech rights, which permit them to spend unlimited amounts to purchase electoral results and thereby subvert American democracy. Am I wrong in thinking it is one step further down the road to crazy-town for the law to treat corporations and human beings identically when it comes to religious observance?

Even those who believe firmly in a Christian God will admit that their God is unlikely to stand in judgment of Wal-Mart’s eternal soul. Wal-Mart, like all corporations, is soulless (the word soulless might have double meaning here). This trait corporations share with all other inanimate, non-tangible things. They are also personality-less, loveless, thoughtless–you see where I am going with this.

Religion is the particular province of biological human beings, because the essence of religion is the struggle to explain and give purpose specifically to the human condition. There is no philosophical angst about the corporate condition, which can be dissolved with the stroke of a pen.  (What’s next, a right-to-life for corporations? Will bankrupty become abortion?) And companies can’t get married, divorced, baptized. They can’t go to confession or communion.  The very faiths that these companies claim to represent do not accept them as “believers.”

Corporate Owners Can Practice Religion

It is true that the owners of for-profit corporations can be devoutly religious, just as it is true that the people who are really “speaking” when corporations pay for political ads are the owners and operators of the corporation. Corporations themselves don’t talk, and they don’t worship. They are a legal fiction–perhaps even a necessary one, to a limited extent.

But why do we tolerate the invidious expansion of this legal fiction into the most sacred frontiers, demeaning our most intimate beliefs and our political system? Why don’t the owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel, like the owners of politically-active corporations, assert their own First Amendment rights instead of hiding behind the nonsensical image of the talking, worshiping corporation? It is true that the corporations are the entities required by law to purchase contraception, but unless we believe that this offends the Christian sensibilities of the corporation–and who could believe such tripe?–then plainly what is at issue are the Christian sensibilities of its owners.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel, like the corporations who buy political ads, have numerous employees. Hobby Lobby has 22,000, by this count, and the ACA’s contraceptive mandate only applies to corporations that have more than 50 employees. Thus, truly “small” businesses, like the “sole proprietorship”–the corporation with one shareholder, which is essentially just a single individual doing business–would not be affected by it.

This is a critical point. One could make the argument that Bob Smith’s automobile wholesale business, of which he and one other person are the only employees, should not be forced to purchase contraception because it would violate his personal beliefs. This small corporation is likely so intimately connected to Bob’s life and to his personal finances that it is impossible to meaningfully distinguish between Bob and the corporation.  A free exercise claim for the corporation in such circumstances would at least be pragmatic (and more than simply laughable). And, failing that, Bob could assert that his own personal free exercise is violated by forcing his corporation to purchase contraception. Being such a small entity, and being so connected to him, Bob might justifiably win on that claim.

But such a case could never arise under the ACA. The law targets bigger enterprises, for obvious reasons. Hobby Lobby’s Christian owners, the Greens, are not the only people who make their corporation run. Its 22,000 employees are all connected to the business in, if not the same way, a manner that is similar to the Greens. The corporation is their employees’ livelihood just as it is the Greens’ livelihood. And without its employees, the corporation would crumble instantaneously.

Large Corporations Are Bigger Than Their CEO

So why is it that the Christian owners of the company should be entitled, by availing themselves of the bogus legal fiction–which the 10th Circuit thought compelling–that corporations are religious persons, to subject all 22,000 employees to their preferred doctrines of the Christian faith?

Why should all female employees of Hobby Lobby and Mardel be denied access to health coverage that our nation’s democratically-elected leaders have determined is an obligation for all corporations with more than 50 employees to provide, just because the owners of these companies are Christians?

Are workers utterly expendable, parasitical elements, whose stake in the corporation are to be systematically ignored even when their contributions to its success are essential?

They can’t, they shouldn’t be, and they aren’t.

If we have to tolerate the baffling image of a pious corporation, its faith should not be determined solely by reference to the religion of its owners, because it is not the owners alone who comprise the corporation. At the least, corporate religious faith should be an amalgamation of the spiritual beliefs of all its employees. Impossible? Perhaps–but that is for the best. Corporations don’t have gods.

David Delmar is a third-year student at Harvard Law School, with experience in both civil and criminal public interest law. His interests include law, politics, culture and society, philosophy, religion, and great fiction. David particularly likes to write about issues affecting human rights and civil liberties.

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187 Responses to “If Hobby Lobby is a person of faith, then why has it never taken communion or been baptized?”

  1. JayChong says:

    Okay since everyone seems to be asking what rights a corporation has and what rights a corporation does not have, here’s a quick list. A corporation has the right to:

    Free Speech (Citizens United)

    Free Press

    Petition the Government

    Protection against Search and Seizure

    Peaceably Assemble

    Due Process

    Double Jeopardy

    Private Property cannot be taken without just compensation

    They do not have:

    Right against self-incrimination

    Voting Rights


    Gun Rights

    marlette782 – The author is not ignoring Hollywood. Hollywood is a non-issue in this case because corporations have a free press and now a free speech right. If Hobby Lobby brought a free speech or free press case, the comparison could be drawn, but Hobby Lobby is asserting free exercise of religion, which is the first time any corporation has presented such a case.

  2. Silver_Witch says:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Hobby Lobby is not a People and therefore is not protected nor does it have any rights under the Constitution. It is not a person. The people that own the company have said rights and are free to exercise those rights. Once the people that own the company elect to shield themselves behind the “corporate veil”, which provides them protections from the act of the corporation, they no longer have the right to express their religious beliefs. Once a person chooses to enter the public theater and provide services or goods to the people of this country – the owners of the corporation no longer get the privileges and rights of a person.

    A corporation can not have a sincerely held belief – it is not alive, does not breath and has no rights outside the laws that govern such business entities.

  3. Silver_Witch says:

    Since I pay taxes I assume that my expression of supporting the provision of contraception with my tax dollars is paying for contraceptives. I am a taxpayer just like you and a person as well. I have a right to religious freedom, just like those Christians that whine about losing theirs. The problem is that this country is full of people with varying beliefs. I respect your right to believe as you will, until your rights impose beliefs upon me. I also contribute to planned parenthood.

    As a woman, I support every woman’s right to own her person, to be free to live as she would like. Want to have babies – Go For It…don’t want to have babies – you should be free to live life that way.

    Lastly, with the number of children who receive welfare and food stamps and other benefits from the government, I would think you would understand the positive outcome of birth control that would allow people to have children when they are financial capable of paying for their care and relieving the burden from society to care for those who are conceived before their parents are ready.

    I personally prefer my taxes go to birth control, medical care and food for those that can not provide for themselves then one more bullet for a war.

  4. marlette782 says:

    I would also pay good money to see the first amendment right of freedom of speech taken away from corporate hollywood

  5. marlette782 says:

    Why don’t you hand out birth control with your money?

  6. marlette782 says:

    How does corporate Hollywood claim the first amendment right of freedom of speech?

  7. marlette782 says:

    What the author is ignoring is Hollywood. corporate Hollywood has always used the first amendment to hide behind. And liberals like the ACLU allow Hollywood to get away with it. Yet, these same liberals insist that Hobby Lobby does not have amendment rights.

  8. CSharpDb says:

    Sorry David, but, you’ve taken the easy way out. You’re engaged in hyperbole and rhetoric, and really didn’t add anything to the conversation you can’t find a talking head commenting on.

    Obviously, I’ve engaged in hyperbole, too–clearly you’re not an idiot. And, you write well. I’m looking forward to your post on the first of the 2 questions you brought up: First, does the Affordable Care Act’s, aka “Obamacare’s,” contraceptive mandate, which forces businesses to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their female employees, violate the business’ rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause?

    I’m a religous person, myself, but I don’t yet have a firm position on whether a for-profit corporation can exude a religious attitude. I actually think perhaps it can, which I fully comprehend is not where you stand on it.

    But, if a corporation is able to be “green,” why can’t one be religious? We put all sorts of personification into the very language we use to describe companies. Obviously those words aren’t legally enabling, but there’s a tendency to personify organizations.

    Further, beyond religion, this dives into ethics some. Clearly humanity is split on whether life begins at conception. Thus, it follows that humanity should be split on whether the kinds of contraception that Hobby Lobby wishes to exclude coverage on are ethical or not.

    I think your implication that Hobby Lobby is denying all women that work for them health care coverage is where you fall off the tracks on this. They aren’t denying healthcare to women. They are not wanting to provide a specific class of drug that they (by they, I mean those that own the corporation) find unethical. That’s a far cry from denial of coverage. My company doesn’t cover hearing exams. Wouldn’t that be more germane to healthcare than contraception? Please don’t give me the tired line that “many women use birth control not to prevent pregnancy, but for other health reasons.” Yeah, no…in reality that number is very close to (but not exactly) zero. First, the numbers are horribly convoluted due to the huge number of doctors that offer to say it’s for medical reasons (you know that’s true) so that it gets covered for a patient, and second, there are other treatments available for those that truly have legitimate medical needs.

    (By the way, the kinds of drugs that Hobby Lobby owners find unethical are not used for any malady other than pregnancy. I should classify that a little more appropriaely–these drugs are approved for removing a fetus from the womb.)

    Realize, corporations of all kinds fire people for participating in “unethical acts” every day. Sometimes they’re illegal acts, but what about when they aren’t? How can corporations terminate employees for ethical violations, yet not be able to maintain a set of ethics, since they aren’t corporeal?

    I think all of this Hobby Lobby crap, though, is actually proxy for the other issue–one I’d love to see you write on: does the government have the authority to require contraception be provided at no charge to employees?

    And, why contraception? Why not experimental treatments for cancer?

    Where does contraception fall on the Jungian Pyramid? Surely not below Safety. I’d think that, by and large, they come in up there at Esteem, or even Self-Actualization. What about all the other things that we need provided for us? Is it up to the government to ensure that employers provide a safe home for employees? What about nutritious foods? Mrs. Obama is all about this–should we start working towards mandated food benefits for all employees?

    My apologies for dragging this out into such a long comment–I clearly don’t have your literary gift, and work has run interference a few times while I tried to convey my thoughts, which are now looking like a hot mess. It may be hard to believe, but I’m not anti-abortion (at its root, anyway), anti-healthcare, or anti-government. I like good discusion, though. I am a little anti-Harvard-Lawyer, though…;) And, I’ve seldom met a community organizer that I’d vote for. Maybe once….

    Best wishes for finishing up Law School this year.

  9. CSharpDb says:

    Ha. Funny. You got me there. And to think, you summed up my existence based on 17 words.

  10. Jane Doe says:


  11. Silver_Witch says:

    Does anyone remember the name of the first email service….not AOL…

  12. David Delmar says:


  13. kurtsteinbach says:

    Nice. LOL! So how do we know when Bain Capital is dead, or is it immortal? I want o here what the Mormon Church has to say about baptizing the company, and not just it’s exploiting investors, um job creators. No, I mean exploiters….

  14. BillFromDover says:

    When is it really, truly dead”

    When Bain Capital gains ownership, perhaps?

  15. BillFromDover says:


    The possibilities are as endless as the reasons for corporate personhood in the first place … profits and greed.

  16. kurtsteinbach says:

    Go to Michael’s instead….

  17. kurtsteinbach says:

    You can also be sure that nobody at Hobby Lobby wears poly-cotton-or wool blends, especially not to work. None of them eat shellfish or mixes milk and meat in the same meal. By the way, I hear Hobby Lobby also wants to bring back stoning because the Babble tells them so….

  18. kurtsteinbach says:

    You’re thinking of the Outer Limits…. Hee, hee, hee….

  19. kurtsteinbach says:

    But having fun is against their religious beliefs, and not what their god would have wanted. There is another term for what Hobby Lobby, et al are trying to do in this case, it is called a scam. They are trying to scam the American people and the American Justice System. Conservatives have been doing this a lot over the the last decade or two. We need to stop letting them do it. If they really think government can do no good, then stop putting the people who believe that, because there is little evidence that government does no good, in office….

  20. kurtsteinbach says:

    How does a corporation die? When does a corporation die. When is it really, truly dead. Packard is dead, or is it a part of Hewlett-Packard? Dodge is dead, or is it a part of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, which is now organized in the Netherlands and traded on both the Milan and NY Stock Exchanges? I know my grandmother is dead. She was pronounced so by a doctor and buried in the ground, but then corporations aren’t people, and corporations are abstract, legal entities setup for legal and tax purposes, you and I are not….

  21. therling says:

    If Hobby Lobby’s a person, what would happen if that “person” was bought up by another corporate “person?”

  22. Silver_Witch says:

    Well that would assume that Average gets laid…not sure about that.

  23. heinleiners says:

    Well reasoned article.

  24. lynchie says:

    Well if average Joe gets a case of the clap he would expect his health insurance to cover that. Or if he wants viagra or something for the warts on his ass, as long as it is for him and not you. Bet he enjoys sending your kids to war but not his.

  25. nicho says:

    Wow, you take trolling to a whole new level. Apparently, you’re just jealous because you were rejected by Phoenix.

  26. CSharpDb says:

    More proof that going to Harvard is more about your wallet, and less about your cognitive capability.

  27. nicho says:

    Mormons will baptize corporations — but only after they’re dead.

  28. tom dumptee says:

    well done,David,nice article

  29. Moderator4 says:

    Disqus has tools that enable the updating of older stories or the migration of older discussion threads to a new thread.
    Alternative explanation: the site owner, John Aravosis, has powers that we must never speak of. ;)

  30. 2karmanot says:

    Below average

  31. emjayay says:


    Time Warp starts below with cambridgemac’s comment.

  32. nicho says:

    9-11 was a “faith-based initiative”

  33. UncleBucky says:

    Ohhhhh, “intercourse” hobby lobby and all corporate persons, right in their corporate rear exits…

  34. UncleBucky says:

    Yep. Let’s start asking religious groups if they will admit companies, corporations, organizations, and even Nations as “members” of their congregations.

    No, I don’t mean this as a joke. I mean that an #OccupySomething movement needs to find a way to get religious organizations to either admit a material thing as a “member” or be on record saying this is impossible.

    Get some mud flying…

  35. Badgerite says:

    It seems to me that they are using the corporation to construct a sort of societal divide. Like a gated community from which certain elements in society can maintain control. Or the illusion of control. And I think it is the wrong for the future of the country.

  36. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    MH370 got Raptured? Explains a lot.

  37. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Yeah, to hell with that….

    …writing on my cash “Not Valid for Gun Purchases”.

  38. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    There’s always going to be some good parts that get lost when a state is turned into a RW toxic waste dump.

    So perhaps TX is too big? How about South Carolina? Or the part of Florida that will be underwater after the glaciers melt?

    If it’s just a hard core set of crazies, give them Gitmo as their own little country.

  39. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Jubilee on your revolving-charge card, baby!

  40. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Potentially immortal? Without a physical body that feels pain? Present in many places simultaneously?

    People, no. Demons? Perhaps.

  41. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    If Hobby Lobby discontinued health coverage, the whole controversy is gone…sure, the employees have to use ObamaCare, and Hobby Lobby has to pay a ‘penalty’ (likely, less than they’re paying now for health coverage), but there’s nothing barring them from doing this.

    Except then the RWNJs would no longer have a case at the Supreme Court.

    My deeply-held belief is that RWNJ’s should have an ax planted in their heads, but NOOOOoooo those pesky laws say otherwise. Persecution, it is!

  42. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Ask the Store Manager for their special on Virgin’s Blood!

  43. Badgerite says:

    Suppose the company is owned by Christian Scientists. Does that then mean, “No healthcare for YOU?”
    The obvious one, of course, is the government’s use of your tax dollars. You are required to contribute to all sorts of things that your religious belief may say is wrong. Yet no INDIVIDUAL citizen is allowed to opt out of paying taxes or have their tax payments directed only to those enterprises that their religion approves of. Likewise, an individual is not allowed to evade legitimate laws because they conflict with their religion. Say Indians smoking peyote for religious rituals. Parents praying over a dying daughter rather than seeking medical care that could have saved her. Can a state then not prosecute such behavior because it would violate their constitutional right to religious freedom.
    No SCOTUS decision has ever said so.
    How is it that a company or corporation, which is a legal fiction created, literally, for the convenience of the marketplace, has more ‘religious freedom’ under the constitution than an actual, living, breathing, live and in person, flesh and blood, CITIZEN?

  44. emjayay says:

    Dooo dooo dooo dooo, dooo dooo dooo dooo…(Twilight Zone theme)

  45. eahopp says:

    Can a woman abort Hobby Lobby?

  46. Snarki, child of Loki says:


  47. Silver_Witch says:

    I was wondering the very same thing emjayay – I thought I had stepped into a Time Warp…

  48. Silver_Witch says:

    We have fought so hard and so long to get woman access to birth control. For good reason, a mother who did not want to be one is not a very good mom. I come from generations of women who had children they did not want. That were locked into having them because they could not find reliable protection. I also come from a long line of hateful women – that resented their children and did not celebrate them the way I celebrate the joy of having my son in my life.

    That joy comes as a result of CHOICE, I choose when to have him, I choose how many children to have and I was never surprised or burdened by an unwanted choice. And I could enjoy the one behavior that makes living with another person bearable during the hard times – a good romp in the hay – never worrying that a child might result.

    If they are really really really against abortion, then they should advocate, support and hand out birth control. Because really, ultimately, that is what will stop abortions – when no woman has to wake up to face something unwanted, from a behavior (sex) that brings so much joy, love and well heck FUN!

  49. emjayay says:

    Wait, how did comments for a post on 3/25 get connected to comments from 7 or 8 days ago?

  50. Badgerite says:

    Courts matter. People seem to forget that sometimes. Until a decision bites.

  51. emjayay says:

    And a lot of other states.

  52. judybrowni says:

    I would pay good money to see Hobby Lobby circumcised,

  53. emjayay says:

    Spending salaries on meat is a different issue. But Jehovah’s Witnesses having a health care plan for their employees that doesn’t pay for transfusions or transplants is exactly the same issue which an absurd decision by the Supremes would seem to allow. I just can’t believe a lower court went for it.

  54. Silver_Witch says:

    Hi Average Joe if you really don’t want to pay for what I want that leave society. Get
    out! You want a war, I don’t – but I have to pay for it. You want a road, but I don’t – but I have to pay for it…see how that works.- you are paying for other people’s WANTS all the time.

    And in this case, we are talking about insurance paying for Birth Control – NOT you. This is not some thing a woman can buy over the counter – it requires a doctor’s visit, and a prescription. Just like have you have an infection – you need the prescription, so your insurance pays for the visit to get said prescription and get it filled – NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL.

    Stop parroting the BS you are feed and think this through. Would you rather pay for the thousands of children born because women don’t have access to birth control…way way way more expensive for you my friend.

  55. emjayay says:

    Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter was just on the NYC NPR station and mentioned that he thought the Supreme Court decision about corporations being like people was one of the worst decisions they ever made. What a great guy! He is currently campaigning about the treatment of women in many parts of the globe, after a lot of studying the texts of Islam and Christianity.

    Meanwhile, not relevant really to the legal issue, including contraception coverage in health insurance policies probably doesn’t even cost anything.

  56. Silver_Witch says:

    Preach it Sister – who gives a rats-ass why a woman takes the pill (or uses a device) – it is HER body, HER health, HER Decision. I am not ashamed that I took the pill for many years…nor am I ashamed that I had my tubes tied – even though every doctor I saw about the procedure lectured me about the “sin” of it. I has to see 4 doctors before I found one that would tie my tubes. That was the 70’s – how far we have come and yet so easily we can return to the time of a male doctor telling US what is best for our lives.

  57. ehmkec says:

    Can HL get married? (to the opposite sex corporation of course) Can it die? Does it get called for jury duty? Does it have a US birth certificate? (IKEA does not) Is the word ‘corporation’ in the constitution?

  58. sane37 says:

    Its slavery.
    Also illegal in the US, but not in the bible.

  59. Houndentenor says:

    All the Texas cities are blue except for Ft. Worth. There are also counties out west (near El Paso) that are solidly blue. It’s the rural areas that are the reddest. (Sort of like how NY is very red once you get out of the cities.)

  60. Houndentenor says:

    I’m sorry, but you must not have ever met any Christians. They all cherry-pick their way through the Bible. If Hobby Lobby were truly a “Christian” company, they would have “turned the other cheek”, but then as I’ve never once seen a Christian do that, I guess that’s just one of the many passages they conveniently ignore.

  61. Houndentenor says:

    It’s no one’s business why someone is on birth control. It’s a medical issue and needs to be covered by the prescription benefit just like any other prescription would be.

  62. cambridgemac says:

    I’m waiting for a corporation owned by Seventh Day Adventists (or Hindus) to forbid employees to spend their salaries on meat. Or for a Quaker owned bank or business to refuse to hire veterans, because they volunteered for war. That will end this nonsense about “religious freedom” for corporations real fast. As always, this is all about giving advantages to rich white straight men in their attempts to control others.

  63. therling says:

    So unless Hobby Lobby has been baptized, does that mean when the company dies it’ll end up in limbo? How do you baptize a corporation, anyways? Pour holy water on the article of corporation? And if the company is bought up by another company, does that mean the buying company is now two persons?

  64. Strepsi says:

    And you can be sure NONE of their employees is an unwed mother, a dovrcee, or remarried. You can be sure they do NOT sell tampons, which enable a woman experiencing the Curse to be out and about, when the Bible clearly states she should be exiled from the community.

  65. rmthunter says:

    1) No. Insurance companies are not objecting to offering contraception. You’re way off base on this one. The only exceptions I know of are Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, which are run by the Catholic Church and seem to qualify as “religious organizations.”

    2) That argument hinges on the definition of “person,” which is part of what’s in dispute. The Court put its foot in that one with the Citizens United decision. It will be interesting to see if they decide to follow a bad precedent or whether they try to limit that definition.

    3) Again, the core of the dispute — under what circumstances to corporations qualify as “persons” under the law?

    4) The government has to provide a rational basis for creating anything, including a “pornographic obligation.” And or course, there’s the issue of whether the government can compel a company to offer a particular product, which so far has been resolved as a “No.” That’s just another red herring.

    And just how does refusing to sell gay porn deprive gays of parenthood?

  66. rmthunter says:

    Or no less.

  67. rmthunter says:

    That’s not the issue here. The issue is whether a corporation can refuse to offer a certain benefit to a class of employees as part of a package otherwise available to all employees. Hobby Lobby’s insurance company is not a party to this suit, so introducing them into the argument is a red herring.

  68. rmthunter says:

    The government doesn’t bestow rights — it recognizes them. Our rights are inherent, remember?

    Media corporations — First Amendment — free press. Remember that one?

  69. rmthunter says:

    It’s called “a rich interior life.”

    One thing the government is permitted to do is set reasonable limits on the exercise of rights — there’s no such thing as unlimited freedom. The courts are charged with finding the balance among competing claims on the exercise of those rights — it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that, if Hobby Lobby wins, it lays itself open to suits claiming violation of its employees’ religious freedom. (I’d love to see that happen — with big damage awards.) In this case, and the related anti-gay “religious freedom” laws in the works in state legislatures, the key issue is defining the limits of “free exercise” of religious belief — because, as several commenters have pointed out with their various slippery slope arguments, there must be limits or our society will cease to function at all.

    Of course, with this Court, anything can happen.

  70. rmthunter says:

    The only way to counter them is to refuse, loudly and publicly, to accept their assumptions. Unfortunately, we’re going to get no help on this — most media outlets are stenographers for the right, and even when we do get someone up to counter them, they’re on the defensive.

    We just need to remember that the best defense is to attack.

  71. samNH says:

    95% of the crap they sell comes from China, a country where abortion is used as a birth control method. They don’t seem to have a problem making money from the sale of products made by abortionists.

  72. SkippyFlipjack says:

    So.. they’re OK with paying employees a salary that they can use to pay for birth control, but not with paying for insurance that may reimburse those same employees for the money they spent on birth control. Because it’s against the Bible. Or something.

  73. bpollen says:

    I thinks somebody REALLY wants the government to pay for his gay porn habit, eh Joey? It’s OK, though, Joey, because we won’t judge you for being gay OR an addict.

  74. bpollen says:

    What do you serve with ontological dualism? White or red?

  75. bpollen says:

    You are RIGHT!!! I mean, you are obviously delusional, but it’s a RIGHT-wing dysfunction! And, based on your comments, your distaste for cognition is long-standing.

  76. crazymonkeylady says:

    I just saved 15% on my Satanic Alter Supplies at Hobby Lobby!

  77. BeccaM says:

    Ooh, baby, you’re gettin’ me hot. ;-)

  78. BeccaM says:

    It was rather sad how quickly you devolved from a facade of attempted reasonableness to lies, personal attacks, and outright poo-flinging.

    Anyway, I know you’re banned from commenting here anymore, but I did want to thank you for an entertaining afternoon. You were a real hoot.

  79. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Yes, DAMN that meddling gubbint for forcing, FORCING I SAY candy companies to sell delicious treats without any ground glass or cyanide! Tyranny!

    Why, it’s almost galling enough to make them get out of the candy business ENTIRELY!

    I bet that deep inside Hobby Lobby’s immortal soul, the very THOUGHT of paying for insurance that might be used for gurly-sexytime pills is pushing it to the VERY BRINK of just saying “screw it, deal with yer own damn health insurance”, and…wait…hmm…err…derp.

    Anyway it’s all OBUMMER’s fault, and SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY!

  80. cole3244 says:

    texas does have some blue austin for example, i was thinking about utah, ariz, wyoming, n & s dakota, somewhere where there is plenty of space too keep the crazies segregated away from normal people.

  81. Indigo says:

    Could existing ontological dualism be a veil of convenience for obscurantist multiplism?

  82. BeccaM says:

    I went there once a couple years ago — before I knew they were so fundy-freaky — trying to buy parts so I could frame a huge 4’x6′ poster of M51a (Whirlpool Galaxy). Turns out they will charge you an arm and a leg to frame it themselves, but they won’t actually sell you any of the components so you can do it.

    We left, bought what we needed elsewhere, my wife milled and routed some lumber she had into some very nice frame edges, and I did the whole thing on my own for about 20% what Hobby Lobby wanted to charge.

  83. BeccaM says:

    Thanks Moderator4, you’re an absolute peach. As trollish chew-toys go, he was becoming increasingly tattered and threadbare.

  84. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, sure, whatever.

  85. Moderator4 says:

    He is out of here, BeccaM.

  86. Moderator4 says:

    I think that we are about done with you here. Goodbye.

  87. Average Joe says:

    Trolling pro-tip: Never leave a commenting history that shows that you continue talking to someone after you said you wouldn’t talk to them anymore. And no, Becca, those comments you left at Stormfront and other White supremecist sites are still available through archive.org. You’re not fooling anyone.

  88. Average Joe says:

    “Are they allowed to deny their employees health care entirely?”

    Yes, it’s the law. ANY employer can deny their employees healthcare entirely. Employers also are not required to pay for employees food and housing. In the case of healthcare, however, they have to pay a fine if they don’t. But the employee is still responsible for paying for his or her own healthcare.

  89. Average Joe says:

    The argument that “the government can do whatever the hell it wants, even when it endangers others” has become an accepted meme in our political debates.

    You’ll have fun next year when the Republicans control both houses of Congress. No matter what they pass, you’ll have to agree that “It’s the law” and obey it the same way you believe everyone should obey the whims of Obama.

  90. BeccaM says:

    There’s that projection again… Enjoy your visit. I’m sure it’ll be brief.

  91. Average Joe says:

    The Koch brothers aren’t young earthers, outside of Rachel Maddow’s imagination. As for death cults, Obama has regularly murdered women and children with drones, including American citizens. And let’s not forget that his attorney general, Eric Holder, arranged pardons under Clinton for FALN terrorists. Both of them have professed the literal belief that Jesus rose from the dead! I guess that’s why they don’t think killing people is a big deal.

  92. BeccaM says:

    Not talking to you anymore, Mr. Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay Bigot. Buh-bye.

    Trolling pro-tip: Never leave a commenting history that reveals how you actually feel about issues and events.

  93. Average Joe says:

    What I want for myself is not paying for what you want for yourself.

  94. Average Joe says:

    Over your head, apparently.

  95. Average Joe says:

    Your racist, homophobic rants all over the Internet speak volumes too.

  96. Average Joe says:

    “There are societal and medical reasons for requiring medical care to be covered, even when there are people who oppose it on religious grounds.”

    There are societal and medical reasons for not wanting a government that’s incapable of creating a functioning website to be making decisions about the population’s medical care. There are also economic reasons for believing that a government that has added trillions to the national debt without a increase in workforce participating is incapable of making healthcare affordable.

  97. BeccaM says:

    It certainly adds an amazing layer of abstraction onto the existing ontological dualism.

  98. Indigo says:

    Good one! My understanding of theological obscurantism leads me to suspect that if Hobby Lobby is a person with a religion, that it can burn in hell. How very obscurantist and theological is that?

  99. BeccaM says:

    Thanks. And you’re right, there are so many glaring omissions in the discussion, it boggles the mind. So much the anti-women side is permitted to assert without proof or even a respect for the facts.

    I mean, just look at all the lies they’ve attempted to spread in just the last few years: That contraception causes abortions. That women need to take more of it the more sex we have. Plus yes, how there are (according to the misogynists) apparently no non-sexual uses for contraceptives. Or any acknowledgment whatsoever how for a not insignificant number of women, it would be dangerous to become pregnant.

    Like I said, I also want to get it out there, how their position that non-procreative sex is inherently immoral should itself be in dispute. Fighting a defensive-only war is a sure way to lose, as we’ve already seen happening.

  100. Indigo says:

    That explains why I got a creepy feeling every time I went into their store. I’m suppose to burst into flames but I don’t stay that long. Okayfine. Message received, I won’t go in again. I promise

  101. Indigo says:

    Of course you can. They cherry-pick their way through the Bible regularly.

  102. BillFromDover says:

    Why does Texas come to mind?

  103. BeccaM says:

    Troll-bait doesn’t need or merit explanations. Your comment history speaks volumes.

  104. AnthonyLook says:

    SSS- sexy, smart and strong. Don’t ever back down. I’m in the health field so it just strikes me as a glaring omission in the discussion; so I try to do my part and educate other uses.

  105. BeccaM says:

    I know. I just have realized in the last few weeks that by adopting the “yes, but it’s also used for non-procreative reasons” is also playing into the misogynists’ position. Because then all they have to do is “compromise” by saying okay fine, we’ll allow it to be covered, but only if a doctor says it’s for non-sexual reasons.

    I’ve had it with surrendering ground. We fought for the right to contraception — both hormonal and via devices — in the nineteen-friggin’-sixties.

    I’m fine with bringing up the non-intercourse reasons, if for no other reason than it utterly undercuts the anti-woman arguments. But I’m tired of even leaving the implication out there that there’s something wrong or immoral about a woman having sexual intercourse but not wanting to become pregnant, whatever her reasons.

    If men can argue for a right to Viagra and penis pumps, we women should have an equal right to control whether or not we get pregnant simply for no more reason than because it is what we want for ourselves.

  106. eahopp says:

    Corporations are people too, my friend.

  107. Freedonian says:

    There are a great many instances where ‘birth control pills’ could be prescribed to a celibate nun for their hormonal value in treating ‘female issues’. [Please do pardon me for the arcane term of phrase.]

  108. AnthonyLook says:

    Absolutely, I think though that the other aspects of treatments and illness’s that are addressed by this benefit within an insurance policy needs to be vocalized and expressed in print more aggressively. There are all to many people that see it as a sole purpose benefit.

  109. BeccaM says:


  110. Average Joe says:

    Parenthood of any kind, then. More compelling than the right to exclude porn in favor of hate-filled, homophobic Bibles, right?

  111. BeccaM says:

    It’s also a women’s reproductive freedom issue. Don’t forget about that.

  112. Average Joe says:

    You’re almost as clever as your commenters, David. This “troll” meme is brilliant. Would Obama be a troll if he came to this blog and repeated his stated position on same-sex marriage: namely, that each state has the right to ban it?

  113. AnthonyLook says:

    The argument of birth control benefits needs to not be narrowly defined as exclusively devoid of all other medical indications and the many medical conditions it is utilized for. This is an overall woman’s health issue.

  114. Average Joe says:

    Actually, you never explained it.

  115. Average Joe says:

    Property, and the acquisition and ownership thereof, are complex CONCEPTS which only CONSCIOUS beings can comprehend. Corporations aren’t conscious, and, in fact, are merely fictitious entities. So they couldn’t possibly exercise rights with respect to property, or anything else. It’s like saying a rock or a chair could do so. In this connection, your characterization of religious concepts as “uniquely human” is unjustified.

    I think what you’re ultimately arguing is that the human desire for religion is stupid in a way that the human desire for money-making is not, and that corporations should for some reason be restricted to pursuing the latter. But the corporation has no consciousness or understanding of either desire. People are always behind the corporation. You’re just selectively using the corporate form as a pretext to favor one desire over the other.

  116. Naja pallida says:

    They also sell cotton-poly blend fabrics. What if someone makes clothing out of that!?

  117. magster says:

    That’s a great phrase. I shall steal it.

  118. BeccaM says:

    It’s just typical ala-carte fundamentalism.

  119. BeccaM says:

    I guess that means they feel they don’t have to pay their employees in actual money, because such might ‘facilitate’ alcohol use by being spent on liquor.

  120. chris10858 says:

    On a serious note, is it not hypocritical for the Greens to not want to cover contraception but then allow divorced people or non-Christians to work in their stores? You can’t pick one verse out of the Bible and decide to uphold it without following the rest of the Book.

  121. cole3244 says:

    can we just put all the cons, rw, religious zealots, etc in one large state called ignorland and let the rest of america go on with their lives without being disturbed by the stupid bigot quotient!

  122. BeccaM says:

    So that’s why the aerosol Spray-Mount cans are always empty… ;-)

  123. magster says:

    I got around that problem by sitting in their framing section huffing lacquer.

  124. BeccaM says:

    Now you know why I dismissed Joe’s ‘hypothesis’ out of hand.

  125. chris10858 says:

    “[refuse] to engage in business activities that facilitate or promote alcohol use.”

    Yeah, just last week I was at my local Hobby Lobby picking up some glitter and some other crafts and thought to myself, “damn, I wish they served beer here.” How about someone open up a crafts store across the street AND sell beer and wine also? lol

  126. BillFromDover says:

    Hey Joe… where ya goin’ with that stupid in your head?

  127. Average Joe says:

    Having read and demolished the comments you’ve made on this post, I’m glad I could correct your poor reasoning. Go find another blog to troll on if you have nothing substantive to say. I’m not going anywhere.

  128. David Delmar says:

    Joe, you seem like the ideal person to ask: what’s life like under the bridge?

  129. Average Joe says:

    That’s pretty much what I’d say if I lacked a coherent response to a powerful argument. But I never lack a response, so I’ll continue commenting. You take your homophobic, anti-parenthood trolling elsewhere.

  130. David Delmar says:

    No more than heterosexual parenthood.

  131. Average Joe says:

    Magster, 2007 wants its #fail back.

  132. Average Joe says:

    Gay parenthood isn’t a compelling state interest?

  133. BeccaM says:

    Now the mask comes off…

  134. BeccaM says:

    I agree with nothing of what you wrote. Take your trolling elsewhere. I’m not interested.

  135. Average Joe says:

    Health insurance is a product of the insurance companies, and the ACA dictates what policies they must offer.

    The analogy would be to requiring the policies cover the cost of gay porn.

  136. BeccaM says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Joe.

  137. BeccaM says:

    Because apparently the argument “my religion lets me do whatever the hell I want, even when it endangers others” has become an accepted meme in our political debates.

    Sadly, this is yet another result when the only two sides of the argument are center-right social conservatism versus radical nutzoid doomsday cult conservatism.

  138. Average Joe says:

    No, only people do. Isn’t that the Occupy Wall Street mantra?

  139. magster says:

    Looking at your disqus comments on Washington Monthly, I regret ever having responded to any of your comments. Have a nice life elsewhere…

  140. David Delmar says:


    It is not “equally obvious that only people can exercise ANY rights.” A for-profit corporation is a legal fiction created for specific economic purposes, the primary of which is the acquisition of profit and mitigation of financial risk for investors. Within the framework of that purpose, it is quite natural for a corporation to have many rights. For example, the right to acquire and hold property. How would the corporate form facilitate the creation of wealth if not for that right?

    Your argument that property rights vested in corporations, which suit the purposes of the corporate form, are just as alien and irrational for them to hold as, say, the uniquely human right to have and exercise a religious creed, strains credulity.

    And as for your finishing query, I can’t but wonder what it is you’re asking? As I understand your question, there is absolutely nothing I have said or written that makes sense of it. So, I guess I put it back to you for clarification.

  141. Average Joe says:

    “So, if the Klan and Al Qaeda and NAMBLA incorporate . . .”

    That pretty much describes the Obama administration.

  142. Average Joe says:

    The government could mandate that no corporate health plan was allowed to offer anything more than aspirin, or perhaps not even that. The corporate non-person would have no right to object.

    And you will shortly find that, due to the economic unfeasibility of the ACA, it might come down to that no matter what the ACA now requires. Mammograms will be the first thing to go.

  143. magster says:


  144. Average Joe says:

    I only have to be more clever than you.

  145. Average Joe says:

    Your the anti-gay bigot, BeccaM. You’d deprive a gay couple of the benefit of parenthood to accommodate a corporate bookseller that wanted to sell hate-filled Bibles instead of procreation-aiding erotic photograph collections.

  146. magster says:

    “Granted, the law would fail other constitutional tests” …. so why subject ourselves to unnecessary brain damage?

  147. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Sure thing! Hobby Lobby still sucks though.

  148. Average Joe says:

    (1) “Can the government compel a corporation to sell products?” Well, yes — the whole point of the ACA is that it’s forcing insurance companies to sell insurance products they don’t want to. Compelling a Catholic bookstore to sell pornography in aid of gay surrogacy would certainly serve a compelling state interest. The bookstores could close down if they objected, in the same way that many Catholic agencies have stopped facilitating adoptions after being ordered to offer them to gay couples as well.

    (2) “It is nonsensical to suggest that corporations have free exercise rights.” The Constitution doesn’t restrict the exercise of such rights to natural persons. It simply forbids Congress from making laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. The argument fails for the same reason the argument against corporate speech fails. If you disagree, then you’ll have to agree to strip ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times of their corporate status (or forbid them from editorializing).

    (3) “What I argue, and what I think is obvious, is that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is a license to human beings that are capable of spiritual observances. It cannot conceivably be understood to offer save haven to inanimate corporations.”

    It’s equally “obvious” that only people can exercise ANY rights. Inanimate entities can’t exercise anything, so they have no rights at all. Perhaps you think there’s something particularly “human” about religious observance, but it’s no more so than any other activity such as opening a bank account or building a house.

    (4) If the government were to create such a–shall I say?–pornographic obligation . . .

    Exactly. You agree that an incorporated Catholic bookstore could be forced to sell gay pornography. So why do you you characterize it as “extreme”, moreso than compelling a corporation to facilitate contraceptive use by its employees? And why do you see the gay porn law as nefarious and something subject to immediate repeal? Do you hate gays so much that you’d deprive them of parenthood to appease a corporate entity run by Catholic bigots?

  149. BeccaM says:

    In the Yoder case, for example, the free exercise rights of the Amish
    superseded the rights of their children to a public education, and all
    of the rational study that accompanies it.

    True, and you definitely have a good point there. Nevertheless, there are limits put on such religious rights. Thus, for example, a Christian Scientist parent can generally prefer ‘natural’ or ‘holistic’ treatment, but as soon as their kid develops pneumonia or needs an operation, it becomes an issue of endangerment.

    If I remember Yoder correctly, much of it hinged on the weighting of parental rights ahead of public schooling. Perhaps I said it poorly, but you’re right, free exercise rights aren’t innately inferior to equal rights. Personally, I think your position that corporations themselves can’t have religious beliefs is the stronger legal argument.

  150. BeccaM says:

    I know. They’re taking radical fundamentalist religion and attempting to undo all civil law with it.

  151. magster says:

    A government absolutely has the power to bestow rights!! What?!

  152. Naja pallida says:

    Once you start to allow religion to set the rules to whatever they want, things could be twisted to any extreme you can think of. Again, the free exercise of religion clause in our founding documents refers to the freedom from religion, not that religious people can impose their will on anyone as they please.

  153. Naja pallida says:

    Obviously, the Rapture has already happened. This is what we’re left with.

  154. Average Joe says:

    But the government isn’t a person, so it has no right to bestow rights. David’s entire argument hinges on the fact that non-persons lack rights.

    As I said, I agree with Magster. ONLY people have rights, not fictional entities like corporations or governments. And I’m sure you’ll agree with my proposition that media corporations have no right to say anything unless they unincorporate.

  155. BeccaM says:

    You are distorting and misrepresenting David’s position.

    The government can and will force a for-profit — or any business concern for that matter — to do anything it deems to be in keeping with compelling public or government interests.

    Thus our government may ban a company from doing business with certain foreign countries. The government may require a business not to sell defective products. It can outlaw indentured servitude and enforce a minimum wage.

    There are lots of things our system of government can ‘force’ a business to do or ban it from doing — and lots of things it cannot.

    Thus our government may order a company to provide health insurance under certain conditions. Thus our government may define the parameters of that health insurance. It can order a business run by a fundamentalist Christian to offer family health insurance to a legally married same-sex couple and not to discriminate against gay people. Why? Because in every one of those instances, the ‘compelling societal and government interest’ can be easily proven in court and upheld as Constitutional.

    Your entire premise falls on its face because you present a ridiculous anti-gay dog-whistle scenario where there is no compelling secular, societal, or governmental interest of any kind. Your premise would be laughed out of court.

  156. David Delmar says:


    “In short, within our constitutional framework, we have a system that
    says a person’s right to exercise their religion ends when it interferes
    with another preson’s equal rights.”

    This is actually very debatable. I am not aware of any case in which SCOTUS has said that free exercise rights are legally innately inferior to “equal rights,” in any case. I imagine that is a cherry-picking, context-laden question, as are most in constitutional law.

    In the Yoder case, for example, the free exercise rights of the Amish superseded the rights of their children to a public education, and all of the rational study that accompanies it.

    Joe’s hypothetical is thought-provoking because the government is not required to assert a compelling interest to justify a law when it comes to the Free Exercise Clause unless the challenging entity has religious rights. As corporations do not, Joe’s hypothetical law would be justifiable, under my theory, against free exercise challenge.

    Granted, the law would fail other constitutional tests, as well as the supreme test of democratic acceptance. But I think the hypo is thought-provoking nonetheless because it does cut to the core of what I am saying: there is NO LAW a corporation can resist using a religious argument, because corporations do not have gods.

  157. bpollen says:

    So, if the Klan and Al Qaeda and NAMBLA incorporate, they should be able to impose their belief structure on their employess. And a Christian Scientist with a company should be able to deny ALL healthcare to his employees…

    Somehow, I don’t see Hobby Lobby being saved during the Rapture….

  158. Drew2u says:

    Hypothetically: “My religion forbids me to gamble and since I don’t know what my employers are going to spend their money on, it is against my beliefs to offer any kind of wage or salary” ?

  159. Drew2u says:



    Related because we protested the absurdity of the law (seriously, read HB1251) which gave rise to SB128 which is blatantly discrimination against a specific class of person.

    These bills are already drafted and awaiting a ruling favoring Hobby Lobby. It’ll be the anti-gay constitutional amendments of 2005-2007 all over again.

  160. magster says:

    If I may create another absurd hypothesis, can I hire you to be the spokesperson for my brain? You say what I mean better than I do.