Commentary: If only I was a corporation

Robin Meyers

Robin Meyers


I should have expected the Hobby Lobby decision, given the record of the Roberts court, but it still made we wonder, yet again, if people are paying attention to what we are becoming — or more accurately, what we have become.

Because Oklahoma’s Green family, which owns the company, objects on religious grounds to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act when it comes to birth control options, the women who work for Hobby Lobby cannot make their own personal, moral and religious decisions about their own reproductive rights. In other words, the boss can do as he pleases, and his workers can do as they please, but only if what they do pleases the boss. Welcome to the world of the personhood of corporations and the second-class status of the individual citizens who serve them.

Prepare for an onslaught of cases that allow corporations (now that we would all recognize one if we saw it walking down the street) to pick and choose which laws to follow based on the religious beliefs of their owners. Hobby Lobby may be a “closely held” company, but the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, was written to protect closely held human beings. The founding fathers not only gave us freedom of religion but, more importantly, freedom from religion.

More troubling to me is the unquestioned assumption that the Green family’s version of Christianity is normative. They have the right to be closed on Sunday (which I admire), hold personal beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality (which I disagree with) and pay their workers more than the minimum wage while importing products made in China under conditions Jesus would find appalling. But in America, they do not have the right to deprive workers whose beliefs are different from theirs the benefits that others are guaranteed by law. Nothing is more un-American.

In case you doubt that not all religious views are equally protected, consider how unlikely it is that a case concerning my religious views would make it to the Supreme Court. During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, I wrote commentaries for Oklahoma Gazette against the war, preached sermons against the war and participated in demonstrations against the war. Bill O’Reilly called people like me “bad Americans” for opposing the war, but I did so out of religious conviction.

That’s right, my understanding of Christianity compelled my personal activism.

But at no time did I assume for one moment that I could withhold a portion of my income taxes that would go to fund it. I believe in Christian pacifism, except in the case of self-defense, and my taxes (compelled by my government) were being used to fund something that directly violated my personal religious beliefs. Imagine the court ruling in Meyers vs. Dick Cheney and Co. that a minister’s individual opposition to what he believed was both illegal and immoral should exempt him from paying a portion of his taxes.

You guessed it. That’s never going to happen. That is, not unless I grow up to own a corporation that employs thousands of women whose personal and constitutional rights I can violate because my individual religious beliefs are more important than theirs. This is not a conservative or liberal issue, my friends. It’s a wake-up call.

So wake up.

Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers is senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, OKC, and Professor of Social Justice at Oklahoma City University.

Robin Meyers

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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One Comment;

  1. michael said:

    Dr. Meyers,
    I enjoy reading yours and other Gazette commentaries. Between you, Mr. Solani, the Media, and the government education system (NEA “corporation” union), our last few generations of citizens have been successfully educated in cultural hedonism and agnosticism. America was meant to be a melting pot of peoples who agreed on the basic principles of Constitutional law, morality, and opportunity that would ensure the reasonable equalities and freedoms of the individual. I have been “paying attention to what we are becoming-or more accurately, what we have become.” I am almost 63. Whenever someone wants to promote their un-natural or unreasonable philosophy, life style, or actions, they blame state religion as the enemy of their free exercise. There is no state religion; no, wait, there is…humanist socialism…”what we have become,” “free(dom) from religion. “ If there is no God, and the Bible is irrelevant , and the words of the Constitution are subject to “interpretation” by every individual personal or group philosophy, then what we have is a dangerously loose democracy. We are held together only by basic animal needs and those that possess the power to satisfy those needs, led by the loudest and most manipulative voices.
    Here is where I agree with you. There was a 1987 TV show called Max Headroom that was prophetic of our present times, and a 1979 movie, Mad Max, that is where we are headed. Yes, the age of the Corporation. They own our state and national leaders. I am not necessarily saying Tom Coburn or Dick Cheney are agents of corporations, but by failing to vigorously serve the Constitution, by being out of touch with the average citizen, and by holding to the economic and political philosophies of strong economics only, they are complicit with the bully desires of the corporation. Having been low middle class, a factory worker, a soldier, a private contractor, and small business manager, and then worked for the government, I have observed and experience the power, greed, and waste of large organizations and management. Wherever men bully power, unchecked by some moral, economic, or philosophical creed, there are bosses doing as they please, with no respect for human fairness or kindness (the original intent of a Constitution based on Judeo-Christian morality and Biblical economics). Not all corporations are bad, not all rich and powerful men are totally corrupted by greed and power. Not all poor are innocent victims, not all poor are ignorant, stupid, undisciplined, or criminal. Our soldiers don’t really know what they are fighting for. They like to think it is for America the Beautiful and the protection of peoples’ freedoms, but in reality it is for “interests.” Who’s interests? The Corporation, and therefore the politicians who have promoted “global business” philosophies that enable the Corporation to enslave other non-unionized peoples of other countries in the effort to reduce production costs and increase profits, with no change to the cost to the consumer. There is no trickle down. There is enough profit to fix all of the needs of all of the people. I have been a Republican Capitalist all of my life, and will continue to vote as one in the Presidential elections, because there I am simply voting against the socialist Democrat “Corporation.” But I am exercising my one man rebellion by voting against ALL Republican incumbents.
    Mr Meyers, you should argue more honestly in the case of Hobby Lobby. They have not taken away the freedom of women to take contraceptives or have abortions, or buy their own insurance to do so. Hobby Lobby women’s rights are fully intact. If I wanted to be employed by the Gazette as a religious conservative writer and demanded that the Gazette provide an insurance plan that did not subsidize abortion or contraception with my payments, would I be correct to say that the Gazette is un-American? Of course, you would say that I am free to purchase my insurance somewhere else.
    Mr Meyers, your Christian pacifism is not biblical. Scripture teaches to pay taxes and obey laws except where government usurps God himself. And, by the way, we are the government through our voting choices. Christians are called to responsibility, mercy, and defense of the defenseless. The Scripture calls Christians to “as much as possible, live peaceably with all men.” Jesus paid his taxes. Jesus said there would be a time to take up the sword, and Jesus himself will execute military destruction someday on the enemies of God on this planet. But you, Mr Meyers, pick and choose the commands that you want obey to satisfy your own desires. You choose to ignore the morality of Scripture and promote the immorality of homosexuality. “Can’t we all just get along?” Like you say, “You guessed it. That’s never going to happen. That is, not unless I grow up to own a corporation….because my individual religious beliefs are more important than theirs.” I’ll bet most people who read your column don’t know about your organization, which sadly is not big enough to bully your individual beliefs into power. Homosexuality’s influence is disappointing for you because there are not enough (just enough to get you out of the closet) homosexually-oriented corporate bullies yet to force your lifestyle into dominance. Be patient you are on the way. You need not fear the “revival” of Biblical morality in America; rather, you should fear the influence of Islam, the forced takeover by Chinese cultural and economic power, the takeover by Russian military power, or the judgment of Jesus Christ at His return. You are in the same boat as the Biblical Christian, too radical to be widely accepted, and too weak to outright take over.
    Yes, what we have become is a failing nation of splintered groups with varied ideas of freedom (license), a nation who’s Corporations must now blend with the rest of the world views to survive. We used to be an example. Now America must become a 2nd or 3rd world nation to blend, with 3rd world living standards, and 3rd world tribal type cultures and leaders. Think about this, that if Islam was in charge, you would be dead. If any other culture was in charge, you would be drastically regulated or dead. Only under the fair and merciful Judeo-Christian Constitution can you enjoy coexistence and toleration with limited rights and access for your un-natural and repulsive lifestyle, even if you have to enjoy it in a closet. Only subjugation and death awaits those out of the closet and those carrying Bibles and guns.
    I do agree with you, the Corporation is king, Obama is the jester. The Max’s were prophetic.
    At 63, I am looking up and rejoicing from where “my redemption draweth nigh.” Jesus is our only hope. I pity my children and grandchildren in the meantime. Sunday morning is always my best day.

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