Should business owners be allowed the right to religious freedom or do they fall outside those liberties given to individual citizens? This was one issue debated in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.
ZENIT spoke with one such business owner, Christopher Yep, as he exited the courtroom after observing the oral arguments in two cases against the Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate.
Two family-owned businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, challenged this mandate that forces employers to include in their employee health plans coverage of sterilization, contraceptives, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.
Yep, owner of Triune Health Group, also has brought a lawsuit against the Obama administration due to this mandate.
He waited in line in freezing temperatures since 8:00 p.m. Monday night in order to gain access to the courtroom for Tuesday morning’s hearings.
“Most people don’t understand how big this case is,” Yep said. “In the closing statements, they made the point that it would be monumental to for the Supreme Court to decide against the government mandate.
“But it would also be monumental to decide against the rights of the employers.”
One issue under debate is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which protects religious liberty, applies to business owners in the operation of their for-profit corporations.
On this question as well as others, the justices seemed divided along typical liberal/conservative lines. A decision on the cases in not expected until June.
Until then, Yep said, “we can’t stop the battle; we need to keep talking about the issues at play. We have to keep up the prayer, for wisdom and enlightenment as the justices reflect and discern.”