Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hobby Lobby should be doubled edged, but probably isn't as much as people expect

The Satanic Temple's attempt to use the Hobby Lobby decision to get a special religious exemption from the rules that legally mandate women to read pro-life literature before getting an abortion is entirely predictable. Not that I predicted this particular use of that decision. But the basic idea that once you let religions get special exemptions from laws of general application, it's inevitable that a non-Christian group is going to try to use it to do something that the conservatives behind Hobby Lobby won't like.

I also think the Satanic Temple will lose. They shouldn't lose. If the Hobby Lobby rule were really taken seriously, they would have a good argument. The reality is that judge's don't treat "non-mainstream" religions the same way they treat "mainstream" religions. Where exactly the line lies between "mainstream" and "non-mainstream" varies a bit from person to person. Certain religions, like Christian Science, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and even Islam, are mainstream for some people and non-mainstream for others. But just about everyone has these kinds of prejudices and puts someone's belief system into a different category than, the Baptists.

Every religion is really weird if viewed from the outside. That weirdness is rarely visible from the inside. The true believer does not generally have any sense of how odd their own faith looks to other people. They might see some difference between the Satanic Temple and Catholicism that makes Catholicism more serious than the Satanic Temple because they have never thought about the ritual cannibalism inherent in the idea of communion. I think that is why, so long as a decision like Hobby Lobby stands, minority religions will always be at a disadvantage. That is also true for less flamboyant religions than the Satanists, like Judaism.