Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that an employee’s off-work life is subject to the religious beliefs of the owners, we can be sure someone will head down that slippery slope. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent:
“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)?”
Those things aren’t really too far-fetched. Some businesses owned by religious people already close on holy days. They don’t seem to be bothered by losing business on those days. But if you work for one of the businesses that closes on the Sabbath or another holy day, you lose a day’s pay.
What laws can be ignored if one’s religious convictions outweigh federal law? We’ve seen an opening with the Hobby Lobby case. What else might religious business owners plead is “against their deeply held religious beliefs”? We’re already seeing some trying to make an end-run around hiring laws. Some are even refusing to serve blacks, citing religious beliefs.
And not just employers; what if employees jump on the bandwagon? Don’t want to work on Pentecost? Refuse to wear your uniform because it’s a blend? I bet motivated employees could find just about any reason not to come to work.
More religious laws from your Christian Taliban boss.
If your boss is a devout Christian or biblical literalist, here are a few things they could force on their employees or ignore federal law concerning:
- Love bacon? Live for lobster? Your boss may decide that you can’t eat either. Leviticus says “Of the things that are in the waters, you may eat anything that has fins and scales. Lev. 11:9.” That lets off crab, lobster, shrimp and bottom-feeders like catfish. “… you may eat any animal that has cloven hooves and chews its cud.” Lev. 11:3. There goes your bacon and ham. If your boss can assert beliefs over your healthcare, why not what you eat?
- Leviticus 10:6 says “Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes” If your boss wants to implement this, you’ll need to wear a hat or scarf and lose the fashionista torn jeans.
- Got tattoos? Piercings? “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.” Leviticus 19:28 could exclude you from working for a devout Christian if you’re tattooed or pierced. Yes, even you ears.
- Leviticus 12:4–5 “And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.” If you’re having a baby, you will need a maternity leave of 33-80 days. It’s doubtful if your Bible-loving boss would extend you one, however. Maybe if they’d let you get contraception through your health plan, you wouldn’t have to worry about it.
- “When a woman has a discharge of blood, which is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening.” Leviticus 15:19-20 forbids a Christian boss from allowing a woman to work the week she’s having her period. Somehow I doubt any boss would allow female employees to take off one week a month. Although it might be better for all concerned if they did, sometimes.
- Also… Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19); Don’t cut your hair or shave. (Leviticus 19:27); and have a flat nose, or be blind or lame (Leviticus 21:17-18). Good luck with those cotton/poly blends, shaving, cutting your hair or — for some weird reason — if you have a flat nose. Blind and lame people are out of luck, too. There goes the Americans With Disabilities Act.
- Furthermore, if your boss is a Catholic:
- All baptized persons between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine are obliged to observe the fast days of the Church. No lunch for you! You should just be happy that the boss is letting you work on a holy day. Heathen!
Sharia laws from your fundamentalist Islamic boss.
One thing that the folks at Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court may have not thought of… What if other religions use the excuse of a law making them go against their deeply held religious beliefs? What if it’s a business owned by a strict follower of Islam? These Sharia Laws may have to be allowed (these laws are not in the Koran, the Koran has been misinterpreted to support them).
- Men can marry and keep up to four wives at one time. Hey, that’s bigamy! Bigamy? That’s big-a-you! Let’s all be big for a change. Even if it is against federal law. If the Mormons can do it, so can the Muslims.
- Adoption is not allowed in Sharia. If you work for a devout Muslim, they might not allow you to adopt if you so desired. Just knowing that an employee adopted a child would give him the sads. So either quit or remain childless.
- There is no retaliation for parents and grandparents for killing their offsprings. If an employee of a Muslim business kills their child or grandchild, your boss should offer you sanctuary. Even though it’s against every state and federal law, it’s not against Sharia.
Deeply-held religious beliefs your Hindu boss may require you to observe.
What if your boss is Hindu? Well, they have deeply held beliefs, too.
- The Laws of Manu, one of Hinduism’s earliest canons, says to… “beware of eating between (the two meal-times); let him not over-eat himself… Excessive eating is prejudicial to health, to fame, and to (bliss in) heaven; it prevents (the acquisition of) spiritual merit, and is odious among men; one ought, for these reasons, to avoid it carefully.” A devout Hindu boss could ban overweight people working for her. To heck with that pesky Equal Employment thing. Further, your boss could tell you to diet, even have a say over what you eat.
- Then there is the Caste system. Even though most Hindus no longer subscribe to this system, some devout ones do. They might institute a caste system at work. Think you felt like low man on the totem pole before? What if you’re designated an untouchable?
- Hindus can also have devout beliefs concerning diet and exercise. You can’t eat beef anymore? Have to take yoga classes? It’s part of your boss’s religious tenets. Suck it up or find another job, wuss.
Your Jewish boss: Even stricter than your former Christian boss!
Jewish Laws are much like Christian laws (since the Christians are co-opting the Old Testament), only stricter. All the rules under the Christian list apply and then some!
- Jewish law requires the circumcision the male offspring (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3). If you’re a man working for a devout Jew, you better be circumcised. Or you’ll have to make an appointment to get it done. No foreskin for you!
- The newly married husband shall (be free) for one year to rejoice with his wife (Deut. 24:5). A year-long honeymoon? That’s the law. Even more, a bridegroom shall be exempt for a whole year from taking part in any public labor, such as military service, guarding the wall and similar duties. Yeah, somehow I don’t think that one would fly if you signed up for the military before you got married.
- Not to castrate the male of any species; neither a man, nor a domestic or wild beast, nor a fowl. Have a new pet? Your boss can forbid you to neuter it, if it’s a male. If it’s a female, it’s fine to spay, however.
- The hired laborer shall be permitted to eat of the produce he is reaping. Spending a summer picking cucumbers? Berries? Tomatoes? Hey, you get to nosh on what you’re picking. Health codes? Who needs ’em?!
Rules from your Wiccan boss.
Finally, the only things resembling Wiccan “rules” are really more like suggestions. We don’t have a book of canon or the like. There are some things most of us agree on, though. And we could make rules for our businesses.
- Living green is very important to Wiccans, so you will need to put up solar panels on your home, install double-paned windows, buy fluorescent or LED light bulbs. Recycling will be mandatory.
- Some Wiccans are fond of going naked. It’s in our liturgy: “… and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked…” You see, if everyone is naked, there is no caste or hierarchy. There goes your position as Manager, too.
- Vegetarianism is popular in Wicca and Paganism. What if your boss decided that no meat could be eaten by her employees? It is against her deeply held beliefs, after all. What if she extended that to what you eat when you’re not at work?
Of course, these examples are just conjecture, playing a game of reductio ad absurdum. But the examples that Justice Ginsburg mentioned could be showing up in our justice system soon. It seems as though nobody who wanted this decision really thought it through.