The owners of arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby and Christian retailer Mardel begin the New Year fighting an old fight that, until Barack Obama’s election, was settled in America: the fight for the right to freedom of conscience. The Green family-owned businesses are refusing to comply with the Obama government’s order that they provide abortifacient drugs in their health care coverage for employees. Providing such drugs violates the family’s religious beliefs.
The Green family, along with the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty that is defending them, petitioned to the Supreme Court in 2012 to block that part of the ObamaCare law. The case went to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who rejected that bid. The Green family announced that they would defy the mandate. Today is the day that that mandate kicks in across the nation.
Hobby Lobby is among scores of businesses, universities and organizations that are fighting the mandate. So far, courts have tended to side with religious institutions against the mandate, but have not granted Christian business owners the freedom to opt out of the mandate. In the Green family’s case, Hobby Lobby is a secular business that retails arts and crafts and hobby supplies, but Mardel sells only Christian books, music and other religious merchandise. A federal court did side with Tyndale House Publishers in November 2012, blocking the Obama Department of Health and Human Services from imposing the abortifacient mandate on the Bible publisher. That decision only applied to Tyndale.
In a few short years, the United States has moved dramatically, from it being controversial for taxpayer funds to be used to pay for abortions of any kind, to a government mandate forcing businesses to provide abortifacient drugs in violation of their religious beliefs.
Hobby Lobby and Mardel now face fines as high as $1.3 million per day as long as they remain in defiance of the mandate.