Impolite Company

  1. Hobby Lobby, Choices, and Consequences

    I received an email this morning which is an adaption of "Christian companies can’t bow to sinful mandate" by David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

    I won’t quote it all because it’s long, but just the relevant portions.

    We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles.

    This makes it sound like there is a universally accepted list of “Christian principles” out there somewhere.

    There isn’t.

    Christians disagree on the issue of abortion and healthcare.

    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.

    So far so good.

    We close early so our employees can see their families at night.

    Is closing early a Christian principle? So people who work late are violating that?

    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.

    That’s noble, and I applaud them for doing it.

    It is worth pointing out, however, that in the 10 Commandments it says:

    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

    The “seventh day” is Saturday, not Sunday.

    Christians (except the “Seventh-Day Adventists”) worship on Sunday because it was on Sunday morning that they believe Jesus rose on Easter.

    But the Sabbath day when people aren’t supposed to work is Saturday, according to the Bible.

    I point this out only to illustrate the fact that even the simplest “Christian principle” is a matter of interpretation.

    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.

    Only if you insist on forcing your interpretation of Christianity and your interpretation of medicine onto your employees.

    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.

    What Biblical principle teaches that life begins at conception?


    It’s an interpretation.

    And a fairly new one.

    Historically and traditionally, this has not been the teaching of the Christian church, which taught that life begins with the breath of a newborn child.

    The word for ‘breath’ in Greek is pneuma and in Hebrew is ruach — and both words are connected with spirit as in God’s spirit or the Holy Spirit. The idea that life enters us with breath seems to be at least as “Biblical” of an argument than any other that you could make about when life begins.

    These drugs do not “cause” abortions in any meaningful sense of the word. At most, they prevent pregnancy.

    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.

    No, your interpretation of your faith does.

    Businesses don’t have rights.

    People do.

    Abortion is legal. Healthcare is the law.

    If your business doesn’t follow the law, it gets fined.

    It’s not right.

    Some would say it is not right to force your religious beliefs onto your employees, who have every bit as much right to freedom — including freedom of choice and freedom of religion as you do.

    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.

    Thousands of companies?

    The linked article lists 30.

    But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

    Should employers who are Christian Scientists be exempted from providing healthcare at all?

    So, Hobby Lobby — and my family — are forced to make a choice.

    Yup. And that choice is “follow the law or pay a fine.”

    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.

    They have a choice: “follow the law, or pay a fine.”

    What he seems to mean is that they don’t have a choice to do what they want to do without a negative consequence.

    This may come as a surprise to him, but there are lots of choices which are like that, including men and women who have to choose between an abortion and a child that they cannot provide for.

    We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

    So they’re going to pay the fine.

    Oh wait, no they aren’t. They’re going to try to coerce the government into letting them have their choice without a negative consequence.

    My family has lived the American dream.

    Life, liberty, and the denial of medical benefits to people who want to make choices that don’t align with our personal beliefs.

    We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult.

    No, your religious beliefs may have consequences. Jesus is familiar with that.

    The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law.

    No, the government is saying that you do not have the right to dictate to others how they live their lives.

    I say that’s a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make.

    I say that being an American means having freedom, and that freedom ought to apply equally to employers and employees, not just those who are rich enough to get medical care even if they don’t have health coverage.

    The email I received had these lines — which are not from David Green’s original letter, although they claimed to be.

    The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief.

    Sure it can.

    Mormons had to give up polygamy. Christian Scientist parents have to get medical care for their children when they are sick. Amish people have to put reflectors on their buggies. People whose religious beliefs include non-violence have their tax dollars spent on wars.

    The government should not be able to force you yourself to go to war (you can register as a conscientious objector) and the government should not force anyone to have an abortion.

    That isn’t what the government is doing.

    They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except [sic] Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

    False, there are already options for exemptions for religious organizations. The Catholic church wants those exemptions to apply to any Catholic institution.

    Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

    False on two accounts:

    1) The media is far more ‘controlled’ by conservative forces than liberal ones

    2) This issue has been covered extensively.

    Fred Clark (aka ‘slacktivist’) wrote this:

    This is a weird claim of religious liberty. [Hobby Lobby’s lawyer] carefully says that the company should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

    Duncan is careful to say that because he is aware that the drugs in question do not, in fact, cause abortion. Emergency contraception is just exactly that — contraception. It does not end or interfere with an existing pregnancy.

    It doesn’t matter if the evangelical gazillionaire owners of Hobby Lobby “believe” that emergency contraception causes abortions. It does not do that.

    Nor does it matter if this belief is passionately sincere and sincerely passionate. Sincerity and passion won’t make it any less incorrect.

    "Hitler had sincere beliefs," my Christian Ethics professor once said, "He believed he was doing God’s work and what was best for his country."

    The KKK has sincere belief.

    Those who believed in racial segregation had sincere belief.

    Those who argued against interracial marriage had sincere belief.

    Those who argue against same-sex marriage have sincere belief.

    Sincerity of belief is not a legal argument.

    The sincerity of your religious belief should not effect my freedoms.

    If Hobby Lobby were to be granted such an exemption, then, what would prevent any other corporation from claiming that it believes minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, nuclear safety rules and fire codes are also “abortifacient”?

    If that’s too slippery of a slope for you, try this:

    What if someone argued that Matthew 20 means that the government should not be allowed to set a minimum wage, but that employers should be able to pay whatever they believe in right?

    Slacktivist then cites Ari Kohen:

    The bottom line is this: If you own a company and don’t understand how women’s bodies work, you might end up having to pay a million dollars a day to remain faithful to your understanding of what contraception means.

    And that is your choice…

    …but choices have consequences.

    Does everyone else see the irony of fighting against consequences for your actions by denying access to emergency contraception? I’m not the only one, right? OK, good

    If you don’t think that your religious beliefs should have negative consequences, you probably don’t want to follow a guy who ended up being crucified for His religious beliefs.