FALSE CONSCIENCE

Posted in Quick Hits on December 3rd, 2013 by Ed

The noted Jesus enthusiasts who run Hobby Lobby – America's #1 retailer of craft supplies and unbelievably tacky shit – are trying to get out of their legal obligations under the Affordable Care Act. As a large chain, I suspect they would be obligated to provide insurance for a good number of their employees who lack it at present. Predictably, they are claiming to be entitled to some sort of conscience exemption on the grounds that the ownership doesn't want to pay for it their deep Christian beliefs will not allow them to pay for any insurance that covers birth control.

This comes up every couple of years, usually when some pharmacist claims to be morally unable to dispense birth control prescriptions, and it never gets less ridiculous. It betrays a complete lack of understanding of what a conscientious objection is. I came across this excellent explanation from a Quaker – a group that has experience with CO during military drafts – of why this is so misguided:

I believe in Conscience Protection. I believe people should have the right to refuse work that violates their principles. If a draft were called tomorrow, I would wholeheartedly support people's right not to serve.

But if someone serving in the military came to me and said they wanted me to defend their right to refuse military service, but that they also wanted to keep their job and be paid as if they were actually serving in combat, I would laugh in their face.

A pharmacist demanding the right to keep their job even if they refuse to dispense legal medication is like a Marine demanding to keep their job even if they refuse to follow lawful orders. That’s not "conscience protection," that’s a handout to someone who wants to be paid not to work.

Unsurprisingly, Hobby Lobby and their ilk want to have it all ways. They want to do as their supposed morals dictate and flout the law, as though we all have a right to pick and choose what aspects of the law we will follow based on our preferences. I'm legally obligated to pay taxes for two wars I find profoundly immoral. If I chose to, I suppose I could stop paying whatever portion of my taxes goes toward that end. But what right would I have to complain when the IRS put me in jail or seized my assets to cover my tab? None. Absolutely none. Because a genuine act of conscience is not necessarily one for which you are protected from all of the potential consequences.