“It is God who gave us life and liberty. Can the liberties of nations be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –Thomas Jefferson.
Last week, a landmark decision came down from the Supreme Court in the case involving Hobby Lobby. To make a long story short, Hobby Lobby sued the federal government for requiring forms of birth control known as “morning after pills” to be paid for by the employer under the Affordable Care Act. The company objected on moral and religious grounds positing that the offensive nature of such drugs was counter to the beliefs and values held by company founders and directors. Perhaps through all of the political noise surrounding the case, we should remember the values and principles held by those who framed the liberty of this nation.
Economic freedom was not the only basis for a new republic, but freedom of religion and the right to worship according to the dictates of one’s own conscience figured prominently into the designs of our initial liberties. Religion and commerce were always thought to be intertwined, with religious values often reflected in business values, principles and practice. These are ideas that should not be foreign to those who have benefitted from the legacy left by original Utah pioneers.
The political furor surrounding the left is confusing following this verdict. Even the White House spokesman trumpeted the false alarm that Hobby Lobby was denying their employees proper protections as outlined in the ACA mandated birth control. In fact, the company has not asked for relief from providing all forms of birth control, only those they find heinous and offensive according to the system of their core values. Leftist critics state that religion has no place in corporate America. Then again, the left often desires to scrub any influence of religion from any role in our society. But fundamental values, core ethics and practices often cross over from religious spheres into the daily practices of commerce and vice versa.
Why can’t even the most liberal among us recognize that there are those who would prefer not to be forced to subsidize what amounts to legalized abortion? And let us not even breach the subject of personal responsibilities in such matters, for that would create a firestorm of even wider arguments. The main issue is simple, should an employer be forced to provide their employees with a product or service they find objectionable? In this case, no may be the best answer.
Anyone who understands the roots and core values that guide free enterprise should find it difficult to support the idea that any organization be mandated to act in defiance of the core values that those who direct the business feel are important. Liberty would proscribe just the opposite; that individuals act in accordance with the will of their own conscience, so long as it does not adversely impact others.
In the Hobby Lobby case, the company has not sought to restrict employees to use certain drugs or forms of birth control or manage their lifestyle in ways counter to the values of the company. They have simply asked not to be mandated to pay for certain practices. Anyone who values principles of liberty and free enterprise must give ample consideration to the position Hobby Lobby has taken. Their victory must be seen as a step forward for the ideas of religious freedom as well as the foundations of enterprise and personal responsibility. It restores some faith that common sense may still be found in the laws of our land.