Does a Business Have a Soul?

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

That’s actually not the question to be asking about the for-profit challenges to the Department of Health and Human Services​’s Obamacare abortion-drug, contraception, and sterilization​ mandate. But it was a beyond-parody question asked of a Becket Fund lawyer on MSNBC after the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood hearings at the Supreme Court. The real question at the heart of the matter is: Do Americans have the right to live their faith at work – such that a closely held belief does not have to be violated or fines paid on account of a government mandate? Do people who run businesses have a right to religious liberty on the job? 

A question very much in the background of this debate is: Why would anyone even need this kind of protection? Why does religious faith have anything to do with insurance coverage and other H.R. department kind of questions? To a culture that has become increasingly secularized, internalizing a compartmentalization and privatization of religious faith, this is a real obstacle to understanding why there are all these challenges to the HHS mandate. 

Yesterday we ran an interview with two non-lawyers, Andrew Abela and Joseph Capizzi, on conscience in business. They are both professors at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. – Abela is dean of the new business school. Their book A Catechism for Business is meant to reintroduce some fundamental and practical ethical questions that come up in the life of a businessman, using Catholic social teaching to help walk one through the questions.

It’s a timely resource given especially the for-profit challenges to the Obama administration’s HHS mandate. Tonight in D.C., at the Catholic Information Center, just a stone’s throw from the White House​, Abela and Capizzi will talk about the book and why one’s faith would have anything to do with running a business. Information is here for anyone interested.