Huffpost Religion
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

George Elerick Headshot

The Hobby Lobby Case Has Nothing to Do With Religious Freedom

Posted: Updated:
Print

Subtitle: Get Thee To A Nunnery!

"All contempt for the sexual life, all denigration under the concept 'impure' is the essential crime against Life -- against the Holy Spirit of Life" -- Nietzche

"We are often reminded of the countless procedures which Christianity employed to make us detest the body; but let us ponder all the ruses that were employed for centuries to make us love sex, to make the knowledge of it desirable and everything said about it precious." -- Foucault

I think for many, when Postmodern emerged as another way to interpret how reality works, the hope was that it would alleviate the human project of ever having to deal with the modernity and its sexual hangups. By now, most of you might be aware of the Supreme Court Case where Hobby Lobby as an employer gets to dictate whether or not their employees are eligible to receive medical insurance to purchase certain types of contraception. The ones they don't want their employees to have access to are the one's that can cause abortion. This case has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with placebos. The placebo of progress: thinking that we have somehow re-configured a few things because of postmodern fragmentation and yet being lost in the gaze of patriarchy and modernism still yet.

The whole debacle demonstrates that there is some nostalgic legislative desire to appeal to some form of historical epoch that precedes us or a time in the future when perfection will descend upon us, the major problem for both of these paradigms is that they rely solely upon the fantasy of wish-fulfillment. More clearly put, people want heaven and they have somehow defined heaven with certain parameters, including what others should do with their genitals, as if in utopia what we do with our genitals somehow will make the world better or not.

The other issue behind this thinking is that there is no proof of this as a possibility. When in history has a whole nation or people-group ever embraced chastity as a spiritual practice and everyone has actually followed it? Maybe that's the point. The striving toward some transcendent goal is ripping at the seams not because we're supposed to be striving, but because the striving has been distracting us from the reality that the transcendent goal for sexual purity is just as elusive and impossible.

So, Hobby Lobby is the very embodiment of a particular spirit of our times, that of modernist fantasy and religious bigotry. Western Conservative Christianity (WCC) no longer has zealots, now WCC relies upon biblical interpretation to do its thinking. It has replaced a God who thinks for them, not just with pseudo-biblical hermeneutics, but has actually replaced their deity with a corporate one: Fox News.

Fox News over the past few years has not been reserved on its political right-wing stance and has also been the site of some pretty larcenous character attacks. It seems without even knowing it, WCC and FOX have become bedfellows. There are other voices who have joined in on the fight for the masculine to maintain its place in America.

The misogyny so rampantly apparent in the words and criticism of radio/television personality Rush Limbaugh (as can be read here) tells us something we all already know but don't want to admit: Patriarchy is still alive and well. That men still want their hands on women even if its figuratively. How is this acceptable and yet sexual abuse is not, how is this any different? Okay, for some I have gone too far here. But we have drawn all kinds of lines of delineation of who can marry who, who can have sex with who/what, what is right and wrong...as if all of these things have pre-existed us in desire to embrace some false sense of unity and wholeness that never existed.

If this event can be said to expose something it is primarily the exposure of the discourse of the Other. In this case, it is not patriarchy, or even sex, but rather the spiritualized idealism which is itself constituted through the former elements amongst many others. There is an evil idealism at work here: the desire for religion to control bodies and choices. It is a perverse claim on another. The colonization of genitals. When religion becomes corporate and can legislate new laws in an oppressive manner, than religion as a whole might have to be put under the microscope and we need to ask hard questions about whether its helping us or not. As an ex-pastor, I have seen the gross underbelly of religion at its worst. And this case is one such demonstration.

This nightmare of right-wing purity is invested in power-laden hierarchy whereby the power exists beyond the gender-divide and and lies within it, located between the legs. This is the desire to manipulate and determine the functional use of someone else's genitals. Abortion as an issue shows us a society that values pro-creation ideology and in essence discounts other possible narratives. Abortion and the laws that codify it are already tricky territory to traverse, mainly because it introduces a field of thinking that distracts us from material existence (the here and now); who gets to determine the beginning of life, who gets to determine the end of life? These metaphysical quandaries and their religious association keep us distracted from asking a more important question: Who and what factors are determining our life and the way we it now? This is much more important than the over-spiritualization of the before and after.

What is happening is a moment of corporate transference. Where the militant ethics of a corporation are attempting to take the place of the material corporeal entity known as the body. The human body has no value in the discourse of the right-wing believer or corporation. The so-called 'ethical' stance is one that supercedes any ontological subjectivity. The human has disappeared and has been replaced by spiritual mechanicity.

Religion (in any form) should exist to assist in the progress of giving us new language, new ways of being and new ways of treating one another. If a religion fails at this, it should be seen as a disease, and like any disease should be eradicated immediately.