I accidentally sent out a post earlier on this subject that I ended up deleting. It was one of those draft posts that was not “ready for prime time.” As with most people, I write a draft, then look at it again later before hitting send. Instead of sending to draft, I sent to publish. Unfortunately, I later found out that I had not done sufficient investigative work. The story on which I based my post was a false story, originally written as a satire. It originally was published in September of 2013, and has resurfaced within the last couple of days. Frankly, I was taken in. Had the story been correct, I might have had some reason to rant a bit. But, even then, I think my draft post would have needed to be pulled.
Recently, the Supreme Court heard the Hobby Lobby case, as well as another related case linked to an important question. Can the owner of a non-religious private business refuse to finance certain health care features of the Affordable Care Act based on the personal beliefs of the owner? Do employees have a right to have their views taken into account or is the owner the determinative factor? The issue has yet to be decided. In a similar line, at least one state has passed a law that permits a private business to refuse to serve certain members of the public. The question is similar. Can the owner of a private business that serves the public refuse to serve certain of the public? Note that this is a different question from that of a private club that serves only its bona fide members. Both of these questions relate to the nature of a private business that serves the public as much as they relate to the issue of religion.
The false story that was posted as a “satire” was meant to cast those who believe that a business owner should have the right to make some decisions, even against laws that apply to public institutions, in a bad light. The false story had the State of Kansas imposing an unsavory requirement upon a privately owned TV station, complete with the threat to revoke their license or their corporation papers should they refuse to obey. Needless to say, the unsavory requirement is one that would have cast politically and theologically conservative Christians in a bad light.
The publication that published the satire is known for periodically publishing satire stories, so in one sense, this is no surprise. The problem is that the story was picked up by news sites that supposedly check the news without much clear fact-checking. So, that story is now making the rounds and growing in popularity. And I, because I was in a hurry yesterday, did not do my normal fact checking. I am both upset with those who published the satire as well as upset with myself. I am upset with those who published the satire because it slipped its way in by being a very close copy of some laws that have actually been proposed in some states, but NEVER got traction. That is, if every family has a crazy uncle somewhere, then every legislature has a certified wacko who proposed odd laws. But, this satire had little about it to indicate satire. It was written exactly as would a true news story have been written. Somehow, I feel that this is just not right!
But, ultimately, I am upset with myself. I got taken in. I was snookered. I fell into the trap. Perhaps it is a good thing that this is still Great Lent heading into Holy Week. It lets me learn again about the dangers of the Father of Lies and how easy we (and Adam and Eve) can be taken in.