Church Worldwide: Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green Heads for the Supreme Court

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Once Steve Green sets his path, there’s no turning back.

Not when he saw no point in college, going directly into his family’s Hobby Lobby craft store business. Green, now 50, rose up from assembling picture frames for “bubble gum money” at age 7 through every job, including cleaning toilets, to president of the $3.3 billion national chain, one of the nation’s largest private companies.

And certainly not now when, he says, the U.S. government is challenging his unshakeable Christian faith and his religious liberty.

Next week (March 25) Green’s path leads straight up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to witness oral arguments in the case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

That’s Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The department included all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of contraception among services required for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Hobby Lobby has provided insurance with contraception coverage for years, paying for 16 of the FDA-approved forms, from barrier methods to pills that prevent fertilization. Not covered: intrauterine devices and morning-after pills such as Plan B. Those, the FDA acknowledges, could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

Blocking implantation would “terminate life” says Green. “We won’t pay for any abortive products. We believe life begins at conception.”

While scores of faith-based organizations and private business owners have filed suit seeking exemption from the mandate, Hobby Lobby has become the standard-bearer for religious opposition. The potentially landmark case is a First Amendment battle testing whether a private corporation can have freedom of religion rights and, if so, whether the government has a “compelling interest” in overriding such rights.

The justices will wade through thickets of questions: Can a company pick and choose laws to obey, based on the personal beliefs of the owner? Is it the job of government to decide whether those beliefs are worthwhile and sincere, deeply and consistently held?

As he faces the white-hot spotlight of the Supreme Court case, Steve Green said, “God has allowed us to take this stand. I don’t want to be presumptuous to say this is God’s will.”

If the ruling goes against Hobby Lobby, “I don’t know what we will do, but I am sure what we will not do,” he said. He will say as the three men told the king, “even if God does not deliver us, we still cannot do this.” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Of more than 25,000 full-time and part-time Hobby Lobby employees, there are “13,000 lives” depending on their health plan, said Steve Green.

And the “greatest misconception” about the Green family and this case, he said emphatically, “is that we are trying to impose our religion on these workers or others. Not at all! That would violate our religion to do that.”

Yet through that religion, he said, they can face any court ruling with peace of mind.

“We are just going to do what God would call us to do, what he teaches us is right, and trust him to do what is out of our control.”

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See comments (7)


Kudos to Steve Green and Hobby Lobby.  I believe Dordt College, to its credit, objected to this very issue as well and is in litigation about it also. 

The Green family understands that as government moves to making more and more and more decisions that should be made by its citizens, the mantra that will be heard is that "Christians are trying to impose their religion on others."  Those who so accuse are unaware of history -- it was the protestant reformation, in particular Calvinism, that spawned the concept of "religious liberty" and "political pluralism" in the first place.

Good for Steve Green and Hobby Lobby.  I also find it somewhat ironic that some unions have the ability to misuse their membership funds for political ends (supporting certain political parties) against the will of some of their members, while this ability would be withdrawn for  companies such as Hobby Lobby for merely exercising freedom of religion, and in the process not forcing any employee to spend their funds on things against their faith principles (not to mention political preferences).

yes, well, it seems that Hobby Lobby has difficulty putting its money where its mouth is:


Ah yes. Let's diminish a serious perspective about a serious issue by pointing to a Huntington Post article that points to a Mother Jones article, both of which reek with indicia that are little more than poltical hit pieces.

Even if these articles were accurate (and political hit pieces don't provide high degrees of assurance of that), the argument they make is this: when a large company whose investment agents invest tens of millions of employee 401k dollars into a variety of mutual funds, the investments of which keep changing and include investments in other mutual funds, which in turn invest in changing stocks, funds, and other investments, unless it can police/prove that absolutely no part of that aggregate and infinitely complex investment portfolio, however small, is connected to any abortifacient, it does not have the moral right to complain that the government is forcing it to directly fund abortions via its medical insurance plan.

Really?  This logic is akin to blaming the butterfly's effect for the hurricane, not that that would be a problem for the Huff Post of Mother Jones.

Okay, so you wish to dismiss anything written in the Huffington Post or Mother Jones because their articles are political.   But politics is precisely the point, isn't it?  To me, and to others as well, Hobby Lobby does not appear to be without political motivation in challenging provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  It seems odd that the company get's on its high horse about including certain contraceptive methods/substances in health care plans for employees, yet does not seem to care  to track the nature of the products made by the companies in which its retirement funds are being invested (and I do not buy into the view that the complexities of the investment world are such that Hobby Lobby can't do this; it does not excuse the inconsistency).  For some, I suppose, this is not a problem; the end justify the means.  The other issue which makes me suspect Hobby Lobby's political motivations is that contemporary medical science does not support the view that the contraceptive substances/methods in question induce abortion.  The prevailing view now is that they prevent pregnancy from happening rather than terminating one.

I wouldn't dismiss anything written by the Huff or Mother Jones, but to say that they have been and are actively politically left wing is to say the obvious, and these articles have all the indicia of being hit pieces.  Hence, the dismissal.

Dordt College and Cornerstone University have sued the federal government on exactly the same issue.  Are they also just on a "high horse" and only "politically motivated?"

So because in your mind the "prevailing view" is that preventing a fertilized egg from implanting should be called "preventing a pregnancy" rather than "terminating one," anyone who thinks otherwise is insincere and merely political.  Not sure about Cornerstone, but Dordt might be one the last institutions on the planet that could be call "political."  Still, they and Hobby Lobby are precisely of the same opinion, your sense for the "prevailing view" notwithstanding, and responding in precisely the same way.

Dordt may or may not be politically motivated.  Does it have investments in products or services it says it opposes? I don't know.  My point was really about Hobby Lobby and its investments, added to which is their acceptance that certain methods of contraception actually induce "abortion", even though the medical science on which this acceptance may be based is out of date. The prevailing view in medical science, as I understand it, is that the contraceptives in question act to prevent fertilization, and not, as, earlier medical theorizations held, by preventing implantation. The previous thinking about the contraceptives was that inhibiting implantation was a possibility, albeit a relatively small one, but this is no longer widely accepted.  And yes, I have read articles that take the FDA to task for continuing to include outdated information on these methods of contraception.  So perhaps Hobby Lobby and others can be given the benefit of the doubt on that one, because of outdated FDA information. 

And, incidentally, the prevailing medical science view is that pregnancy is not established unless there is implantation. Even then, what implants may be a blighted ovum, which will disintegrate or detach because no embryo develops.  And yes, I agree with the prevailing view. Also, I do not agree that prevention of implantation is the same as abortion.  But the issue I was raising, perhaps with some lack of clarity, was not this, but the prevailing view on the action of the contraceptives in question.  That said, I do question the motivation of some anti-abortionists in fixating on the fertilized egg.  I might agree that they are sincere in their opposition to abortion in general, but question whether their motivation is solely to prevent abortion or also to restrict access to contraception, especially what is commonly referred to as "emergency contraception" or "morning after" pill. Indeed, abortion is a serious issue, but so is access to contraception.