Although America is not now, and never was, a Christian nation according to the Founding Fathers’ own unanimous proclamation in 1797, the nation’s highest court has dependably reversed decades of constitutional precedence and ruled according to tenets of 21st Century neo-Christianity as if they, and not the Constitution, are the immutable laws of the land. Whether it was last years’ establishment of religion in legalizing sectarian-only (Christian) prayers at government meetings in the “Town of Greece v. Galloway” case, or redefining religious liberty to mean religious corporations could legally impose their religious beliefs on employees in the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court’s Vatican-5 have demolished the religious clauses of the First Amendment to fit the needs of American Christofascists. About the only thing the High Court has not considered undertaking is a ban on non-Christian faiths from taking advantage of the Court’s deconstruction of the Religious Clauses and exercise their religious liberty. It is, however, something they may soon begin seriously considering now that another Satanist group intends to use the appalling Hobby Lobby “religious liberty” argument to skirt an obscene Christian edict in Missouri; a religious edict targeting women’s reproductive health choices.
It was just about a year ago that a New York-based Satanic Temple demanded a religious exemption based on the Christian Hobby Lobby decision. The stark contrast between how Christians and Satanists interpret Hobby Lobby is that instead of using “religious liberty” to deny a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive health because it “contravenes the Christian’s religious beliefs,” Satanists defend a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions. The Temple demanded a religious exemption for women from “pernicious encroachment of informed consent laws regarding abortion, and that women be freed from the burden of state-mandated religious informational abortion materials.”
This time around, the subject is once again abortion and instead of New York, Missouri Satanists are assisting a woman seeking a religious exemption from Missouri’s religious 72-hour abortion waiting period because the Christian law violates the Satanist’s “deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy;” something Christian fanatics cannot comprehend or countenance for any woman. In the view of the religious right, a woman’s’ body is the purview of men, Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, preachers, conservative Supreme Court justices, and religious corporations.
Missouri’s religious Republicans should make no mistake that the Satanists are only going to bat for one woman; one of their humanistic tenets is that each human’s “body is inviolable and subject to one’s own will alone,” and that the “freedoms of others should be respected.” That includes respecting a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive health choices whether religious fanatics like it or not. In fact, the Supreme Court made the same determination in its 1973 ruling that women have a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment that included a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Missouri Republicans cannot accept that women have a right to privacy and have put religious deterrents in place to make a private decision costly and inordinately prohibitive, which is precisely what Satanists are protesting.
A Satanist woman identified only as “Mary” contacted the St. Louis Satanic Temple for assistance in her struggle to maneuver around Missouri’s Draconian abortion laws that mandate unscientific religious counseling and a 72-hour waiting requirement to exercise her Constitutional right to privacy. “Mary” lives hundreds of miles away from Missouri’s lone abortion clinic and cannot afford to make the trip twice to comply with Missouri Republicans religious law. The only reason religious Republicans legislated the mandatory counseling, 72-hour waiting period, and closure of all but one abortion clinic was to prohibit women from exercising their Constitutional right to privacy under Roe v. Wade. Satanists are using Hobby Lobby’s “religious liberty” argument to garner an exemption to the religious obstacles against women’s right to choose in Missouri.
The Satanic Temple took a couple of steps to assist “Mary” to exercise her Constitutional rights including setting up a “crowdfunding” site to help cover the cost of the abortion procedure. They also helped draft a letter to present to her physician that reads, “I regard a waiting period as a state sanctioned attempt to discourage abortion by instilling an unnecessary burden as part of the process to obtain this legal medical procedure. The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Since the Hobby Lobby ruling, Satanists have argued and stipulated that according to their deeply-held religious beliefs, “one’s body is inviolable, and subject to one’s own will alone,” and that the religious counseling violates the tenet that “we should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.” Either argument will satisfy the High Court’s ruling on religious liberty and therefore “Mary” warrants a faith-based exemption to the state’s 72-hour waiting period. If Mary is not granted a religious exemption, Satanists are preparing to pursue legal action if the doctors at Missouri’s only abortion clinic refuse to honor her religious waiver and bypass the 72-hour waiting period.
The current Missouri Satanist challenge is part of a larger effort to use Hobby Lobby to exempt all women from Republican states’ abortion restrictions to prove that the abominable “religious liberty” argument works both ways. The head of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, said that “While religio-conservative views seek to undermine abortion rights, they have also steadily worked to define ‘religious liberty’ to be understood in terms of reserving the right to deny contraceptives and oppose rational family planning practices. In fact, religious liberty works the other way, too.” Their effort includes a “Religious Reproductive Liberty” campaign to combat the religious right’s assault on women across the nation including denying abortion rights and access to contraception that religious Republicans, Catholic institutions, and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops have deemed a mortal sin.
The Satanists have a large contingent of allies in the religious community that hold similar beliefs about a woman’s right to choose their own reproductive health. In fact, nationwide many, many faith leaders and clergy have long supported women’s access to legal abortions; not on Constitutional grounds, but based on their religious freedom to voice their support for, and protect, women’s “bodily autonomy” stemming from “their Christian beliefs;” something both Christian and Jewish leaders were doing in their advocacy for legalizing abortion before Roe v. Wade.
Although there are plenty of secular groups fighting to protect women’s reproductive rights, they never mention that it is religious fanaticism driving the war against women. That is not the case with Satanists who are not only taking the fight to Republicans, they are using the religious right’s own ‘religious liberty’ weapon against them. Until more groups, including religious groups, show they are unafraid to stand up against and cite the source of the vicious assault on American women, evangelical fanatics and religious Republican legislatures, Satanists will have to go it alone. Americans with a mother, sisters, daughters, or a wife owe a debt of gratitude to Satanists for their “deeply-held religious beliefs” that inform their defense of women’s health is a noble pursuit. A pursuit too many Americans are terrified of joining; likely because they hold women in the same low esteem as religious fundamentalists.
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.