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By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/2/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

On Monday, June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in what is now called the Hobby Lobby Case. Closely held corporations cannot be required to provide abortion inducing contraception coverage under the HHS Mandate to the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a Obama-Care. Religious Liberty, a fundamental human right, which was recognized in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights - and which provides the constitutional backdrop for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) - still lives in the United States of America! The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The Hobby Lobby case was really about whether the federal government can persecute Christians engaged in commerce because they live their faith in a morally coherent manner and refuse to participate in the taking of human lives. The U.S. Supreme Court answered the question - No! The supporters of Religious Liberty prevailed.

The Hobby Lobby case was really about whether the federal government can persecute Christians engaged in commerce because they live their faith in a morally coherent manner and refuse to participate in the taking of human lives. The U.S. Supreme Court answered the question - No! The supporters of Religious Liberty prevailed.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/2/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Hobby Lobby, Conestaga Wood, religious liberty, US Supreme Court, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Religious Freedom, Religious Liberty, David and Barbara Green, human rights, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - On Monday, June 30, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in what is now called the Hobby Lobby Case. Closely held corporations cannot be required to provide abortion inducing contraception coverage under the HHS Mandate to the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a Obama-Care.

Religious Liberty, a fundamental human right, which was recognized in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights - and which provides the constitutional backdrop for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) - still lives in the United States of America!

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

As is always the case with high profile Supreme Court cases, the speculation began minutes after the opinion was issued as to its meaning and reach. The best indicator for my readers is to examine the dissent by Justice Ginsburg. She knows this is a MAJOR religious liberty case.

As the lengthy opinion becomes the material for the talking heads and the pundit class, make no mistake. This is a HUGE victory for Religious Liberty in the United States of America.

There is no question; the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were attuned not only to the magnitude of the legal issues presented but, contrary to what many claim, the public policy implications of their ruling.

With the erosion of the Separation of Powers Doctrine, the protections offered by the governing structure, so unique to the American polity, have been eviscerated.

With the loss of the once strong internal moral compass, rooted in a belief in the Natural Moral Law, to guide her, the United States of America, which was once seen as a City on the Hill, increasingly resembles an empire in decline.

And, she is being steered by a federal administration which seems committed to remaking a noble experiment in ordered liberty into something quite different, a top down secularist regime with increasingly little tolerance for faithful Christians - and many others -  who insist upon the existence of objective moral truths which should govern our life together.

The Hobby Lobby case was brought under a Federal Act; the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  (RFRA) The law was passed in 1993 and has frequently been used whenever a legal issue concerning the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights is at issue. 

Two corporations refused to provide abortion inducing contraceptives and devices under their health care plan. They did so based upon their sincerely held religious convictions. The owners had the courage to stand up against the Obama Administration. 

The Federal Government, through the HHS mandate through which the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) sought to compel them to do so or face extreme penalties.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act presumes the primacy of the Free Exercise of Religion as a fundamental Constitutional Right. The First amendment begins with these words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

For the government to prevail in this case, they had to show that the complained of burden upon free exercise was necessary because there is what is called a compelling government interest which must be protected.

Next, the Government had to show that the burden on the Free Exercise of Religion which would allegedly result was the least restrictive means of accomplishing that protection.

Finally, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires the application of a standard of review by the Court in reviewing this case. It is the highest standard of judicial review, called strict scrutiny.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The majority of the United States Supreme Court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires the Federal Government to provide closely-held corporate objectors the same accommodation it provides nonprofit corporations and religious organizations.

In other words, the way that an association, business, ministry, or organization is legally structured DOES NOT necessarily affect the protections given to the entity under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The opponents of the owners of the companies claimed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to for profit corporations and they should not have what is called legal standing to assert these claims under the Federal Law.

They used that claim in the hope that they could cut the case off before it was given serious consideration by the Court. If the Court were to have denied standing, or the very right to sue, it would have been over. The opponents of religious liberty failed.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

That argument was also behind many in the media who attempted to cast this serious constitutional case within an anti-corporate narrative. The absurdity of the claim was that nonprofit organizations are corporations as well.

The only difference is the Internal Revenue Service recognizes that their corporate mission is such that they should not be taxed on their profits in their operations as long as they are directed toward their nonprofit mission. 

Even though the attorneys for the two Christian companies properly asserted that the case should be analyzed under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), this is a major constitutional case. The Free Exercise Clause of the Bill of Rights is always implicated in RFRA cases.

I mention that to make another important point.

When the Bill of Rights was enacted there was no Internal Revenue Service. Some of the legal distinctions of our current approach to commerce, such as the structure of corporate law which distinguishes between a corporation being considered nonprofit or for profit, simply did not exist.

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution stood for the existence of a Fundamental Right to Religious Freedom for all men and women.

It protected them, in living their entire life - including engaging in commerce, and pursuing liberty and happiness - and from being compelled to surrender their deeply held moral and religious beliefs outside of the walls of their chosen church or place of worship by the federal government. 

The real issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby was whether the federal government could compel these corporations to provide abortion inducing contraceptives under the ruse of providing health care to women.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The willful killing of human embryonic persons through inserted devices or ingested chemicals is embryocidal. It most certainly is not health care.

Businesses run by those who respect the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death - and all in between - should not be compelled to participate in such an immoral act by a Federal Administration under the ruse of a heath care plan.

That is what was before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case and the US Supreme Court, in a majority opinion, agreed.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The family who owns Hobby Lobby, David and Barbara Green, are practicing evangelical Christians committed to protecting all human life. They refused to provide the chemical poison or the instruments which can kill in the name of "health care". 

They properly asserted that medical science confirms what their faith and conscience had affirmed, human life begins at conception. The contraceptive devices and abortion inducing forms of contraception they refused to provide under their employee health care plan can kill embryonic human persons. Their courage should be a witness to all of us.

That is why Hobby Lobby is a CRUCIAL Pro-Life Case as well as a Religious Liberty case.

Because the owners are Christians, they cannot and will not be complicit in the taking of human life, at any age or stage of life. It is always and everywhere immoral to take innocent human life.

As a Catholic Christian, I have stood in complete solidarity with them and written numerous times asking fellow Catholics and other Christians to do the same. The Catholic Church is crystal clear on this matter. In fact, in 2008 her teaching magisterium offered clear words reaffirming the dignity of the embryonic human person.

The previous year, in a direct response to a specific question on the matter, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave explicit instructions Here is one: "What Respect is due to the human embryo, taking into account his nature and identity?" Here is the answer given by the Magisterium: "The human being must be respected - as a person - from the very first instant of his (her) existence."

Not only is respecting and protecting human embryonic life a matter of a deeply held religious conviction,  Catholic Christians go further.

We insist that this prohibition is binding on all men and women through the Natural Moral Law which can be known through the exercise of reason. That is because the other Right at issue, in addition to the Right to Religious Freedom, is the fundamental Right to Life of the Human Embryonic person. That Right is denied whenever they are intentionally killed.

Pope Emeritus Benedict told the United Nations in 2008: 

"Human rights, in particular the right to life of every human being "are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights".

In the 2008 Instruction the Catholic Church also noted that this position of defending the Right to Life of the embryonic human person is a part of her constant and consistent Social Doctrine and concern for all of the poor:
 
"Just as a century ago it was the working classes which were oppressed in their fundamental rights, and the Church courageously came to their defense by proclaiming the sacrosanct rights of the worker as person, so now, when another category of persons is being oppressed in the fundamental right to life, the Church feels in duty bound to speak out with the same courage on behalf of those who have no voice.

Hers is always the evangelical cry in defense of the world's poor, those who are threatened and despised and whose human rights are violated.
In virtue of the Church's doctrinal and pastoral mission, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has felt obliged to reiterate both the dignity and the fundamental and inalienable rights of every human being, including those in the initial stages of their existence, and to state explicitly the need for protection and respect which this dignity requires of everyone."

I add that quote for the express purpose of reaching out to any ill informed, poorly catechized, morally inconsistent, self proclaimed Catholics in political office and public service reading this article. Also, to Catholics in the propagandized media culture who choose to deny the truth as taught by their own Church. No Catholic should have publicly defended the Obama Administration position on this Supreme Court case.

The Obama Administration failed. Religious Liberty prevailed.

The Hobby Lobby case was really about whether the federal government can persecute Christians engaged in commerce because they live their faith in a morally coherent manner and refuse to participate in the taking of human lives.

The U.S. Supreme Court answered the question - No!

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