Commentary Contraception

Vajazzling for Jesus: Hobby Lobby Aims a Glue Gun at the Birth Control Benefit

Imani Gandy

Barbara and David Green, the founders of Hobby Lobby, have filed suit over the Affordable Care Act birth control benefit, claiming it infringes on the religious freedom of a company they say was built on Christian values, though the company's health insurance policies have to date covered birth control.

Yet another lawsuit has been filed by an organization looking to deny its female employees access to healthcare, except this time it isn’t a Catholic church, school, or charity— it’s Hobby Lobby, a popular arts & crafts retail chain.

Hobby Lobby, which touts itself as a “Christian-owned-and-operated” business filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma challenging the provision under the Affordability Care Act which requires all insurance policies to cover preventive healthcare services for women, including contraception, without co-pay. Hobby Lobby is the first non-Catholic business to complain about the birth control benefit.

According to a press release from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (yes, the same Becket Fund that represented Wheaton College in its failed lawsuit regarding the birth control benefit—it seems the Religious Powerhouse Law Firm that Could has carved out a nice niche for itself suing the government over the birth control benefit)—Hobby Lobby’s ability to provide Popsicle sticks and glue to the public at low-low prices will be hindered if the Big Bad Government forces it to provide insurance for slut pills to loose women:

“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

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“Washington politicians cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs.”

“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said Green. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. The conflict for me is that our family is being forced to choose between following the laws of the country that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families.”

David and Barbara Green

David and Barbara Green

Hobby Lobby’s complaint prattles on for pages about how deeply religious are the Greens (the founders of the arts and crafts outfit). For example, Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays. They close their stores at 8 p.m. so Hobby Lobby employees have time to get home to their families before their kids go to bed at 8:30. The Greens pipe only Christian music throughout their stores. They don’t sell any icky Halloween costumes or racy greeting cards. They have an on-call chaplain. The Greens takes out full-page newspaper ads on Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July (Fourth of July?) to proclaim the glory of the Lord (no really, what is so religious about Fourth of July?). The Greens believe in paying their 13,240 employees who work in 514 stores across 41 states a living wage (apparently, that’s an exclusively Christian concept). The Greens signed a Giving Pledge which requires them to donate money to various charities and ministries (again, apparently being charitable is exclusively a Christian concept.) One time, the Greens even refused to let a liquor store take over their lease, presumably because alcohol leads to slutty sex and the degradation of Western civilization as we know it.

The Greens believe that “God has blessed them so that they might bless others” (by refusing Hobby Lobby’s female employees access to healthcare—I guess God really does work in mysterious ways) and if you don’t believe them, just read Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose!

Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.

Offering our customers an exception selection and value.

Serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals, and nurture families.

Providing a return on the owners’ investment, sharing the Lord’s blessing with our employees, and investing in our communities.

Who needs healthcare? You are blessed with savings, ladies! And isn’t that enough? Besides, everybody knows that Jesus loved a white sale.

In short, Hobby Lobby has got its bedazzlers all fired up for Jesus — except when it comes to actually making sure that its insurance policies didn’t already cover what it falsely calls “abortion-inducing drugs.” Like Wheaton College, Hobby Lobby’s claimed religious fervor is belied by its failure to perfectly adhere to its purported religious tenets.

Oops!

Recently after learning about the nationally prominent HHS mandate controversy, Hobby Lobby re-examined its insurance policies to ensure they continued to be consistent with its faith. During that re-examination, Hobby Lobby discovered that the formulary for its prescription drug policy included two drugs—Plan B and Ella— that could cause an abortion. Coverage of these drugs was not included knowingly or deliberately by the Green family. Such coverage is out of step with the rest of Hobby Lobby’s policies, which explicitly exclude abortion-causing contraceptive devices and pregnancy-termination drugs. Hobby Lobby therefore immediately excluded the inconsistent drugs from its policies.”

As with Wheaton College, it seems that Hobby Lobby saw fit to ramp up its religious fervor only when it became politically expedient to do so. As such, Hobby Lobby’s complaints about religious freedom ring as hollow as they do false.

And, as with Wheaton College and the Hercules Industries lawsuit in Colorado, Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit takes “Corporations are people, my friend” a bit too far. Hobby Lobby is not a sentient being.  It is not capable of exercising religious freedom. Certainly the founders are, but that is not what’s being argued. Hobby Lobby is projecting personal and individual rights on to a corporation, and in so doing, deny personal and individual rights of actual people.

This has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything about controlling women’s bodies. Full stop.

Sign the UltraViolet petition telling Hobby Lobby to drop their suit and stay out of their employees’ personal health care decisions and check out some creations from crafty petition supporters on this fun tumblr.

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