Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Hobby Lobby Eco-Fallout: Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedom?

Energy
Hobby Lobby Eco-Fallout: Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedom?

The fallout from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has only begun, but I think Justice Ginsburg’s dissent wraps up a lot of progressive feelings when she says the decision’s “startling breadth” allows companies to “opt out of any law they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” She goes on to discuss how this decision could impact non-Christian religions and how each might construe what they could opt out of—“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 vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others.).”

In my opinion, this Supreme Court decision appears to stem from a broad sense of deplorable misogyny in popular religions and American culture, and I absolutely oppose this decision.

But I also wonder if the decision contains a tangled, twisted eco-upside?

It is certainly true that all religions—western, eastern, otherwise—contain much eco-centric teachings and values. Many are, after all, modeled on the ancient “sun worship” cultures and it’s no coincidence that many Christian and non-Christian holidays fall on or around the solstice and equinox.

And so, if I worship the sun or the Earth or all species on the planet, do I have to abide by laws that violate my religion? 

By granting immunity from federal laws due to religious preference, the Supreme Court has cracked open a door that may not be easily shut.

Consider some speculative, but potential real-world lawsuits:

  1. You’re an Earth-worshipping pagan, you own a “closely held” corporation, and your corporation’s only choice of water comes from a massive dam and reservoir run by a government-owned utility. Can you sue that utility for violating your religious freedom and force it to provide you with water from a less environmentally damaging source?
  2. Your Earth-worshipping corporation is in an inner city, you have no way of generating your own solar electricity, and your utility requires that you get electricity generated from fracked-gas. Can you sue that utility and force it to provide you with clean energy that does not rely on fracking?  
  3. Or how about something closer to the Obamacare point: Your Earth-worshipping corporation supports animal rights, veganism and decries pharmaceutical experiments on animals. Can you sue to force Obamacare to provide you with animal-friendly medicine?

The list could go on and on.

In my line of work as an advocate for the environment, I’ve been called all sorts of names saying I’m some kind of fanatic for the Earth. Further, in the popular media, folks who rail against environmentalists often say we have elevated environmentalism to a kind of religion.

If so, has the Supreme Court now given us the opportunity to fight against the government’s intrusion in our lives because it violates our religion?

I absolutely oppose the deplorable Hobby Lobby decision. And now it’s the law of the land. 

Do I now have to abide by fracking laws that violate my religion?

Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental advocate and writer based in Fort Collins, CO.

 

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch