1 Year After Hobby Lobby, 5 Ways Religion Has Been Used to Discriminate

A year ago today, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby didn’t have to include birth control in its employees’ health insurance because of religious objections. Employees from Hobby Lobby and other corporations left without coverage have been paying for their employer’s religious beliefs — literally — ever since.

A year later, here is a look at some other ways religious belief has been invoked to harm other people.

1. Adoption Denied

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny loving homes to vulnerable children.

Adoption Denied

2. Baby Refused Medical Care

In Michigan, a pediatrician said that she would not help a baby because the baby had two moms. Unfortunately, Michigan does not have a statewide law protecting against this type of discrimination.

Baby Refused Medical Care

3. Pregnant Woman Refused Treatment

Tamesha Means was rushed to a Catholic hospital in Michigan after her water broke at only 18 weeks of pregnancy. Based on Catholic religious directives, the hospital refused to terminate the pregnancy and sent her home twice even though Tamesha was in excruciating pain. There was virtually no chance that her pregnancy was viable, and continuing it posed significant risks to her health.

Pregnant Woman Refused Treatment

4. Child Labor Laws Ignored

A judge ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act prevented investigators from requiring the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to answer questions about the use of children as workers at a pecan ranch in Utah.

Child Labor Laws Ignored

5. Same-Sex Couples Refused Service

A Colorado bakery refused to make a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig’s wedding reception in violation of longstanding state law, based on the owner’s religious beliefs. The oral argument on appeal will take place in early July.

Same-Sex Couples Refused Service

For more on using religion to discriminate, go to https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/using-religion-discriminate

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David Harley

I recall that the ACLU defended Jerry Falwell. Of course, fundamentalism is a minority sect, but I don't suppose that's what you meant.

Nowadays there are plenty of legal groups which defend supposed trespasses against the rights of conservative Christians. They are very well funded.

Anyone can defend the rights of a majority, or a powerful minority. It is always minorities that are in need of protection.


Non-Christian A...

I have felt that the majority of Christians have treated non-Christians as the enemy as they impose their laws (blue, reproductive, marriage) on Americans who do not believe in the religion. Give me a break!

Medusa Brown

ACLU is Not an enemy of Christianity! Christianity is an enemy to anyone that deserves liberation, freedom and practice free thought!! I was once a christian. I'm not any more for very personal reasons, don't throw the dog out with the bath water honey. ACLU is the voice of reason!! : D

Robin Hansen

You have a right to your beliefs. You do not have the right to deny health care to someone else based on those beliefs - at least according to Biblical examples such as the "Good Samaritan" and many examples of Jesus healing all comers in spite of objection from religious conservatives of his time. Unfortunately the Hobby Lobby decision allowed a supposedly secular court to allow corporations to act as religious zealots and force their beliefs on others. Ironicalky, this allows the outspoken conservatives to use religion as an excuse to act with less compassion toward the ill, the poor and yes, those who love in ways they disapprove.

J Graham

What many conservitive Christians don't seem to understand is they are trying to force laws based purely on religious conviction on the secular population. The Christian Bible has as much authority for me as the Koran, the Borigia Group codices, Nag Hammadi library, or the Surti (I could go on with a very long list). Besides, (even though you are no longer a Christian) do you think the Christ portrayed in the Bible would refuse medial care to a baby based on its parents' sinful lifestyle? If, as a heterosexual, I'm wearing pin that says I support gay rights as I'm wheeled into an emergency room, does the doctor on call have a right to refuse to save my life because I, in his religious view, support sin?

The real moral question is where do we draw the line between practicing a religious belief and doing no harm to others? People have allowed their children to die because they believed blood transfusions where against god's will. The Church of LDS gets a free pass on child labor? Again..., where do we draw that line between religious freedom and the responsibility to do no harm to others? If an organization with clout, such as the ACLU, wasn't making a noise about this, would we be having this discussion? I feel this is a national conversation we need to have. Sorry, but religious freedom does not give anyone the right to invade on other people's rights - oh, except for now it's a law.

To "P" in the response below Clark's . Most of the radio airwaves containing religious content are Christian. There are many Christian television programs - I don't understand why you think Christians don't have freedom of speech. If you think you're being persecuted, try Googling "The Cost of Unbelief," publish by The Economist. Troubling reading for those of us who are atheists.


Freedom of Religion does not include the "freedom" to make other people live by your religious views. That is the antithesis of Freedom of Religion. Religious people in general, and Christians in particular, love to play the victim, even when they are not a victim.

When someone wants the separation of Church and State enforced, Christians claim to be the victim. When Christians don't get special treatment, like being able to engage in illegal discrimination with impunity, they claim to be victims. When Christian want to say something, they see it as their free speech rights, but when someone wants to criticize what a Christian says, Christians don't claim that it is the critic's free speech, the Christians claim they are victims.

Constantly making false claims of being the victim helps show how out of touch Christians are with reality. And it helps show just some of the harm that religion does.

Leroy Casterline

Played their hand out in the open? They've never hidden their agenda, which is to support the rights guaranteed us by our constitution. From my perspective the ACLU fights to support constitutional rights for everyone.

Here's an example. When I lived in Illinois they supported the right of the neo-Nazis when they wanted to march in Skokie, a community with a number of concentration camp survivors. Not a popular move, but they had the guts to support their principles regardless.

The ACLU doesn't exist to support any group or class of people. That's why they're so important. They protect us all by supporting the civil liberties as stated in the our constitution.

If you're looking for someone who will support your pet cause under all circumstances you'll need to look elsewhere.

And so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm a practicing Christian.


Wondering if any organization, government body or anyone for that matter has denied a person in the USA of attending the church of their choice or pray to their God. Don't think so but the employer who denies medical insurance to their workers, certainly is not being very Christian. The doctor who refused to treat a baby should lose his/her license. The hospital that wouldn't admit a pregnant women in distress and pain should be sued. A governor who wouldn't allow a legal adoption because of his/her religious feelings should be re-called. A business that refuses to offer a service because they feel religiously superior should be shut down. Finally a organization that advocates the use of child labor is living in the past and should be brought before the courts. Now go to your church of choice and pray for ALL of Gods people.


You people at the ACLU are ridiculous! Why is it that everyone has a right to their beliefs except for Christians? In all cases, there are other options for goods and services; why do you want to cause someone their livelihood because they disagree with you. A few people decide they are offended, and all the rest of you liberal nuts hope on board. I, for one, am sick of it. Go be offended somewhere else.


You people who are Christians are ridiculous! Why is it that you believe your rights should come at the expense of everyone else's? In no case does god give you the right to sit in judgement of any of his children and decide who you will serve and who you won't. You aren't simply disagreeing with them, you are judging them not worthy and that is morally and ethically reprehensible. You don't have the right to offend anyone because of your beliefs, whether they number in the many or the few. Every person on the face if this earth matters. You conservatives think you can walk all over the weaker minorities, I, for one, am sick of you. Go be intolerant and self-serving somewhere else.


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