US Christian company’s stunning hypocrisy exposed

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.

David and Barbara Green of Hobby Lobby run the company according to 'biblical principles'.

David and Barbara Green of Hobby Lobby run the company according to ‘biblical principles’.

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.

Ungar added:

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.

17 responses to “US Christian company’s stunning hypocrisy exposed”

  1. Broga says:

    The reason for their hypocrisy is the usual one where religion is concerned: think Chancel Tax and Vatican money shenanigans. Cash trumps what passes for religious principles every time.

  2. David Anderson says:

    Against birth control and abortions, but only in the US. They do a great trade with China.

  3. jay says:

    Looks like they’be lost any respect rom constitutional advocates.

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    There are atheists who oppose the legality of abortion, or who would set limits on legal abortion. Here it is the two-faced morality of convenience that is cause for a shake of the head.

  5. charlie says:

    Just shows that when you get down to the truth of things, money/profits trump doG every time. It is the dollar that they really worship.
    Also, Hobby Lobby prices are way too high on nearly everything they sell.

  6. jay says:

    There still is a valid constitutional question (even though these are hypocritical scum.

    Exactly how far can the state go in forcing someone to go in violating a personal moral value for an arbitrary decision? This question can apply to more than religious questions.

  7. L.Long says:

    I sorta hope HobbyLobby wins the case.
    Cuz it will get real interesting!
    Like JW’s will not pay for their employee’s emergency blood transfusions cuz it ain’t holey. Or Christian Science can then not allow any health insurance as only prayer is OK. Moremans can declare their underwear is a health deduction. Other companies can then say no blacks allowed as they are accursed by their religion. No mixed religion marriage is allowed as they are against the buyBull!!!
    Oh!Yes! lots of fun stuff!!!

  8. barriejohn says:

    Jay: At the heart of this argument is the question of whether a corporation can evade its responsibilities, or even ignore the law, on the basis of the “personal moral values” of those who run it. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “arbitrary decisions”.

  9. @barriejohn: You nailed it. If the decision *does* go the way of the Hobby Lobbyists, then nobody is safe from the power of the Corporation again.

    The whole *point* of a corporation is to isolate the business from the people running it.

  10. jay says:

    I’m sure that the corporate status will be examined by the court, and I suspect criteria will be established. However there is substantial overlap between corporations and at minimum, their officers. If a corporation does something illegal, individuals can be charged with a crime. This gets hammered into us at our corporate training. For example if we avoid selling to customers in certain countries (perhaps because we have strong moral objection to something that country is doing), the company can be fined and the INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES (not just officers) can be criminally charged.

    There is a lot of overlap, the law does not consider the people (especially owners and officers) as fully separate entities.

    What would be very interesting is that a certain range of personal standard may be established but Hobby Lobby will be excluded from the judgement because they obviously do no pass any form of sincerity test.

  11. charlie says:

    As to any Constitutional matters, the current nine “Supremes” have come down in favor of corporate person-hood. Don’t believe me? Just check the “Citizens United” ruling by the nine fools.
    In the US of A in this time, corporate money rules all. Do NOT expect these hypocrites to fail once the idiotic “Supremes” get the case.

  12. jay says:

    “As to any Constitutional matters, the current nine “Supremes” have come down in favor of corporate person-hood. Don’t believe me? Just check the “Citizens United” ruling’

    Does the New York Times have free speech rights? Book publishers? Are you going to restrict free speech to only what an individual can do alone?

    Have you looked at Citizens United instead of just the sloganeering??

    Here was a group who wanted to publish a politically based book in the run up to an election. The contents of the book were opinion that any citizen is legally allowed to express, but publication of the book was considered a violation of election law.

    What this ruling established is that people do not lose their free speech rights simply because they organize into a group. If a person can express it, a group of people can express it.

    From a free speech perspective, Citizens United was pretty much correct.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Jay: This article makes the same argument, but the comments are mainly hostile.

    <i>Gustopher says:

    Corporations aren’t a collection of people, they are a collection of assets, bound by a government granted charter limiting the liability of the shareholder.

    People do not join a corporation, they are employed by a corporation. Even the board is voted in by the shareholders — and while many of them are going to actually be the shareholders, they are still just employees in their acts on the board.

    America is certainly the great plutocracy!

  14. barriejohn says:

    Well, I buggered up THAT comment! The last sentence was MY comment and not Gustopher’s.

  15. G Wilson says:

    “Stunning”? Sure you don’t mean “entirely unsurprising”?