The Hobby Lobby Decision Reveals “Progressive” Christians Can Be Just As Narrow Minded As Conservatives
I’ve avoided discussing the Hobby Lobby controversy till now if for a couple different reasons. First, its a local American issue and half the Beyond the Pale readers are not from the U.S. But more importantly, because I could easily argue either side of the debate.
Honestly for me, there are legitimate concerns on both sides…
For my non-American friends, the issue involves a recent Supreme Court case which held that Hobby Lobby, a business corporation, could be exempted from having to provide mandated employee health care that covered certain forms of contraception (specifically those used after conception) on the grounds of religious conviction. (I know what you’re thinking? *yawn* But try to stick with me)
The moment the decision was announced my Facebook feed was immediately filled with the usual impassioned updates from friends, either celebratory or vexed, depending on their political and / or religious persuasion.
As I mentioned though, I stayed out of the debate simply because I could see legitimate concerns on both side of the argument…
…but it seemed almost no one else could! Sadly this included progressive Christian bloggers.
One of the things that has made me attracted to “progressive” Christianity in the last few years is it’s ability to be more critically thinking and nuanced in its engagement with the world. I expect “conservative” Christianity to be rigid in it’s positions but I’ve come to realize “progressives” can be just as set in their ways. For example blogger John Shore leaves no quarter given when he states:
History will not be kind in its memory of today’s Supreme Court ruling, a travesty of justice grounded in the same brutish sexism and classism that has always informed the most egregious and shameful rulings of the highest court in our land.
If based upon its moral convictions Hobby Lobby is allowed to pick and choose the medical benefits it covers, why in the world wouldn’t any other company be allowed to do the same?
A travesty? Mr. Shore, a corporation has simply been exempted for, essentially, having to pay for “the morning after pill.” You may disagree with the decision but in the pantheon of Supreme Court cases this hardly constitutes a travesty.
Now I don’t disagree with John Shore on everything. I agree that corporations should not be allowed to “pick and choose” at whim but historically the law has made, at certain times, concessions for deeply held religious convictions. For example Conscientious Objectors from various religious (and non-religious) backgrounds have been exempted legally from conscription. The Selective Service policy reads:
Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.
Obviously people can’t “pick and choose” but thats why we have law and the courts; to determine legitimate grounds for exemption in a pluralistic society.
Frank Schaeffer then comes out swinging by saying in his blog:
Pope Francis must have vomited when he heard the Hobby Lobby news. Nothing could undo the good he has recently done the Church’s image more than yet another case of anti-woman lashing out by a cabal or far right Roman Catholic activists– this time in the Supreme Court.
Pope Francis vomiting? Over the fact that a corporation will not be forced by the government to pay for what amounts to an “abortion pill”?? I don’t think so…
In Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s blog he simply poses 10 questions to the Supreme Court in “couch potato lawyer” fashion with no concession to any legitimate argument made by the majority holding. One could easily pose an alternative 10 questions to dissenting Justice Bader-Ginsburg because this is such a difficult and nuanced case.
A Plague on Both Your Houses
Here’s the thing. I agree in principal with most of the arguments made by Shore, Schaeffer, and Wilson-Hartgrove. What I find distressing is not their positions but the fact that there is no nuance in their positions. There is no:
* I realize this is a difficult and complex issue…
* As a Christian who values human life in all forms I admit I am torn…
* I concede that the other side has a legitimate concern in …
Now, as I noted previously, I expect the “conservative” bloggers to be rigid and single minded but I am finding “progressive” writers can often be just as set in their ways. It feels not so much like they critically thought through their position as much as they have picked a side and are fighting for their team colors.
The result is “progressives” end up being just as narrow minded as their “conservative” counterparts.
I’ve given the “conservatives” a good ribbing lately saying if Jesus showed up today, they wouldn’t like him very much. I’m starting to think the “progressives” wouldn’t care much for him either.
So in the immortal words of Shakespeare’s Mercutio I say, “A plague on both your houses”.
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