We spend a lot of time in Economics for Everybody showing how interventionist economies like the United States end up persecuting Christians. Many Christians blithely think this is not possible today: yet here is a prime example that should be on the front page of every newspaper. (But isn’t – I wonder why?)
Christian business owner David Green and his family are being given an ultimatum by the U.S. government: use your own money to support abortion policies we dictate through health insurance or we’ll fine you out of existence (to the tune of $1.3 million a day). As we explain in Lesson 11, our government uses the enormous regulatory arm of the President’s administrative branch to try to control the economy for its own ends. What it cannot control, it has the power to smash – and often does.
Hobby Lobby owns the retail chain of the same name as well as Mardel Christian bookstores. The Greens have said it is a violation of conscience for them to be required to pay for insurance that will also pay for abortifacients like Plan B and Ella. For those who realize that abortion is a sanitized form of murder, it is easy to see how this requirement would be like German Christian companies during WWII being forced to pay a stipend for Zyklon B. Such is the roundabout goal of evil laws.
Notice whom the suit is against: Sebelius, U.S. Cabinet member and head of Health and Human Services; she reports to the President. And who is defending now (but eventually will prosecute once the law goes into effect)? Lawyers from the Department of Justice led by the Attorney General; he reports to the President. Our consolidation of power under the Executive branch (something Lowi explains clearly in The End of Liberalism - published 40 years ago and still just as relevant) continues to bear ugly fruit that appears more and more like 20th-century totalitarianism.
Let Christians everywhere beware: unless we stand together to fight this, it will be a snapshot of our economic and religious future. Many people don’t realize the economic liberty and religious liberty are inseparably intertwined. They are. Lose the former and you must lose the latter.
This case brings everything out in the open. Even the most doubtful Christian can see how the government wields its regulatory powers to halt Christian stewardship of private property being used to expand the Kingdom of God. As we have seen over the past 80 years, increasing government economic intervention is just gradual socialism. And socialist economies want the government to steward the nation’s resources for its own purposes instead of individuals stewarding them for the Kingdom of God.
It is instructive to read the press statement made by Mr. Green on September 13, 2012 and included on the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (the group helping in his representation). I am including it all here because it’s worth reading in its entirety:
My name is David Green, and I am the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In case you are not familiar with our company, we are a national arts and crafts retailer with more than 500 stores in 41 states. We are headquartered in Oklahoma and employ more than 22,500 individuals nationwide.
I started Hobby Lobby as a miniature picture frame company, called Greco Products, in 1970. My family and I made miniature picture frames and sold them to various retailers. Because there was a high demand for this product at the time, we were able to take out a loan of $600 from the bank to open our first retail store, which consisted of 300 square feet of manufacturing space in the back, and 300 square feet of retail space in the front. That store became the first ever Hobby Lobby.
My family has been an integral part of this business since day one, and remains an important part of it today. My son, Steve Green, is president of Hobby Lobby. My son, Mart Green, is president of Mardel, which is a Christian bookstore that is an affiliated business with Hobby Lobby. My daughter Darsee Lett is a vice president of Hobby Lobby. Several of my grandchildren also work in our business.
Another integral part of Hobby Lobby from day one has been our faith. My parents were both pastors, and all of my siblings are involved in ministry. I felt like somewhat of an outsider going into retail, but I’ve found a way to minister through Hobby Lobby. We have always operated our company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles, including integrity and service to others. We believe wholeheartedly that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has been successful. Therefore, we seek to honor him in all that we do.
As part of that faith, we care greatly for our employees and their families. That’s why, unlike most major retailers, we are only open 66 hours per week and are closed on Sundays to allow our employees to spend time with their families. For the past four years in a row, we have increased the minimum wage for our full-time employees, and it’s now 80 percent above the national minimum wage.
We also believe in sharing our faith, which is why we purchase full-page ads at Christmas and Easter in newspapers in all the major cities where we operate. We also contribute both time and funds to numerous Christian organizations across the nation and the world. Hobby Lobby has always been a tool for the Lord’s work. For me and my family, charity equals ministry, which equals the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We know that we have been blessed by God’s grace, and we believe it is because we have chosen to live our lives and to operate our business according to His word, and we are very grateful for that.
But now our faith is being challenged by the federal government. The Health and Human Services “preventative services” mandate forces businesses to provide the “morning-after” and the “week-after” pills in our health insurance plans. These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.
Notice a few things: Hobby Lobby only requires employees to work six days a week; they pay them 80% higher than minimum wage; and they fund numerous Christian organizations (as well as own a large Christian bookstore chain). They are doing what every Christian business owner should be doing: stewarding the resources God has given them for the betterment of society and the glory of God.
One more thing: this company is the Green’s private property. Remember that. A corporation is defined as a legal entity (or body, as corpus suggests) which is owned and controlled by them. The principle of private property is the foundation of economic and religious freedom. It is completely disregarded or grossly misunderstood by most citizens of the US; and it has been trampled upon by the US government for over 80 years. Yet this one example shows us that private property, stewarded well, provides employment for thousands of men and women, provides goods and services for millions of willing consumers, and funds specific programs that advance God’s Kingdom.
If you don’t think their company has a large target on it painted by Satan and his minions, you don’t understand the way the world really works. I’m not confounding the spiritual with the physical or being hyper-demonic: St. Augustine of Hippo explained the setup very accurately in The City of God which he wrote over 1500 years ago. We talk about it in Lesson 12 – and we point out that fighting economic persecution is every Christian’s business.
Which brings me to my final point: we Christians had best not sit around watching another Christian brother taken down by the government as if it were a tragic spectator sport. We all have US Representatives and Senators who need to hear our voice on this; we all have some extra money to support their cause; and we all can pray.
If there’s any one theme we try to teach with our series it’s this: economics has consequences. Consequences for you and consequences for me; consequences on a very personal level. This is just the latest attack by our secular state on our economic and religious freedoms. But we cannot ignore it. We must stand together before we fall separately.