Those of you who consider yourselves religious, take a minute and recall the last time you were at your place of worship. Surely you enjoyed catching up with friends, chatting with the humans and shaking hands with the corporations.
I’m sorry. Did I say something weird? Are corporations not who you would expect to attend a religious service? Does the idea of a corporation showing up on a Sunday even make sense? If we consult current United States law we see that yes, a corporation is a person who in entitled to its religious rights.
Since people of a religious faith tend to attend a service at least a few times in their lifetimes, I would expect corporations to show up once in a while.
Now not being a churchgoing man myself maybe I just haven’t been around to see the grocery stores and maybe a law firm or two say “Amen” with the rest of the human beings. This might be so, but something makes me skeptical. Perhaps it is the fact the idea of a corporation showing up to church, not to mention having religious beliefs, makes absolutely no sense.
Yet these are the sorts of question that the Supreme Court can be expected to see in a few months’ time when it considers a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act requires for-profit corporations to provide contraceptive services to their female employees. To me, this seems like a strong step towards allowing women to take control of their own bodily processes, but contraception runs contrary to many religions. Now this law is in no way forcing churches, mosques, and the like to violate their religious beliefs.
The Obama Administration made the wise choice of exempting non-profit organizations that are entirely religious in nature from this rule. However for-profits are required to comply, and that’s where the trouble comes in.
Next spring the Supreme Court will hear a case brought by Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts store headed by CEO David Green, whose religious faith causes him to oppose providing contraception to women. The crux of Hobby Lobby’s argument is that since, as established by many previous rulings, corporations are treated as people, then corporations should also have a person’s religious freedom and should not be forced to do something that is offensive to their faith.
I don’t have an issue with the fact that the faithful should have the right to not do what they believe is wrong. My reason for opposing Hobby Lobby’s case lies in the premise of their argument: that corporations are people that should be entitled to religious freedom in the first place.
What is a person, anyway? If we consult Merriam-Webster’s, the first definition for a person is a human being, a member of the species homo sapiens sapiens. Now, it is true that corporations are run by humans.
They have managers and employees who are quite human. However, humans parts do not a human being make, or we ourselves could by the same logic be considered a single atom because that is what we are made of. By all appearances, corporations do not meet any sort of scientific criteria for life, not to mention humanity. In my view they are not people and thus enjoy no protection of their religious beliefs.
But the law’s the law, and it indeed says that corporations are people with all the entitlements that come with that. So I say if we are casting logic to the wind, why stop there? Let’s let corporations get married and spawn corporate babies, which will eventually have the right to public education. They have the right to bear arms, too, let’s not forget.
Under Obamacare, corporations will need to buy themselves health insurance, in case they suddenly get the flu. While we’re at it, corporations have the right to retire at 65 and get Social Security checks, and if they commit a felony they will spend some time in jail. All of this seems silly and absurd, but so is the idea that corporations collectively have religious beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment.
Here’s a vain hope that the Supreme Court takes a stand for personhood and begins to reverse decade of illogical decisions.
Aaron Kolb is a freshman environmental engineering major. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com