Is Hobby Lobby a Christian Company?

According to Jonathan Merritt, there is reason to question Hobby Lobby’s claim to be a Christian company. Writing in The Week, Merritt takes H0bby Lobby to task for buying much of their cheap craft merch from China, a nation with an abysmal human rights record.

Merritt asserts in his conclusion:

If you want to call your business “Christian,” by all means, go right ahead. But those who live by the label must die by it as well. You cannot call your business “Christian” when arguing before the Supreme Court, and then set aside Christian values when you’re placing a bulk order for cheap wind chimes.

Every time you buy a decorative platter from Hobby Lobby with a Bible verse stamped across it, you have funded the company’s fight against the HHS contraception mandate. But you’re also sending a chunk of change to a country that forces people to abort their children, flouts basic standards of workplace dignity, and denies more than a billion people the right to worship.

To his credit, Merritt invited Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention to provide an alternative point of view on Merritt’s page. Moore sharply disagrees:

The Greens cannot control the decisions made by the Chinese government. They can, however, direct their own actions. And, as Americans, they can participate in a democratic republic in which the people are ultimately accountable for the decisions of their government. Buying products from companies that operate in a country that aborts children is not the same as being forced by the United States government to purchase directly insurance that does the same.

Someone with a conscientious objection to the death penalty isn’t implicated in capital punishment because she buys oranges from Florida, where capital punishment is practiced. She would reasonably, though, protest if she were forced to sell lethal drugs to the state for that purpose or if she were compelled to pull the switch on the electric chair.

This topic is interesting to me. Avoiding the exploitation of workers is a Christian value but I am wondering how any company can avoid this kind of situation. Merritt’s point is that Hobby Lobby should be held to a higher standard if the owners of the company insist on the using the label Christian.

I have reservations about any company using the label Christian, in the same way as I wonder what Christian music is or about other uses of Christian to modify something other than a disciple of Jesus. Merritt’s essay makes the topic more practical and relevant to the business choices companies make. Does it matter whether or not a company does business with a Chinese company or a company in a nation which respects human rights?

Again, Merritt cut himself and jumped in the shark tank. Hope he survives this one.

 

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