Because when you get five white male catholics sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States, you get discriminatory laws like this one that justifies business being able to determine its employees’ health care on religious grounds.
We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act 1993), which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.
We must decide whether the challenged HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) regulations (mandating payment for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives) substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do.
See? Healthcare on religious grounds… a perfectly reasonable privilege in law (against a public policy that just so happens to be contrary to their religious teachings) for a bunch of catholics to endorse.
Are we surprised?
Now, let’s see what happens when a business owner who is hindu refuses to pay coverage for gastroenterology of eaters of beef, a scientologist owner who refuses to cover psychiatric counseling and treatments, a christian science business owner who refuses to pay for dental coverage, and so on. Will this enlightened group of white catholic men continue to support religious privilege outside of their religious beliefs? Somehow, I sincerely doubt it. (We don’t even need to go so far as to consider religiously inspired human sacrifice to imagine just how stupid and shortsighted this ruling can become; refusal to pay for any reproductive healthcare is next up). Are such religious folk who run businesses unreasonable to expect the Supreme Court to privilege their mandatory exemptions contrary to their religious teachings in the public domain? Will the Supreme Court stay true to the principle in law they’ve set down here that the public domain must privilege religious belief of individuals? Will we stand by and nod our head in pious agreement that bigotry and misogyny are to be privileged in this way because they are religious, and so their exercise trumps equality rights and freedom from legal discrimination? Apparently so.
What a stupid ruling. Colossal stupidity.
But it shouldn’t be surprising: any time we allow religion to have privilege in law, we always pay the price in a loss of legal autonomy that is rationalized to be moral. And we pay this price because religious belief itself – for all its hand waving about its benevolence and charity and comfort claims – holds zero respect for legal autonomy. Respect for our personal autonomy in law is the enemy of mandated religious fealty and privilege, which is why secular values are targeted by all religions (under the banner of secular protection, of course) to be immoral. Religion – no matter how vanilla the local flavour may appear to be – is always a tyranny working in ways to try to make it happen. We ignore this core religious value at our peril.