Skip to comments.Obama Admin: Religious Businesses Should Check Their Religion at the Door
Posted on 06/04/2013 6:33:45 AM PDT by Morgana
A surprising and public rift opened up last week between President Obama and his lawyers over whether profit-making businesses can pursue goals other than making money, including adhering to religious requirements.
In courtrooms across the countryincluding one last week in PhiladelphiaDepartment of Justice lawyers told judges that profit-making businesses with religious objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate cannot exercise religion. Profit-making business apparently can pursue just one goal: making money. Business owners must check their religious values at the door.
Elsewhere in the country, however, President Obama offered the opposite message to a group of men graduating from Morehouse College. He urged them to forge careers in business, but to avoid focusing solely on profits. Instead, they should consider what broader purpose your business might serve by pursuing values other than profits, like transforming a neighborhood. The Presidents comments echoed his remarks last year at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he proclaimed that leaving our values at the door would abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries.
The President is right and his lawyers are wrong.
Businesses act on principles beyond the pursuit of profit every day. Vegan markets refuse to sell animal products because they are ethically opposed to hurting animals. Some employers have long provided benefits to same-sex partners based on the moral view that doing so is right and just. Some investment funds refuse to invest in fossil-fuel companies because they view them as destructive. Businesses following moral, ethical, philosophical, and environmental principles are all around us.
Similarly, some businesses operate according to religious principles. The Hahn family, for example, are Mennonite Christians who run Conestoga Wood, a cabinet-making company in East Earl, PA. They have long followed the Presidents admonition to consider the broader purpose their business might serve, and to avoid leaving their values at the door. Yet yesterday they heard government lawyers tell judges that because their company earns money, the Hahns cannot follow their religion while they work. The government seeks to impose crushing fines on the Hahns ($95,000 dollars every day) unless the Hahns will start violating their religion and paying for drugs that they believe cause abortions.
The lawyers have it all wrong. Earning money doesnt suddenly give the government the right to extinguish your constitutional rights. The New York Times Company is a profit-making corporation, but it obviously has free speech rights. Many doctors provide abortions for profit, but of course the government could not stop them just because they make money. We dont trade in our constitutional rights when we earn a living.
Of course this does not mean that we will soon see large publicly-traded companies claiming to exercise religion. A religious freedom claim requires a showing of sincere religious practicewhich is easy for the Hahns, but virtually impossible for a large, publicly-traded corporation like an IBM, where control is shared among thousands of shareholders. This explains why all of the challenges to the Mandate have been by closely-held family businesses, and none have been by publicly-traded companies. Nor is there any risk that decisions in the Mandate cases will trigger a sudden spike in businesses claiming to exercise religionthe Supreme Court approved of religious exercise claims for sole proprietors more than thirty years ago, and such cases remain few and far between.
Nor does protecting religious exercise for people engaged in business mean that religious values must trump all others in our society. Religious claimants will still lose when the government offers actual proof that it really needs to burden the religious objectorsomething it has not done so far in the Hahns case or any of the HHS Mandate cases. The key is that the religious freedom claims will be determined based on whether there is a real religious exercise, and how strong the governments evidence is in responseand not based on whether the people or organizations involved make money.
So the men of Morehouse can safely follow the Presidents advice, secure in the knowledge that they do not forfeit their constitutional rights when they earn a living, and that they are allowed to pursue broader purposes while they do so.
And the President could help them in their pursuit by sending a copy of his commencement address over to the Department of Justice.
Bammy needs to check his Muzzie Bro. luvin’, deep bowin’ butt off into Kenya for a permanent stay.
Religious based business should be viewed as cooperatives offering voluntary or reduced cost services and or goods to its members at a benefit of either prices or other benefits to them. And should have an unimpeeded restriction to set the standards for such membership.
re: “And the President could help them in their pursuit by sending a copy of his commencement address over to the Department of Justice.”
Is the writer of this article THAT STUPID???? Does he actually think Obama disagrees with the DOJ’s actions??
I think you misunderstand the article.
My business is not about my religion, but it runs on Christian principles of business and society.
The Hahn’s furniture is not religious...their business ethics are.
We’re Christians doing business in the world.
No one should needs to be a member to do business with us. Your statement came across very prejudiced and with disregard to our Rights. ..just because we’re Christians we should be relegated to some sort of cooperative? Your statement really makes no sense coming from a conservative.
Freedom of religion only exists if you don’t wish to work or engage in commerce.
“Foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose”
We have to retake control of the language and prevent the far left from redefining our rights away. The Constitution guarantees “the free exercise thereof” and not just a part-time “freedom of worship” for one hour per week. The free exercise of my religious faith includes the right not to participate in murdering innocent unborn babies. Any evil thug who wants to define that away will have a fight. The choices are for the statists to surrender, or for decent people to close their businesses (or cut back under 50 employees, or cut employees below 30 hours). We cannot “compromise” with those who will simply demand that we meet them halfway, again and again, until we have fully embraced evil.
THANKS for posting this Morgana.
Tryanny never feels any requirement to be judicially consistent, let alone fair or right.
The US government (NOT just Obama) is slowly cornering Christianity.
It is making allies out of whoever it can; whoever will radically oppose God and his Law Word, in any way.
If not to eliminate true Christian faith in America, then to control it and control what is preached and taught.
Any Church that surrenders and teaches what the government wants is left alone.
And let’s make NO mistake about it - we are living in a captured state.
We live in a nation where the government is controlled by a financial oligarchy that keeps itself OUT of the news COMPLETELY, and has successfully brainwashed enough people through public schools and the entertainment industry to be afraid of admitting that the oligarchy exists, out of fear that acknowleding the oligarchy will require them to do something that might upset what’s left of their comfortable existence.
Does this apply to Muslim businesses too?
Private businesses that are owned by individuals, have the right to do business as they see fit!
So, according to Obama, Christian bookstores should become “just bookstores”? Judaica stores should just be “stores”? Pagan stores, selling whatever they do there, should also be just “stores”? And, of course, if there are Muslim stores selling whatever Muslims sell, as pertaining to “religious” items, should also be just “stores”, right?
(Watch me get ‘eggs of care’ thrown at me for this one!)
This goverment bureaucracy is completely out of line.
Not a lawyer offered that argument primarily for organizations offering specialized goods and services to their members as incentives to belong to them but then not necessarilly so.
If you were an Amish operation would you be subject to that ruling ? That might be the direction to take.
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