Religious Freedom or Religious Tyranny?

I admit I didn’t sleep well these past few nights. The Supreme Court decision granting religious conservatives the right to dictate their restrictive moral code upon women working for minimum wage just didn’t sit well in my heart. Not to mention allowing demonstrators to further harass the women who couldn’t get easy birth control in the first place when they have to resort to the painful decision of abortion—all in the name of a concept I basically believe in: freedom of religion.

But is this religious freedom or religious tyranny? Five hundred years ago the Christian Church was burning people at the stake. Is that religious freedom? Various tribes in the Middle East believe their God will reward them in the afterlife for being a suicide bomber, killing, and maiming innocent people. Religious freedom? Mayans once cut the heart out of living people to feed their gods. Do we say, “Oh well, whatever your god wants, they shall have.” What about religious organizations that use hallucinogenic plants as part of their religion? Does that mean they no longer have to fight for that right and any 501c3 organization is free to administer drugs to people against their will? Or that Christian Science owners of a business could say they don’t even believe in health care because it employs doctors? You catch my drift.

Religious freedom is the right to worship and pray as you choose. It is not the right to dictate your choice to others. Religious freedom does not give us the right to harm, manipulate, or control. Religious freedom is granting women the right to make the most important choice of their lives—to prevent a pregnancy or to terminate it without harassment, should that prevention fail, or heaven forbid, they are one of the 30% who experience some kind of forced sexuality.


The Hobby Lobby case is deeply flawed. They say the government can pay for women’s health care. But who is the government when it comes to paying for things? We are. That means the general taxpayer, who may or may not support any of these ideas, is now forced to pay for this, without having a say in the matter. That even means some conservatives, who don’t believe in birth control, will be forced to pay for it. Is that religious freedom? What if it’s part of your religion to preserve the environment for future generations and you feel overpopulation and lack of birth control is a threat to that future? Taking it to extreme, would you have a right to force other people to have an abortion?

I’d like to see each of the five male justices who voted against this measure locked up alone with a two-year-old for a week. Then let’s call for a re-vote.

In love and struggle,

Anodea Judith, Ph.D.