Jun 302014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The first Reformation came about because of great frustrations with the financial, ethical, moral, and theological abuses of the church.  The discontent over these issues had fomented for years…it was only when the printing press made the airing of theses grievances (and solutions to them) available to the general public that the revolution actually gained traction. Today the internet is performing the same function by informing the masses at a level unheard of in the 16th century. The only thing missing is real leadership presenting viable alternatives. We’ve become very good at naming problems without positing solutions…and until we do both, the next Reformation won’t happen.

2. Grace means loving beyond the limits of your patience.

3. We distort the biblical view of law and Gospel when we believe that God’s only expectation of us is sin.

4. There is an amusing sequence in Monty Python and The Holy Grail where the Black Knight is sequentially chopped to pieces while demanding the battle continue and boasting about his prospects for victory. This to me is also a picture of the conservative churches battle for “traditional marriage”. Culturally and politically, it’s over. We lost. In my opinion, it’s time to retreat, regroup, and pray about why…because my guess is that we used the wrong weapons.

5.  June is Gay Pride Month…and by far the best month to take an internet sabbatical.

6.  Grace means believing that failure today contains the seed of divine opportunity tomorrow.

7.   Barabbas and Jesus were both political revolutionaries in a sense. One believed victory would come through political power and violence if necessary, the other achieved victory through suffering and a cross. The crowd preferred the way of Barabbas…and they still do.

8.  In the first century, crucifixion was such a shameful thing it wasn’t even spoken of in decent company. To be ashamed of the Gospel is to ashamed of the method by which the Gospel was purchased…through suffering and a cross. The divine methodology hasn’t changed…and some of us are ashamed of that. We’re all Barabbas.

9.  Grace means loving when our expectations of another are not only not met, they aren’t even considered.

10. If your faith tradition is that you do not belong to any other faith tradition, that is your tradition.

This just in…the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

  131 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. Number 1: I think the Tchividjian brothers are working in the right direction.

  2. Nonnie…agreed.

  3. 6. “Grace means believing that failure today contains the seed of divine opportunity tomorrow.”
    Amen!

  4. You have given me a lot to think about today, thank you. I hope over the course of the day I will be able to touch on each of them.

    1. I would wonder if some of the issue is that there are too many who think that the issues within the Church are just superficial, and things need to be cleaned up a little bit around the edges. The problems within the Church today are far more sytemic than that, and there are a lot of people with influence who would stand to lose that if things were to be as stirred up as I feel they need to be.

  5. Thanks, Michael, for the reminders on grace.

    I would propose to add to Tchividjian, Wright; and on the Internet the folks at Internetmonk and Jesus Creed.

  6. I’m going to steal your #9!

  7. dswoager,

    I think you nailed part of the problem….another part is convincing people to take responsibility for their own spiritual health.

  8. Bob,

    By all means…if it’s helpful, take it.

  9. Jean,

    Agreed.
    I would also put Eugene Peterson’s works on pastoral ministry in there.

  10. There are still far more states that have banned gay marriage than have legalized it. Those bans are the law until a judge overthrows them.

    So I think it is far more than just conservative folks in churches or politically. And while in a few of those states we have seen activist judges overthrown the will of the people, I do not believe we can say the battle is over until the Supreme Court decides whether the states have the right to set their own marriage laws. It is my understanding that the recent Utah case may be appealed to the Supremes and if so they likely would feel forced to take up the issue once and for all.

    I certainly agree that the tide of support has changed in recent years more in support of gay marriage however at the same time one wonders if the homosexual activists might overplay their hand with a lot of folks who otherwise might be indifferent but still really do not like the “in your face” and double standard of tolerance that has been brewing recently – such as the Mozilla CEO firing. Even in super-left states like mine there are plenty of people who have a problem with unisex bathrooms for teenage children.

  11. ….and the Hobby Lobby ruling is HUGE. A big win for religious liberty outside the walls of the church building.

  12. “Grace means loving when our expectations of another are not only not met, they aren’t even considered.”
    Good words….all three comments about grace. Indeed. I am struggling with ‘loving’ my sons from a distance, letting go of all expectations, but putting some distance between my life and thoughts and their lives and choices. I’ve quit chasing them, let them go, love from a distance, love in my prayers. Love doesn’t necessarily mean having dinner together.

    Every month is G@y pride month here in Portland, Oregon. I stay home a lot. That is another area of grace I struggle with. Love from a distance. Accept the person, not the life.

    I don’t think ‘WE” (the church/christians) ” lost the battle” for the definition of marriage, at least not recently. IMO, marriage has been going culturally sideways for at least 50 years in the US. My parents (not belivers) were into ‘wife swapping’ in the 50s. I was into ‘free love’ in the ’60s.
    Perhaps we used the wrong ‘weapons’. Arrogance, selfishness, legalism and the overly authoritarian definition of ‘christian’ “Biblical” marriage is part of the reason we ‘lost’. If the observable definition of marriage was life, love, joy and contentment, others might want it.

    This country, this planet, the church and my heart, need Revival; a supernatural sweeping of God’s Presence for His Glory.

  13. Steve,

    I have a theory….not a very politically correct theory, but I believe it to be true.

    My theory is that the majority of people in this country and around the world do not really accept gay marriage or most of what is called “gay rights”.

    My theory is that if you scratched most people deep enough, they just don’t believe homosexual activity is normative.

    However, the way we have engaged the matter has made it very easy for that segment of the population to frame this as an issue of compassion and “love”…and we have been painted as people lacking in both.

    That is how conservatives, both politically and in the church…lose these social issues.

    That…in my opinion…is what has to be addressed.

  14. Paige…I will say the “amen”…good words.

  15. Michael, I agree, I suppose part of the problem is that it isn’t just from top down point that clergy-laity distinctions are encouraged. There are those who seek power and control, but there are also those who seek to have someone else do the work for them. Is it possible that the problem in the Church is the same as the one I used to run into on middle school group projects?

    4. I’ve been thinking for a while that the legalization of homosexual marriage could actually be good for the Church overall. Having something out there that immitates the covenant that we have entered into should only encourage us to work harder to reflect the reality that we live in.

  16. As much as I like to poke at Obama and ObamaCare, I think the Hobby Lobby ruling is terrible. We will see one time when it turns against Christians in the workplace..

  17. While I agree with you Michael on your points (as usual), I must disagree with one of your conclusions – “We’ve become very good at naming problems without positing solutions…and until we do both, the next Reformation won’t happen,” though the solution, ironically is partially yours. First, my disagreement.
    I believe the loss over the issue of gay marriage began long ago, within our gatherings. Where we could have been unified, and possibly victorious, instead this like many other issues have been denied true discussion and debate from our papal-ish edicts from on high. Either “pastors” decided it wasn’t “verse-by-verse” enough to be allowed discussed (though ironically there are MANY verses which could”ve been used – no not just those which state it’s wrong, but others that might have been helpful to have a constructive dialogue), or it was “decided” like with many of our societal disagreements, we should just “pray,” then wait till we get spanked, then freak out which does little more than drive up the right-wing web sites and their sales. To recap, I believe the body of Christ could have responded Christlike and productive, instead we allowed ourselves to be stalemated in petulant non-action, like we always do, which brings me to what I believe a solution might be.
    Instead of ignoring possibilities for constructive dialogue within and without our faith community, let’s actively and constructively engage. Let’s agree we don’t have a pop or little popes – they don’t decide for us what Christ wants to do in our lives. WE have the same Spirit of truth, let’s try listening and acting on what He imparts. If our “leaders” just want to sit and pout, let’s decide to collaborate together, on any level and be Christ in these issues.

  18. good morning everyone.

  19. Mornin’ Sister Dusty! The Lord bless you!

  20. I have an opinion about gay marriage that may not fit well with many on this blog. Yet I think it should be known as it is part of my thinking.

    I think that, especially in today’s America, marriage is more than just a sanctified union. It is of both church AND state. Think of the important economic parts of life tied to marriage from employee benefits and insurance rates to tax rates to medical rights, inheritance, parenting and adoptive rights, and many more.

    Since this is the land of religious freedom, meaning that no specific religious belief is to be put into law, I don’t mind gay marriage. I realize it is a slippery slope, and I’m sure we will see much worse definitions of marriage down the road. But, for now, I support gay marriage as a legal institution.

    That said, the same religious freedoms must preclude forcing a religion or a paster to perform a gay marriage against their beliefs. After the cake baker court case here in Colorado, I suspect that won’t be far away.

    As far as churches that agree with gay marriage or support gay clergy or anything else in that topic area, that is also freedom of religion. I chose not to participate in a church or denomination that supports gay marriage or priesthood. That’s my religious freedom.

    But I separate my freedom of belief from forcing it on others, including atheists, agnostics, and gay people. Let each respond to Christ’s message in their own heart and mind. I cherish the freedom to disagree, but I insist that people must be persuaded, not forced by law — either to support gay marriage or to deny it.

    That’s just how I feel. Don’t mean to upset anyone or start an argument. Just a statement of personal faith and understanding. I agree wholeheartedly with the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby, precisely for these same reasons.

  21. I read in the paper this morning that last weekend was a big day for the San Francisco area’s homosexuals. They had their yearly Shame Parade over in their part of town. Big celebration. Anaxios!

    I myself was in San Francisco attending a big celebration at the Russian Cathedral on Geary Street. A new bishop was consecrated! Thirteen bishops were present, including the Metropolitan of North America, Met. Hilarion. Glorious choir- seriously, I can’t imagine the choirs of heaven singing any better. Service lasted 5 hours! My teacher gave the homily. Huge cathedral, totally packed. A procession outside with banners flying! Afterwards a salmon dinner at the Irish hall across town. (We happen to know the newly consecrated bishop slightly in person, he was at our house last year.) Axios! Axios! Axios!

    The Metropolitan (2nd only to Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow) came out on the sidewalk and mingled among the people, giving out blessings. A very humble man. He said to me “I wonder which car I am supposed to get in [to ride to the Irish hall for dinner] ? Such a sweet, gentle man, soft spoken, gentle smile.

    All our bishops have long gray beards. As they were sitting together eating their fish dinners in their simple black cassocks they looked like an assemblage of Old Testament prophets.

  22. Gosh, Xenia, what a contrast to the rest of the city!

  23. My theory is that the majority of people in this country and around the world do not really accept gay marriage or most of what is called “gay rights”.
    ————————————————-
    I don’t think there is any doubt about that. All one needs to do is witness what happens when a gay marriage proposal is placed on a ballot – which is why I said it is far more than just conservatives (church-going or political only) – because some of these states haven’t voted for a Republican since Reagan’s landslide. Yet, gay marriage still gets defeated there.

  24. Laying hands on the new bishop:

    http://tinyurl.com/o6p8874

    I think there were probably 1000 people present.

  25. JU
    “But I separate my freedom of belief from forcing it on others, including atheists, agnostics, and gay people”

    Good word. And the cake bake said his business has grown since the ruling … God at work. 🙂

  26. ^^^ That photo is from inside the Altar, behind the Iconostasis. Everyone else (us all) were in the nave of the church, which can’t be seen in the photo.

  27. (((hugs)))) paige

  28. Xenia,
    “As they were sitting together eating their fish dinners in their simple black cassocks they looked like an assemblage of Old Testament prophets.”

    At our church picnic yesterday with all the Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, potato salad etc, we looked like a conquering barbarian hoard. 🙂

  29. Xenia, sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day – sounds like you really enjoyed all of it.

  30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_constitutional_amendments_banning_same-sex_unions_by_type

    One of those times when Wiki is helpful (and I assume accurate). What got me is the map on the right side that shows the progression over the last several years of bans on gay marriage within the states.

    It would be hard to look at that and conclude gay marriage is somehow gaining acceptance – but at the same time many of those bans are only good until some federal district judge says otherwise, which is why it will have to go to the Supreme Court.

    And THAT is when the issue will basically be over.

  31. J.U.,

    I’m somewhat in agreement with you.
    I will not officiate at weddings anymore.
    I will witness covenant ceremonies in front of God, but if a couple wants the benefits and protections of state laws they will need to have that service done separately.

  32. The homily was based on the day’s Gospel reading where the Lord, speaking of St.John the Baptist, asked the crowd “What did you go out to see?”

    Fr. I. asked us “What did you come to see? A magnificent cathedral? You saw it! A glorious choir? You heard it! An assemblage of bishops? You’ve seen them! The consecration of a new bishop? You saw it! But what did you really come out to see? The glory of God! (and then he gave the Gospel message, pure and simple.) <—- That's what we really came out to see.

  33. Sorry folks. I am still all wound up from yesterday.

  34. Xenia, don’t be sorry for sharing your fun day with us.

  35. Thanks, Dusty. 🙂

  36. Good morning, Dusty. 🙂
    Xenia…it’s good to hear good stuff here!

  37. I have to get ready for an interview…you folks try to keep it between the ditches. 🙂

  38. Gee, MLD. You would almost think.someone thought the baker ran a “Christian” business and wanted to support him. 😉
    Good to hear about the Hobby Lobby ruling.

  39. Praying for you and the interview Michael….May God open doors of blessings for you.

  40. praying for a good outcome on your interview!

  41. I don’t know what MLD is talking about. The last I heard about the Christian bakery was them having to close their doors because of the homosexual activists.

    MLD, do you have some support for what you wrote above – that would update the story here from 9 months ago?

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/03/todd-american-dispatch-christian-bakery-closes-after-lgbt-threats-protests/

  42. Steve, Sweet Cakes By Melissa is still in business, now working from home. They have a very nice Facebook page with photos and updates. They do have to pay a huge fine as they were found ‘guilty of discrimination” …or something like that.

  43. Thanks Paige. I was just looking at their facebook page to see if there was anything posted there to support what MLD wrote that:

    “And the cake bake said his business has grown since the ruling”

    I find that hard to believe (for simple obvious business reasons) but I sure hope so. I would be curious to know where MLD read that.

  44. Steve,
    You may be talking about the 1st woman, but I am talking about the guy.

    I read somewhere that he stopped wedding cakes altogether, but the publicity brought in strong support for his other products.

    But I don’t remember where.

  45. http://theaquilareport.com/colorado-baker-ordered-to-make-same-sex-wedding-cakes/

    This is the guy, but I don’t think this is the same article – but he does say here “Phillips said his bakery has been so overwhelmed by supporters eager to buy cookies and brownies that he does not currently make wedding cakes.”

    So, I stand by my “God at work.” 🙂

  46. So, I stand by my “God at work.”
    ——————————–
    Well, I think God is always at work but I sure would not equate the term just because one guy is doing well, when our other sister and brother were shut down.

    Sort of like when the tornado rips through and someone talks about God sparing the believer’s house who gets on the news, while ignoring the fact that 10 other Christian families had their homes destroyed.

    But thanks for the clarification all the same. I actually had not heard about the Colorado guy before now…

  47. Xenia,

    Thank you for your posting. (I would say that all most of your postings.) I always look forward to you sharing your religious life with us. I find your comments most interesting and Godly, and I appreciate, very much, your description of your personal faith and how you practice it every day. God continue to bless you, as I think he has.

  48. Try again. Edit gone bad: (I would say that about all of your postings.)

  49. Michael,
    To your #1 – the 1st Reformation was directed at a specific entity, the RCC and a specific person / office and had a list of specific items

    So, who are we directing our new Reformation request to? The issue is that we need to address it to ourselves and take care of ourselves. I have my grievances written our, but I don’t know what to write on the top after Dear ____________,

    I have taught in my class the last 3 weeks on Daniel 9:1-19 (I know, most rapture theology guys think Daniel 9 contains only verses 24-27 😉 ) but, I tried to point out that the world is ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ – but “they / them” are not carrying the basket – we are.

    So, perhaps each one of us needs to have an individual Reformation.

  50. Thank you, JU!

  51. “….and the Hobby Lobby ruling is HUGE. A big win for religious liberty outside the walls of the church building.”

    Steve, I’m still processing the meaning of this ruling and how I feel about it, but I’m not sure it’s a big win. For the millions of female employees working at or near minimum wage, apparently they will now have their mostly male bosses deciding if and what kind of contraception will be available to them under their health plan. That doesn’t sound very liberating for the women.

    The fact is that we have a primarily employer based health insurance system in this country. Contraception is legal and contraceptive drugs and devices have been approved by the FDA. Now we’re going to have employer religious beliefs being imposed on the beliefs of their employees in a private healthcare matter.

    Don’t citizens of this country pay taxes for all kinds of things that individually we might have a religious objection to?

    I just wonder if this will be viewed by many women (and their male supporters) as another front in the war on women by religious conservatives, many of whom support the right to life in the womb, but not so much for the lives of the poor (which under this ruling, more might be produced).

    Like I said, I’m still formulating my opinion, so these are just initial concerns that come to mind

  52. The crowd preferred the way of Barabbas
    ———————————————-
    Off topic to your point above, but more about the narrative itself.

    Wasn’t the crowd stirred up by the chief priests and elders (i.e. their ruling government) and rather than stand up for Jesus they did what the enemies of Jesus wanted them to do?

    Mark 15:11

    I think that is an important detail to the account. It is my opinion (joined with many other commentators) that the crowd would have been rather small, given the secrecy of the prior night’s proceedings and the early hour of the morning.

    I’ve heard the Palm Sunday message often taught with some derivative of “This same multitude shouting Hosannas to Jesus would be crying for His crucifixion and the freedom of a murderer in just a few days….” In fact, I fear I might have repeated something similar in the past. (I hope it is not on tape somewhere 🙂 )

    I have come to disagree. The common people loved Jesus in Jerusalem. Even in His arrest there was the fear of His enemies that the citizenry would revolt if they knew about it…and thus explains why we have a betrayal and nighttime arrest and sham trials. As He is going to the cross we have people on the sidelines weeping.

    Just my two cents…

  53. Jean, I simply said it was a big win for religious liberty outside of the walls of the church (as you properly quoted).

    Religious…liberty.

    (and the case had nothing to do with citizens paying taxes)

  54. A little late on #5

  55. Jean your point on taxes is mute.. however, her in the U S of A our federal government via planned parenthood does offer free birth control paid for by the government ie us. and the part about a woman working for a male boss is her choice and the plan his company coes with is what you get. Like it or not..

  56. I actually have internet access today (dial-up), but the only site that seems to come up with anything close to immediacy is this one. I’ve had a year of television access, but no internet. Watching TV has been a year of watching the unchecked, permeation of evil. It would not be a reach to anticipate “perilous times” ahead for all – the redeemed and the rebel alike.
    So, you see, it is good to see the PjxP alive and well, here. Flumoxed by Satan’s temporary evil hold on this world? Yes, but you’re standing – holding hands and holding – sometimes goading – one another – standing in Christ -declaring and searching for His eternal Truths. God is never without a witness where hearts are searching. That’s you, Michael and friends. There are good and faithful witnesses doing God’s work here – IMHO
    I feel like that person you think is asleep, but they’re listening. I look forward to a couple weeks of lurking… glad to see the sight is healthy and that the diversity in Christ continues…

  57. EM!!!! You have been missed!

  58. Em! Em! Em!

  59. Jean, several points to your #51

    1) Not sure how you define “boss” but the idea that they are mostly men is a little dated today. Now, if you want to focus on the CEOs of the Fortune 500, then sure, only about 5 percent are women. Sitting Board members of publicly traded companies, the number jumps maybe fourfold but still a distinct minority. You want to talk about the human resource departments of just about any business, large or small, they are dominated by women. I assure you I have spoken in my business career (selling insurance I might add) with just as many women decision makers as men, if not more.

    2) Not sure where you got the idea that minimum wage employees have EVER had decision making authority in what sort of employer-based health insurance was offered to them. That is an odd statement indeed. Sadly Obamacare has forced employers, as you no doubt know, to alter many plans that both they and their employees were previously quite happy with. The whole “if you like your plan you can keep it” lie of the year for 2013.

    3) Less than half of Americans are provided insurance by their (or a spouse’s) employer, and that number has dropped in recent years (see Gallup). It is going to crater once the Obamacare mandates fully kick in and employers just boot their employees to the exchanges to fend for themselves. That is not opinion, it has been often stated by many business execs (and thus a reason for the continual delay in forcing the mandates for political election purposes).

    4) You do realize that Hobby Lobby’s beef was specifically with the mandate to provide abortifacients. You neglected that in all your contraception talk. The CEO was quite clear in that regard

    5) You wrote: “Now we’re going to have employer religious beliefs being imposed on the beliefs of their employees in a private healthcare matter.” – You do realize that one can work at Hobby Lobby and take any sort of contraception in their private life they desire, right? In fact, the attorney said today “Hobby Lobby would love to stay out of this, and leave this decision to a woman and her doctor. It’s the federal government that told them that they had to be involved and cover these things, even though they violated the Green family’s faith.”

    6) As already stated, your comment about Americans paying taxes is irrelevant to this court case.

    7) Finally, as to the war on women and hating the poor talk – Hobby Lobby is presently opening and hiring for over 40 new stores (per their website) in the next few months. How many new jobs will they create. One way to help poor people is to provide them a job. Of course, I have no idea how many of those new jobs will be filled by women, but my guess is a decent percentage of them will be.

    Do you really think women, the poor, and America in general would be better served by the federal government forcing Hobby Lobby out of business (and shutting their 500+ stores) because the Christian owners insist that if a very few of their female employees want to eliminate the baby that might have been conceived after sex, that they do so with their own money? Is that worth the unemployment of thousands, the loss of millions in tax revenue to states and the feds.

    Or is it Hobby Lobby’s owners should have just offered the incense to Caesar?

  60. Seeing Em has made my day. Blessings to you, Em!

  61. “insist that if a very few of their female employees want to eliminate the baby that might have been conceived after sex,”

    Can this happen before sex? 🙂

  62. Steve, all of your points are part of the debate. I’m aware of them all and appreciate reading your POV. I question 2 of your points:

    1) We shouldn’t assume that all low wage female employees have disposable income to purchase contraceptives without health insurance, or have access to a free clinic in their area?

    2) In my reading of the Supreme Court case in the news, there was no distinction made between contraception and abortifacients. If the news is accurate, then if an employer decides contraception is against their religious beliefs (as I understand is the official policy of the RCC), then contraception could be removed from the plan. In fact, I suppose any drug or procedure might be fair game if it conflicts with the owner’s religious beliefs.

    I think this topic came up in the context of Michael’s #1. You may be correct and the Christian response has been totally spot on. Only time will tell. I just question whether in matters that tend to impact the most vulnerable disproportionally, whether a bottom up approach to being salt and light might sometimes be more effective in the long run in furtherance of the kingdom.

  63. EM!

    Today just got better…

  64. So…what’s to stop a JW corp from refusing to pay for blood transfusions in surgery?

  65. Nothing…so don’t work for them.

  66. Just like now.
    If you want abortifacients included in your coverage then maybe Hobby Lobby isn’t the place to work for.

  67. I just looked at the dissenting opinion…wow.

    “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”

  68. Read this about the ruling.
    The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision Isn’t About Corporations—It’s About Individuals
    http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/30/the-supreme-courts-hobby-lobby-decisions

  69. 1) We shouldn’t assume that all low wage female employees have disposable income to purchase contraceptives without health insurance, or have access to a free clinic in their area?
    ———————————————-
    Jean, when I see a question asked this way, there is a far more foundational issue as to the role and purpose of private employment, and the power that should be granted to the state, and the general notion of liberty and religious conscience, so that we are worlds apart.

    As to your second question. First, read some more and you will see this is a VERY narrow ruling.

    At-will employment is most often the case in the employer/employee relationship. I don’t understand an America where someone willingly asks to work for a certain employer, but then is able to demand that employer provide them special benefits that the employer already is well-known to not provide due to a religious objection. If making sure your employer not only provides health insurance but specifically a certain kind of contraception is that important, then don’t apply to work where you know it will not be provided. Hey, some people don’t apply because of a long commute, some the pay, some the hours….let’s just add this to the list and stay a little free a little longer.

    As far as a Christian response – my suggestion would be simply that you and anyone else like-minded fund a charity for “all low wage female employees (without) disposable income to purchase contraceptives without health insurance, or (not) hav(ing) access to a free clinic in their area”

    But don’t insist Uncle Same put a financial gun to the head of people of faith who wish to run their businesses the way they always have run them

  70. “At-will employment is most often the case in the employer/employee relationship. I don’t understand an America where someone willingly asks to work for a certain employer, but then is able to demand that employer provide them special benefits that the employer already is well-known to not provide due to a religious objection.If making sure your employer not only provides health insurance but specifically a certain kind of contraception is that important, then don’t apply to work where you know it will not be provided. Hey, some people don’t apply because of a long commute, some the pay, some the hours….let’s just add this to the list and stay a little free a little longer.”
    ^^^^^^ This

  71. Ginsburg apparently can play the “slippery slope” argument as well as any NRA lobbyist.

    Too bad she got voted down by the majority of her colleagues this time.

  72. Steve, You make some fair points. However, nobody puts a gun to the employer to offer any health insurance and when they do, they receive a tax deduction. If they don’t, then when the employer mandate penalty kicks in they will be taxed. Employers receive all kinds of benefits from the government, such as limited liability for the owners. So there are transactions running back and forth between the employer and the government, which provide obligations and benefits, which puts the employer within the regulatory system of the laws of this country.

  73. So…if a Christian corporation is owned by people who believe that psychology and psychiatry are from the pit of hell refuse to provide insurance for treatments or medication that will now fly?

  74. What Christian employer is saying that, Michael?
    The other examples sounded real, but this one…not so much.

  75. Derek,

    There is a rather large Christian sub culture that believes exactly as I said.

  76. Jean, your #72 omits the only relevant point. The financial gun I spoke of was the NEW demand to offer a SPECFIC sort of coverage that went against religious conviction – which is a NEW law due solely to Obamacare.

    Yeah, Hobby Lobby could dump coverage for thousands of employees and just pay the fine. Is that seriously what you would feel is a better outcome? And a more Christ-like decision for the owners?

    To remind us that employers are part of the regulatory system of laws etc is not very helpful. May I ask if you have ever run a business and employed someone in your community?

    (Here’s a hint, a tax deduction is less than the money spent for the deduction. It still is a net loss to a business. Limited Liability does not mean what I think you think it means etc.)

  77. I didn’t ask about a sub-culture…I am talking about a corporation that has enough people to offer health insurance.
    Also, most people that work for places like that are of like mind and don’t want the coverage anyway.

  78. Steve,

    We use the slippery slope argument all day long in regard to traditional marriage.
    Why does this slope suddenly have Velcroe?

  79. Derek,

    This ruling opens that door…we may not know of anyone who has done this yet, but the door just opened.
    Hypothetically, whats to stop them?

  80. There is a rather large Christian sub culture that believes exactly as I said.
    ——————————————————-
    Can you name one such employer with over 50 employees running their business in such a manner?

    If less than 50, Obamacare does not apply of course, and this ruling does not change a single thing for such a sub culture business.

  81. Nothing…like I said. If you really need that coverage, find an employer who does or get on Obamacare. You don’t have to stay on employer coverage if you don’t want to.

  82. Do like me – get on medicare and get out of the rat race. 🙂

  83. Steve,

    I have no way of knowing who owns what…it’s rarely been an issue.
    I think Derek has spoken correctly about this scenario.

  84. MLD,

    I’m sick enough, but not old enough. 🙂

  85. Yes, I use the slippery slope argument about gay marriage but always with the connection to a FUTURE lawsuit being brought and decided on the SAME LEGAL grounds. And since polygamy, bisexuality, polyamory and even adult incestual relationships are all well known, publicized and to greater or lesser degrees taking place as we speak, I think it is a legit concern.

    However, your examples sound like the guy who says in response to gay marriage “What about the person who marries their dog”

    Now, if one of these slippery hypotheticals did arise, they too would have to bring suit and that suit would have to be judged on the merits and maybe or maybe not Ginsburg would be outvoted again…

    However, Ginsburg and those who think a lot like her seem to imagine that a guy forms a business in order to employ a lot of (at-will) employees (at least 50 or more) in order to then shove specific religious beliefs down their throat.

    And apparently she can’t see the difference between personal choice of an abortifacient and the idea that anything legally sold as health INSURANCE (a very regulated industry) could actually have an exclusion for blood transfusions.

    Its marrying the dog.

  86. Why does this have to be a religious issue – why do the religions get the breaks

    Can someone opt out for non religious reasons, like, I just don’t want to cover this area of medicine?

    Could a Christian Corp opt out of any kind of AIDS coverage? (for the obvious religious reasons)

  87. Steve #76,

    I am exploring (primarily in conversation with you as it turns out) the implications of this ruling, which appears to be much broader than the relief you indicated was sought by the plaintiff. I appreciate your concern regarding my competency to discuss this topic, but if I didn’t feel competent discussing it I wouldn’t have brought up my concerns in the first place. I also didn’t realize that you are the arbiter of what is helpful to our discussion. I will try to keep that in mind.

    I’m not trying to convince you of anything nor trying to win a debate. I just want to hear from people, like you, as to why you think the ruling is important and explore the ramifications for all the people it will impact. Like I said earlier, maybe Christians should be thrilled with the decision.

  88. EM!!! (((HUGS)))

  89. I have often said that there are a lot of problems with the way health insurance is provided in this country…especially with pre-existing conditions for example. The nation needs a good, bipartisan piece of legislation that would truly be worthy of the name “healthcare reform”

    That said…

    Prospective employees have been courted by employers in part with the benefits they offer. You want to keep good employees and thus want to provide equal or better benefits than your competition which in employment circles is not just the business in your industry but almost ALL the businesses in your community, all of whom are looking for good people (and often willing to train them on job specifics). You think insurance agencies only hire people with insurance backgrounds and knowledge. Hardly. Most are totally new to insurance, and I imagine that is true in a lot of businesses.

    For years, those with a special medical need (for themselves or family) have narrowed their job searches to make sure what they need is covered by the prospective employer. This is where we could have meaningful reform on pre-existing conditions for example. But the reality is that, just as a certain level of salary, a certain commute distance, a certain work schedule flexibility, are filters for some applicants, so too could be someone who insists that their IUD (to use Justice Ginsburg’s example) is going to be covered.

    As I said earlier, the irony is that nobody took anything AWAY from Hobby Lobby employees, but yet Obamacare does have the net result of taking coverage and benefits away from employees who had enjoyed them for years, as employers switch plans to comply with the mandates and still seek to remain profitable (i.e. like ditching the newly taxed Cadillac plans – why no outrage that the government tells employers your benefits are TOO generous to your workers and so we are going to punish you with fines if you don’t stop)

  90. We should have less government involvement in all areas of our life.

  91. Waiting for it to rain…anyone want to play in the rain with me? 😉

  92. I can see both sides on this matter….but I think the ramifications are still to be seen.
    In a healthy economy where people have real choices about employment, this would be a lesser concern…but a great many of us will take whatever we can get.

  93. Michael, #92….I agree

  94. Religion gets the breaks because the ruling takes a lot from First Amendment and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    The real issue here is what a failure Obamacare was, is and will be in the future.
    The bad news ain’t over yet.
    Would any of this have happened without this ill thought out law?
    So much turbulence and storm all so the government could control you more instead of covering people who actually had no coverage.
    What a waste of time and debate.

  95. Dusty #91,
    We have had enough rain here. We had record rains and flooding in the Memphis area this weekend.
    A lot of people still can’t return to their homes.
    Good at my house, but damp and humid.
    Been a miserably humid day.

  96. Derek, #95,
    glad you are safe from the flooding…been humid here today too….that is why I wish it would rain.

  97. Rain and thunder here in the American Heartland. Any guesses on which state I’m referring to?

  98. Nebraska?

  99. Dusty, very close (but not quite as flat) 🙂

  100. Derek, I don’t disagree with your assessment, but you must admit that no one else was doing anything to fix the problem … and healthcare is a problem.

    Also, funding wouldn’t be an issue if we would just stop playing war for 10 yrs.

  101. Just doing something is not always a solution.
    That much became obvious at implementation.
    So now it is a bigger problem and begs fixing even more.

    So, problem….millions without coverage.
    Solution…jack with every ones coverage.
    Genius!
    http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/471/542/069.jpg

  102. I read the Mother Jones article of Ginsburg’s highlights in dissent. A few of them simply floored me to hear them come from a Supreme Court judge.

    One example: “”Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

    Our history is FILLED with such examples of religious discrimination and certainly the judge knows this. Mormon polygamy comes to mind. I can recall general examples of people claiming their religion required them to use illegal drugs. Parental religious beliefs in denying medical care to children and so forth. They are handled on a case by case basis.

    My guess is that a Christian with pro-life convictions against abortifacients is as kooky to Ginsburg as a JW denying blood transfusions. We certainly know where she has stood her whole career when it comes to bowing at the altar of abortion.

  103. So those who don’t like ObamaCare should be pissed at their conservative politicians for sitting on their butts, doing nothing and letting the Dems steal it out from under them.

    We get what we deserve – and we deserve this with all the issues.

  104. “We certainly know where she has stood her whole career when it comes to bowing at the altar of abortion.” – Jews favor abortion … so why should her opinion as a Jew be different?

  105. MLD @100 – you know that is bogus. You know that the GOP offered plenty of amendments and input to the process and were pushed out completely. The infamous “The election is over, John, I won”

    I watched hours of coverage in how that sausage was being made since at the time a very real possibility for my livelihood centered on a certain line of health insurance.

    It was an abomination. Never in the history of the Republic has such a massive change in legislation been done solely on one-party rule like this was. It was such a naked use of power that Mass actually elected a Republican to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat – and he was the Democrat leader on all things healthcare for decades

    And of course, we have seen the results. The Democrats run away from it when they campaign, and Obama unilaterally pushes back unpleasant aspects of it in hopes of both his reelection (mission accomplished) and hopes of the midterms to come.

  106. MLD,
    Your #103 was old months ago and doesn’t age well with time.

  107. Steve – and why didn’t the GOP ever fix the issue BEFORE they were relegated to just offering amendments to someone else’s program.

    Where was the GOP “from the ground up solution”? Absolutely none.

  108. I like gridlock.
    I am content with it.
    The less either party meddles the better.

    What was the “problem”, MLD?
    Supposedly, it was millions without coverage.
    Why then did they take such drastic system wide changes?

    It was not all “broke” and did not all need “fixing”?
    When all this got going as an issue my healthcare was fine.

    What happened to just helping people that weren’t covered?

    Do you seriously by into what you are saying?

  109. Well see, when I ask what the GOP was doing BEFORE ObamaCare came on the scene – the message is silence, they were doing nothing. Only when Obama came up with something did they show interest.

    There has never been a GOP plan independent of ObamaCare.- so it filled the void.

  110. MLD – Bush worked with Democrats and passed legislation on some healthcare issues, even to the angst of the conservatives in his party, and he also was blocked by the Democrats on other healthcare issues for not being liberal enough (since the Republicans did not have nearly the control the Dems had after the 2008 election and could not ramrod legislation without Dem support)

    It’s one thing to have an opinion but you are embarrassing yourself when you talk about political history

  111. “It was not all “broke” and did not all need “fixing”?”
    Should be no question mark.

  112. Derek,
    “Why then did they take such drastic system wide changes?”

    So why didn’t the GOP fix it when it was simple? How did the GOP help people who needed coverage? They didn’t – show me the bush plan?

  113. “It’s one thing to have an opinion but you are embarrassing yourself when you talk about political history”

    It only sounds embarrassing to those of you so narrow minded that you can see through a keyhole with both eyes.

    Care to show me the figures where Bush reduced the number of people with no health care?

  114. All this assumes that a desperate plan was needed.
    MLD acts like the world was going to fall apart if they did not act right then and there.
    Desperate is the key word here and that appears to be what we were handed.

  115. My question also, why does the federal government have to always play the savior?
    Be it Caesar or the President or Congress, they always want you to think they are where all your blessings and benefits come from.

  116. The forgotten history of George W. Bush’s comprehensive health reform plan

    Too many people conveniently ignore that in his 2007 State of the Union message President Bush proposed a sweeping health reform plan that would have replaced the current tax exclusion for employer-provided coverage with standard tax deductions for all individuals and families. The Bush plan called for a tax deduction that would have applied to payroll taxes as well as income taxes. Moreover, if one were worried about non-filers, the subsidy could easily have instead been structured as a refundable tax credit in which case even those without any income taxes would have gotten an additional amount. This is the kind of policy detail that easily could have been negotiated had the Democrats been in a cooperative mood in 2007. They were not. On the contrary, President Bush’s health plan was declared “dead on arrival” by Democrats in 2007. Yet it is Republicans who were tagged as being uncooperative and intransigent when they resisted the misguided direction that Obamacare seemed to be headed.

    What’s sad is that the Bush plan actually was superior to Obamacare when it comes to providing universal coverage. Remember, Obamacare actually does not provided universal coverage. The latest figures from CBO says that when it is fully implemented in 2016, Obamacare will cut the number of uninsured by only 45%, covering 89% of the non-elderly. Even if illegal immigrants are excluded, this percentage rises to only 92%. In contrast, the Bush plan (without a mandate!) would have cut the number of uninsured by 65%. But that’s ancient history. Consider one of the newest market-oriented health reform plans put on the table by Jim Capretta and Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Compared to Obamacare, this plan would cost roughly the same amount yet cover 22% more (8 million!) uninsured. If there’s a superior alternative to the slow-motion train wreck now being implemented, why wouldn’t the President and Democrats in Congress want to seriously consider it as a replacement?

    Of course even those willing to acknowledge Bush’s health reform plan then tend to counter with the claim that he wasn’t “serious” about his proposal. It was just a defensive move to defend Republicans in 2008 against the charge that the Republicans didn’t have a plan because they didn’t care about the issue (sound familiar). Those dubious about GWB’s “seriousness” about health reform should do the following thought experiment. Imagine that the Democrats in Congress had passed a bill containing the Bush administration’s health plan–no more, no less. Does anyone seriously believe GWB would have vetoed that bill? If not, I would argue his proposal was a serious one.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/08/28/seriously-the-republicans-have-no-health-plan/

    Now, here is a summary, pro and con, of Bush besides the 2007 attempts. By that conservative mouthpiece known as the NY Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/opinion/03sat1.html

    Until Obama became king, Presidents used to have to work with Congress to get the laws changed…..

  117. Derek, the millions without health insurance caused double digit inflation in health insurance rates for years and years, particularly in the individual market, which caused health insurance to become too expensive for more and more people, which cycle then repeats itself.

    The Democrats thought the system would be more sustainable if everyone had access to affordable health care, which in their view meant substantially every one had to be in the insurance system to prevent cost shifting and adverse selection.

    From day 1 the Republicans offered no options or any plan to deal with the underlying problems of insurance costs and access to affordable health care. None. They stonewalled as much as they could despite what I observed as the good faith efforts of the Administration to develop a bi-partisan solution.

    I believe what we now have is better than before, not as good as what we should have, and not as good as what we could have had if the Republicans would have participated.

  118. Steve,
    I think you misread the Times article. It may go on to give Bush some kudos for his attempts in the lesser areas of healthcare – but it still nails him on the important ones.At least important to those who care.

    “This page has criticized the Bush administration’s weak performance on many important health care matters: its failure to address the problem of millions of uninsured Americans or stem the rising costs of health care, its refusal to expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, its devious maneuvers to cut Medicaid spending, its support of unjustified subsidies for private health plans, to name a few. “

  119. Derek,
    I am not pro ObamaCare in any way – my point is we got it because the GOP made zero attempt to help people with no healthcare – or if they did, they were 100% failures.

    You can make it political, but the rality is – it was a problem … but Bush had to do his wars instead.

  120. Obamacare is better for people?
    I think it was Rob Murphy who told us his personal Obamacare horror story on here. I think he still has no proof of insurance and worse with how he has to keep his kids on insurance.

    I have never seen more people wanting to continuously defend Obamacare because they don’t seem to want to admit they were wrong in defending it for years before implementation.
    No one wants to admit that all the people that said exactly what was going to happen years ahead of time were right.

    Not saying that is what you are doing Jean, but it seems like that is what the majority of people that are defending it now are doing.

    Ya’ll are frontin’ as they say around my parts.

  121. Night y’all.
    Don’t take any wooden nickels.

  122. Derek, people had bad experiences under the prior law too. Personally, I’ve been in the personal health insurance market for the past 11 years, and last year I had the lowest premium increase I can remember because of the greater competition in my market.

  123. Now that I have arrived home from work, I have time to analyze what Steve considered a positive article by the NYT about GWB.and health care – this may be the disconnect in the conversation – Steve’s failure to understand people and common speech.

    1.) the Bush administration’s WEAK performance on many important health care matters:
    2.) Its FAILURE to address the problem of millions of uninsured Americans
    3.) (It’s FAILURE) to stem the rising costs of health care,
    4.) its REFUSAL to expand eligibility for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
    5.) its DEVIOUS maneuvers to cut Medicaid spending,
    6.) its support of UNJUSTIFIED subsidies for private health plans
    7.) And then it finishes off by saying “to name a few.” Which in the original Greek means, we have a lot more on this guy. 🙂

    So how do you have a discussion with a guy who says that this is favorable?

  124. I appreciate the dialogue here today. What bounces through my mind is the amount of power we invest in nine individuals to shape the laws and future of our country. I was thinking today what it would be like to be justice Roberts as it was him that pretty much ushered in Obama Care with his swing vote and then today you could say he did the same thing to bring the win to Hobby Lobby. However it had turned out today there was going to be a firestorm of dissent. The next big decision might have those celebrating today mad as hornets…

  125. In terms of human influence the last 110 years has had a reformation that is AT LEAST the equivalent of the Reformation. The Pentecostal/Charismatic movements in the church have at least 1/11 people on earth who self-identify as being included. It may not have shaped the political landscape the same way as the reformation but it has been more humanly far-reaching. Our God has moved in history always and still does. The Reformation was just ONE move. More came after and more will come. Looking for something akin to it is a good way to miss what he is doing.

  126. I trust Jean and MLD do know that the goal of Obamacare, by Obama’s own mesaures, was never to provide universal coverage. That even after hoping to get young healthy people to buy coverage, even after pushing a bunch of the uninsured into Medicaid eligibility, that the law was never intended to cover millions of people.

    Here’s a quote from the Washington Post “When we talk about the Affordable Care Act, we mostly focus on the millions of Americans who will gain health insurance coverage. We talk less about the millions who will remain uninsured. And there are a lot of them: 30 million Americans will not have coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis in the journal Health Affairs. “Even if the law were fully implemented, there would have been 26 million uninsured people,” co-author Steffie Woolhandler said in an interview Thursday. “This isn’t just about the Medicaid expansion. This is the system as originally designed.” Thirty million is a lot smaller than the 48.6 million Americans who lack insurance coverage right now. It’s also, as Woolhandler points out, not exactly breaking news: The Congressional Budget Office estimated over a year ago that between 26 million and 27 million Americans would not have insurance under the expansion.”

    MLD, I included the NY Times article because it counters your repeated argument about how NOTHING was done or proposed. Even the NY Times who rarely can be bothered to mention anything remotely positive, had a few points to make. My health savings account which I like and by renewing early last Dec was able to keep another year from Obama’s grasp, is a result of Bush reform

    I included the 2007 attempt as well, which you totally ignored because of course it decimates your whole point of zero attempt at any reform. You said “show me the Bush plan”…well I did.

    Look, I get political power. It took Bush 6 years to lose Congress (unlike Obama who lost 60+ seats after just 2 years in office) – but after the shellacking there was no way the Democrats were going to work with Bush as a lameduck once they came back to power – they knew they were just about guaranteed the White House in 2008, and why would they want to give Bush and the Repubs any sort of bipartisan victory, and in the process take one of their chief political issues off the table. Wait out 2 years, then with control of Congress, the Senate, AND the White House, they could ramrod through what they wanted without worrying about working with the Republicans. As long as they learned from the mistakes of Hillarycare when they lost their own party support, they could get most anything they wanted. You see, it’s one thing to have the votes, hey, the people put them in office. It’s another thing to not allow amendments from the other side to see a formal vote for fear of making the moderates facing reelection have to make a choice their opponent can run on, or (worse) actually watching the moderates votes with the GOP on an amendment to bipartisan the bill.

    It’s smart politics – but let’s not pretend the Democrats somehow cared more about people with health insurance issues as they wasted an extra two years to keep an issue rather than work with a weakened President from the other side. And let’s not pretend that Obamacare is the sole result of Bush and the GOP never offering a single idea in healthcare reform.

    And let’s also not pretend the Dems even thought this bill was good for the majority of people – as seen in not only the way it was written to push back the bad stuff until after the 2012 relection campaign, but also in the way Obama unilaterally has pushed back the bad stuff even further….if it’s a great bill for America, why not enact the stupid thing?

    Derek hit the nail on the head. “No one wants to admit that all the people that said exactly what was going to happen years ahead of time were right.”

    I was one of those people. Right here on this blog too. Any clue about business, insurance markets, even simple human behavior made this easier to predict than Alabama over Towson St. on a Saturday.

    I’ll bow out now. Glad for the Hobby Lobby victory. Hopeful for more to come (as there still are pending lawsuits to various aspects of the bill)

    So medical practioners will return to my county, coverages can be restored for the millions who lost them (incl. many I know), and this anchor on the economy will be lifted so the many people unemployed or underemployed (incl. many I know) might find work again.

    And in hopes that having seen what a disaster looks like, our government can move ahead in a truly bipartisan manner to pass true reform

  127. Steve,
    “I included the 2007 attempt as well, which you totally ignored because of course it decimates your whole point of zero attempt at any reform. You said “show me the Bush plan”…well I did.”

    Look, Steve Forbes ran to the right of GWB, so I would expect him to commission an article for his magazine lauding GWB’s inaction as motion forward.

    I liked the part of the article that said “The Republicans’ health care plan for America: “Don’t get sick.”

    Look, you made a good statement here “It’s smart politics – but let’s not pretend the Democrats somehow cared more about people with health insurance…” but I am here to tell you neither side cared – so don’t make this false claim that Bush really tried to rescue the system.

  128. “Grace means believing that failure today contains the seed of divine opportunity tomorrow.”

    Brilliant

  129. Interesting – from the article

    “According to the Green family, interfering with an already fertilized egg is tantamount to abortion—an act unacceptable to the family and one they refuse to participate in no matter what the Affordable Care Act may require .

    However, it turns out that the owners of Hobby Lobby do not appear to have any problem with profiting from the companies that manufacture the very products that so grievously offend their religious principles.”