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.