HIMN Radio News
Published 12/30/2013 13:06 CST
Updated 12/30/2013 14:26 CST
Some of you may recall an op-ed in the September 12, 2012 edition of USA Today by David Green, founder & CEO of Hobby Lobby regarding the invasion of religious freedoms by forcing Christian employers to offer coverage for abortion-causing drugs and emergency contraception under their insurance plans:
When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn't much bigger than most people's living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God's word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.
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 also 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.
My family has lived the American dream. 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. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make.
It’s a group of cases that presents a questions the Supreme Court has never answered: Does a for-profit company have the right to object to a law on religious grounds? Can a company refuse to provide contraceptive care to female employees on the grounds that doing so would violate the religious freedoms the company stands upon?
General counsel of BFRL and lead lawyer for the Hobby Lobby case Kyle Duncan had to say this on the decision,“this is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”
In July, a lower federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction preventing the government from enforcing the HHS mandate requiring the family businesses to provide in the employee health insurance plan two drugs and two devices that are potentially life-terminating.
The Greens and their family businesses, who originally had no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the HHS mandate and do so at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan, took an unusual step in October by joining the government in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, despite the family’s victory in the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” said Mr. Green, Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO. “This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. will be argued and decided before the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June 2014.
As stated before, there are currently 84 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate, some of which also includes Little Sisters of the Poor, Guidestone, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.
So even when this is all done and over with, will the Supreme Court decision become a shining light for small businesses that use religious beliefs as a part of their operation and that their freedoms should stay intact? Or will they make such a decision that could cripple small businesses once and for all and force them out of business, which will result in a catastrophic blow to the economy that could make things worse than the Great Depression of the 1920s? We will have to wait and see this upcoming summer.