Christianity,  Politics

Who Is Hobby Lobby?

We all heard the news earlier this week about the death of religious freedom at Hobby Lobby. Even though the public is becoming aware that the owners David and Barbara Green are Christians, Americans still need to know more about these good people and what they stand for. To this end, Ben Domenech writes:

The Hobby Lobby folks are a straight-up American success story. A family business, started in Oklahoma in 1970 with a $600 bank loan, they started by making their frames from wood bought from local sellers, building them in their garage. The kids glued them together on the kitchen table in exchange for baseball cards. The family opened their first frame retail shop in Oklahoma City in 1972. They had four employees. Now they have 514 stores in 41 states. They employ 13,240 people full time. In 1981 they added another store to the family, Mardel, a Christian/church supply shop which sells Bibles and study books, curriculum, Christian craft supplies. That’s another 35 stores, in 7 states, with 372 employees. So they went from a garage business started with $600 to two businesses that employ more than 13,600 people full time across basically the entire country.

The company remained all privately owned, with no franchising. Their statement of purposes and various commitments all begin with Bible verses, commitments to honor the Lord. The Hobby Lobby folks pay well above minimum wage and have increased salaries four years in a row despite the recession. They are teetotalers of the old Oral Roberts variety, refusing to stock shot glasses, don’t sell any of their store locations with liquor stores, don’t allow backhauling of beer shipments – all things that could make them money, but they just bear the costs. Every Christmas and Easter, the Hobby Lobby folks advertise a free Bible and spiritual counseling. They are closed every Sunday. The family also signed the giving pledge, committing to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

So: I doubt this is the type of company to spend one dime on this contraception mandate. They will just drop coverage, and pay employees the difference, shifting them onto the exchanges or the taxpayer, rather than compromise their beliefs. It’s logical, it’s more predictable as a budgeting choice, and it will save them tens of millions in the long run versus retaining coverage and paying the fine.

You read that right. Hobby Lobby will likely have to drop the healthcare coverage that they are currently providing for their employees. They will have to join one of the government sponsored exchanges going forward. The abortion mandate imposes a profound burden not just on a corporation, but on people. Not just on the Green family, but on their over 13,000 employees. You can read the rest of Domenech’s essay here.


  • David Thomas

    Well, Ms. Pelosi, I guess we are down to reading the thing and have found out what’s “in it.”

    From an angle of God’s design in sovereignly allowing such a thing, He will glorify His name through people like the Greens, who now have an even bigger platform to stand for their faith. People will have to notice that they’d rather pay millions (one way or another) than to violate their consciences. To be sure, the majority will tag them as religious nuts and write them off. There will be some, however, who will admire their stance even as they will be puzzled by it. That admiring wonder will lead to questions, which will lead to answers, which will lead…to more troublesome people like the Greens who won’t bow to the Image, whether God saves them or not.

  • Don Johnson

    There are some many unintended cosequences of the ACA that it will have a large effect on the already distressed economy to distress it even further.

  • dr. james willingham

    It is enough to make one sick. And to think I live just a 55 minute drive down the Interstate from where one of my ancestors fought in one of the battles of the American Revolution for religious liberty. It is enough to make me want to cry out, “Why are not our congressmen and Senators and Judges not crying for impeachment and for charges of treason against those taking such actions against our constitutional rights?”

  • Kathleen A. Peck (@purisomniapura)

    Wonder what this administration would do if all the companies that file suit & lose (given the ultimatum to close or pay) would actually close down. Think of the potential numbers of companies that would go out of business because of Obamacare & the vast numbers of unemployed Americans left searching for a job. Obamacare is a death sentence to a once thriving economy & it’s just beginning in the this generation & will be snowballing for many generations to come.
    Our medical insurance premium had already doubled in the last two years & we just got another letter saying it’s going up again in Jan 2013. We’re going to have to change our plan to a lower premium option with a much higher deductible & co-pay because we can’t afford skyrocketing premiums anymore. The insurance company says they have to increase our rates to pay for all those who now get FREE coverage & all the other new stipulations they must abide by. That’s right, Obamacare is making healthcare more affordable for everyone, except working & tax paying middle clas Americans.

  • Nick Fitch

    Please stop calling this a religious freedom issue. While I am not comfortable with what’s being done to Hobby Lobby, they undoubtedly employ many non-Christians, including people with no faith. If this were strictly a matter of religious freedom, then the employees must have their freedom as well — freedom to disagree with the beliefs of the owners of Hobby Lobby. Religious freedom is *not* freedom to make others submit to your beliefs.

    And for those of you thinking that Hobby Lobby should simply fire all the non-Christians, I ask you, is that really a Christian response? To take away the livelihood of others because they disagree with your faith? I know Jesus would weep over what’s being done to the unborn, but I can’t imagine him condemning his opponents to joblessness. A judgment is coming, but if God is merciful for now, we should be very wary when we start devising punishments for those who disagree with us.

    Abortion is a human rights issue. I’m probably not as pro-life as some here, but tainting the argument by invoking “religious freedom” distracts from the issue. Human beings have a fundamental right to life. That should be our consistent rallying cry. But corporations do not have a fundamental right to make their employees behave in certain ways off the clock — that’s actually religious tyranny, not freedom.

    • Johnny Mason

      Nick, the company is paying for the insurance, not the employee. Once the employee pays for their own insurance, then your points would be valid. In fact, what you are suggesting is that employees should have the right to impose their moral/religious beliefs on the owners by demanding the employer abide by their beliefs. Obamacare is the epitome of forcing one’s morality on the whole, but yet people are still defending the oppressor and blaming the victim (in this case, Hobby Lobby).

      • Nick Fitch

        If Hobby lobby really does pay the entire healthcare costs of its employees, you would have a point. I confess I do not know, but most corporations in my experience pay a portion while requiring the employee to pay a similar portion (or even a majority).

        But even so, this still muddles my point: Abortion is not about whether organization have the right to pay for this and that. If that’s the case, Hobby Lobby is wrong, and you will get torn apart by the people who are arguing on the *real* side of religious liberty. Hobby Lobby’s owners should be doing everything they can to oppose abortion as a lifestyle choice. But claiming “religious liberty” is a smokescreen, because there’s no possible way that that argument can stand up, logically or in a court of law.

        This will be defeated in court, and by pressing this line of argument it hurts the cause — abortion is much more important than some politician’s dislike of Obamacare.

        I hate to keep beating the drum on this, but promoting an idea for the wrong reasons is ineffective, even if the thesis is correct.

        • David Thomas

          Oh, Nick. “Hurting the cause”? Just what /is/ the cause if it is not the Truth?

          I suggest some reading in Matthew 26:62-7:14, (paying attention to the bookend verses at either end of this passage), followed by Matthew 16:21-23. Perhaps you will get of glimpse of our King’s view of judicial “effectiveness” when dragged before unjust judges, and how His purposes play out.

          You have this so completely wrong it is hard to know where to begin. You are so worried the Greens will be “tyrants” and fire someone who doesn’t agree with them. Don’t you get it? They aren’t remotely considering firing people who don’t agree with them. They are considering firing /themselves/ rather than disobey Christ!

          • Nick Fitch

            Exactly. One could argue in favor of religious liberty based on the premise of religious freedom, but that wouldn’t make it a valid doctrine. I realize that you didn’t intend to support my point, but it’s a much better metaphor than I could come up with, which was circumcision. (Maybe that’s why you’re the doctor.) Anyway, slavery is an example where, if you tried to use religious freedom to argue against it, you wouldn’t get very far. Because while some slave owners may choose to emancipate, there’s nothing preventing the other slave owners from whipping their slaves all the more. On the other hand, if you try to use the correct tool — that people are created equal of worth in the image of God — you get a much more favorable result.

            Look; suppose this appeal actually gets through the courts. At best, you’ve won the right for a handful of corporations to get out of paying health care costs for a few procedures. Meanwhile, every other corporation will continue to offer support for abortfacients, and babies will die. Millions of dollars in court costs will have been wasted for a tangential victory. It’s horribly inefficient, because you’re using the wrong tool for the job. Just like trying to drill a hole with a nail.

            The point that seems to be lost on so many people is this: you have to employ the right rhetorical strategy to make the most effective impact. That’s all I’m trying to say here.

              • David Thomas

                Indeed, James. I have rarely seen a purer example of sophistry. But I’m not even sure it qualifies as sophistry, really, because at least sophistry is smooth. Having to provide a definition of terms halfway through the discussion sort of disqualifies it from that. That’s when I gave up trying.

    • David Thomas

      Nick, I honestly don’t know which is more disconcerting: The government trampling religious rights or the fact that a “pro-life” person such as yourself has been so completely brainwashed by the nihilist propaganda you have now come to spread here.

      Hobby Lobby is not attempting to control what their employees do anymore than I would be trying to prevent someone at a restaurant from drinking beer simply because I don’t offer to pay their tab. Hobby Lobby has no interest in “controlling” its employees. It simply wants to be left out of an employee deciding to ingest abortion-causing drugs. If the government allowed it, a medical plan with an open-ended benefit that the employees could use however they want could be arranged, of the same value. Hobby Lobby wouldn’t attempt to control how that is being spent. This employer does not reject their employees having personal freedom–it rejects the idea of being forced to offer insurance that sprecifically identifies abortifacient drugs as a benefit. Take the specificity out and there is no problem.

      The absurdity of this, of course, is the entitlement mentality, first towards the government, and now (thanks to the government), by extension all employers. If I want something, my right is being denied (nay, I am now under a “tyranny”) if someone over me does not actively enable me to get it. This is abjectly, patently ridiculous. You cannot see that there is a difference between Hobby Lobby proactively hindering their employees (which is NOT happening), and Hobby Lobby saying, “If you want to do that, that’s your call–but leave us out of it”? You /really/ cannot see the difference? Since when has any employee health plan been some sort of impassible bottleneck when it comes to buying medicine? You are erroneously identifying a freewill employer (which can go out of business if it wants) with the government (which cannot); unwittingly you are falling for the collectivist mentality of the current regime, which is precisely what they want.

      Beyond this, I would simply comment that if you really believe abortion is the taking of a human life, then it’s murder, correct? In our society there is freedom of religion, right? How about Satanists? That’s a recognized religion. Some Satanists want to sacrifice human beings. If I hinder them because of my faith, isn’t that “religious tyranny”? Ridiculous, rights? Of course–because their “right” to practice religion is contravened by the right of the person they are killing to live. So where is the right of the unborn in your scenario?

      The Christian stand against abortifacient drugs extends back to the primitive church, when it the church fathers condemned the practice of imbibing concoctions to kill an unborn child. The Greens are not some fringe group, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, prohibiting a transfusion because or something. They are orthodox, traditional Christians standing in millenia of Christian teaching. They are being no different that millions of Christians who have gone before.

      Oh King, even if everyone else bows to your image, we will not. Our God can save us. But even if He doesn’t, we still won’t bow.

      • Nick Fitch

        David, you missed the point entirely, and given the number of off-topic issues you brought into your response above (e.g. entitlement reform and some group called the Greens), I don’t think it would be fruitful to continue this discussion with you.

        • David Thomas

          Nick, I would concur that a discussion would lead nowhere. This is so for specific reasons, not least of which it is the rather obvious fact that not only haven’t you thought very deeply about a life and death issue, you haven’t even done the basic reading (either the article Denny suggests we read, or posts you reply to) that would prepare you for an intelligent discussion.

          If you think I brought up entitelement reform you didn’t read my post. I spoke of an /attitude of entitlement/ that plagues our society, not the polity of entitlement reform, which is a loosely related but distinct issue.

          More telling still in your taking issue with my raising “off-topic issues” is that of “some group called the Greens.”

          The Greens are the sole owners of Hobby Lobby, Nick. That’s their picture at the top of Denny’s post.

          Your willful ignorance of the information right in front of you notwithstanding, you have neverthess proved a helpful foil, embodying the many people of apparent principle who swallow more of this culture than they swim against, and are ready to chide Christians who stand for their faith for their “misguided” tactics.

          • Nick Fitch

            Name calling, straw men, and ad hominem… everywhere…

            Where I come from, the Greens, in the context of other “fringe groups” (your words) is the name of a cult founded by James and Deborah Green. Putting such a term in the context of the Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately brought to mind that organization, and I incorrectly associated you with that group. I should have realized that you probably weren’t referring to the cult in the larger context of the story. My comment was intended to be a dig at the cult I thought you were a member of. I apologize for making that association — I’m a bit sensitive to those who are involved in cults.

            Back on topic, I really appreciate your heart for promoting Christian ideals. I have no beef with anyone who wants a world where babies are valued instead of viewed as expendable. But I wish that Christians were more discerning about picking our battles. I also wish we were more careful about choosing our political alliances. Because trying to turn Obamacare into an argument about abortion isn’t an efficient use of our time, and the politicians simply want to use our faith to get votes. There may be other reasons to oppose the healthcare bill, but “religious freedom” is a stretch.

            I fear you, like so many others, have bought in to a political party as our salvation without realizing the party is simply seeking to use you for their own gain. And yes, you didn’t bring up entitlement reform, but your diatribe against government and the entitlement mentality could have been taken verbatim from Grover Norquist’s website. I won’t label you one way or another, but I will say that I’m unconvinced that Mr. Norquist (or any politician) really has anyone’s best interests in mind but his own.

            You can continue to paint me as a heathen if you want, but I’m going to do my best to stay on message. Abortion is a human rights issue, founded in the worth God places on those he creates. I can choose to oppose abortion at many levels, including economic impact, character building, or even health care laws. But those are tangential to the root issue: the worth of a human life trumps everything else, and if we deviate from that, it stifles our effectiveness. Our efforts in this area need to be focused on convincing individuals that every life is important — not giving millions to lawyers to oppose laws which only tangentially relate to abortion.

            I will close in saying this. I have never said that I am pro-choice. I have never said that Christianity is simply a matter of cultural preference. I have never said that I am uninterested in promoting the truth — if anything, I have sought to promote truth with the most impact, maximizing the value of every dollar and minute used to promote it. You know nothing of my family life or my personal devotion. All I have said is that we should focus our opposition to a single key message, refraining from inefficient, tangentially related, and unsupportable political arguments. And yet, you have labeled me as a nominal Christian, willing to “swallow more of this culture than they swim against.” Doesn’t this quickness to judge scare you?

            • dr. james willingham

              You might not appreciate the attitude of Beecher and Plymouth Church in Brooklyn regarding slavery. They send Bibles and people to Kansas to oppose the spread of slavery (those Bibles were rifles). I had the pleasure of meeting a descendant of one of those families sent to Kansas back before the Civil War.. And what shall we say about keeping on keeping on killling babies? When the cup is full, God pours it out…unless there is a wholesale repentance as in the case of Nineveh.

              • Nick Fitch

                Are you really suggesting that we kill the people who commit abortions in this country? Because I can’t think what other possible use there could be for those rifles than intimidation and violence.

                I don’t really care how many degrees you have, Jesus never tells us to harm those who disagree with us. If those churches really did use such tactics, it’s a shame to our faith, not something to be proud of. Our methods matter as much as our aims, which is in part what this conversation is about.

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