Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby and Observant Jewish Employers: Apples and Oranges?

Starting in March, I will put on hiatus my usual practice of blogging through books.  I will still write book reviews, but I probably won’t write a series of posts about a given book that I am reading.  Rather, I’ll just write single posts about entire books.  I’ll explain my reasons for this in March.

That said, since I won’t be blogging about what I read in a given book on a given day, as part of a series, the question that arises is: What will I write about each day?  Well, one option is current events.  I can comment about an article that I read.  In this post, I’ll be practicing that.

I try to read a conservative Townhall column each day.  Today, I read Mona Charen’s “The Little Victims of the State,” which is about the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby.  Hobby Lobby does not want for the health insurance that it provides to its employees to cover forms of birth control that it considers to be abortifacients,  in violation of the Health and Human Services mandate.  It faces stiff fines for failure to comply.  That is why it is going to court to challenge the mandate.

Mona Charen argues that the Obama Administration’s stance can become a slippery slope.  She states: “It’s also a worrying precedent. As the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs urged in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, if the Hobby Lobby can be forced to provide abortifacients, then observant Jewish employers (if incorporated) could be forced to open on Saturdays, serve non-kosher food or engage in other practices that violate the consciences of the owners.”

I’m puzzled about how that could happen, for I think that the two things are apples and oranges, myself.  I do not believe that an employee’s health care should be subject to the whims of her employer’s religious beliefs.  In that case, the employer’s religious beliefs are affecting the employee in a significant way.  I don’t see how that is the case if a Jewish employer chooses to be closed on Saturdays or serve food that is not kosher.  Well, then again, maybe I can: employees would be deprived of extra income that they need if the stores are closed on Saturdays.  I can’t think of any reason why the government would force a Jewish employer to serve non-kosher food, though.

Well, I’m off to a good start, aren’t I?  I make a statement, contradict my statement, then agree with part of my original statement!

What do you think?  Can you conceive of any reason why the government might want to force stores to be open on Saturdays or to serve non-kosher food?

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