As you know, on Thursday, House Republicans voted that employers not only have the right to know if female employees are on the pill, but have the right to fire them if they are. Calling religious freedom “liberal fascism,” Ted Cruz Friday urged Senate Republicans to do the same thing.
This is what Republicans call “religious freedom”: imposing their religious beliefs on others. Nancy Pelosi rightly called the House measure, “Hobby Lobby on steroids.”
To illustrate just how twisted their thinking is, John Boehner released a statement on Thursday explaining his actions, and claiming to be a champion of the religious freedom he had just trampled:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today applauding House passage of H.J. Res. 43:
“America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise’ clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution.”
NOTE: Under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has direct oversight of the District of Columbia. Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress has the authority to review – and disapprove – all policies passed by the District of Columbia City Council and signed by the District of Columbia Mayor.
You will note that Boehner has clearly categorized religious freedom as a form of discrimination, while repressive Republican measures are hailed as religious freedom.
Conservative opposition to D.C.’s RHNDA has been predicated on the idea that it stripped companies of their religious freedom as though companies were people.
For example, over at American Thinker I found this claim being made:
The court’s decision in Hobby Lobby protects closely-held private employers from having to violate their conscience in providing contraception as part of their employee health care plans. As the Hobby Lobby decision expressly prohibits what RHNDA seeks to enforce, it is rather peculiar then that the council claims that it does not apply to the District.
But it is somehow not a violation of conscience for employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.
“America was founded on the principle of religious freedom,” Boehner said. It’s just a shame Republicans think only corporations have that freedom, that corporations have rights of conscience but individuals do not.
If ever less thought went into thinking, it will have to be proven to me.
To help justify the House move, Beohner goes on to say,
In December, then-Mayor Vincent Gray urged the City Council to postpone voting on the so-called Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) “until significant legal concerns … are resolved.” Gray, a Democrat, wrote that:
“the bill raises serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Religious organizations, religiously-affiliated organizations, religiously-driven for-profit entities, and political organizations may have strong First Amendment and RFRA grounds for challenging the law’s applicability to them. Moreover, to the extent that some of the bill’s language protects only one sex’s reproductive health decisions, that language may run afoul of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. … While I applaud the goals of this legislation, as currently drafted, this legislation is legally problematic.”
You have to love how the RHNDA is legally problematic but “Hobby Lobby” is not, how forcing other people to abide by your religion is perfectly okay but forcing corporations to respect their employees’ religious freedom is somehow persecution.
Boehner is right in saying that America was founded on principles of religious freedom. He is wrong to say that what he is doing is promoting that religious freedom.
The only thing the House of Representatives is promoting is religious tyranny, and in direct violation of the United States Constitution’s First Amendment.
The fly in the buttermilk is that as Bridget Bowman pointed out at Roll Call yesterday, “As with any D.C. law, the D.C. Council transmitted RHNDA to Congress for a 30-day review process during which time Congress can formally block the law by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. That review period ends Saturday.”
In other words, Congress waited too long to act and lost their chance to strip D.C. residents of their freedoms. Bowman notes that, “House conservatives are pushing for lawmakers to incorporate a policy rider in the District’s spending bill to block implementation of the act, though it is not clear how exactly a rider could do so.”
Delmore Schwartz said in 1937, “Time is the fire in which we burn.”* Time, even more pointedly, is the enemy of the catastrophically Republican 114th Congress, which is so good at doing nothing that it did nothing just a little too well, and so lost their chance to oppress the residents of Washington, D.C.
* “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day,” 1937
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.