The GOP is once again using the the concept of religious freedom to assault civil rights. In the past they have claimed a right to deny civil rights to GLBT citizens under the premise that those who have a prejudice against homosexuality should not be forced to sell, rent, or otherwise do business with such persons. And now they are claiming that pro-life insurers and employers should be able to deny reproductive health care insurance to women.
It is a complicated issue to be sure. One the one hand, people should be able to honor their religious consciences. On the other hand, employees and customers should have certain rights, too.
For example, if a religion is racist and believes people of color aren’t fully human, should members of that religion who own businesses have a right to withhold insurance benefits from their black workers? No? Then by what principle does one withhold medical services from women that the Supreme Court has ruled to be a right?
If a religion believes only in divine healing, should members of that faith who own businesses have a right not to give medical insurance to its workers at all? No? Then by what principle does someone get to assert their believe that a soul entered a female employee’s body at conception and therefore she is not free to make her own choices.
I realize the issue is not clear and there are dangers either way we go. I see with 20/20 vision the danger that fundamentalist Christians might have their consciences violated. But fundamentalists also have their conscience violated by modernity and by the scientific method itself. I agree that we should bend over as far as possible to allow fundamentalists to live in the world of their religious imaginings. The problem for me is that the GOP doesn’t seem to realize that the rest of us have rights, too.