Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hobby Lobby and Standing on Principle

My sister, Jenna, took this picture of the Hobby Lobby in Stillwater, OK

      Hobby Lobby started as small business from a garage in Oklahoma city with a $600.00 loan.  Today it is one of the largest arts and crafts stores in America.  Its founder, David Green, was raised in a poor family. His formal education consists of a high school diploma.  His family feared God and his siblings all get their sustenance from what most people see as ministry.  David believes his work is also ministry, and this has been recognized from both his friends and his critics.  This has especially been noticed in the way the store closes early.  David believes that family time is extremely important for families to remain strong and hasn't extended the hours.  He also has practiced his faith by keeping all Hobbie Lobby stores closed on Sundays which is a practice that is believed to cost him many millions of potential dollars.  David believes that by honoring God that God has honored him.  He believes that is why Hobby Lobby has done extremely well in this bad economy.  Yet he recognizes that God's values aren't measured by money.  This can be seen in some comments he shared with ChristiaNet: "Our organization wants to be remembered as one that knows the difference between the temporal and eternal."  He continued, "Our business is only a means to an end and our end is to try to affect lives for eternity.  If we haven't done that, then we are just merely a good person."

     Today there is a challenge as to whether a person can practice his beliefs in the workplace.  Because the Green family believes life begins at conception, they also believe that it would violate their conscience to encourage abortion by paying for abortion-inducing drugs through their insurance coverage.  The current Heath Care Mandate does not protect business owners or individuals with a conscience clause.  This encroachment on the right of conscience needs to be a concern for every American as a loss of freedom.  Because the Green family cannot follow this unjust and unconstitutional law in good conscience, they are facing fines of over a million dollars a day.

      In every generation there are those that God has appointed to carry on a message that is important for that age.  The freedom of conscience is not new.  Martin Luther faced this when it was demanded that he recant his beliefs.  He knew his life was in danger, but said that he could not and would not recant for it would go against conscience which is not safe.   In America, the law of the land respected freedom of conscience largely because of a man named Roger Williams.  Williams was banished from a colony for his beliefs, and created Rhode Island which became a refuge for people with various beliefs.  Roger believed everyone had the right to be wrong and that when there were differences that the only way to seek to change someones mind would be through civil debate.   A firm believer in God, he extended these rights to all men, even those he considered to be pagans and atheists.  This freedom is the direct opposite of socialism which manipulates people.
     Should Hobby Lobby have to close its doors it will be memorial to what socialism does to business and freedom.  Whether they close or not, the principles that made this counteraction to socialism will not be held  in vain because the liberty of conscience is bigger than money and bigger than the here and now.  Indeed, eternity is testified in the lives of those that hold on to it.

  Below David shares in his own words the plight his company is in because of the liberty of conscience:
My name is David Green, and I am the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In case you are not familiar with our company, we are a national arts and crafts retailer with more than 500 stores in 41 states. We are headquartered in Oklahoma and employ more than 22,500 individuals nationwide.
I started Hobby Lobby as a miniature picture frame company, called Greco Products, in 1970. My family and I made miniature picture frames and sold them to various retailers. Because there was a high demand for this product at the time, we were able to take out a loan of $600 from the bank to open our first retail store, which consisted of 300 square feet of manufacturing space in the back, and 300 square feet of retail space in the front. That store became the first ever Hobby Lobby.
My family has been an integral part of this business since day one, and remains an important part of it today. My son, Steve Green, is president of Hobby Lobby. My son, Mart Green, is president of Mardel, which is a Christian bookstore that is an affiliated business with Hobby Lobby. My daughter Darsee Lett is a vice president of Hobby Lobby. Several of my grandchildren also work in our business.
        Another integral part of Hobby Lobby from day one has been our faith. My parents  were both pastors, and all of my siblings are involved in ministry. I felt like somewhat of an outsider going into retail, but I’ve found a way to minister through Hobby Lobby. We have always operated our company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles, including integrity and service to others. We believe wholeheartedly that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has been successful. Therefore, we seek to honor him in all that we do.
As part of that faith, we care greatly for our employees and their families. That’s why, unlike most major retailers, we are only open 66 hours per week and are closed on Sundays to allow our employees to spend time with their families. For the past four years in a row, we have increased the minimum wage for our full-time employees, and it’s now 80 percent above the national minimum wage.
We also believe in sharing our faith, which is why we purchase full-page ads at Christmas and Easter in newspapers in all the major cities where we operate. We also contribute both time and funds to numerous Christian organizations across the nation and the world. Hobby Lobby has always been a tool for the Lord’s work. For me and my family, charity equals ministry, which equals the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We know that we have been blessed by God’s grace, and we believe it is because we have chosen to live our lives and to operate our business according to His word, and we are very grateful for that.
But now our faith is being challenged by the federal government. The Health and Human Services “preventative services” mandate forces businesses to provide the “morning-after” and the “week-after” pills in our health insurance plans. These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land 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. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.
This is David Green's statement from his legal representive:
An interview with David Green

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