The Supreme Court handed down decisions in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products cases today. Those are the cases that challenged Obamacare’s mandate to provide contraceptives to employees. The two companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products, are both closely held businesses owned by self-described Christians who oppose being forced to provide, as part of the benefits package offered to employees, contraception.
The issue was spun as feminism vs. religion. Those in favor of the mandate argued “reproductive rights” should trump religion. Online comments have been varied with strong views on each side. One commenter stated that “the march to making this country a theocracy continues apace.”
I find that amusing to say the least. From a religious person’s view this is just a small step back from the restriction of religious liberty that seems to be sweeping the world. Christians who remember the real reason for Christmas have to endure signs saying “Who needs Christ for Christmas” and campaigns to do away with “Merry Christmas” in favor of “Happy Holidays.” Apparently those in favor of that change have forgotten or never knew that “holiday” derives from “holy day.” Lawsuits are brought to prohibit placing white crosses where law enforcement officers have died. Religion has no place in any type of debate in society. Prayer hasn’t been allowed in schools for years. There is a movement to do away with “In God We Trust” on money.
Just over a year ago the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). That was followed by days of celebration by those supporting the decision. If religionists would become as pro-active in the wake of the Hobby Lobby case maybe the tide of restrictions on religious liberty would ebb.
Kate Kelly, one of the founders of the Ordain Women movement in the Mormon church was formally excommunicated today. For those unfamiliar with excommunication, it severs all ties between the Church and the individual. All ordinances on behalf of the individual are no longer valid, including the sealing ordinance by which husbands, wives and their family are sealed to each other for time (this life) and eternity.
Unlike excommunication in the Catholic Church centuries ago, members of the LDS faith are not forbidden to associate with Ms. Kelly. “Disciplinary councils” which is the formal name given to church proceedings such as this, are often referred to as councils of love. While that is difficult for the average person, especially the ex communicant to understand, the reasoning is this. The excommunicated person has been found to have violated one of God’s laws. For Latter-day Saints, especially those (like Ms. Kelly) who have been through the temple and made sacred covenants with God, allowing them to continue in full faith and fellowship in the Church while in a state of transgression, would compound their error. It is much like when Adam and Eve, after having eaten of the forbidden fruit, were barred from the Tree of Life, first by cherubim and then by expulsion from the Garden, “lest they partake of the fruit and live forever in their sins.”
For Ms. Kelly her future is in her hands. If she sincerely repents, which will undoubtedly require her to stop agitating for the ordination of women and probably admit her complicity in trying to persuade others away from the teaching of the Church, she can be re-baptized and have all ordinances restored.
Contrary to how this might be spun in the media, this is not a human or women’s rights issue. It is a religious liberty issue that addresses the right of any religious organization to place certain responsibilities on those who wish to claim the benefits of membership. Right now Ms. Kelly seems not to grasp that distinction.