A Nazarene pastor, a liberal faith-based group and others are voicing their objection to the recent lawsuit filed by the arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby, which was the first Christian business to challenge Obamacare’s morning-after pill mandate, stating that the drug is a necessary form of birth control. However, Hobby Lobby is contending that the opposition lodged against the suit is moot as the company already provides birth control coverage to its employees, and is only challenging the abortifacient aspects of the health care law, not the entire mandate.
As previously reported, company CEO David Green said that parts of Obamacare relating to abortion, such as morning-after pill coverage, violated the company’s evangelical convictions and that the lawsuit was therefore unavoidable.
“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,” he said. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
Lance Schmitz, who leads Capitol Hill Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, says that he attempted to deliver a petition to the headquarters of Hobby Lobby last Thursday, calling upon the store to withdraw its challenge — not because he favors abortion, but because he asserts that the morning-after pill has been mis-classified as an abortifacient.
“My decision to do this came to me after prayer and much reflection and discernment with friends and colleagues and ministers and doctors,” he explained. “We’re asking them to drop their lawsuit because they’re stating that this medication causes abortions, and the simple fact of the matter is that it does not. It’s contraceptive coverage. When you increase access to contraception you decrease abortions, and no one’s really against that.”
Schmitz outlined that he had approximately 80,000 signatures in hand from citizens across America to present to company executives last week, but security guards at the Hobby Lobby headquarters turned him away.
The petition being delivered by Schmitz was spearheaded by two groups, one being the liberal faith-based organization Faithful America, which runs an issue-based activist website.
“Faithful America is an online community of tens of thousands of citizens motivated by faith to take action on the pressing moral issues of our time,” the group’s website explains. “We come from diverse faith traditions, but share a unifying commitment: to restore community and uphold the common good in America and across the globe.”
The petition crafted by Faithful America and delivered by Schmitz reads, “Don’t use your Christian faith as an excuse to obstruct health care reform and deny women access to birth control. I won’t shop at your store until you drop this lawsuit, and I’ll tell my friends to do the same.”
“Access to contraceptive care is a very good thing,” Schmitz said.
However, Hobby Lobby advised that while it contends that the morning-after pill indeed induces abortions, Schmitz’s arguments are moot since the company does not oppose birth control, and has actually been providing coverage for other contraceptives for years.
“The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue its longstanding practice of covering these preventive contraceptives for its employees,” Hobby Lobby’s legal representation, The Beckett Fund, said on behalf of the company in a written statement. “However, the Green family cannot provide or pay for two specific abortion-inducing drugs. These drugs are Plan B and Ella, the so-called morning-after pill and the week-after pill. Covering these drugs, as the government is forcing them to do under the threat of $1.3 million penalty per day, would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception, when an egg is fertilized.”
“Hobby Lobby is not ‘denying women healthcare,’ as the petition falsely claims,” the statement continued. “Hobby Lobby provides generous health care benefits and wages to all its employees. Their benefits have always included the vast majority of birth control drugs and will continue to do so. The government, however, wants to force Hobby Lobby to cover two specific drugs that can cause early abortions. This is illegal and unconstitutional.”
However, others disagree with both Schmitz and Hobby Lobby, as they believe that Christians should not be mandated to provide birth control coverage either, and state that the use of contraception demonstrates a failure to trust God.
“[P]racticing birth control is in essence an attempt to lock Sovereign God out of one of the most important areas of our lives. Do not think that it is insignificant, for all things that we do are significant, and is an evidence of the condition of our hearts,” commented Tony Warren of the Center for Biblical Theology and Escatology. “We are not the Lord of our lives, Christ is. Therefore, our prayers are not of insistence, but in child-like humility, ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'”
The international offices of the Church of the Nazarene issued the following statement, in part, to Christian News Network about the matter:
“The petition advanced by Lance Schmitz regarding the action of Hobby Lobby against the federal government are his own views and are not the official position of the Church of the Nazarene International nor of the Southwest Oklahoma District Church of the Nazarene. Nor is the Southwest Oklahoma District Church of the Nazarene associated with Faithful America or Ultraviolet organizations in this regard. The Southwest Oklahoma District Church of the Nazarene and the Church of the Nazarene International affirms our partnership with Hobby Lobby for the good of our communities and all humanity.”
The statement did not disclose whether Church of the Nazarene agrees with Hobby Lobby’s support of birth control, but only advised that it opposes abortion.
Hobby Lobby’s challenge to Obamacare remains in the hands of a federal court in Oklahoma.