Hobby Lobby sues over HHS mandate
The largest business yet, a Christian-owned and operated 500-store chain of arts and crafts retail stores, filed a lawsuit Sept. 12 against the Obama administration’s rule requiring employers to provide without co-pay abortion-inducing drugs coverage in its health care insurance plan.
David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby 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.” The lawsuit was filed in the federal District Court of Western Oklahoma.
“We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate,” said the leader of the Oklahoma City-based retailer, which is the only non-Catholic owned business to oppose the HHS rule through the courts.
There are 27 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS rule, none of them were affected by the Supreme Court’s June 28 ruling on the “individual mandate.”
If the rule survives court challenges or is not reversed by HHS, the requirement to provide birth control would give HHS the power to fine the company up to $1.3 million per day, he said. Once the fines begin, it will put the company out of business.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said Green, who founded the company in 1970 selling picture frames out of his garage. Green opened the first Hobby Lobby store in 1972. The company operates stores in 41 states.
“Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,” he said. All the company stores are closed on Sundays.
“The conflict for me is that our family is being forced to choose between following the laws of the country 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,” he said.
Hobby Lobby is supported in its suit by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said Lori Windham, the fund’s senior counsel.
“Washington politicians cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living,” she said.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” she said.
The business’s lawsuit acts to preserve its right to carry out its mission free from government coercion, she said. The Becket Fund also supports lawsuits against the HHS rule filed by Wheaton College, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, and Ave Maria University.