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Please begin with an informative title:

This diary is sparked by a discussion/debate in the comment section to this rec list diary

In the comments, one side suggested that a notary public refusing service to an atheist organization was part of a broader pattern of religious exemption-ism and hence linked to the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Supreme court hearing.

The counter position held that Hobby Lobby is an autonomous actor seeking an exemption to the ACA contraception provision and so it should not be conflated with the notary public (and employer bank supporting the self-proclaimed religion exemption). But when it comes to the legal machinations of the anti-abortion/anti-contraception movement, there is always a power bloc and linkages between the cultural, the political, and the legal.  So, lets connect the dots.  


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

On the March 26th edition of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman reported that an organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom

has played the role of "air traffic controller" by drumming up legal briefs submitted to the court in support of the two companies.
And who is the Alliance Defending Freedom? According Media Matters, they are:
A Scottsdale, AZ-based legal group committed to rolling back the rights of women and LGBT people on the grounds of "religious liberty." The organization has played a leading role in combatting marriage equality and non-discrimination policies in the U.S. while working internationally to criminalize homosexuality. Despite its rabid anti-LGBT extremism, ADF receives reliably friendly treatment from Fox News

Co-founded by none other than James Dobson, ADF has partnership linkages with anti-gay groups such as Family Research Council and RW think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation. And members from ADF are Fox News' go to "experts" for their annual war on Christmas narrative.

Major donors include the Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation - See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/...

And not to be forgotten,

ADF defines itself by its ability to strategize and coordinate with lawyers all over the United States. Lawyers who sign up for their "Blackstone Legal Institute" are expected to donate 450 pro bono hours over a three year period.
ADF has coordinated more than 750 lawyers and 125 right-wing organizations, and many conservative ministries on behalf of ADF-defined Christian legal issues
- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/...

And last but not, least ADF attorneys played a major in developing and promoting Arizona's ill-fated legislation, SB 1062 bill (the so-called religious freedom bill that would have allowed business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds).


Now the pattern becomes clearer. Across different contexts and legal issues, ADF is helping to advance a broader re-definition of religious freedom that allows business owners and now corporations to exempt themselves from federal laws and regulatory provisions.

In conjunction, Fox News promotes the meme that Christians are an oppressed group and that their being exposed to differing ideas and lifestyles is a form of persecution that impinges on their religious freedom. And I have noticed that in the last year, this odd redefinition of religious freedom as my right to discriminate against "sinners" has been gaining momentum in blogs, newspaper comment sections etc.

[Thus, the aforementioned bank teller may well have felt empowered and justified by the religious freedom meme and the examples set by the Arizona bill and the Hobby Lobby case. This does not imply that ADF lawyers were pulling the proverbial strings but only that the notary public was enacting a similar RW Christian conservative logic as manifest in the Hobby lobby suit.]

Through this network of relations, a general cultural familiarity with this corporate friendly redefinition of religious freedom is generated. Then, across different state legislatures and courts, various bills and law suits are promoted to institutionalize this perverse inversion of religious freedom (Some win, some lose but all move the media discourse to the right and make a once radical claim seem more and more reasonable).

Once established (if that happens and which it might in the Hobby lobby SC decision) around the issue of contraception and abortion (rallying the conservative base), it is not to hard to see other corporations seeking to expand the precedent by exempting out of other pesky Federal laws and regulations because, as we all know, God wants powerful corporations to maximize profits by any means necessary.  


Many commentators are picking up on the implications for corporate power that lurk in this case. On that point, I find hard to believe that this question asked by Judge Alito during the court hearing was a not a cynical ploy:

Justice Elena Kagan observed that using that reasoning, an employer might have a religious objection to complying with sex discrimination laws, minimum wage laws, family leave laws and child labor laws, to name just a few.
Hobby Lobby President Steve Green says the company should not have to provide insurance coverage for IUDs and morning-after pills for its 13,000 employees.

Clement responded that just because claims are being brought doesn't mean that they will all win. The courts, he said, can "separate the sheep from the goats."

"Have any of these claims ever been brought, and have they succeeded?" asked Justice Samuel Alito.

Answer: "Very few."

"With respect," interjected Kagan, "I think that that's probably because" until now this court has had "a different" understanding of how to interpret the constitutional and statutory law.


Seriously, how could a Supreme Court justice not understand how legal precedents work (i.e., the flood of cases come after the precedent has been set)? Alito--the pro-corporate, anti-abortion judge--was more likely trying to disingenuously distract attention from these problematic implications and many cheers to Justice Kagan for not letting that rhetorical move slide.

Dahlia Lithwick also has posted a very informative analysis of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cases. She notes that they meld together

the ambition of large, for-profit corporations to see themselves as people, with faith, convictions, and consciences, and the attempt of citizens, using their own science and their own facts, to declare when legal personhood begins, and then impose universal laws based on those beliefs


On the latter point, the Daily Show had great fun last night with the implication that the rubric of religious belief also frees corporate plaintiffs from any burden of proof that their "beliefs" are scientifically sound. So, we really could see corporations claiming exemptions from laws related to climate change on biblical grounds. Great for profits, terrible for the planet, and disastrous for democracy.

And on that point, thanks to mp2005 who linked to a very informative and disconcerting  expose on Hobby Lobby that has just been posted on Salon. The report documents Hobby Lobby's central position in an expansive, well-funded, and well connected Dominionist network that is hell bent on transforming the US into a Christian theocracy:


Thu Mar 27, 2014 at  9:18 AM PT: I am so glad this diary has been rec listed because the issue is so important and pressing. That is, the full on assault on separation of church and state coupled with a corporate agenda to claim personhood in very specific profit maximizing ways. I have added an addendum to the the diary, which has more extensive info than I can fit into the update box.

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