Freethought Today · December 2013

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Religious liberty is for people, not corporations

FFRF calls for boycott of Religious Right Hobby Lobby

The Freedom From Religion Foundation calls on proponents of separation of state and church to boycott (and “girlcott”) Hobby Lobby, a national retail craft store chain. Hobby Lobby characterizes itself as a Christian company, with 561 stores, 21,000 employees and revenues of more than $2.28 billion a year.

Hobby Lobby’s website notes it’s committed to “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

FFRF is calling the consumer boycott in response to Hobby Lobby’s religiously motivated role in challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The Supreme Court on Nov. 26 accepted a case involving Hobby Lobby, which opposes some forms of contraception based on the religious views of its founder David Green, a preacher’s son.

“The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles,” a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that it closes on Sundays. 

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with Hobby Lobby that corporations have the same religious rights as individuals. Other, more reasonable courts such as the 3rd Circuit, have held that “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise” and that a business owner’s religious rights do not allow that owner to impose his religion on his business’s employees. That decision, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (3rd Cir., July 26, 2013), will also be reviewed by the Supreme Court

“Corporations don’t have a right of conscience, women do,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “As Margaret Sanger pointed out long ago, ‘No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.’ ”

Hobby Lobby’s founder objects to Plan B (the “morning-after” pill) and ella (the “week-after” pill), and two types of intrauterine devices. “These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith,” Green told NPR.

“What next?” wonders Gaylor. “Jehovah’s Witnesses employers claiming insurance coverage of blood transfusions violates their company’s religious rights? Scientologists refusing mandates for mental health coverage? Employers do not have the right to impose personal religious views upon employees by denying workers basic health care benefits.”

Major medical groups submitted a brief on behalf of the government in the Hobby Lobby case, noting that the morning-after pill is not an abortion and cannot stop pregnancy after fertilization takes place, but instead prevents ovulation. 

More than 70 lawsuits have been filed in federal court, at least a third by Roman Catholic dioceses, challenging birth control coverage benefits. FFRF spoke out strongly last year against the interference of U.S. Catholic bishops against the contraceptive mandate, running a full-page ad in The New York Times and several other newspapers, advising, “It’s time to quit the Catholic Church.”

On Nov. 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 in favor of the Catholic owners of two Ohio produce companies who oppose the contraceptive mandate. Some of its delivery trucks bear signs saying, “It’s not a choice, it’s a child.” In the majority opinion, Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee, said the company would be forced to be “complicit in a grave moral wrong.” 

FFRF ran two dozen full-page newspaper ads this year countering Hobby Lobby’s annual disinformation campaign, in which it places hundreds of ads on July 4 claiming that America is a Christian nation. FFRF was censored by only one newspaper during that ad campaign, the Daily Oklahoman, which shares hometown “pride” with Hobby Lobby. 

FFRF also fact-checked Hobby Lobby’s 2013 full-page ad. To view the interactive exposé researched by attorney Andrew Seidel and designed by Harvard Law School intern Charles Roslof, scroll to the Sept. 3, 2013, press release at:
ffrf.org/news/news-releases.

“We ask other secular and feminist organizations to join us in speaking out against religious control of women’s bodies,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “Hobby Lobby needs to find a different hobby than imposing ‘biblical values’ on women employees.

“Exercise your freedom — and shop somewhere else!”

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.