Hobby Lobby: we’re religious, so we shouldn’t have to obey the law.

The owners of Hobby Lobby are saying they shouldn’t have to abide by America’s healthcare laws because of their religious convictions.  This makes them the most recent entry to the long list of religious groups/people who have argued that their belief in a guy rising from the dead should allow them to skirt the law.

Thankfully, so far Hobby Lobby is being met with the same judicial disdain as a person citing their religious beliefs to argue that they shouldn’t have to abide by labor laws to avoid paying their employees overtime.

An attorney for Hobby Lobby Stores said Thursday that the arts and crafts chain plans to defy a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill, despite risking potential fines of up to $1.3 million per day.

Hobby Lobby and religious book-seller Mardel Inc., which are owned by the same conservative Christian family, are suing to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills.

The companies claim the mandate violates the religious beliefs of their owners. They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman’s womb.

You heard that right.  Given the choice between paying $1.3 million per day or not trying to control their employees’ sex lives, the owners of Hobby Lobby would rather drop the money.

Sorry Hobby Lobby, you get to be a church or you get to be a for-profit business.  You don’t get to be both.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Steve

    They should be fined so much that they either have to comply or go bankrupt

  • Glodson

    The Free Exercise Clause: allowing companies to force their mythology onto their employes since never.

  • smrnda

    More broadly, the family who owns Hobby Lobby lobby aren’t the ones whose work generate the revenues that they turn around and give a bit of to the workers – it’s the WORKERS who did the work who create the revenues and its the workers who should be able to get a plan that they want, rather than the plan their employers (exploiters) want to give them.

    And yes, churches are religious entities and they get to avoid certain laws owing to their non-profit status (even though we don’t investigate them as we should to make sure they are really compliant.) The Bible itself says you can’t serve both god and mammon, and since Hobby Lobby is a for profit and therefore mammon serving soulless corporation, it can play by the same rules as the rest of them.

  • Jaime Wise

    crap. I can’t buy yarn there anymore

  • Mark

    “To compel a man to furnish funds for the
    propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    • Glodson

      “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” Actual quote. And Appeal to Authority.

      This isn’t money given to forward an opinion or idea, it is for medicine. Further, this is compenstation for work. The employees may us it as they see fit. The bosses at Hobby Lobby has no right to restrict this anymore than they could demand employees not donate money to an atheist charity.

    • Steve

      So employers should have the power to dictate what their employees spend their salary on. Of course they can’t and health insurance is just another form of compensation.

    • smrnda

      Do you mean when the profits of a company, which have been generated by the labor of the workers, are used by the owners to fund religious or political causes the workers object to? Now that would be tyranny – work your ass off for a company, and they snub you on contraception and fund some religious organization.

    • unbound

      Context is everything…here is another snippet from the same document:

      “…that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible…”

      It is from the draft Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. If you read the whole document, you’ll find that Thomas Jefferson was trying to fight exactly the nonsense that Hobby Lobby is trying to accomplish (albeit in a government setting)…to enforce their religious views on everyone under their thumb.

    • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

      sez mark, quoting Thomas Jefferson: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
      Since we’re talking about health insurance, not political propaganda or anything, I find it hard to believe that even this distorted version of Jefferson’s word actually applies here. But okay, for the sake of argument, let’s say that nobody-can-be-forced-to-fund-ideas-he-disbelieves actually does apply.
      Under this ‘theory’, what else can employers choose to do or not do to their employees, other than refuse to provide health insurance that covers birth control?

      An employer who abhors the notion of ‘minimum wage’ could pay their employees $3.00 an hour.
      A Scientologist employer could fire any employee who thinks Scientology is evil bullshit.
      An employer who is way the hell into the notion that ‘the devil finds work for idle hands’ could require their employees to work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, with few or no minutes off for things like eating lunch or using a bathroom.
      An employer who is a Jehovah’s Witness could refuse to provide health insurance that covers blood transfusions.
      A Xtian employer could require that their employees convert to the specific Xtian sect they, the employer, belong to.

      I could go on… but if these instances of possible consequences don’t make my point, more won’t help. Basically, our boy Mark is espousing a position which, if it was actually valid, would, at one stroke, eradicate all regulations that protect employees from abusive/uncaring/evil employers. The fact that Mark’s pseudo-quote doesn’t actually say what he wants it to, even after it’s been surgically modified from what Jefferson really said, is just the moldering cherry on the shit sundae Mark wants us to buy.

      • AmyC

        That was amazing. Thank you. :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

      Jefferson also thought it was just peachy keen to own slaves and to use one of those slaves to father a passel of children. Why are we taking his opinion on freedom again?

  • Chris B

    @Mark,

    I believe your quotation is incorrect. Here is a (hopefully) correct version from http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/j/jefferson-quotes.htm.

    “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

    These quotations are significantly different. Jefferson specifically calls out “the propagation of opinions”, which does not allow someone to ignore ideas supported by credible evidence. This I can agree with. In this case, Hobby Lobby is not being forced to accept/propogate anyone’s opinion, they are being required to provide a reasonable standard of care to their employees. Access to birth control is provided by every insurance plan I’ve ever seen under the standard Rx coverage. Besides, if more people have access to birth control, there will be significantly less demand for abortions. Maybe not “problem solved” per se, but it’s at least problem significantly reduced.

  • UsingReason

    Let’s all thank Mark for his honesty and help in clarifying this issue for all of us.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Indeed, I found the rebuttals very enlightening.

  • John Horstman

    They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman’s womb.

    Also, while this was believed to be a possible method of action of hormonal contraceptives for a long time, we now know that hormonal contraceptives work by stopping ovulation and thickening cervical mucus (preventing spermatozoa from getting through); they do not block implantation. There is no consensus yet with regard to copper IUDs, though the primary method of action is spermicidal and not abortifacient (it may only have a primary method of action – the suggestion that it blocks implantation is the same unevidenced speculation as it was for hormonal contraceptives).

    At any rate, even if they were correct about how birth control works, they still shouldn’t be able to weasel out of paying their employees, for all the reasons mentioned.


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