In the month or so since the Supreme Court rendered its opinion in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, I have decided that the Hobby Lobby decision is easy to hate in the short-term but easy to … if not love, exactly … at least easy to tolerate in the long term. It really is not as bad as you perhaps have heard. I say this for several different, but related reasons that make snap judgments easy but, as is often the case, wrong in some important respects. These reasons include the history of the Federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, usually pronounced riff-ra), according to which Hobby Lobby was decided; the pre-RFRA case law pertaining to the granting of religious exemptions to Federal (and State, though not all States have RFRAs) laws; the specific language of RFRA
Say what you will about the conservative Republican vision for the Nation, it at least has the salient virtue of pristine consistency. The problem is that what this vision is consistent with is an era over 150 years in the past. Since the subject is conservatism in the early 21st-century mode, this is not terribly surprising. We are 60 years past the time of, say, President Eisenhower when the phrase “forward-looking conservatism” was not the oxymoron that it has now become. Rather, what is surprising is that the earlier paradigm which conservative Republicans are apparently using to model their policy proposals is a paradigm that was long ago soundly discredited: the Confederate States of America. In at least three broad areas of public policy – health insurance reform, hostility to union
... because you've read it before. Or some cognate of it. Many times. Dozens of times. It may be hundreds of times. By many writers. Over the years. Why? Because it's about "The Problem of Evil". And after maybe 4,000 years worth of attempts, perhaps beginning with the book of Job -- certainly no later than that -- there is literally nothing to say that hasn't already been said. Many times. But, in light of recent events, I'll have another go at it.
Since this is too important an issue to be dealt with in terms of bloodless abstractions, let's take a concrete, particular, discrete example: imagine a commercial airliner flying over an active war zone. A commander on the ground launches, or orders the launch of, a surface-to-air missile, which hits the plane and destroys it, precipitating