How much is Hobby Lobby willing to pay to preserve their religious beliefs?
Hobby Lobby, a Christian family owned and operated chain of craft stores, faces millions of dollars in fines weekly by not providing government-mandated birth control to employees.
David Green, the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., runs his business on Christian principles and believes that “honoring God is more important than turning a profit.” Proceeding the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, Hobby Lobby was faced with the decision of providing employees with a health care plan that allows for the use of birth control, or refusing to offer the contraceptives, resulting in government fees up to $1.3 million per day, resulting in $475 million every year. Providing birth control defies the core Christian belief that every life is sacred the moment of conception, and any drug that prevents conception is perceived as an abortion-causing drug.
In September 2013, the Green Family filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating the company’s ability to freely exercise their religion. The case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is disputing to “allow for a for-profit corporation to deny it’s employees health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporations owners.” The Affordable Care Act was enacted to make sure that employees would receive full health care insurance coverage including coverage for contraceptives for little to no out of pocket cost to women, which is an appealing feature considering that the court petition states that women of childbearing age now spend 68 percent more than men in out-of-pocket health care costs. By refusing this entitlement and filing this case, Hobby Lobby forces the judicial system to address whether religious exemption or women’s health is more important.
The Supreme Court will confront the case in March 2014, but already, many voices on behalf of fellow corporations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business have chosen to withhold activity in the court proceedings. Some groups have even suggested that Hobby Lobby’s argument would ruin corporate law, complicate corporate governance and destabilize the market.
The fate of Hobby Lobby retailers will rest in the fate of the Supreme Court case as it seems the Green Family is unswayable in their Christian beliefs. Only time will tell if their unfailing moral standards will be strong enough to carry the weight of the financial burdens that accompany them.