The Supreme Court of the United States, by vote of 5 against 4, created a religious privilege, a thing that well resembles the privileges in feudal societies.

The US Constitution itself, its First Amendment, prohibits law to respect an establishment of religion. However, the referred five voters, Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, are conservative and religious men. They decided to use their votes and their majority to give federally enforced respect to a religion-based privilege of 'closely-held business corporations' to defy a certain part of the general legislation on the health insurances for employees.

In my view, religion-based privileges are establishments of religion.

Exemptions from the general law are privileges.

Those 'closely-held business corporations', if they are owned and run by religious owners who desire to use such a privilege, are now privileged to defy the general legislation: as part of health insurances, those corporations as employers are now permitted to refuse to make payments towards their female employees' contraceptives. Though the general legislation orders also those businesses (just like it orders all employers) to make health insurance payments for contraceptives, among other elements of employee health insurances.

The conservative majority treaded well close to actually implying that for-profit business corporations as such are actors that do exercise religion. Which is manifestly laughable to anyone with sane brain.

It is pretty much feudal to create a legal system where owners' religious beliefs can be imposed onto employees and customers. A remarkable historical example of that was the principle of 'cuius regio, eius religio' in the 1500s-1800s Holy Roman Empire, where people resident in any one of the hundreds of petty principalities of the Empire, were legally in a position that the incumbent owner of that petty principality was entitled to impose his own flavor of religion onto the persons who were his subjects; to guard the subjects' compliance with the principality-owner's doctrines of religion with the principality's heresy inquisition tribunals;  and to enforce those principality-enacted doctrines with secular punishments meted out by the principality's executioner staff. Europe has, because of those and since, learned lesson about such systems and it is commonly relied upon that nowadays the European Court of Human Rights would not accept such imposition of owner's religious beliefs onto employees and/or resident people.

I have already for long time advocated a view that the United States of America is a feudal country.


Kim Sjöström

chairman of The Freethinker Association of the University of Helsinki, Finland