Favorite

Today's crisis 

The cover story of this issue of the Arkansas Times reminds us of another day when zealots tried to hold themselves above the law. Then it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that they didn't want to comply with, and the practice of racial discrimination that they sought to defend.

Now, it's religious extremists trying to impose their own beliefs on others, by denying needy Americans access to the birth control coverage that is provided in President Obama's health care reform. In 1964, racist shop owners claimed the right to deny service to black people. Today, the lawyer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that if he owned a Taco Bell, he should be able to deny his employees access to contraceptives. Hobby Lobby, a large chain of craft stores that purports to consider itself an evangelical Christian enterprise, has said it will defy the federal law requiring birth control coverage for its employees. In Denver, a federal judge has ruled that a heating and air conditioning firm can indeed deny birth control coverage to its workers, because the owners of the firm, conservative Catholics, are opposed to birth control.

The Denver ruling elicited a devastating rebuttal from Karen B. Ringen of Boulder, a member of the board of trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In a column for the Denver Post, she wrote:

"True religious freedom means the right to make religious decisions for yourself. It gives you (or your boss) no license to tell others what to do. If your religion teaches that the use of birth control is a sin, no one can force you to use it. But your belief, no matter how strongly held, does not give you the power to make decisions for others — especially when those decisions are of an intimate and personal nature. ...

"We simply cannot have a health-care system where workers' rights are held hostage to their employer's religious beliefs, and employers may pick and choose what they will allow in terms of access to health care for their employees. ...

"It is truly remarkable that some — including a federal judge — have embraced a theory of religious liberty that allows those in positions of authority to use government policy to force their theology onto the rest of us. Some may call that 'religious liberty.' To a lot of us, it looks more like something else: religious oppression."

A Supreme Court decision allowing either people or corporations to evade the law in the name of "religious freedom" would be a terrible blow to this country. How then could we stop a fundamentalist motel owner from refusing to rent rooms to Jews or atheists? Or a Muslim taxi driver from refusing to transport Christians to church? Or a Pentecostal factory owner who believes in faith healing from denying all medical coverage to his employees? The televangelists and the bishops may prefer theocracy to democracy. The founders of this nation most certainly did not.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Gee, so you were there when Jesus spoke - how old you must be. First-person…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation