The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.