Why does the Hobby Lobby decision matter?

It has been fascinating to hear the diverse responses to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision last week. To hear the reaction of some in the media and politics, you’d think that the Court had pulled the plug on the rights of America’s women to use contraception.

Hobby LobbyIn fact, the Court took a small but valuable step in the direction of protecting religious liberty in the U.S. In this narrow ruling, the Court said that a privately-held, family-run company that emphasizes Christian values has the right not to be forced to pay for drugs that can cause abortions. That’s it.

Did the Court rip away the right of contraception? No; in fact, the Hobby Lobby company pays for at least 16 different forms of contraceptives for its employees. It simply doesn’t want to pay for four other drugs that can be used to destroy existing life. While that may play into the “war on women” rhetoric of many media and political operatives, it seems a carefully-drawn and important distinction to those for whom the right to life is a sacred trust, rather than a political weapon.

This is far from the end of the battle for religious liberty in America, and future fights are likely to be much more significant and much more difficult. But for now, the Court has agreed that religious liberty extends beyond the four walls of the church – and that is an affirmation worth celebrating.

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