Steve Chapman

That's one reason so many people have decided religion is not for them. The Pew Research Center reported in 2012 that the percentage of American adults with no religious affiliation has reached nearly 20 percent, with nearly a third of those calling themselves atheists or agnostics. Among those under 30, the numbers are even higher.

Those statistics are bad news for Republicans and conservative causes in general, since 63 percent of the "nones" lean Democratic, with only 26 percent preferring the GOP. Those on the religious right find that their vocal rejection of same-sex marriage, once an asset, has become an albatross.

If religious opposition to same-sex marriage isn't enough to turn off voters, religious opposition to contraception should be. The Hobby Lobby case promises to spread the news that many conservative Christians and Republicans take a dim view of birth control.

Mike Huckabee, who may run for president in 2016, recently said that Democrats favor mandated contraceptive coverage to make women believe "they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government." Rick Santorum, who ran in 2012, said then that contraception is "not OK, because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." The Catholic Church opposes all contraception.

If Hobby Lobby wins in the Supreme Court, conservatives will stand with business owners who regard contraception as forbidden by their faith and exclude it from the health insurance they provide employees. As that policy is embraced by other religious capitalists, it will convey to everyone that if you use birth control, you're at odds with Christianity and the Republican Party.

The Guttmacher Institute reports that more than 99 percent of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sex have used at least one type of contraception. Conservatives probably can't antagonize this entire group, but you have to give them credit for trying.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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