A Feminist Christian Perspective On The Hobby Lobby Case

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I wasn’t going to write anything about this news story there have been so many articles, think pieces, myth de-bunkers and blog posts floating around the internet.

But after sifting through a lot of them on my Facebook news feed I realized that I owe it to myself to get my thoughts on paper, and share my opinion.

Why? Because I feel I have a unique perspective that may not have been shared, but deserves to be.

I am a feminist, yes, but I am also a Christian. Sounds like a juxtaposition but I tell you there is no reason any Christian woman like myself shouldn’t want equality for all, because that’s the definition of feminism.

I should start off by saying I don’t think Hobby Lobby are evil, as I know they claim to pay their employees higher than the minimum wage. Great! I also don’t feel the need to personally attack the Green family who own the company, instead I will talk solely about them as a corporation/business because that is how they won their US supreme court case.

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It’s one thing to see a church like Westboro Baptist “church” from Kansas doing the most ridiculous things in public in the name of their “God”. But everyone knows they are bigoted idiots. Hobby Lobby is very different.

Why do they feel the need to interfere with and know the private business of their employees’ health? Shouldn’t healthcare be a right for every American, regardless of what the head of a company personally feels about birth control, religion, abortion etc?

If Hobby Lobby are so hell bent on eliminating the possibility of any of their employees every killing a possible unborn child, then perhaps they should only employ Christians. Oh but wait, they don’t, which indicates they actually care about equal opportunity and not playing favoritism or elitism when it comes to staffing up. Another great thing about them!

It makes me extremely disappointed that a company blatantly uses the God that I believe in, and the spiritual book that I read as a misconstrued reason for their Supreme court case.

When I first learned about the constitution (thank you US immigration for the crash course lesson before my citizenship test) I was taught that it was set up so that individual people have unalienable rights that they did not have in Europe under the monarchies. While they allowed freedom for people to practice or not practice any religion, one of the reasons America is one of the most desirable places to live, the US Constitution claimed the government would not operate on any religious or monarchist basis, but a democratic one.

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The decision of the Supreme Court showed a blatant disregard for the Constitution, I believe, and has left a lot of us wondering about the future of America. Can anyone now claim individual constitutional rights as a way to justify actions made by a large company?

But let’s talk about it from my young female Christian perspective for a moment, I use those words specifically to point out I am still of the age where contraceptives are relevant to me. In the bible, Jesus himself told his followers to “submit to the authorities” in place, as in he wasn’t trying to set up an anarchist society, although he was considered very rebellious and controversial according to the religious sects of his day because he hung out with and blessed the people on the fringes of society. Scandalous!

For Hobby Lobby to challenge the authorities and laws that are in place for no reason other than because they feel their INDIVIDUAL religious rights are being “compromised” is wrong. And it is also a gross misrepresentation because not every Christian thinks the same, which brings me back to my point about the individual opinions being exercised in a corporate manner.

The bible says “Children are a blessing from God” and sure it says “do not murder” (as do laws in pretty much every country) but nowhere does it say “contraception is a form of murder”, and “don’t ever take the morning after pill”. There are plenty of verses about wisdom in the bible also, most of them written by legendary King Solomon, Kind David’s grandson. Why is wisdom applicable? Because I believe wisdom should be applied to all areas of life, even when choosing to have children.

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There are plenty of topics and verses in the bible which aren’t necessarily in black and white, and have therefore been interpreted in a number of different ways. So for the Green family to believe that contraception isn’t right is fine, but to then essentially force their beliefs in a second-hand way on their employees is an affront and quite offensive to me.

You see I am one of those Christians who isn’t ashamed of declaring my beliefs, but I am also one who will always respect others for not believing what I do. I would never try and force my convictions on another person, because I’d rather show my beliefs in the way that I love people. Essentially, that’s what we are taught to do as Christians.

Churches in America have special exemptions and can have legitimate lawful reasons for, say, not wanting to marry a gay couple. But they are in a completely different tax bracket to Hobby lobby! For Hobby Lobby to use that religious card saying they should be exempt from offering a complete healthcare package to female employees is really just taking the piss n my opinion.

According to this article which likes to boast about their Jesus-like qualities in paying their workers double the federal minimum wage, Hobby Lobby apparently does cover 16 out of 20 contraceptives. Once again, thumbs up Green family.

I know they cover basic contraceptives like the birth control pill, but they refuse to cover IUDs and Plan B contraceptives which could be essentially killing an unborn fetus, rather than a condom or a birth control pill which is preventative.

That doesn’t excuse them from being a law-abiding American company like all the others. Why do they get to cherry pick and choose which part of the law suits them best and then cite religious grounds for being exempt when they want? It’s not that a private for-profit company isn’t allowed to make guidelines and laws that suit them best, it is the fact that they are taking a specific part of the US Constitution designed to protect and strengthen an individual America’s right, and using that to justify and bolster a corporate agenda. They are mixing the two and it is going to be a recipe for disaster long term.

Perhaps Hobby Lobby should also not cover elective vasectomies because that is interfering with God’s possibly plan to produce children isn’t it?

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I understand that there are plenty of other privately owned companies who do not cover certain things like elective surgeries, or only cover generic brand medication. But what if one of the Hobby Lobby female employees is pregnant but has to have an abortion for medical reasons, like the girl in this blog post?

Sure they pay above minimum wage so that employees can potentially purchase their own medication out of pocket if need be, but I highly doubt the extra money actually covers the cost of that since it is so damn expensive!

I have read some valid arguments in favor of Hobby Lobby, mostly along the lines of what I just wrote above. But I also have to point out the majority of people debating me and my opinions on Twitter were men. The irony of their arguments is that to me they are pointless. Because men will never ever be affected by a ruling like this. Also I have noticed that the majority of women who disagree are women who are no longer a child-bearing age where contraception is not an issue. My conclusion therefore is that most of the people who disagree with using any form of contraception, but especially the four that Hobby Lobby have banned, are either men or older women. Once again, those are my personal observations.

The myth about contraception and Christianity is exactly that – a myth. I cannot tell you the number of Christian women I personally know who believe in taking contraception, have had the morning after pill, have even had abortions and *gasp* sex before marriage.

Even one my close girlfriends who sent me the article stating that every liberal needs to “shut up because Hobby Lobby pays above minimum wage” has taken birth control and she is a conservative Christian!

This is why the US constitution was set up, because religion and religious people should not be interfering with an individual’s right. If someone chooses to believe what the church teaches, great. It should never be forced.

If you think I am the only Christian thinking this court ruling is a bad idea, I’m not. Think Progress published an article citing many references to blog posts from Christians damning the decision also. One theology and Christian ethics professor said: “The whole point of establishing a corporation is to create an entity separate from oneself to limit legal liability,” he writes.

“Therefore, Hobby Lobby is asking for special protections/liability limits that only a corporation can get on the one hand, and special protections that only individuals, churches and religious organizations get, on the other. It seems awfully dangerous to allow corporations to have it both ways.“

Another states: “The New Testament never—not one time—applies the ‘Christian’ label to a business or even a government,” he writes. “The tag is applied only to individuals. If the Bible is your ultimate guide, the only organization one might rightly term ‘Christian’ is a church. And this is only because a church in the New Testament is not a building or a business, but a collection of Christian individuals who have repented, believed on Christ, and are pursuing a life of holiness.”

I have an admission to make, I am currently on birth control, I have taken the morning after pill before, and have had sex before marriage. I also go to church and know that there are differing opinions about contraception. This blog post is not about what type of Christian I am FYI (I can already guess there are judgements forming).

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How the Supreme Court ruled in their favor is a fail on the US Justice system. The US judicial branch is supposed to wield the least amount of power out of all three branches (legislative, judicial and executive). The legislative have the most power out of all three, (good old checks and balances!) and therefore the court has the responsibility to uphold the law voted in by the democracy, not change it.

This could cause a chain reaction for many other businesses to take liberties with other issues, forcing employees to do things against their will or adversely affecting their lives in some way. Just as an example, The Daily Beast listed 82 American for-profit and non-profit companies which currently have cases pending citing reasons why they don’t want to provide certain types of contraception.

Left off the list are two businesses renowned for being owned by Christians. They are In-N-Out burger and clothing chain Forever 21, both of which imprint bible verses onto the bottom of their packaging. I tried to contact both companies to get a statement. Forever 21 didn’t respond at all, while In-N-Out called me back to direct me to the right person to call but I didn’t end up getting a response. I will say the corporate office customer service representative thanked me for wanting to contact them about this issue, so at least they weren’t rude!

I believe in the American right to respect one another’s beliefs and expect to work in a place where your personal life choices are not going to be restricted or dictated to in any way by a company.

Here’s my suggestion to Hobby Lobby, either only hire Christian workers, or don’t offer healthcare at all. And stop bringing the US Justice system to support your own private beliefs when they don’t need to, or perhaps other religious people should justify honor killings and forced marriages in the US because the freedom for a woman to choose goes against their traditional beliefs.

I am interested to hear more female opinions on this, but I urge any discussion, whether it be here, on twitter, Facebook or elsewhere to be kept civil. It is a heated topic but that is no reason we can’t keep a calm conversation going. I am all for hearing both sides of the story, but I also believe we are lucky enough to live in a time where, for the majority of us, we can express our beliefs and opinions without fear of others personally attacking us.

GirlTalkHQ is a website dedicated to women’s issues and we support the fact that we are all very different. I respect everyone’s right to be identified as a feminist and am proud to have started a forum where each of us can share our stories, without hating each other.

 

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14 Comments

  1. Rebecca Sobek says:

    I guess I look at it this way: Someone who chooses to work at Hobby Lobby does just that – they CHOOSE to work there – they are not forced to do so. They choose to work at Hobby Lobby with the knowledge that though they receive healthcare benefits with their job these will not cover birth control. There are many other places they could choose to find work that WILL provide them with healthcare that does cover birth control. Hobby Lobby is not going to fire their employee’s if the go out an buy their own birth control – they are simply saying that they, in good conscience, cannot be part to it. They are not taking away their right to birth control at all.
    My husband CHOOSES to work where he does for a number of reasons. With that job come some restrictions, which I won’t go into here and for the record we think are ridiculous! The point though is this – he CHOOSES to work there because of what his job offers us: steady work that is close to home, lots of vacation time, free camp for the girls, a good family life, etc. We made the choice for him to work there because of these things and with the knowledge that it was going to “cramp our lifestyle” a little bit, but the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. I guess that’s what Hobby Lobby employees must do – weigh the benefits. Our government authorities, whom Jesus said we should obey, have made a decision in this matter. They have protected the freedom of the employers of Hobby Lobby. They have not infringed on the freedoms of the mass public because they are not forced to work at Hobby Lobby! And as to a slippery slope, how about the one that the Supreme Court created when Roe v. Wade was decided… when 9 people decided that millions of unborn children do NOT have inalienable rights. If you asked me, we’ve been on a slippery slope much longer than the Hobby Lobby decision.

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