All but three Senate Republicans voted today to block legislation preventing employers from imposing their religious views on workers who want access to contraception.

The 56-43 vote failed to end a Republican filibuster against the “Not My Boss’s Business Act.” That bill would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling in June that allows for-profit companies to refuse, for religious reasons, to include birth control in health insurance coverage for the women who work for them.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, switched his vote to “no,” a parliamentary move that would allow him to bring the measure back for a vote later this year.

Before the vote, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sent out a press release attacking the bill. Under the inflammatory headline “Democrats Declare War on the Catholic Church,” Cruz accused the bill’s supporters of trampling on the rights of Catholics who oppose birth control:

“(I)t saddens me that there are not 100 senators here unified, regardless or our faith, standing together protecting the religious liberty rights of everyone.”

Well, it saddens us that Cruz and his supporters are turning the concept of religious freedom on its head. Allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make… Read More

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby are free, because of religious objections, from the general requirement that employer insurance plans include coverage for birth control amounts to a radical redefinition of religious freedom. The court is essentially saying that women’s decisions about whether and when to have children are subject to the religious dictates of their employers. The religious or other personal beliefs of women themselves are secondary.

So what does this redefinition mean beyond the issue of birth control? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a sharply worded dissent to the court’s 5-4 ruling, calls what lies ahead a “minefield” for the courts. (The Supreme Court’s decision and dissent are available here.) Indeed, it’s a grave threat to religious freedom because it puts our courts in the position of deciding which religious beliefs are favored over others.

The Hobby Lobby case throws open the door to for-profit corporations challenging generally applicable laws on a host of issues simply because of religiously grounded objections. Ginsburg notes such court cases in the past, including a restaurant’s refusal to serve black customers because the owner said his religious beliefs were opposed to integration. She points in another example to businesses owned by born-again Christians who have sought, because of their religious beliefs, to… Read More

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby can opt out of the requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans. We just sent out the following press release criticizing this reckless decision.

SUPREME COURT’S BIRTH CONTROL DECISION REDEFINES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Allowing Employers to Impose Their Religious Beliefs on Women Turns ‘Religious Freedom’ on Its Head

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 30, 2014

Today’s Supreme Court decision allowing for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to opt out of a requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans redefines religious freedom, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

“This decision turns the concept of religious freedom on its head,” Miller said. “Saying that employers may impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make fundamentally redefines religious freedom. In effect, this radical view holds a woman’s personal decisions about whether and when to have children hostage to the religious dictates of her employer.”

Miller noted that support for access to birth control, including through employer-provided health insurance plans, is strong in Texas. A February… Read More

In an earlier Can This Class Be Saved? post we discussed a speech by Steve Green from April 2013 in which the president of Hobby Lobby discusses his Museum of the Bible public school Bible curriculum that has been approved for a trial run in Mustang, Oklahoma, and what Green’s comments say about his intentions in backing that curriculum’s creation.

Now, in this portion of the speech, Green makes a claim about the Bible that will cause many to scratch their head. In it, Green implies that the Bible is the primary source for all good, but he ignores ways in which the Bible has been misused.

Here’s what Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey, who authored the TFN Education Fund’s new report on the Steve Green-backed curriculum, had to say:

The curriculum implies that the Bible is the primary source for positive developments in Western culture, generally ignoring the ways in which the Bible has been used to justify various forms of oppression.

Green’s own comments to the National Bible Association again appear to have guided the curriculum’s direction: “In every area of our life, this book has impacted our world… Our job … is… Read More

How inappropriate for public schools is the new Bible course curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green? As Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University, points out in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, the curriculum echoes Green’s belief in the Bible’s complete literal and historical accuracy. From Prof. Chancey’s review:

The curriculum … follows Green’s lead by strongly affirming the Bible’s complete accuracy. For example, it presents Adam, Eve, and all other biblical characters unambiguously as historical personages. It frames stories of God’s interactions with various characters in such a way as to suggest that those passages, too, reflect historical events. (“Was Moses mentally unstable? No. His titanic swings of emotion and behavior sprang from his special call to stand in the gap between God and the people.”) “Travel through Time” sections found throughout the book encourage students to read biblical passages not only as reflections of the ancient cultures that produced them, but also as accurate historical accounts. The book also unquestioningly affirms traditional claims about the authorship of biblical books (i.e., Mosaic authorship of the Torah) without alerting students to the fact that much of the… Read More

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