I haven’t done an Office Politics post for a while. And I thought: “Why not have a post about religion?”

Especially since America’s Supreme Court decided this week to entertain us with a meltdown over the Hobby Lobby and birth control and where the hyper-religious can draw the line. To summarise:

  1. Hobby Lobby Stores is owned by people that don’t believe in contraception (specifically, in “abortifacients” like Plan B drugs).
  2. Hobby Lobby Stores is required to pay for medical insurance cover for their staff.
  3. However, that medical insurance will cover their staff for the issue of Plan B drugs.
  4. Therefore, the Hobby Lobby Store folk want the right not to cover their staff specifically for the issue of Plan B drugs.
  5. To satisfy their moral consciences*.
    *Of course, let’s just ignore the fact that these same “Christians” are statistically likely to view their right to buy and bear arms as God-given, even if that right can result in the death of innocents (and how is that different?).

The majority of the 9 Supreme Court justices agreed that said Hobby Lobby owners should have that right.

The dissenting opinion (written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), which is repeatedly described as “blistering” by the Liberal press, has this great line:

“Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus)?”

And on her point, I have no doubt that these same Hobby Store owners would react in pithy vitriolic rage should any Muslim woman insist on her right to wear the hijab in their American workplace.

I have an opinion on this varietal of hypocrisy

If the Church is the Body of Christ, then this type of Christian is a cancer.

Cancerous cells reproduce manically, with the sole purpose of self-replication as though they are all that should exist. But organisms that have one type of cell are simple, amoeba-like, and dull. Complex beings, on the other hand, contain cells with a near-infinite variety of shape, form, function and purpose. And if any one cell-type militantly self-propagates, you get imbalance, illness, and death.

That aside, allow me to state the obvious*:
*I’m going to use Christian fundamentalists in this post – but I believe that the same applies to any fundamentalist.

  1. No one really has a problem with a fundamentalist’s beliefs.
  2. But people have a real problem with their rules.
  3. And that is because they are unspeakably arrogant.

Here is why:

  1. They assert that God is infinite and that His ways are mysterious.
  2. But despite that, they have appointed themselves as arbiters of His mysterious ways. And reduced Him to a set of rules, based on their reading of a modern-English translation of a highly academic collection of works written in languages and from a number of contexts that they cannot realistically hope to understand.
  3. So how can they possibly know what He meant or intended?
  4. They are dicing with the Infinite Divine – a little more fear and trembling, please.
  5. So if you have an interpretation, it would be prudent to restrict its implications to yourself, and yourself alone.
  6. You don’t think it’s a little bold to impose your interpretation on someone else? I mean – what if you’re wrong? And you’re mathematically certain to be at least a bit wrong. Infinite God + ancient languages you don’t speak + ancient context you don’t understand + your 10/20/30 years of adult life experience = a recipe for disaster.

More math

A lesson from school:

The interior angles of a triangle always add up to 180°.

interior triangle

Seems pretty reasonable, right? I mean, there are many proofs for this – old historic ones dating back to Euclid. Diagrams and books and such.

As it turns out, not only is this rule rarely true, it is in fact demonstrably false in almost all situations. The rule only applies within the very rigid confines of two dimensional space.

As soon as you make things spherical (or any other kind of curved surface), farewell to Euclid:

Thanks to Andrew Steele's website for this awesome right-angled all the way round triangle.
Thanks to Andrew Steele’s website for this awesome right-angled all the way round triangle.

Fundamentalists operate in two-dimensional space – where things are either right, or wrong, and it’s easy to observe which is which.

The world, however, is three-dimensional. It’s complicated, and it’s infinitely greater than any paper-based construction of strict angles.

Which is why it’s important to look up from the book from time to time.

So what place does your faith have in my workplace?

Only the broadest, kindest, most accepting and humble position. A guideline entirely tempered with the fear of overstating your role in the plans of an Infinite Being.

And most of the time – that means not saying anything at all.


PS: for those Hobby Lobby people – I’m just not convinced that it’s your responsibility to police other people’s actions. And if you do take it upon yourselves to do that policing – then you should pay for those consequences (in penalties and fines and jail sentences). That is living by your beliefs, and bearing their consequences.