Conventional Thinking: In praise of Hobby Lobby
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the Oklahoma-based retail company Hobby Lobby made national news by filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging federal Health and Humans Services (HHS) mandate, which–among other requirements–forces employers to provide employees with free contraception pills.
Though Hobby Lobby is one of many groups challenging the law, its leaders will be an easy target for so-called reproductive rights groups. Despite what critics may say, Hobby Lobby has a strong case. First, the business owners of Hobby Lobby, a private company, have constitutionally-protected rights to freedom of religion and speech, and the HHS mandate is a direct affront to this. Secondly, how can the HHS mandate proponents expect companies owned by Christians to subsidize drugs like the “Morning-After Pill” that can end pre-born human life?
When asked, CEO David Green cited opposition on moral and biblical grounds. He said, “By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
According to news reports, this lawsuit makes Hobby Lobby the first non-Catholic-owned business to file suit. Evangelicals and Catholics, who once again find themselves allied in defense of life and religious liberty, are taking an important stand against the HHS mandate.
This is not the first time the two groups have joined forces in the culture war. On the pro-life front, Catholics and Baptists (Evangelicals) have been largely responsible for the progress made in shifting public opinion toward life, as well as positive public policy making. Each year in Oklahoma, Rose Day offers a chance for people of various faiths to come together to make a statement in support of life.
While there are no shortage of theological differences, both Catholics and Evangelicals at the very least both believe that Jesus Christ came to give us “life and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10). In 1994, Catholic and Evangelical leaders, not without any controversy or criticism, came together to create the ecumenical Evangelicals and Catholics Together statement. Prominent signators of the document, which sought to outline common beliefs about Jesus Christ and social concerns such as abortion, included J.I. Packer and the late Chuck Colson.
Nearly 20 years later, Evangelicals and Catholics find themselves united again by a common enemy—namely an onerous government regulation and the secular, radical ideas attached to it. While there have been many unjust laws in the history of our country, this one is unique. Whereas many immoral laws enable part of society to do harm (e.g. such as legalized marijuana), this law actually requires the good parts of society (e.g. Christian organizations, companies, universities) to do harm.
This cannot stand. While the gulf between Evangelicals and Catholics may be too wide to bridge, this monumental challenge provides an opportunity for us to stand together in defense of life and the Author of life.
Renowned preacher Chuck Swindoll once said that Christians are like porcupines in the cold. We are drawn together seeking warmth in a harsh climate but only come so close before we poke each other. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we refused to draw close with like-minded folks at this key time, only to leave good people like Hobby Lobby left to stand alone in the cold?