I just finished watching Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture segment on Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, the ACA birth control mandate case now being heard before the Supreme Court. More accurately, I should say that I just watched Catholic Associate fellow and shill for Big Jesus Ashley McGuire rather shamelessly defend corporate personhood in the name of her faith. Her sad display of illogic and pitiful understanding of the issues at hand would be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that her marching orders come from people with extraordinary influence over public opinion. McGuire is merely a foot solider in the war against Enlightenment; her generals we can never hope to touch. But we can certainly try.
I’ve come to find over the course of my career that, when it comes to fundamentalism, be it religious, nationalistic, or both, those who prescribe to it tend to fall into one of two camps: wicked or incompetent. While there does tend to be considerable overlap between the two, when cornered, conservatives have can only fall back upon one of them. To do otherwise would leave them no loophole by which to escape any argument with their ideology intact. I’m not sure to which camp Ashley McGuire belongs, but the image she presents to Thom Hartmann is certainly not a wicked one. Consider the following:
“I actually think there’s more to this than just the corporate argument….which is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the rights of individuals. And I think what this really boils down to is: do you, if you are an individual citizen of the United States, can the government tell you…that when you enter the marketplace, you essentially forfeit your conscience rights if you make a profit? And that is actually the argument that the government has been making.”
The amount of mental gymnastics people like McGuire are required to execute in order to reconcile their vile opinions with their better natures is simply astounding, making it increasingly difficult to disbelieve author Frank Schaeffer’s assertion that religious fundamentalists, no matter how polite or well-intentioned, all suffer from some level of brain damage as a result of cleaving to their ideology. In order for McGuire’s idea to make sense, one must believe that corporations are more than just people: they are super-people, non-corporeal manifestations of the will of their architects writ large across the socio-political landscape. In short, one must believe that corporations are gods on earth, and that to serve them is to serve the One True God himself.
McGuire’s beliefs are disturbingly highlighted in absentia during the final exchange between her and Thom Hartmann:
AM: [T]he only four forms that don’t want to pay for are the four who’s own FDA labels warn can destroy an embryo, which to them is tantamount to an abortion…The destruction of an embryo whether it’s before implantation or after, the purposeful…
TH: So now we’re getting into the religious area, so should Seventh Day Adventists be able to deny blood transfusions to their employees?
AM: Well…we’re not talking about that. What we’re talking about is the Hobby Lobby case…
TH: Yes we are.
AM: Not necessarily…
TH: We’re talking about whether a corporation can assert their religious beliefs. Seventh Day Adventists, excuse me, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions. Should they be allowed to say, “we won’t pay for those?”
AM: What we’re talking about is whether or not the employer should be forced to pay for their employee’s abortions against their religious objections.
TH: OK, we’ll have to leave it at that.
I couldn’t have found a better way to end the segment if I wished to. As long as McGuire refuses to answer this question – whether corporations have the right to assert their owner’s religious beliefs (any of them) over their employees – there is truly nothing left to say.
Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius isn’t just about birth control. It’s about religious dominion and discrimination over people under the guise of big business, about turning corporations into demigods. The birth control “debate” just so happens to have the most political traction at the moment to achieve this end. If can journalists like Thom Hartmann start leading off interviews with questions like the one above rather than finishing with them, the only thing they’ll save us more than time is the trouble of having to take people like Ashley McGuire seriously.
Here’s the entire segment: