Conscience is an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior, and in American there are conscience laws to protect individuals from being forced to violate their conscience as it pertains to their ethical and religious principles. This week, news emerged that the U.S. Supreme Court will determine if legal entities (corporations) have consciences, and if the corporations’ employees are bound to act according to the corporate conscience that views it is wrong behavior to use contraception. For most Americans, legal scholars, and theologians, the concept that a separate legal entity with rights and liabilities distinct from its shareholders and owners has a conscience, or religious beliefs, is absurd in and of itself. However, this is 21st century America and absurdity borne of religion is on the ascendance and on the cusp of legally policing morality.
For secular corporations such as Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood, and Freshway Foods, among others, the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates their corporations’ consciences as well as their religious liberty. By now, most Americans understand that for conservative Christians, religious liberty means the freedom to force their consciences on the entire population through Republican legislation. Now they are appealing to the judicial branch of government to grant them constitutional power to impose their view of right and wrong on their employees. The corporations claim the contraception mandate is an affront to their pro-life advocacy for zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, but their support for Republicans slashing funding for maternity and pre-natal assistance for pregnant women fairly contradicts their “pro-life” position at the center of their conscience-driven opposition to contraception coverage in healthcare prescription plans.
There is another, often overlooked, core reason evangelical Christians are opposed to abortion services, contraceptives, and family planning services that has nothing whatsoever to do with their so-called regard for the “life” of the unborn and it is firmly rooted in their lust to control women. The real objection Hobby Lobby and about 50 other so-called “faith-driven” legal instruments (corporations) have against the contraception mandate is not its cost or its impact on religious freedom; it is against an “expressed” endorsement of American society that believes it is not a sin for women to have sex without the intent of producing another human being.
In effect, evangelical Christians’ opposition to abortion, contraceptives, sex education in public schools, and family planning is founded in their drive to control women’s sexual activity and punish them, married or single, for having sex for pleasure. The great majority of Americans say there is nothing wrong with a woman having sex without the goal of having a baby, but for evangelical fanatics, it is an affront to their religious consciences borne of ancient biblical mythos; their pro-life advocacy is about punishing women and not protecting “the unborn.”
For those ignorant of the bible’s original sin story, after Adam and Eve disobeyed god he cursed on Eve and told her as punishment “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen 3:16). Now, American evangelicals, conservative Christians, and their Republican lackeys have taken god’s punishment farther and are Hell-bent on punishing any woman, married or not, for having sexual relations without the sole intent of giving birth and it is another means of controlling women. One only has to look at conservative Christian opposition to family planning, contraception, abortion, and sex education to understand that their goal is forcing women into a life of abstinence unless they intend to give birth.
For example, evangelicals cannot dispute that contraception use reduces the incidence of women seeking abortion services that would logically lead one to believe the pro-life crowd would support government funding for every means of preventing unwanted or unplanned pregnancies whether they were hormonal contraceptives, morning after pills, or contraceptive devices, but they do not. Last year during the height of the GOP’s war on women and contraceptive coverage in the ACA, one contraception opponent claimed in his day they told women to put an aspirin between her legs to prevent pregnancy; translation – do not have sex unless the intent is producing a child. Republicans even attempted to change the definition of rape because in their sick twisted minds if the woman was raped and not near-death she must have enjoyed it and therefore had to carry the rapist’s child to term as punishment.
One might be inclined to assign credence to the pro-life crowd’s alleged conscience-driven concern for the life of the unborn and newborns, but their staunch support of Republicans slashing funding for maternity, pre-natal, infant, and children’s assistance belies their “pro-life” bona fides. Their only concern is controlling women’s sexuality, and one only need look at their staunch advocacy of abstinence only sex education in public schools to understand their drive to control women begins with inculcating their beliefs on school-aged girls. It is noteworthy that the patriarchal evangelicals never address the males impregnating women, or prescribe a painful punishment or 18-year sentence for their part in abjuring abstinence.
It is troubling that any court in the land would consider granting a “conscience clause” protection to a legal entity to impose its separate and distinct owners’ “inner feeling‘ of what is right and moral on female employees, but that is the price Americans pay for acquiescing inordinate power to Puritanical evangelicals. The High Court has already bestowed disproportionate power on corporations with their obscene Citizens United ruling, and the prospect of giving them “religious rights” to control women’s sexuality should mortify every American because history is rife with the devastating results of unrestrained religious power. It is important to remember that conscience is the guide to one’s understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and if corporations are allowed to claim their conscience drives them to control women’s sexuality; how long before a Koch corporation’s conscience considers paying employees more than a penny an hour a violation of what they consider wrong?
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.