US Christian company’s stunning hypocrisy exposed
ONE of the most talked about lawsuits in the US at present concerns Hobby Lobby, a company that’s demanding legal exemption from Obamacare birth control provisions.
In 2012 a federal court denied a request to halt enforcement of the abortion pill mandate which obliges Hobby Lobby to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million dollars per day.
The evangelical arts and crafts company, operated by the über-religious Green family, passionately believes contraception is immoral and is now appealing the ruling.
But it has just come to light that Hobby Lobby’s retirement fund has substantial investments in a wide variety of companies producing abortion and contraception related products!
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012 – three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit – show that Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions.
Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).
In a brief submitted to the court in support of Hobby Lobby’s position in the case, the company specifically names contraceptive products such as Plan B, Ella, and IUDs as violating their religious beliefs because they work by preventing a fertilised egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus.
According to the Green family, interfering with an already fertilised egg is tantamount to abortion – an act unacceptable to the family and one they refuse to participate in no matter what the Affordable Care Act may require .
The companies in which Hobby Lobby has been found to have investments include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis ACT -0.86%, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella.
Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer PFE +0.34%, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions and Bayer , which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena
Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna AET +0.25% and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.
When added up, the nine funds holding the stated investments involve three-quarters of Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) assets.
Writing for Forbes magazine, Rick Ungar said:
You may be thinking that it must have been beyond Hobby Lobby’s reasonable abilities to know what companies were being invested in by the mutual funds purchased for the Hobby Lobby 401(k) plans—but I am afraid you would be wrong.
Not only does Hobby Lobby have an obligation to know what their sponsored 401(k) is investing in for the benefit of their employees, it turns out that there are ample opportunities for the retirement fund to invest in mutual funds that are specifically screened to avoid any religiously offensive products.
To avoid supporting companies that manufacture abortion drugs – or products such as alcohol or pornography – religious investors can turn to a cottage industry of mutual funds that screen out stocks that religious people might consider morally objectionable …
Apparently, Hobby Lobby was either not aware that these options existed (kind of hard to believe for a company willing to take a case to the Supreme Court over their religious beliefs) or simply didn’t care.
While I have disagreed with Hobby Lobby’s legal position in their case before the Supreme Court on a number of levels, I have gone out of my way – both in print and on radio & television – to advise others not to vilify the Greens as individuals just because you might disagree with their position on contraceptive coverage via the Affordable Care Act. I say this because, from what I had previously been able to learn, these were decent people who have long taken appropriate care of its employees by paying in excess of minimum wage and providing all employees with healthcare benefits.
But to now discover that these people are seeking to avoid their obligation under the law to provide their employees with a contraceptive benefit at the same time they are allowing their 401(k) to invest in – and profit from – these very products is, in my view, completely unforgivable.
While these revelations will likely have no impact on the outcome of the case pending in the Supreme Court, the sheer and stunning hypocrisy of these people will forever stain any finding by the Court in favor of Hobby Lobby – should this come to pass.
While I may not agree with the legal position Hobby Lobby has taken in their lawsuit, I always stand in admiration of those willing to fight for their constitutional rights when they believe they are being taken.
Hobby Lobby is entitled to no such admiration – only contempt. You simply can’t say that you will give your all in defense of your closely held beliefs when it suits you while seeking to make money in violation of those beliefs. You also cannot pretend you were simply negligent in learning what investments you hold if you are going to hold yourself out as an example of righteousness.
By setting this perfectly awful example, Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy will do little to aid – and much to deter – others willing to stand up for the Bill of Rights in the future. All they have accomplished is to provide more air to the cynicism that already envelops the nation, cynicism that exists precisely because of entities like Hobby Lobby.