Blessed be the Satanic Temple.
The Satanists announced this week that they're demanding exemptions to anti-abortion regulations — like Missouri's 72-hour state-mandated waiting period — claiming such measures violate their religious beliefs.
It's an obvious, and brilliant, ploy to test how serious conservatives are about their supposed belief that a person's "religious liberty" rights mean they can opt out of laws they simply don't like. The Satanists are trying to prove that conservatives are hypocrites whose interest in religious exemptions only applies to situations where they can take away someone's birth control, or ruin a same-sex couple's wedding.
Savvy conservatives would see this tactic for what it is and not take the bait. But luckily for us, many are not smart enough to do the math. Here are a few examples.
1. David French of The National Review loves "religious liberty" — when it can be used as a cudgel against women.
Defending Hobby Lobby's claim that a boss' "religious liberty" rights should allow him to dictate how sexually active women use their own insurance plans, French wrote that the Hobby Lobby case was a victory for business owners' "most basic liberties, including free speech, free exercise of religion, and virtually the entire panoply of property rights." (Interesting that French sees a woman's medical care as the "property rights" of her boss.) Giving these rights to bosses will bring "a dramatic halt to the latest leap forward of the allegedly unstoppable sexual revolution," he writes.
But French rejects "religious liberty" when it interferes with his desire to force unwilling women to give birth. In a piece this week headlined "Of Course the Satanic Temple Embraces Abortion, and Of Course the Left Applauds," French writes that it's "incredibly appropriate" that "the pro-abortion Left" is "wrapping its arms around Satan."
Actually, David, we did that long ago when we started tricking kids into smoking doobies by putting Satanic messages in Queen records.
2. Katie Yoder of Newsbusters has characterized opposition to broad "religious liberty" exemptions as "hysterical." Shortly after Hobby Lobby was decided, Yoder went full-blown sarcastic on critics of the decision, painting them as a bunch of sex-crazed nuts who were over-reacting to a minor obstacle. Rounding up media reactions to the decision, she sneered at women who think they have a right to have sex and argued that allowing Hobby Lobby to exert so much control over their employees' private lives is no big deal because workers are "free to go work somewhere else."
But Yoder becomes hysterical over the Satanic Temple trying to invoke broad "religious liberty" exemptions to help women get abortions. Under the headline "Feminist Media Hail Satanists for Deeming Abortion a ‘Religious Belief'" (actually, they deem bodily integrity a religious belief), Yoder breathlessly writes, "The pro-abortion media crowd is embracing new ally in their fight: Satanists."
It's worth noting that "Mary," the Missouri woman the Satanists are seeking an exemption for, is going to get an abortion no matter what. What's at issue is whether she'll be able to get that abortion on a Monday, or if, due to her state's extreme waiting period law, she'll have to wait until a Thursday. While that difference means a lot to Mary, in terms of travel and other costs, it shouldn't matter to those who supposedly care about the embryo., since the outcome there will be the same either way
3. When Cheryl Chumley of The Washington Times wrote in 2014 about invoking "religious liberty" to take away women's access to birth control, she noted that "Christians stand strong." Protecting religious freedom to exert power over someone else's body is, she seems to think, the great civil rights issue of our time.
Writing about the Satanist case, however, Chumley characterizes it as an attempt to "skirt state abortion laws." So when you invoke "religious liberty" to control your own body, you're just a corrupt person looking for loopholes I guess?
4. Carole Novielli of Life News is clear that people get to define their own religious beliefs. . .when those beliefs are in opposition to women's rights. "The Supreme Court has ruled on behalf of Hobby Lobby against ObamaCare mandating them to pay for at least four drugs they deem abortive which would violate their religious freedoms!" she wrote last year in celebration of the Hobby Lobby case.
But what if it's your religious belief that women have rights? "We know satanists believe abortion is sacred as we have documented several times," she sneers angrily. She also complains that "Mary" is "elusive," due to the understandable use of a pseudonym to describe her in the case. Let's hope conservatives don't start demanding lists of women who have had abortions, on the grounds that they need those lists for "religious liberty" reasons.
5. Writing in 2014 about an anti-Hobby Lobby ad, Breitbart.com's Austin Ruse suggested that merely raising the question of what "religious liberty" entails somehow oppresses the religious freedom of the Supreme Court justices.
When it comes to protecting women's rights, however, Ruse thinks the whole idea of "religious liberty" is a joke. "Missouri Satanists think they have Christian conservatives over a barrel with their claim that one of their members should get a religious liberty exemption from Missouri's mandated waiting period before getting an abortion," he writes.
Silly rabbit! Didn't anyone teach you that "religious liberty" means giving fundamentalists—especially male fundamentalists — control over women's bodies? Who on earth would think women have religious liberty, particularly over something so intimate as their beliefs regarding sex and reproduction?
They probably worship Satan.