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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.

Poll

Will the Sup. Ct. take the case, and if so, what will their decision be?

47%10 votes
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23%5 votes

| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Remember in the RW Mentality (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, Rogneid, etbnc, blueoasis, Jay C

    oppression, and infringement of rights, can be done only by government.

    Any restrictions or obligations placed on people by the rich or their corporations by definition cannot be infringements of rights or freedoms.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 05:54:25 AM PST

  •  No, but H3ll is a corporation! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, JeffW, a2nite, Rogneid

    Or at least every corporation I ever worked for was a slice of H3ll.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 06:00:22 AM PST

  •  Well, isn't God basically a CEO? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    He rules heaven with an iron fist. Kids his ass or burn in hell (firings). He delegates the dirty work of genocide to his angels (VPs).  He demands tribute (profit). He demands that his word be spread aggressively (PR, market growth). No one has a say in operations but Him (controlling stake). Everyone does what they're told and shuts up about it (typical corporate morale strategy).

    The way I see it, giving corporations religious beliefs is wholly compatible with God's authoritarian ways.

  •  In my experience (7+ / 0-)

    right wingers don't really get the concept of corporate personhood.   They'll argue that a corporation is simply a voluntary association of people, through which those people exercise their rights.  There reasoning runs exactly like this: the people who own the corporation have right X, therefore the corporation in doing X is simply standing for its owners.

    This view, by the way, doesn't fall to the obvious objections: corporations cannot vote, or serve on juries. That's because voting and serving on juries are civic functions an individual is not allowed to delegate.

    A better example is this.  Suppose I own a restaurant as a sole proprietorship. I am within my rights to walk into the kitchen at 3AM and make myself a sandwich if I want. Same goes if I own that restaurant in partnership with someone else.  It may be unfair for me to eat all the profits, I may be committing some kind of tort if I'm abusive of the other partners' interest, but I'm not committing trespass, because I'm on my own property.

    But if I'm a stockholder in a corporation which owns several McDonald's franchises, if I walk into the kitchen to make myself a hamburger I am committing trespass. The kitchen is not my property, it's the property of the franchise-holding company. The rights and obligations of the corporation are separate from my rights, which is the entire point.  The corporation can enter agreements which obligate itself, but not me. That's why I'm not responsible for the corporation's debts, even if it is entirely owned by me. It's legally a separate person.

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 06:20:00 AM PST

    •  Not only that, you're shortening your life (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Rogneid, Jay C
      But if I'm a stockholder in a corporation which owns several McDonald's franchises, if I walk into the kitchen to make myself a hamburger I am committing trespass.
      making the whole "heaven" analogy that this diary is based on all the more relevant, I suppose.
    •  That's a good analogy (5+ / 0-)

      If I own some Walmart stock, I'd get arrested just as fast as anyone else if I simply went in and helped myself to whatever I wanted.  Even if I owned ALL the stock in a corporation, if I helped myself to whatever I wanted, I'd be subject to prosecution if my doing so caused it to be unable to pay its debts to creditors.

      And somehow, I suspect that owners of Hobby Lobby would scream bloody murder if somebody with a big judgment against Hobby Lobby wanted to disregard the corporate entity and go after them personally for the debt.

      Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

      by leevank on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 06:29:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jefferson sought not only separation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leevank, Rogneid, blueoasis, Jay C

    of church and state, but of corporation and state:

    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
    Religious belief, as he famously said, neither picks the pocket or breaks the leg. The same cannot be said for corporations.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:25:01 AM PST

  •  I think they are hell; they're creating it in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, blueoasis

    America.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:45:02 AM PST

  •  Here's a solution: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leevank

    If religious beliefs > legal, tax, and accounting benefits of a corporation, than organize your business as a sole proprietorship.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 12:10:04 PM PST

  •  There aren't any on Texas Death Row, either (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, leevank

    And if Texas isn't ready to execute a corporation, they can't be people because Texas is eager to execute lots of criminals.  And there hasn't been a corporation returning from Afghanistan in a body bag, either.

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