It is getting to the point that nothing coming out of the Republican Congress that empowers evangelicals and Catholic Bishops to legally control women is surprising any longer. There is also no shock that while Republicans and their “onward Christian soldiers” are openly assailing Muslims for their religious practices and complaining about Sharia Law are hypocritically using every opportunity to enforce Vatican Law to control American women. What is surprising is that no politician will cite the unconstitutionality of the Republican Congress passing laws that establish religion to give the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic personhood movement, and evangelical fanatics the legal authority to control and dominate American women.
The latest Republican assault on American women is in the form of what is being called “a poison pill” by Democrats because it is a rider snuck in to the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill and not as what it really is; a blatant piece of evangelical legislation. Apparently when the Vatican-5 on the Supreme Court ruled that a Christian or Catholic employer has the Constitutional right to force their religious edicts down their employees throats, it still failed to satisfy the power-hungry religious tyrants; the Republican rider will be a step towards sating the USCCB and religious right lust to control women, and the federal government.
Republican appropriators slipped the aptly-named “Hobby Lobby Rider,” H.R. 3020, in the fiscal 2016 Labor-HHS-Education bill giving any religious employer or healthcare provider the legal right to sue “any government entity” that enforces the law requiring them to provide reproductive health coverage in health plans. This is not the first time the Catholic Bishops and evangelicals have tasked Republicans to pass legislation that prohibits government from enforcing federal laws. Past theocratic appropriation bills such as PL 113-235 forbid the government from “discriminating” against any entity that refuses to provide reproductive healthcare to their employees, but that was not enough religious power and control. The new bill gives organizations the legal power to punish the government for executing federal laws when the reality is it is to punish the federal government for not adhering to Catholic and evangelicals’ religious edicts.
Although Republicans are excited at providing their religious masters with more supremacy over the federal government and women’s lives, the Hobby Lobby rider raised the ire of Democrats including Senator Barbara Mikulski who called the Hobby Lobby rider a “really big poison pill, something that should have never ever been on the appropriations.” It is true, granting Catholic and evangelical organizations power to sue the government for enforcing a legitimate law has nothing to do with appropriations or budget, but America is a burgeoning Christian theocracy and the validity of any law is increasingly the purview of evangelicals; if they say punishing the government for implementing or enforcing a legitimate law is a budget matter, then Republicans will make it one.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was horrific enough that last year the Papal-5 on the Supreme Court issued an edict allowing certain employers to deny women coverage for contraceptive care, even if they buy it themselves. But “now Republicans are trying to double-down on that decision with a Hobby Lobby policy rider making it easier for organizations to sue over providing their female employees with access to care. It is absolutely unacceptable. This month alone, Republicans have voted to defund Planned Parenthood and gut the Affordable Care Act. And now this. They seem to have some sort of vendetta against women’s health.” It is true; but it is a Catholic and evangelical vendetta that shows no sign of slowing and the cowardly caucus is too terrified of calling out the unconstitutional establishment of religion-based legislation.
In the Senate, the second-ranking Democrat and senior appropriator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, “I just heard about it for the first time today, and if they try to do it, all hell will break loose.” Senator Durbin noted that, “You can imagine. The phrase ‘Hobby Lobby’ perks up the ears of many members of the Senate.” Unfortunately, no matter how piqued some members might be over hearing about Hobby Lobby again, not one of them will oppose the anti-women’s rider on the grounds it is unconstitutional due to its Vatican and evangelical (religious) basis; they are too frightened of getting on the wrong side of, or openly mentioning, the Christian right or Catholic bishops.
The idea of Republicans giving a religious movement the legal right to sue the federal government if it holds any business or corporation responsible for not adhering to laws is beyond unbelievable. But it is not so surprising because it involves Catholic bishops and wealthy evangelical corporations who exist to deny women health insurance covering reproductive health; something the religious claim is abominable and abridges their freedom of religion right to dominate and control women. It is noteworthy that this so-called “Hobby Lobby rider” is just the latest in a long line of religious hostility to the law that has prompted myriad lawsuits by Catholic and evangelical entities still unable to comprehend America is not quite a full-blown theocracy.
These unconstitutional Republican religious abominations will not end with “get out of jail free” legislation or empowering the religious right to punish the federal government for enforcing the law in the first place. Like all of the Republican attempts to slip items unrelated to federal government spending, this gift to the Catholic bishops and evangelical fanatics simply has no reason even being discussed, much less put into federal law and it would be hilarious if America actually had a functioning Constitution that prohibited Congress from passing any law establishing religion.
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.