Thoughts on the Hobby Lobby position

Dear Hobby Lobby Owners,

I shopped at one of your stores once.  To be honest, I’m not a very artsy-craftsy type of person, so no longer shopping there won’t change my life much at all.  But there was that day when I wanted something for my Christmas tree and your store was near and so off I went.

I loved the wonderful Santa Clauses every place.  They were such fun and the prices were great, too.  And the elves and flying reindeer–those were plentiful and they certainly helped get me in the shopping spirit of the season!  I don’t remember seeing anything to do with the birth of Christ, but I bet there was a crèche someplace, just under the Santa statues, I’m sure.  And there in the far corner, on one small shelf being readied for the next big retail season, I saw a wonderful Easter bunny.  It’s always such fun when the holiest of days in the Christian calendar is remembered with the tale of a rabbit delivering brightly colored eggs!

But, I think what caught me most were your low prices. That was much appreciated.  Of course, when I turned over the Santa I bought, I did notice it was made in China.  I didn’t think much of it at the moment because, frankly, I buy a lot of things that are made in China.  Actually, I know many people who buy things made in China even when their attitudes toward religion and rights of the individual don’t match those of the Chinese government.  What bothers me is that your rejection of individual freedom seems to be consistent with China’s rejection of individual freedom.

China certainly is in favor of birth control and the Chinese government certainly ignored what everyone understood was happening with infanticide. I’m not suggesting that you or your company known as Hobby Lobby support this abhorrent practice; in fact, there is outstanding evidence that you and your family value the sanctity of life beginning at conception.  I applaud your individual convictions.  And this is where it gets tricky.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, your very generous health care insurance provided benefits that included contraceptives for women and that included Plan B pills.  It was only after the passage of the A.C.A that you reexamined your coverage and decided that the Plan B pill was against your religious convictions.  Now that’s interesting and your post-Obamacare decision certainly looks political, something like using religious beliefs to promote a political agenda, but let’s move on.

This is where you claim that because of the First Amendment you shouldn’t have to provide coverage for what you consider to be an abortion pill (which it is not), something you are devoutly against.  It’s that dear First Amendment that grants us religious freedom that you’re hanging your hat upon.  The First Amendment that protects all of us: the David Green family, the John Doe Family, the Jack and Joe, and Jane and Jill families, the never-going-to-go-to-church, the Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, twice-a-year Christian, and tree-worshipping families.  You, Mr. Green, seem to believe that letting your company provide insurance that provides coverage for a particular type of contraceptive means you personally are now endorsing abortions, something against your individual religious beliefs and your First Amendment rights, something that infringes upon your company’s religious beliefs and its First Amendment rights.  It’s hard to see a company as holding religious beliefs.  Faith and belief seem to be about free will and it’s hard for me to think of a company as having free will, but our conservative Supreme Court leans toward granting companies human status, so that’s that.

But it sure seems silly for you to think that as an agent of Hobby Lobby if the corporation provides coverage that includes the Plan B pill that I should interpret that to mean that you, David Green and all your family, individually support this practice.  Hobby Lobby’s insurance coverage that includes Plan B pills no more means you endorse abortions than a dental package that provides for root canals means you want all employees to go get a root canal, or coverage that provides for maternity costs means you want all Hobby Lobby employees to go get pregnant, or coverage that provides for catastrophic care means the company hopes a catastrophe hits each worker.  The corporation called Hobby Lobby (not you the owner Mr. Green) provides insurance.  Not care.  Not religious beliefs.  Not mandates on how an employee spends that insurance.  Just insurance.  How the employee chooses to use that insurance to get the care he or she chooses to get is up to that employee.  The choices that are made are between the employed and his or her God or god or mother or whoever it is that employee feels he or she for some reason owes accountability to.  That’s what freedom means.   If you, Mr. Green, were personally writing the check for someone’s insurance I might have to rethink my thoughts; but, it’s a corporation called Hobby Lobby that writes the check.  But, back to China.

You are in favor of your religious beliefs—which you claim cannot be separated from your company—setting the parameters for what can and cannot be included in insurance coverage.  That sure feels a lot too much like imposing your beliefs on those of others.  And, for me, that’s too close to the Chinese government imposing its beliefs on the beliefs of its people.

Being such a Christian company, I’m sure you’ve figured out how to reconcile doing business with a country that marginalizes women, restricts a family’s right to choose how many children it will have, lets workers work in factories with slave-like conditions, and imprisons those who claim to be Christians.  Maybe you’ve confused turn the other cheek with turn a blind eye…

Perhaps since my last visit there you’ve stopped doing business with your Chinese partners.   If so, good for you!  I wouldn’t know that, because, like I said, I’m not too artsy-craftsy and I won’t be heading back to your store to see what the bottom of those Santas say.

But if you haven’t, then, I’ll repeat, I can’t quite reconcile your willingness to buy products from a country that obviously rejects your religious beliefs while being unwilling to let your employees reject yours—unless you like the idea that you and the Chinese government hold similar beliefs about the rights of workers.  There is that to consider.

What I’m hoping you’ll do next is show some good judgement here, better judgement than what I think we saw from five of the Justices today.  Now that the Supreme Court has said it’s your choice, please make the choice that respects your female employees’ rights. Please say “Gotcha!” and show the nation that there really is a distinct difference in the respect of individual rights between China and Hobby Lobby.  Stand up and say you wanted the right to make a choice and now that you have it, you will extend the same right to your employees.

That might get me back through your door, because, after all, those Santa Clauses and Easter bunnies you sell to mark those holy days really are great.

 

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