The Freedom From Religion Foundation alerted the Hobby Lobby craft store chain a year ago about numerous distortions in its full-page July 4 ad featuring quotes supposedly showing the U.S. government is predicated on a god.
The company, founded and operated by preacher’s son David Green, didn’t correct or alter those misleading claims and quotes when it ran a similar ad this July 4 in hundreds of newspapers.
“This disinformation campaign is not benign,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The ‘crafty’ owner of this national chain has not only sabotaged the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, but is using his considerable fortune to establish a bible museum in Washington, D.C., intended to promote the ‘Big Lie’ that America is a Christian nation. David Green has also commissioned a slanted bible curriculum that he intends to force into our public schools. It’s time to call Hobby Lobby out for its irresponsible misrepresentations.”
FFRF called for a boycott of the chain last fall after the Supreme Court took its appeal. In late June, the all-male, all-Catholic majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby is exempt from the contraceptive mandate, based on Green’s claim that his religious rights are offended if women employees use company insurance for methods of which he disapproves.
“Hobby Lobby’s quotes are meant to give the false impression that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that our nation ‘trusts in God,’ ” noted FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel, who meticulously researched the quotes. His commentary appears on FFRF’s interactive Web page.
The Web page contrasts the Hobby Lobby quotes with the original quotes. “But, just like Hobby Lobby’s god, the quotes aren’t very trustworthy. They are wildly inaccurate in some cases,” Seidel said.
Hobby Lobby’s baldest attempts to rewrite history are in quotes about two atheists, which make them appear religious or complimentary of religion. Its misleading quote of Achille Murat, whom its ad describes as “a French observer of America in 1832,” is edited to make Murat seem pro-religion, when in fact he was criticizing religion’s racist and proselytizing goals.
Similarly, Hobby Lobby grossly mischaracterizes a Supreme Court case that upheld a provision in freethinker Stephen Girard’s last will and testament leaving $2 million (about $43 million today; who says nonbelievers aren’t generous?) to start a school for educating orphans, so long as “no ecclesiastic, missionary, and minister” held any position in the school. Hobby Lobby falsely calls this a “unanimous decision commending and encouraging the use of the Bible in government-run schools.”
Seidel asks: “If Hobby Lobby can’t be trusted to quote fairly from historical documents, how can it possibly design an objective bible course for public schools?”
FFRF ran 24 full-page ads last year, headlined “In Reason We Trust” and celebrating America’s “godless Constitution,” in daily newspapers around the country seeking to balance previous July 4 Hobby Lobby ads. Twenty-five ads were planned, but the news daily in Oklahoma City, where Hobby Lobby is based, censored FFRF’s ad. View the ad here.
Gaylor noted that it’s not possible to compete with Hobby Lobby’s scale of advertising. According to Forbes Magazine, Hobby Lobby has $3.3 billion in sales and 555 stores nationwide. This year, FFRF instead reacted to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling with a full-page ad in The New York Times on July 3. View the ad here.