WASHINGTON — Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy called today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius a “grave error” and raised serious concerns about its impact on our understanding of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance has been a longtime advocate for religious freedom and joined with other religious groups in filing a friend of the court brief asking the court to rule against the owners of for-profit private corporations that want to deny their employees access to birth control:
“The Supreme Court made a grave error today. The balance between religious freedom and other compelling interests has always been tenuous, but we may very well remember today’s decision as the moment that balance was radically recalibrated. Not only has the Court, for the first time in history, expanded the definition of religious freedom to include for-profit corporate entities, it has determined that the free exercise of those employers outweighs that of their employees. The First Amendment is at its best when it is used to protect the rights of minorities from the whims of the powerful. Today’s decision, which gives the powerful the right to force their religious beliefs on those around them, is a far cry from the best traditions of religious freedom.”
“There are many questions that have been left unanswered in this decision that will further imperil our historic understanding of religious freedom. Chief among them is the Court determining that all corporations are covered under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which indicates that this decision could eventually move beyond closely held corporations. Additionally, the Court may have only ruled on the contraception mandate today, but there is no reason to believe the implications of this decision will be limited to that issue.”
“I find strength in knowing that we have lost at the Court before and that religious freedom has not been so easily shaken. We will find a way, through legal action and through legislation, to repair the damage that was done to our democracy today.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.