Hobby Lobby CEO open letter: “Honoring God is more important than turning a profit”

posted at 1:01 pm on January 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Normally I’d be inclined to run something like this on a Sunday, when I like to explore more faith-based topics.  However, today is Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day, where consumers who support the Christian ownership’s stand against the HHS mandate that attempts to impose a highly restrictive definition of religious expression can put their money where their mouths are.  Since I don’t really have a hobby at the moment, I’ll instead offer a passage from the open letter written by Hobby Lobby CEO David Green, who explains why he’s decided to spend a lot of money and risk even more to fight the HHS regulation that would force him to act against his religious principles.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby – and my family – are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

It’s worth pointing out that the mandate doesn’t exempt actual religious organizations either, such as Catholic charities, Presbyterian hospitals, Lutheran schools, and so on.  Why?  That’s the crux of the issue: the Obama administration is attempting to redefine religious expression to only those activities which take place within the four walls of a place of worship, or those activities restricted only to those of a single faith.  That means that Catholic hospitals would qualify only if they refused to treat and employ any non-Catholics, for instance.  Can you imagine those lawsuits?

The mandate for free birth control, which is already cheap and readily available for anyone who wants it (and has federal subsidies for Medicaid recipients already in place through Title X), is just a Trojan horse in an attack on religious liberty — and even more, for freedom of choice.  If businesses want to offer “free” birth control (which will get funded by premium hikes), they can already do so; no one is stopping them.  Same for schools, hospitals, and private citizens who want to donate money to family-planning clinics on their own.  Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius want to strip that choice from Americans and force everyone to subsidize the procreative choices of everyone else, even those tens of millions whose religious beliefs have heretofore never had to be part of public policy.  That’s the invasion of privacy, and it’s people like David Green who are being exploited.

Update: Added a bit to the second-to-last paragraph, and also wanted to include Hobby Lobby’s online shopping website link.  You can support the company from the comfort of your own home.


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triple on January 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

I agree with Good Lt. You have the understanding of a 12 year old. Bone up on private contracts and capitalism and then come back and discuss.

melle1228 on January 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM

That’s a dumb thing for a business to say.

Dante on January 7, 2013 at 9:37 AM

I think you misunderstand the whole concept of employee benefits.

Well, you and the entire republican party.

Employees earn benefits through, believe it or not, this thing called “going to work”. They aren’t free gifts given due to the goodwill of the employer. You earn them.

If an employer can tell you what you can do with your health insurance, it follows they could tell you what to spend your hard earned money on, as well.

I’m sorry, thought this was america. Where when you earned your paycheck (and your benefits) – they were yours to do with as you please.

Hobby Lobby therefore isn’t paying for anyone’s contraception. They are providing comprehensive health insurance to their employees as payment for a hard days work. What an employee does with their EARNED benefits at the end of the day, well that’s between them and their physician, now isn’t it?

triple on January 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

I think you misunderstand the meaning of the word “benefit”. Employees do not earn benefits; benefits are provided in order to attract skilled talent. You can do whatever you wish with your health insurance; you do not have to accept the benefit provided by the company.

You are entirely ignorant.

Dante on January 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Employee benefits are just that, benefits. A business is not required to provide them.

No business is required to offer – and pay for – health insurance. It’s not the employee’s insurance. It’s a contract between the employee and employer and insurance company. The employee can accept the coverage or find his or her own or supplement that insurance with additional coverage.

If a business doesn’t offer health insurance the employee is not being DENIED health insurance. He or she just has find it on their own.

The employer is not telling an employee what type of medical care they can have. It’s just telling the employee that they won’t pay for it.

This is pretty simple stuff. I can’t believe anyone doesn’t understand it.

SteveMG on January 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Benefits are, on the most basic level, payment for doing work.

This is best illustrated by the fact that, if one were to suddenly stop doing work, they’d lose their benefits.

That’s basic logic, right? Okay.

Now, SteveMG, when you say “A business is not required to provide them.” – I’m assuming we’re talking about pre-obamacare America, which is not surprising because most republicans have the fantasy that obamacare is not really the law, or its unconstitutional, or it will get repealed soon. Truth is, its the law now, and businesses like Hobby Lobby have to deal with this if they want to do business in our country. The fact right now is, businesses are obligated to provide exactly this, which is why Hobby Lobby is your personal 21st century martyr right now.

But getting back to your point, where you say it is not the employee’s health insurance, and the employee can either accept or decline the coverage – that is true.

Thing is, once they accept coverage, this should not be looked at as the gracious kind employer providing health insurance for his moocher employees, as most republicans and conservatives seem to view the employee/employer relationship. An employee earns that coverage with his day to day work, so for an employer to say “I’m not going to pay for X” – whether that X be contraceptives, or a broken arm, or dentistry, or whatever – is kind of ridiculous. You’re paying your employee, who is then going on to use their payment however they want – as is their right. You get to use your paycheck, and your benefits, in whichever way you please.

Now you might say, hey! What if an employer refuses to offer coverage for X? You don’t have to work here!

Simply, they’re not allowed to. Much like they’re not allowed to offer less than minimum wage. It’s the law, it’s been backed by the supreme court, passed by congress, and signed by the president. If you’d like to repeal this law, call up your congress person and have them try for the 35th time. Maybe 35th’s time the charm.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 12:03 PM

This is best illustrated by the fact that, if one were to suddenly stop doing work, they’d lose their benefits.

Yes, you also lose your paycheck. But the employer can stop giving benefits, including health insurance, and the employee still gets a paycheck. Benefits are “bonuses” or “offerings” given out to attract people and also to reward them for their work.

Benefits and salaries are two separate items.

There is no law that requires companies to provide “benefits.”

There is no law that companies offer health insurance, which again are benefits to employees.

But if they do offer healthcare there are laws – federal and state – that stipulate what type of coverage they (and the insurer) must offer.

The question here is whether the ruling – not a law but a ruling – by the HHS that all employers must offer contraceptive coverage in their plan is constitutional when it applies to religious institutions or others with religious objections.

If a religious institution or employers with religious objections refuse to provide contraceptive coverage the employees will have to purchase the contraception with their own money. No one will be denied contraception.

SteveMG on January 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Lets forget about religious institutions for a second here, because this isn’t even the issue at hand.

Hobby Lobby is a business run by Christians. They are not a church.

They don’t get to make up their own special privileges on the fly because they happen to be Christian.

Maybe I could join a religion that forbade following OSHA guidelines, wouldn’t that be nice? I know that example is a little extreme, but you get the idea.

All you have to do to discredit the idea of Christians being unjustly forced to provide contraceptive care is to switch out the religion. Unless of course you only want special privileges for Christians, exclusively, because we’re a Christian nation or something.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Lets forget about religious institutions for a second here, because this isn’t even the issue at hand

It is, in part. The HHS has ruled that religious institutions MUST provide contraceptive coverage in their plans. Even if it violates their religious – not Christian – religious views.

It’s not a law. It’s an interpretation of a law by the HHS.

Second, the question on the table is whether the owners of Hobby Lobby must violate their religious conscience/beliefs and provide contraceptive coverage in their plans.

This isn’t about Christians. It’s about religious believers. The Free Exercise clause belongs to all believers – Christians, Jews, Muslims and other sects.

If the Courts rule that Hobby Lobby isn’t required to provide contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans, the employees of HL will have to purchase contraception with their own money.

No one is being denied contraception.

SteveMG on January 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Hobby Lobby is a business run by Christians. They are not a church.

This business is also a privately-owned entity.

Contraception isn’t being denied to anybody. It’s perfectly legal. Go buy a pallet full of it if you want to. The business isn’t denying it to a single human being, no matter how much you wish that were the case.

They don’t get to make up their own special privileges on the fly because they happen to be Christian.

They do, actually. If they don’t want to pay for your booze habit (if you have one), they don’t have to. If they don’t want to pay your phone bills, they don’t have to.

By your “logic,” you’re asserting that a business should pay for – out of their pocket with their money – anything you say they should just because you say it. You have no justification for your position.

The business shouldn’t be obligated to pay for anything for you simply because you bang your sippy cup on the table and whine that you want it. Your ‘want’ is not a claim on a business’s bank account. There are thousands of jobs that don’t pay benefits but pay checks. Welcome to reality. Nobody is forcing you to work at any of these places. Google “at-will employment.”

If you don’t like it, piss off and work somewhere where the benefits offered include these things you treasure.

All you have to do to discredit the idea of Christians being unjustly forced to provide contraceptive care is to switch out the religion. Unless of course you only want special privileges for Christians, exclusively, because we’re a Christian nation or something.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

If you don’t like the way their benefit packages are structured, don’t work there.

Again, are you 12?

Good Lt on January 7, 2013 at 3:37 PM

And please note that nobody in these parts would accuse me of being a Christian or defending their beliefs on religious grounds. I’m not doing that. Personally, I think birth control is a good thing. If a company wants to include it in their insurance plans that they offer to employees, more power to them.

But I don’t think they should be forced at the point of a gun to do it if they don’t want to.

This is just another heavy-handed attempt by the federal government to push something onto productive, law-abiding citizens that they don’t want for a political agenda appealing to a narrow and shrill constituency of braying idiots.

Good Lt on January 7, 2013 at 3:55 PM

By your “logic,” you’re asserting that a business should pay for – out of their pocket with their money – anything you say they should just because you say it. You have no justification for your position.

It stops being “their own money” when it’s part of compensation for services rendered.

Telling them they need to include coverage for contraceptives is no different from telling them they need to pay more than $7.25/hr, but you guys probably hate the minimum wage, too.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM

It stops being “their own money” when it’s part of compensation for services rendered.

Telling them they need to include coverage for contraceptives is no different from telling them they need to pay more than $7.25/hr, but you guys probably hate the minimum wage, too.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Yeah and hence why many people pay under the table and many other won’t employ full time employee so that they won’t have to pay any bennies at all.

I guess triple in your world freedom is FORCING a business owner to spend their property against their wishes.

And BTW, it never stops being their money you dolt. Bennies are offered as a compensation package. The employer does NOT have to offer them and the employee does not have to take them.

And just because something is suddenly “legal” does not mean it is constitutional. Ever hear of slavery?

melle1228 on January 7, 2013 at 6:52 PM

triple on January 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM

You seriously have to be a liberal. I mean when the he!! did it become a “right” for someone to pay for your contraception? When did it become a right to pay for your healthcare. And when did an employer’s money automatically become yours?

melle1228 on January 7, 2013 at 6:55 PM

It stops being “their own money” when it’s part of compensation for services rendered.

And you believe that they can’t decide what type of compensation they can give?

Once again: these, i.e., health insurance, are benefits not salary. Companies are not required to provide health insurance. For some reason you ignore this point.

The employees who receive the paycheck – not the benefits – can use it to buy as many contraceptives as they want. No one is saying that they can’t.

HL is not denying any employee from purchasing contraceptives with money given to them by the business. If they wish to buy birth control, go for it.

HL is saying they won’t provide contraception THEMSELVES because it violates their religious beliefs.

If you can’t see the difference between a company doing act “A” and a employee doing act “A” then I’m lost as to where to go.

SteveMG on January 7, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Benefits are, on the most basic level, payment for doing work.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 12:03 PM

They are not. Benefits are not compensation.

Telling them they need to include coverage for contraceptives is no different from telling them they need to pay more than $7.25/hr, but you guys probably hate the minimum wage, too.

triple on January 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Yes, I do hate the minimum wage for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t government’s business what someone agrees to be compensated for their labor. Secondly, it raises costs and prices.

You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 8:59 AM

I dont know why business’s inject themselves into these discussions to be perfectly honest. Look, there’s 300 million something Americans. So why shrink your pool of customers by picking a side on divisive issues?

The reason I dont agree with Religious exceptions is because their hypocritical. If I say my Religion doesnt allow me to provide health benefits to Women none of you same people who are backing Hobby Lobbys religious right would be backing my Religious right.

I think the LAW should apply to all equally. You have a problem with the law then work with in the system of Government to change it but these exceptions based on Religions are in no way evenly applied. Rastafarians consider smoking weed to be a major part of their religion. Does that make them exempt from laws that declare its illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the effects of a drug? Would you support their right to have an exception to that law based on their Religion?

Politricks on January 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

“A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance.”
-Hobby Lobby CEO David Green

The ENTIRE CRUX of his crybabying is birth control pills cause abortions?

Awwww, what a charming old clueless moron he is.

How come none of you geniuses have picked up on that ignorant turd?

Do none of you know how birth control pills work?

Dave Rywall on January 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM

A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance.”
-Hobby Lobby CEO David Green

The ENTIRE CRUX of his crybabying is birth control pills cause abortions?

Awwww, what a charming old clueless moron he is.

How come none of you geniuses have picked up on that ignorant turd?

Do none of you know how birth control pills work?

Dave Rywall on January 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM

No, Davey. Hobby Lobby has NO problem covering birth control pills. They have a problem actually covering Plan B- Abortifacients.

melle1228 on January 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

No, Davey. Hobby Lobby has NO problem covering birth control pills. They have a problem actually covering Plan B- Abortifacients.

melle1228 on January 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM
—–

Ahh I see I jumped the gun there. As soon as I read that sentence, I began typing. I retract my rant.

I supposed Hobby Lobby feels it has the right to ask its employees if they have ever had or ever plan to have an abortion so they can fire them or something.

Dave Rywall on January 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Ahh I see I jumped the gun there. As soon as I read that sentence, I began typing. I retract my rant.

I supposed Hobby Lobby feels it has the right to ask its employees if they have ever had or ever plan to have an abortion so they can fire them or something.

Dave Rywall on January 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

No, I believe they just don’t want to be the one to pay for it..

melle1228 on January 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM

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