Already a controversial policy, The Affordable Care Act has rubbed yet another American the wrong way. The bill moves to create a universal health care system, but has notoriously threatened the middle-income taxpayers checkbook. CEO and founder of the booming craft store Hobby Lobby, David Green, expressed his opinion on the mandates stipulated in the new bill in a public letter in early July. In his letter he explains:
“We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance….If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines. ”
Congress, whose members have been allowed to continue utilizing private insurance providers, had already allowed Green a year to mull over the decision to adopt the policy. Now that he has ultimately chosen against its implementation, the government has threatened to shut his company down indefinitely. In response to this threat, the Green family has begrudgingly decided to go to court. They are being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a well-known law firm whose sole purpose is to protect the expression of all faiths.
After a series of hearings, Judge Joe Heaton asked for the case to reconvene on October 1st. This measure gives the courts an opportunity to review all the political implications this case will rile up if it goes to the Supreme Court. To share his dismay, Green says, “We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice.”
Vanguard professor and Chairman of the History and Political Science Department Dr. John Wilson responded to the Green’s complaint by saying, “What if a Hobby Lobby employee, that isn’t Christian, is denied a full health care package because their boss said so? It may be his belief system that would stop him from using contraceptives, but that’s the right of the individual to choose. Our law is supposed to protect that sort of thing.”
Can one man impose his personal beliefs on thousands of employees? It is the right of the individual to choose to use contraception or to deny it. If one were denied those items in their health care package but truly needed them they could, within their rights, go to a local supermarket and purchase them at an attainable price.
Furthermore, when applying for a position at Hobby lobby, it is not unknown to the employee that their employer conducts business by his conscience. According to their website, “[We at] Hobby Lobby commit to: Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” It isn’t just an occupational hazard to having their rights infringed, they know going into work what their business is really about.
Although it would stand to reason that the law binds everyone, Hobby Lobby CEO David Green had this to say: “I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody… [But] the government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.”
From the Green family’s perspective, there seems to be a double standard between the companies that are “too big to fail” and those that simply get in the way. Vanguard professor Ed Rybarczyk in the Religion Department explains it this way: “Obama Care is asking companies like Hobby Lobby and Christian individuals to violate their conscience. And after granting Congress and McDonald’s an exemption, the cat’s kind of out of the bag. When you create a law that’s meant for everyone and then start cherry-picking who actually has to [abide by it], it’s hard not to see an underlying agenda to create policies that specifically harass Christians.”
The exempted companies are those who have been given permission by the U.S Government not to offer ObamaCare benefits to their employees. On the list of exempted companies there is McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, 24 Hour Fitness, and many more. According to their website, McDonald’s alone employs 1.8 million people. They are a key player in rebuilding our economy. Hobby Lobby, a thriving business, is also a great contributor to our nation’s turnaround. According to David Green, Hobby Lobby has “not only added jobs in a weak economy, [they’ve] raised wages for the past four years in a row. Full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.”
So does the Affordable Care Act really protect all individuals, or just those who comply?
Rybarczyk calls for action by saying, “Even Moses encouraged civil disobedience when his people were enslaved, and I think now is our time to respectfully and tactfully disobey. Hobby Lobby ought to gather like-minded groups and people to vocalize our beliefs and defend our First Amendment rights to practice how our conscience dictates.”
As the courts’ discussion comes to a close and a verdict is decided, it is imperative to realize that there is a great implication for the Christian community if Hobby Lobby’s longstanding business is terminated. We might have to consider the 2 Corinthians 6:17’s message “be ye separated” a little more than we anticipated.