Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based national retailer with 22,500 employees and more than 500 stores in 41 states, has become the latest — and largest — business to file suit against President Obama's contraception mandate. The mandate requires employers to provide its workers health insurance that offers free sterilization and contraception, including birth control drugs that have been found to cause abortion. Companies that refuse to follow the mandate can face fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
David Green, Hobby Lobby's founder and CEO, is unabashedly evangelical and places his Christian faith at the center of his business, playing Christian music in Hobby Lobby stores, remaining closed on Sundays, contributing to Christian causes, and running full-page ads with the gospel message in newspapers during the Easter and Christmas holidays.
“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” Green said as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company in the case, announced the suit. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
Thus far 28 lawsuits have been filed against the mandate, most of them involving religious universities or other faith-based organizations. Earlier this year a private business owned by Catholics won a temporary injunction to keep its owners from being forced to obey the mandate. Hobby Lobby is the first major non-Catholic business to sue to halt the mandate. Its lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, charges that the mandate violates the First Amendment's freedom of religion, and asks the court to issue an injunction preventing enforcement of the mandate, similar to the one issued for the Colorado company Hercules Industries.
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