- (Photo: Hobby Lobby)
Various voices within the Christian community are expressing differing opinions regarding the recent Hobby Lobby lawsuit, which involves the Oklahoma-based franchise craft store suing the Obama administration for its contraceptive mandate, as it goes against the Christian values of the family-run business.
One proponent of Hobby Lobby is well-known pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California, who argues that the craft store is protected under the First Amendment.
"Every American who loves freedom should shudder at the precedent the government is trying to establish by denying Hobby Lobby the full protection of the First Amendment. This case is nothing less than a landmark battle for America's FIRST freedom, the freedom of religion and the freedom from government intervention in matters of conscience," Warren wrote in a Jan. 4 statement on The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty website, the legal group representing Hobby Lobby in court.
"When the government starts coercing businesses to violate their religious, moral, and ethical values, that is a flagrant violation of our Constitution," Warren added.
Hobby Lobby, currently pursuing an injunction from Obama's contraceptive mandate, has thus far been denied in courts, and was recently denied by the U.S. Supreme Court an emergency request to block enforcement of the mandate.
As The Christian Post previously reported, Hobby Lobby filed suit against the Obama administration's Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that requires all businesses in the country to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients for employees.
As Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund, explained to National Review Online, defense lawyers for the Obama administration's HHS mandate argue that because Hobby Lobby is a secular business, meaning it makes a profit, religious liberty rights do not extend to the owners of the store as business owners.
Hobby Lobby's evangelical Christian CEO David Green previously said in a public letter that he is specifically against the use of abortifacients, meaning emergency contraceptives such as the "morning after pill," but does not object to the use of preventative contraception, such as birth control pills.
"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," Green said in his open letter.
"It (paying for abortifacients) goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one," Green has previously said.
Although many Christians are supporting Hobby Lobby's owners for staying faithful to their Christian convictions, as seen through the Jan. 5 "Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day" organized by Mike Huckabee, others are arguing that the craft store should follow government policy, as should all U.S. businesses.
"I'm still not seeing a cause for alarm here. The majority of the U.S. thinks women's healthcare needs should be included in insurance plans […] I'm a Christian, and if I start a business then I expect I'll have to comply with all the government regulations that come with incorporation. I wouldn't expect special treatment for my personal religious beliefs," Jason Taylor wrote in the comments section of Her.meneutics, a women's blog produced by Christianity Today.
Others question why Hobby Lobby has chosen to address the contraceptive mandate but not other morally questionable issues within government, such as the funding of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"What I don't understand is why this issue is any different than someone whose religious beliefs say war is sinful being 'forced' to pay taxes that support U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," wrote reader Ryan P. on the Her.maneutics website.
"Either we are morally culpable for paying those taxes, providing that health coverage, or we aren't. If we do incur moral guilt because of the actions of our government, surely the Hobby Lobby owners must believe they are incurring guilt in areas other than just providing coverage for this contraceptive. But they don't seem to be making a big deal about the other areas of morally questionable government behavior," the commenter added.
Another sticking point for some is the issue of many of Hobby Lobby's products being made in China, which some critics argue does not demonstrate a "Christian business model" because the labor and wage regulations in other countries oftentimes differ from those in the U.S.
Chambers, a Christian who serves as Director/Co-Founder of an NGO called SafeWorld, argues that Hobby Lobby's choice to do business with China goes against Christian principles due to China's botched human rights record and sex-selective abortion practices.
"And, that doesn't even touch the fact that China's cheap labor conditions are such that no American would be willing to work them (some are even equated with slavery)...or the fact that China greatly restricts religious liberty (the very issue Hobby Lobby claims is under attack here),...or the fact that their numbers on infanticide, orphans, and child-abandonment are abysmal," Chambers writes.
"You see, when it comes carrying high the banner of 'Biblical principles', I believe a company who wanted that to be their public persona would be extra careful to NEVER do business with the very people who go against everything they claim to fight for as Christians," Chambers adds.
Currently, Hobby Lobby, the largest non-Roman Catholic company to file a lawsuit against the contraceptive mandate, faces a penalty of $1.3 million per day for not complying with the mandate.
Critics contend this daily fine would easily put the crafts store out of business within the near future.
Still, Hobby Lobby announced in late Dec. 2012, after losing an appeal of its case in U.S. Supreme Court, that the company will continue to defy the mandate and not pay for abortion-inducing drugs.
Hobby Lobby is among dozens of plaintiffs that have filed suits over Obamacare, including Roman Catholic groups, evangelical Christian college Liberty University, the Thomas Law More Center and numerous other for-profit and nonprofit organizations.