Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Religion

When the Supreme Court handed down their decision in the Hobby Lobby case last week, they may not of thought about the backlash that would occur.

For better or for worse, past cases about religious exemption have turned on the right of individuals to opt out of laws that conflicted with their beliefs: like Quakers and the draft, or Native Americans and peyote.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was supposed to help protect groups like the Quackers and Native Americans. Justices with agendas have changed that, with thousands now calling for its repeal.

The Hobby Lobby decision now allows a person to impose their beliefs onto others, whether they share them or not, including allowing a corporation to act as a human being in a similar manner. What the decision does is bring up a host of questions that will have far-reaching implications in the future.

What if a private corporation has a religious objection to labor unions, based on its belief that all people should submit to godly authority without question? Would they be allowed to fire employees for attempting to organize?

  • What if a private corporation has a religious objection to parental leave, based on its belief that women who have babies should devote their lives to motherhood and homemaking? Would they be allowed to fire women for getting pregnant?
  • What if a private corporation has a religious objection to paid sick time, based on its belief that God will heal those who ask for it and that injury or disease is a proof of a sinful lack of faith? Would they be allowed to fire workers who got sick or got hurt on the job?

  • What if a private corporation has a religious objection to environmental laws, based on its belief that God gave us the Earth to use as we see fit? Would they be allowed to ignore laws regulating pollution or waste dumping?
  • What if a private corporation has a religious objection to minimum wage laws, based on its interpretation of Jesus’ parable of the vineyard? Would they be allowed to pay their workers as little as they choose?

What will happen when a Muslim corporation wants to institute Sharia Law onto its employees?

The ruling elevates the rights of a FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION over those of its women employees and opens the door to all manner of claims that a company can refuse services based on its owner’s religion. Think about the ramifications: As Justice Ginsberg’s stinging dissent pointed out, companies run by Scientologists could refuse to cover antidepressants, and those run by Jews or Hindus could refuse to cover medications derived from pigs (such as many anesthetics, intravenous fluids, or medications coated in gelatin).

In this case, the owners happen to be deeply Christian; one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.

Hobby Lobby are hypocrites. They didn’t have a problem with the emergency contraceptives Pan-B and Ella until 2012.

One huge problem with this situation is that up until 2012, Hobby Lobby provided them as part of their insurance plan. Only when they realized that Obamacare was going to mandate this coverage did they suddenly become interested in not providing these drugs.

How committed are they to protecting the unborn if they didn’t know or didn’t care to know what kind of insurance they were offering. Their retirement plan invests in contraceptive manufacturers.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have stock holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.

All nine funds—which have assets of $73 million, or three-quarters of the Hobby Lobby retirement plan’s total assets—contained holdings that clashed with the Greens’ stated religious principles.

In their Supreme Court complaint, Hobby Lobby’s owners chronicle the many ways in which they avoid entanglements with objectionable companies. Hobby Lobby stores do not sell shot glasses, for example, and the Greens decline requests from beer distributors to back-haul beer on Hobby Lobby trucks.

Similar options exist for companies that want to practice what’s sometimes called faith-based investing. To avoid supporting companies that manufacture abortion drugs—or products such as alcohol or pornography—religious investors can turn to a cottage industry of mutual funds that screen out stocks that religious people might consider morally objectionable. The Timothy Plan and the Ave Maria Fund, for example, screen for companies that manufacture abortion drugs, support Planned Parenthood, or engage in embryonic stem cell research. Dan Hardt, a Kentucky financial planner who specializes in faith-based investing, says the performances of these funds are about the same as if they had not been screened. But Hobby Lobby’s managers either were not aware of these options or chose not to invest in them.

If your religious convictions are that great, why would you not seek out financial planning that supported your beliefs?

They are opposed to abortion, but only when it suits them. They continue to invest in China, where there is no religious freedom (they based their case on this), hundreds of workers die each day and where abortion is actually used as population control.

And what of China’s one-child policy, which disincentivizes having daughters to the point that it fuels an underground abortion industry? Data shows that 13 million abortions are performed in the country each year. About 35,000 infant lives are terminated in China every day, and 336 million abortions have taken place there over the last four decades. According to Steven Mosher of Population Research Institute, “most of those abortions have the character of a rape. That is, they were performed on women who were ordered, or even physically forced, to submit to the knife.”

Though China somewhat relaxed its controversial 35-year-old policy recently, Max Fisher of The Washington Post has noted that the policy still leads to forced abortions — in addition to sterilizations and infanticide — and always will.

There are huge implications in how the Supreme Court acted.

Beyond the contraception mandate, this case has huge implications for the country.  For instance, this is the first time the Court has ruled that a corporation – just like individuals – has a right to religious freedom.

According to this report, the Supreme Court decision is “huge” and effectively gives faith-based companies the right to discriminate against anyone they disapprove of.

Abortion coverage usually doesn’t mean a heck of a lot for gays and lesbians, but the decision sets a precedent that could do harm down the road for equal treatment in health insurance and discrimination by essentially declaring religious liberty to be superior to more secular concerns of employees.

Now that the Supreme Court has declared that corporations can have religious convictions, just like a person, the logical extension is that those same convictions could one day be justified in overruling well-established workplace non-discrimination laws.

Religious organizations have already petitioned the president to exempt them from hiring laws so they can discriminated against LGBT people.

Religious Exemption Letter to President Obama

A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.

Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.

“We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need,” the letter states.

the administration announced it would issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a reform long sought by gay-rights groups. Such an order would essentially impose on contractors the provisions of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate but hasn’t been taken up by the House.

What about women who want contraceptives? Well, Justice Alito used a loophole that churches and charities use to get around that too.http://www.cato.org/blog/republic-gilead-not-night

The Department of Health and Human Services has already developed a way to exempt religious non-profit corporations—such as churches, charities, and hospitals—from the legal mandate to pay for employees’ contraception coverage.  In what amounts to an accounting trick, they permit those corporations to purchase plans without such coverage, and then require that insurance companies themselves independently provide it to the uncovered employees.  Because pregnancy is quite a bit more expensive than contraception, this apparently ends up not imposing any additional net cost on the insurers.  The result is that employees of religious non-profits end up with no-copay contraception coverage, exactly as if the employer were required to provide it directly, but the employers are satisfied by this ledger shuffling that they aren’t being compelled to violate their most deeply held moral convictions.

Just how much DHHS offers these contraceptives for varies. It could cost a woman hundreds of dollars a year, something a $14 an hour, full-time employee ($9 part-time) at Hobby Lobby isn’t going to be able to afford.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her scathing dissent to the 5-4 decision, “the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.” Indeed, IUDs — which are the most effective form of birth control and the method that doctors are increasingly recommending — can cost more than $1,000 out of pocket. Before the Affordable Care Act took effect and began guaranteeing women’s access to no-cost birth control, many women didn’t use IUDs because the up front costs were too expensive.

We already have clear evidence about how removing cost barriers to the IUD can change women’s lives. A large 2012 study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis found that when they were given the choice between the full range of birth control methods without being charged a co-pay — the same choice that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate offers — more of them opted for IUDs. And after that, fewer of them experienced unintended pregnancies and fewer of them got abortions.

On the other hand, without access to affordable long-lasting birth control, poor women are much more likely to struggle to avoid becoming pregnant. The unintended pregnancy rate for women living below the poverty level is more than five times as high as the rate for the women in the highest income level. When low-income women are faced with unplanned pregnancies, they often end up slipping even further into poverty. Thanks to the increasing number of restrictions on abortion — after all, conservatives like Hobby Lobby don’t want insurance plans to cover it — impoverished women often can’t afford to end a pregnancy. And there isn’t exactly a social safety structure in place to make it easier for them to afford a child, either.

While you ponder what all this means, have a look at at PR video from Hobby Lobby, comments disabled. Also, a caution to the massive blinking from the woman. It might be best to listen to the video instead of watch it.

Holly Fisher also posted this picture of herself online. It’s been put side by side with another famous photo.

holly hobby lobby

The justices made a point of actually stating denial of coverage for blood transfusions was not protected, a direct jab at Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are saying their religious beliefs trump other religious beliefs.

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The Supreme Court, in its ruling has said they know the law doesn’t support their ruling, and it would fail under the 1st Amendment, but they’re doing it anyway and using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to justify their actions. Just don’t ever try to use the ruling in any other court case because we’re telling you that you can’t do that.

This case is a direct result of what happens when you tie healthcare to a job. Just remember contraceptives are bad for employees, but good for business.

Make no mistake, Hobby Lobby and the Green family are hypocrites and the Supreme Court just let them continue to be.

When did caring for your fellow human being become so screwed up in America?

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A full-page ad in The New York Times protesting the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling June 30 is being sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog representing over 20,000 nonbelieving members. It’s expected to run in the front news section Thursday, July 3.

Featuring an arresting portrait of birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, whose motto was “No Gods — No Masters,” the ad criticizes the “all-male, all-Roman Catholic majority” on the Supreme Court for putting “religious wrongs over women’s rights.”

Download (PDF, 2.6MB)

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“Jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being relocated thousands of miles to a prison colony deep in Siberia, according to her husband Peter Verzilov. Tolokonnikova has been missing for 17 days, since she vanished into the Russian prison system to be transferred to an unknown camp. Verzilov says she is now en route to the city of Krasnoyarsk, 2,600 miles east of Moscow, in the heart of Siberia.

“It’s 100 percent that it’s Krasnoyarsk region,” Verzilov told Rolling Stone by phone, saying the information came from a source in Russia’s prison administration.”

Read more.

Video.

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Despite the fact that everyone in On The Media’s producer Sarah Abdurrahman’s family were all US citizens and that once citizenship is established you are supposed to be free to enter the country, they were detained for six hours by US Customs and Border Patrol.

From Techdirt:

They were treated terribly, put in a cold room with no food or drinks, and no information on what was going on. CBP demanded they hand over their electronics, and made it clear they might not get them back. The thing is, this isn’t a unique situation. As the report notes, there’s almost no oversight over CBP actions, allowing them to act with impunity. In the report, the story is told of a 4-year-old girl, an American citizen, who was detained for 14 hours, in a cold room, without being allowed to speak to her parents and given no food beyond a cookie. And then she was deported. Even though she was a US citizen. She was allowed to come back weeks later, but now has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

She tried to find out information during the detainment, but was repeatedly told “it’s not your right to know.” She wasn’t even allowed to know the names of the CBP agents who detained them. When she asked, agents turned their backs to her so she couldn’t see their name tags. Multiple attempts at getting Homeland Security or CBP to respond to questions failed.

She also tells the story of some other wedding attendees who were similarly detained with incredibly obnoxious behavior from CBP agents. The first one they met was quizzing everyone in the car on their names, and the 3-year-old kid in the back cheerily volunteered his name and the CBP agent snapped at him. The agents initially promised that they wouldn’t search their phones, but then demanded that people unlock their phones, and even told them the phones would be confiscated and not returned. People complained that they needed their phones for work and were basically told too bad. Abdurrahman notes that three full cars of people from that one wedding all had their phones confiscated, and she notes that DHS claims only about 15 phones are confiscated each day by CBP, and wonders why everyone from one wedding appear to have nearly reached that quota.

Then there’s the really ridiculous part: one of the people detained went through mutliple invasive body searches, and then after five and half hours was suddenly handcuffed and locked up in a jail cell with no explanation at all. He asked the officers to let his family know what was going on, but they didn’t. Instead, they told his family to leave, and when they asked what happened, his family was told that “an agency” was coming to “pick him up,” without giving any more details — obviously leading to the worst assumptions. Instead, it turned out the guy had an unpaid ticket for a crooked license plate from 2006. CBP called the Michigan State Police to come “get him” over this — and, again, didn’t explain any of this to his family.

While a person can submit a complaint, there is little that will be done to resolve the situation. CBP claims broad authority and operates unto itself, above the law, terrorizing its own citizens.

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Israel

The Israeli government has ordered textbook publishers to remove any content that relates to human reproduction and contraception if it is to be viewed by students under the age of 15.

Such material “does not fit in with the educational outlook for junior high school students in the state religious system”, said a statement from the education ministry.

It had requested “targeted adjustments” to ensure that textbooks “include texts and reading materials in the spirit of the state religious education system”.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israeli Religious Action Centre, which advocates progressive Judaism, described the education ministry’s move as a “slippery slope”.

“When we start filtering science for modesty reasons, that in the end will hinder our ability to teach science to Israeli children,” she said.

“Teaching children about these subjects in a factual and respectful way is not in any way an affront to religion.”

Over the past few years, the ultra-orthodox community in Israel has attempted to eliminate public depictions of women, including that of Hillary Clinton, and impose gender segregation on public transportation.

These students will grow up ignorant not only of the science, history, and literature that has already been taken out of the textbooks, but of women as well. Instead of learning about women, the reproductive system, or other worthy science, these students will grow up believing that women are something to be covered up, marginalized, and hidden from society.

Picture source
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