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Sat Jul 5, 2014, 06:04 PM

Ask not what you can do for your religion, but what can the government do for your religion.

In the Hobby Lobby case, we see a group of people claiming that the government should allow it to reject, on the basis of their religious beliefs, a provision of law. Hence, constraining others from availing themselves of the law’s protection. A law to which this group of people are subject only because they voluntarily decided to engage in behavior that is regulated by this law.

So why does Hobby Lobby claim that ACA constrains their religious freedom? ACA doesn't tell them what to believe. ACA doesn't ask them to do anything against their religion.

In our complex society today it may be hard for a religion to reconcile its beliefs with the behavior needed to fully partake in a democracy. It may be hard to find a pharmacy that doesn’t sell contraceptives or a drug company that doesn’t make them. Or health insurance that doesn't cover birth control.

However, the government should not mitigate a religion’s difficulty of pursuing its beliefs either by constraining its own pursuit of the public good or by constraining the behavior of others. In fact, the separation of church and state requires that the government not only not espouse a particular religious belief, but that the government not constrain anyone’s behavior on the basis of such a belief.

In a democracy it is necessary that government not only not establish a religion, but that it doesn't allow some people's religious beliefs to affect the behavior of others.

The Supreme Court’s decision in essence is the Alice in Wonderland version of religious freedom. They ask “How can the government help this group of people not cross their religious views?” They don’t ask, “Why should their religious views constrain the behavior of others?”

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