Hobby Lobby: A City On A Hill

Trigger warning: Incest, sexual abuse 

Hobby Lobby has been in the news a lot recently and its 5-4 victory is being heralded by many Christians as a moral victory. There’s a lot of emphasis over the fact that Hobby Lobby was not objecting to every kind of birth control, but only the kind that “could cause abortions.” Let’s say for a moment that this is true, even though the science on that is very much questionable. 

So Hobby Lobby cares about life. They don’t want to be party to any abortions. I guess that’s sort of admirable. 

Why then, are they making money off of companies that create the very products that they claim contradict their Christian faith? You can review Hobby Lobby’s 2012 Annual Report of Employee Benefit Plan (as filed with the Department of Labor) and see that about 3/4 of Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) assets are tied up in companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, who makes Plan B and ParaGard. Other companies include Forest Laboratories, whose Cervidil is used to induce abortions. That is not a question of science – that pill will cause abortions. And yet Hobby Lobby won’t pay for a pill that they only “believe” might cause an abortion? 

This is textbook hypocrisy. This is not a company that should be exalted as “super Christian.” This is a very shrewd, very successful company that somehow managed to use religion as a way to get out of paying for “certain birth control.” You can call this a victory for employer rights, but don’t call it a moral victory. 

This is only one of the questionable actions Hobby Lobby has taken. In 2013, there was an uproar in the Jewish Community over the company’s unofficial/official policy of not carrying Chanukah goods. When a customer asked an employee at her local store where they were, shes was told, “We don’t cater to you people.” When the customer called another store in Marlboro and asked again why they didn’t carry anything for Chanukah, the employee replied, “Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” 

Whether or not Mr. Green actually feels this way is not known. Hobby Lobby has since apologized and promised to start stocking Chanukah items. It should also be noted that the company was not breaking any laws by not selling Chanukah goods. However, this definitely makes me feel a little sick and hope that those insensitive and, frankly, dumb employees were fired. 

Most revealing of all though, is Hobby Lobby’s decades-long support of The Institute of Basic Life Principles, which has recently been in the news because of the accusations against its founder Bill Gothard. For years, Gothard has led a radical sect of Christians and taught on the evils of rock music, dating, and public education, which he claims teaches kids “how to commit suicide.” He has always dismissed mental illnesses as “varying degrees of irresponsibility” and held to a very rigid and extreme view of gender roles. He resigned this past year after more than 30 women stepped forward and accused him of molestation and sexual harassment. One woman describes how after sharing with Gothard about how her father had raped her, Gothard used her desire for a father figure to draw her close to him so he could molest her. This was in the early ’90s. 

Hobby Lobby’s support of Gothard’s organization has been mostly through purchasing expensive property and buildings. Gothard has said the Green family was led to support him after attending a conference. The Hobby Lobby CEO David Green has even endorsed a book of Gothard’s in the past. Since the accusations and Gothard’s resignation, Hobby Lobby has not commented on their support of his ministry or their personal relationship with the man. 

Again, supporting a certain organization is not a crime. I don’t mean to suggest that Hobby Lobby gave money or property to a man they knew was violating the women he ministered, too. However, even if Gothard had not molested anyone, his teachings are radical enough to cause many Christians to pause before buying from Hobby Lobby, or call them a shining example of a Christian, American business. 

They are a business. A company. A corporation. And corporations cannot be Christian. Their owners can be, but their owners can also be Christians who hold some very troubling and at the very least, confusing views. 

When Rick Santorum makes his movie about the Hobby Lobby case, I doubt any of these details will make it into the final cut. 













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