Faith Driven Consumers Question Conflicting Constitutional Rights
January 22nd marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion. Despite everyone acknowledging that abortion is the law of the land and that the present court is unlikely to change that fact, Americans remain highly divided on the issue. Recently, in the context of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the ruling that abortion is a fundamental unenumerated right under the U.S. Constitution has come into direct conflict with the enumerated First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression.
Nowhere is this conflict more clearly seen than in the lawsuit filed by Christian family-owned retail giant Hobby Lobby against the Health and Human Services mandate under Obamacare requiring individuals who are employers to violate their religious convictions and pay for employee contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. For Hobby Lobby, failure on the part of the owners to violate their consciences will result in a $1.3 million daily fine for the company.
As a national chain with 13,000 employees and 525 stores in 42 states – and $2.6 billion in gross sales in 2010 – the owners of Hobby Lobby face a governmental assault on their right to religious expression as private individuals and business owners seeking to operate their company in alignment with their faith convictions.
Ironically, the Obama Administration is forcing taxpayers to pay for the unenumerated right to abortion without any corresponding demand for taxpayers to pay for other rights like religious liberty, speech, assembly, press, petition, association and belief enumerated in the First Amendment.
The faith convictions of Hobby Lobby’s owners resonate deeply with the rapidly emerging and economically powerful group of 46 million Americans known as Faith Driven Consumers – comprising fifteen percent of the U.S. population. This group, which makes its purchasing decisions based on the degree to which a brand’s values are compatible with a biblical worldview, has chosen to stand by Hobby Lobby in the conflict between the constitutional right to religious expression and the right to abortion.
Here, the juxtaposition of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit brings into clear focus the irreconcilable conflict in the constitutional rights arena forced upon Americans by Obamacare. Now, more than ever, Faith Driven Consumers question whether their right to religious expression will survive the outcome of a national debate in which the Obama Administration has taken sides and declared that the rights of favored groups trump the rights of those whose views fall outside the bounds of politically correctness.
In contrast to the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty and freedom for all Americans, the Obama Administration argues that Americans lose their freedom to exercise their religion when they form a corporation and engage in commercial activity. And it asserts that persons can be forced to act against their religion so long as the coercion is under the authority of a law that is generally applicable and not designed to persecute one group over another.
Faith Driven Consumers strongly disagree with this line of argumentation. In contrast, they see no distinction between the secular and the sacred and seek to integrate their deeply held, religious values and ethics into every area of their lives – including business, purchasing and voting decisions.
With a purchasing power of $1.75 trillion annually, the one-out-of-every-seven Americans who are Faith Driven Consumers stand with Hobby Lobby. And they are directing this collective buying power behind companies that welcome them into the rainbow of diversity and acknowledge faith-friendly values.
In the political arena, Faith Driven Consumers are directing their collective voting power toward leaders that represent true tolerance and diversity and welcome their biblical worldview into the public square.
Political and business leaders who are committed to creating a safe harbor to protect religious liberty in the stormy sea of conflict over competing rights should be richly rewarded by us Faith Driven Consumers when we choose them over their less inclusive competitors.