I don't mean this question literally, since I know that there are many (perhaps most) here who don't think heaven exists. But it's a relevant question for the owners of Hobby Lobby, and the judges and lawyers who argue that corporations can have religious beliefs, and that those beliefs can trump their obligation to provide birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is likely to decide tomorrow whether to take the appeal by the federal government of what was, to me, an incredibly wrong-headed decision by the 10th Circuit saying that yes, a for-profit corporation can have religious beliefs, and those beliefs can trump the corporation's obligation to follow otherwise applicable laws that offend those beliefs.
There is a good article in today's New York Times about this case.
Hobby Lobby is arguing that since, under Citizens United, corporations have rights under the free speech and press clause of the First Amendment, they also have the right to religious freedom under that Amendment. In fact,
Judge Harris L Hartz, in a concurrence, said the case was in some ways easier than Citizens United. “A corporation exercising religious beliefs is not corrupting anyone,” he wrote.That may well be, but it ignores the fact that the press has traditionally consisted largely of corporations such as newspapers, TV and radio stations, etc. On the other hand, it simply turns the concept of religious belief into an absurdity to say that for-profit corporations can have such beliefs. For anybody who thinks this isn't the case, including the conservative Christians who own Hobby Lobby, I've got a few questions:
1. When a corporation dies (whether by dissolution under state law or liquidation under bankruptcy or otherwise), does it go to heaven or hell?
2. Does any religious body of which you're aware permit for-profit corporations to be members, and to have a vote in governing the body?
3. Do corporations get baptized, or take communion, or participate in other religious rites?
4. If you sold Hobby Lobby to an atheist, or a Muslim, would that automatically change Hobby Lobby's religious beliefs? Wouldn't this violate Hobby Lobby's right to have its own religious beliefs?
And for those such as Justices Scalia and Thomas, who claim to think original intent is the standard by which constitutional provisions should be interpreted, is there the slightest indication anywhere that the Framers of the Constitution thought for-profit corporations could have religious beliefs?
I will also note here, without going into it in detail, that what to me is the absurdity of saying that a for-profit corporation can have religious beliefs that are offended by an otherwise applicable law is only one of at least two serious problems with the Tenth Circuit decision -- the other being that even individuals are typically required to comply with generally-applicable laws that may offend their religious beliefs. As but one example, a pacifist is not permitted to refuse to pay federal taxes on the grounds that some of the money goes to the military, and members of a sect that believes in arranged marriages of girls as soon as the hit puberty presumably couldn't use that belief as a defense against charges of sex with underaged girls.