Friday, January 25, 2013

Another Hobby Lobby Update

If you're keeping up with the Hobby Lobby story (there are two previous posts on Ransom Road), here are two more entries:

1.  a letter from a man named Don Schanzenbach, from Mission to Restore America

2.  a letter from David Green, CEO & founder of Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby Heroes

In this first week of January, 2013, the Hobby Lobby legal fight is an opening salvo marking an historic moment for America and the American church. With the results of the presidential election in, and the direction seemingly set for our aggregate futures, it may be more than a bit surprising to the non-Christian (even anti-Christian) society at large to see the Hobby Lobby owners in a direct confrontation with the powers that be.

Steadfast Christians that they are, they cannot in good conscience, pay for government mandated health insurance that pays for birth control drugs, some of which they believe to be abortafacients. These, so called, morning after pills are often designed to stop a fertilized egg from implanting, which, is effectively, an abortion. Given the many Scripture references that universally declare children to be a blessing, there is a moral certitude about our duty to protect the nascent lives of our pre-born. While seemingly standing in only a tiny company, Hobby Lobby’s owners are defending high moral ground. They are Christian heroes, in a supposedly righteous nation, that rarely exhibits this kind of fortitude. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…? Of greater consequence, where have you gone Christian business men? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

I suppose it will make some of my brethren nervous if I ask, “Where are all the other Christian business men who are being compelled to pay this godless insurance tax? Why are their voices silent?” Now that there is a David (literally, owner David Green- see his letter below) to lead the battle against the government Goliath, where are the little guys who could jump in, keep their consciences, and do the right thing? There are millions of Christians in the country. Surely there have to be thousands who ought to be courageous enough to resist tyranny along with these Hobby Lobby folks. Where are our people?

It ought to interest us that this government required insurance question is truly a tax question. In the case of a tax, everyone understands that if you do not pay, the civil authorities will force payment, at the point of a rifle if necessary. This newly required insurance payment is essentially a tax, though re-named insurance. Yes, the businesses have to write the checks to private insurance companies. However, if that check is not written the result will be the same as if you were caught not paying a tax. The government goons would arrive to seize your accounts and shove a rifle in your face if you resist. Call it a tax, call it insurance, it is merely semantics. Either way it is the government making you pay. The important issue here is not the terms, the words, it is the morality. We have to ask if the civil government has righteous authority to demand businesses pay this tax. From whence do they gain that right?

The founders of this country fought the British due to several issues. Two of the greatest importance were for the right to be taxed only under proper authority, and, to protect their families and homes from British abuse. The colonies had been granted in their original charters the right to rule themselves under their own representatives and their own law. When the British attempted to change that established order, they were breaking covenant with the American people. They were asserting authority to tax where they had no legal or moral right to do so. It was this imposition of tyrannical power that jarred our forefathers to arms. They understood that even a small, but unjust tax, had to be resisted or stronger tyranny would soon follow. They were not so much fighting for lower taxes as they were warring for right principle and righteous liberty. This is why they could fight even though their Bibles read in Romans 13, “Pay tax to whom tax is due.” Many Christian men understood that unlawfully laid taxes were not due. For this they resisted.

We live in an era when the broader American, evangelical church, has taught and believed that all resistance to civil authority is morally wrong. Particularly, in the area of taxation, our brethren have insisted that any and all taxes that are levied, are due. For the past 100 years and more, there have been diminishingly few sermons preached with any view that questioned total obedience to central government regarding taxation. Now, we find ourselves inexplicably cheering for this single company that has made headlines by refusing to pay insurance taxes. We sense that Hobby Lobby is righteous in its decision but our theology lags behind. This is not because our sense of right is wrong. It is because our theology on taxation, particularly Romans 13, is wrongly laid. We are to pay tax to whom tax is due. We have no cause to believe that every tax levied is due. In the case of this insurance tax, which directly supports abortion and birth control, we may be certain that the tax imposed is not a tax that is due. Taxes that are levied as a direct attack on Biblical core principles; ones that declare war on God’s law and His righteousness, are unlawfully laid (according to God’s law) and are therefore not due. Christian people have no duty to pay taxes of this variety. We may in fact, have a duty to refuse payment for evil taxes of this egregious nature. Hence, we may pray and cheer in good conscience for the Hobby Lobby owners. May they find victory in their legal battles.

This is a holy moment when we ought to be asking precisely, what is the value of a child’s life? The confrontation involved forces this question, literally, upon us. What is the value of a child’s life? Have we become so callous, so jaded, so fearful of our government god, that we will sell our souls in order to defend our businesses? I fear we have, but pray we haven’t. We are being demanded to directly finance the destruction of innocent life. We are told that the central government has a rightful power to force Christian men to pay for the killing of the next generation. Our government’s claim in this matter is one of great moment. This is no small thing. It breaches a barrier heretofore unprecedented. The murder of American babies is morally severe to begin with. Forcing faithful churchmen to directly pay for this abuse is unconscionable. This is ground upon which the church ought to stand. There should be thousands of Christian men behaving as bravely as David Green and his family. They ought not be alone in this fight. Christian people cannot in right conscience write out checks designated to finance the killing of children, tho they be unborn. This is not a choice, it is an imperative. How corrupted will we allow ourselves to become? When we gaze in our mirrors will we see enemies of Christ? There are things we should never do. This is one of them.

Proverbs 24:11 instructs, “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold them back.” Under this wicked insurance tax law Christian men are being ordered to participate in the destruction of the unborn. We have been unable to hold back, but are we willing to push this agenda forward? For many decades the church has been mostly silent in the face of multiplying government exercise of immoral power. By acquiescing to everything we have disarmed ourselves. Finally, we are brought to the brink. By yielding to injustice in smaller things we have allowed ourselves to be led calmly to this edge. We are being told to jump off. Our response should be no. There must be an end to moral compromise. We are at a point where God’s people must gain courage if we are to retain any hope for His blessings. Pray for the church.

For Christian Culture,
Don Schanzenbach  1-7-13
Mission to Restore America

Hobby Lobby CEO, David Green’s Letter
When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are 1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and 2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve also raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right.

I know people will say we ought to follow the rules, that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby — and my family — are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make.

David Green is the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

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