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.
In 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
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.