Hobby Lobby must defend its faith but gets demonized for it

Hobby Lobby must defend its faith but gets demonized for it

March 26th, 2014 in Opinion Free Press

Anthony Hahn, chief executive officer of Conestoga Wood Specialties, speaks to reporters in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

If you want to get a picture framed at Hobby Lobby, don't go there on a Sunday. It's not open.

The store loses lots of money that way, but it's the Oklahoma City craft supplies company's longstanding policy. Sunday is the Lord's day, officials have long said. Employees get the day off.

Now, some would have you believe Hobby Lobby's owners, the Green family, are just hiding behind their faith so they don't have to pay for certain abortifacient drugs for their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

They say it's just a ruse, a gimmick. But it's not so.

The Hobby Lobby case -- and a similar one involving the Mennonite Hahn family-owned Conestoga Wood Specialties company in Pennsylvania -- were combined in a case that Tuesday went before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments. Justices, perhaps not surprisingly, seemed divided during the questioning.

The results in lower courts were mixed. Hobby Lobby won in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when the court found corporations (together with their owners) have religious liberty rights. Meanwhile, Conestoga lost in the 3rd Circuit because the court found corporations (considered separate from their owners) do not have religious liberty rights.

So what the Supreme Court will consider -- in one of more than 60 lawsuits challenging what is called the ACA's contraceptive mandate -- is whether for-profit corporations have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and whether a 1993 law signed by President Bill Clinton and backed by both parties in Congress was written to insulate religiously devout owners from laws and mandates like Obamacare.

Religious nonprofits are exempt from the mandate, with the Department of Health and Human Services explaining "it is appropriate" to consider the "effect on the religious beliefs of certain religious employers if coverage of contraceptive services were required."

The fact that the company is standing on its faith and asking to opt out of a few types of contraceptives -- the company offers 16 forms now -- is not a Johnny-come-lately idea.

"We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally [are] what we should operate our lives by ... and so we cannot be a part of taking life," said Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.

The company could forego health insurance (and pay resulting ACA taxes) and allow its employees to use the federal and state health care exchanges, but officials say offering insurance fits both with good business practices and with Hobby Lobby's religious understanding.

The case is not about contraception, though. If women want to purchase contraception, they can. Before Obamacare, 99 percent of sexually active women who wished to avoid pregnancy between 1980 and 2008 did so, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nothing can restrict that purchase.

It's about who pays. As always, follow the money.

However, if Hobby Lobby doesn't supply certain abortifacients, it can be penalized $100 per day, per employee. With more than 13,000 employees nationwide, the corporation is facing a potential fine of $1.3 million a day -- a day -- to stick to its guns.

The case determines whether we practice our faith at the pleasure of the government or whether the government serves at the pleasure of the people.

"This is a very important day in America -- a day when the religious liberties that all Americans should enjoy will be put under the microscope in the country's highest court," American Family Association President Tim Wildmon said.

Sadly, what is just as shameful as the company's owners being told they may have to violate their religious beliefs is the general demonization of individuals and companies who don't follow to the letter what President Obama and the far left want.

Hobby Lobby, to listen to opponents, is now part of the so-called "war on women," an extremist, hateful corporation that, in fact, hasn't changed its employment or business practices at all. Never mind that, in policies many businesses would envy, its base pay for full-time employees is well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and that it offers health and dental insurance and a retirement savings plan.

No, its opponents say Hobby Lobby is down there in the cauldron of horrors with churches who believe marriage is between one man and one women, with "racists" whose only crime is to disagree with the president's policies, with bakers and photographers whose moral principles compel them to tell gay couples to find other vendors for services, and with scientists whose observations and calculations assure them the earth isn't warming into a global disaster.

Tune in when June rolls around for the critical verdict.