Monday, September 24, 2012

"The Lord's Work"? Hobby Lobby? Really?

During my first couple of years in the USA one of my favourite places to look around, when out shopping, was the Hobby Lobby store in a nearby city. Over recent years I've become disenchanted with the store. Their merchandise has seemed increasingly shoddy, over-priced and less imaginative than it once was - and now almost all of it is made in Chinese sweatshops. We now make a point of looking for alternative outlets when in search of art materials, decor, frames, holiday items etc.

Now I read that Hobby Lobby - (for any passing reader unaware of this company, it's a privately held retail chain of arts and crafts and general decor stores based in Oklahoma City) is bringing a lawsuit against the "contraceptive mandate" i.e. health insurance coverage for employees that covers emergency contraceptives (morning after pill and anything similar). Hobby Lobby has some 13,600 employees in 41 states.

The lawsuit, against U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding The Affordable Care Act, opposes the mandate that a wide range of preventative health-care services, including birth control, be offered to women without out-of-pocket expenses. The suit lists Hobby Lobby, Mardel Inc. and family members of company founder David Green as the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs state that requirements of the Act would violate their religious beliefs. CEO David Green has said "We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate. Hobby Lobby has always been a tool of the Lord's work, but now our faith is being challenged by the federal government."

I'll be very interested to discover how this lawsuit is eventually resolved.

My own views, for what they're worth, are that, whether or not one agrees with a law of the land, it remains the law and must be adhered to. Religious proclivities are not involved in the laws of the USA, as I understand it, other than the fact that freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution. Freedom of religion means exactly what it says. CEOs such as Mr Green who profess to being good Christians can lead their lives in whatever way they wish, within the laws of the land. So can everyone else, whether of Christian belief or any other belief, or of no belief at all.

The Affordable Care Act outlined what should be included as part of a health insurance plan. An American for profit company is obligated to follow US law.

Employees of Hobby Lobby, or those employees covered by the company's health insurance scheme - which might well be a small proportion considering the number of part-time employees - take up employment with the company agreeing to the level of pay, which has embedded within it healthcare insurance coverage. That is part of what they are paid in return for their daily work in making profits for the company. The insurance coverage is not something benignly bestowed upon them by their employer - it's part of their wage for the work they do. As such it does not include the right of the employers to make medical-related decisions for their employees.

The employers would not, in any case, be "paying for the morning after pill", the main thorn in Mr. Green's side (or so he proclaims), the insurance company would be paying for it. The employer pays, as part of the full-time employees' recompense for the work they do, to have their medical needs covered; involvement in employees' healthcare stops right there - any further meddling could be seen as discrimination.

As a side issue: why, if Mr Green and his family are against supporting anything related, however vaguely, to abortion, and are intent in "doing the Lord's work" does their company sell so much merchandise made in China? Over 13 million abortions a year are carried out in China, including both forced and elective operations. Of course to take that into account would mean a hefty drop in profits for Hobby Lobby - wouldn't it? In China and other third-world countries from which his company's merchandise comes, people have little resembling human rights. Merchandise sold by Hobby Lobby stores is manufactured in "sweat shop" conditions. The company makes vast profit from the work of those paid a pittance and working in terrible conditions. Which Christian priciple is Mr Green and Co. following when deciding the source of their merchandise?


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh, the hypocrisy!!

We live in a complete oxymoronic world, T.

But I am glad you bring such items to our attention.

You mentioned "tool". Yep he is.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Sickening, ain't it!?

R J Adams said...

"Religious proclivities are not involved in the laws of the USA...", you and I both know you're not that naive. The US Constitution has become as farcical as the legal institution charged with upholding it. Corrupted Christianity runs riot through the halls of Congress, out the back door and into every state legislature in the land, where it's further bastardized and spewed forth as the greatest marketing tool since Edward Bernays sold the American people on entering WWI by persuading them they were 'bringing democracy to Europe'.
In America, 'the Lord's Work' is all about engorging already overflowing coffers.
It's a shame 'the Lord' is a myth. I could otherwise have taken great pleasure in knowing Mr Green and his ilk were destined to burn in Hell for all eternity.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Sorry for delay in publishing your comment RJ - it was in a bunch awaiting moderation in a place I hadn't found on Blogger's new infernal interface.

Thanks for your meaty thoughts on this. Can't disagree with a word you've written.