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December 27th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.

The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.

After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."

In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners' religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion.

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"All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don't have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions," Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."

The lawsuit says the companies' religious beliefs prohibit them from providing insurance coverage for abortion inducing drugs. As of August 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer-provided health care plans to provide "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation and a narrow exemption was added for nonprofit religious employers whose employees "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets."

In the face of that opposition, the Department of Health and Human Services tweaked its original rule in February to require health insurers, not employers, to cover the cost of contraception coverage, reasoning that would prevent religious groups from having to finance such coverage. Critics have argued that exemption for nonprofits is far too narrow and a host of nonprofit religious groups have sued the administration over the regulations.

The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.

The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. The company's attorneys say January begins a new health care plan year for Hobby Lobby and that excise tax from the IRS would amount to $1.3 million a day.

Hobby Lobby is owned by CEO and founder David Green and members of his family. "The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles," a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest. Each year the company also takes out full-page ads in numerous newspapers proclaiming its faith at Christmastime and on Independence Day.

The store is not formally connected to any denomination, but the Green family supports numerous Christian ministries and is behind the Green Collection, one of the largest private collections of biblical antiquities in the world. The family plans to permanently house the collection in Washington at a museum set to open in 2016.

On Friday, attorneys for Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene and provide temporary relief from the the fines until the case was decided by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

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Wednesday evening, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit Court, said the company failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that it could continue to pursue its challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, after a final judgment.

"Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the 10th Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time," Duncan said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move.

White House officials have long said they believe they have struck an appropriate compromise between religious exemptions and women's health. The White House has not commented specifically on the Hobby Lobby case.

"It's just so sad that Hobby Lobby is facing this choice. What company, even a successful family owned business like Hobby Lobby, how can they afford the government $1.3 million in fines every day? It's just really absurd that government is not giving on this," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association. Religious liberty groups like hers are watching the Hobby Lobby case closely.

"I am optimistic that these cases will eventually snake their way back up to the Supreme Court and given a full hearing on the merits of the case, I am confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty," Ferguson said. "But in the meantime there is serious damage being done to businesses like Hobby Lobby and nonprofit charitable organizations."

The Hobby Lobby case is just one of many before the courts over the religious exemption aspects of the law. The case represents by far the biggest for-profit group challenging the health care mandate.

After this piece of the law went into effect in August, religious nonprofits were given "safe harbor" of one year from implementing the law. "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said in January when the administration announced the move.

Dolan's New York Archdiocese won a victory this month in its legal battle against the administration and the mandate. In May it sued the government in federal court in Brooklyn over the mandate, saying it "unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the church's religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences."

The government moved to have the case dismissed. On December 4, Judge Brian M. Cogan denied the government's motion to dismiss the case, saying the government's promise of changes to how it will implement the law were not enough to merit dismissal. "There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution," Cogan wrote in in his decision to let the case proceed.

UPDATE: Hobby Lobby's $1.3 million Obamacare loophole

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state

soundoff (5,627 Responses)
  1. Ronnie Harper

    The exercise of freedom of religion is not compromised by the ACA, and how a person uses their medical care is a private matter. These religious fanatics in our country are stupid to the point of being embarrassing.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Ron

      I could care less about the religious aspect, but it is not my responsibility to buy your healthcare....

      December 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You aren't "buying" anyone else's health care anymore than they're buying yours. Health care costs EVERYONE, regardless of your wishes or beliefs. You will end up paying more in taxes to pay for the costs that could be avoided if everyone had comprehensive health care. Why don't you realize that?

      December 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  2. Mrs Time

    I say let them go bankrupt. Since they are already have done so morally. The idiots cannot understand that contraceptives are often used for medical issues other than just preventing pregnancy.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • coastlinecascot

      so the morning "after" pill is used for medical purposes. so a rubber would also be considered a medical device.

      December 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • leeann

      Ummm....hello? They're not saying their employees can't take birth control. They're saying they don't want to pay for the morning after pill.

      December 28, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Dan

      They don't want to pay for the morning-after pill OR basic contreception for their employees.

      December 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Teresa

      If you choose to use contraceptives, the company is not holding that from you. They are choosing not to pay for it because it is against their religious moral beliefs and they founded the company based on their beliefs. You just have to pay for them yourself. If you want a company to provide that to you, apply to companies willing to provide them.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • al123

      Dan, please re read the article before commenting. Thanks.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • al123

      ok, Dan, Mrs. Time and Teresa please re read the article. All contraceptives are not in question here. Only the morning after pill.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Dan

      I read it. It doesn't say JUST the morning-after pill...it says "some" contraceptives. So HL is going to choose which contraceptives it believes are morally OK for its employees to use? What, are rubbers ok but IUDs aren't? And you think HL should decide that? Are you on dope?

      December 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ron

      They should not be forced into providing anything.....

      December 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  3. TheVocalAtheist

    Now, if only the IRS would go after the religious preachers that waved their preach from the pulpit Sunday in the Const*itution's face, actually, they didn't wave they taunted the IRS and the Consti*tution. I would volunteer my time to go after those non-Americans in a heartbeat.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Sniffit

      Agreed so long as they go against those who support liberal agendas and candidates as well as conservatives.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  4. john

    At some point people need to deal with the reality of the situation we have here. We're all screwed. Just accept it. You could have voted for something other than the donkey and elephant in the elections. But no. You p-ies didn't have the guts to back up your whining and crying. You voted all the crooks back into office.
    Let me guess Hobby Lobby man voted all republicans. Yep, some good that did. They're the bad guys too you idiot. I honestly do not feel sorry for the US anymore. You are so stupid people.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  5. Michael B

    Companies don't have 'religious beliefs', people do. To allow the CEO of a company to dictate what laws the company will or will not follow based on his personal beliefs flys in the face of democracy. What if the CEO of the company has some strange religious belief that women should not work outside the home. Does that allow the company to discriminate and not hire women? Of course not. Providing insurance coverage to employees is required by law. If, incidental to that coverage, a woman can obtain contraceptives is, and should always be her choice, not her employer's.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Jason

      Michael,

      No worries. Obamacare will crubmle under it's own weight and you won't have to worry about this horrible and horribly executed 'plan.'

      I'm not religious per se but I agree they shouldn't be required to do something clearly against their beliefs.

      Jason

      December 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Mrs Time

      Well said.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Mrs Time

      For the record, I was speaking to Michael.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Jason

      So all their emplotees should be required to follow all the religious beliefs of the company CEO? Really?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • PaulinGA

      I don't agree with that, Michael B. We expect and applaud companies who act in an 'ethical' manner all the time. Why shouldn't a company like Hobby Lobby do the same? They are following their beliefs in what is right, much in the same was as Ben and Jerry's or Starbuck's. The difference here is that Hobby Lobby's ethical practices are embedded in a faith. THAT is what you have a problem with. If Hobby Lobby was standing on some morals related to global warming or fair treatment of some minority group people would not be so harsh on the company. You don't have to believe in faith-based values, but you should at least respect when others, including the leaders of companies do. Hobby Lobby may go out of business because of this. You will laugh and celebrate because in your eyes a narrow-minded 'religious' company was destroyed. What you don't see if the bigger picture, where government is dictating right and wrong and stepping all over our liberties 'for the sake of the people'. You will not be laughing for long.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      No, it's a company attempting to dictate the religious adherence of its employees. How is this not sinking in to people? Are some people so desperate for religious favoritism?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Wendy

      I agree with Michale B. What we are seeing here is the rebirth of a new nation. But it won't be a nation based on freedom. It's becoming a democratic dictator nation ran by we the people. It's no longer about protecting each of our freedoms. It's about protecting the freedoms of 'we the people' at the expense of personal freedom. Which is bad news.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Wendy

      Don't you mean "WAHHH WAHHH The people who agree with my religion aren't being allowed to do whatever they want. The lack of favoritism means we're being persecuted WAHHH WAHH."

      December 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Wendy

      @hawaiiguest you are not getting my point. I'm not crying over religious persecution here as you put it. There is a much deeper problem occurring here. Our country is becoming what people ran from 200-300 years ago. Our freedoms are under attack. This is a much greater problem then the religious persecution you think everyone is crying about.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Oh yes, not allowing a CEO to dictate things about their employees is such an infringment on freedoms. Please, this is just getting ridiculous.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • PaulinGA

      'A CEO not being allowed to dictate...'? Do you really think that companies are run by popular vote? CEOs are just part of management chain whose responsibility it is to create the culture that is necessary to create the goods and services in order to make a profit. No profit = no business. In short, CEOs make decisions. They do not dictate. AND....no one said you had to work for a company with which you do not agree. I believe a company should be able to design its culture and follow the ethics and morals that its management so chooses to follow. If a company's management does not think it is ethical to provide a particular benefit and an employee, including management, does not agree, then that person is free to leave and find employment elsewhere. Hobby Lobby has done nothing wrong here and its management should be free to design policies as it sees fit. If its policies are unacceptable then employees and consumers will vote with their feet/dollars. The gov't should not be able to dictate what is acceptable.

      December 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • PaulinGA

      MichaelB I think you also miss the point that companies PAY for the health care coverage. Employees also pay as well, of course, but what we have here is a company, under the policies approved not just be the CEO but by the board, that is being forced to pay for something that goes against their beliefs. Moreover, the issue isn't merely about funding birth control pills or condoms. It is about fundin other more controversial 'birth control' products that take the life of unborn children (you have to remember the perspective here that there is an underlying belief that life begins at conception). Is it right to force someone, even a company, to pay for something they stand against? Put the 'religious' angle aside and think about that for a minute.

      December 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Cacherdo

      Response to PaulainGA – Is the employer allowed to dictate how an employee spends his or her paycheck? Where he or she spends vacation time? Insurance coverage is a part of an employee's compensation package and should not be restricted by an employer's religious beliefs any more than any other form of compensation.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • MacV

      Neither should the government.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Scott R

      You realize Hobby Lobby is a PRIVATELY HELD company right? That means, the CEO does not answer to the public, but rather, his/her owner. His/Her Owner gave the mandate, and he is following it.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Ron

      A company is not a democracy, learn the difference. You don't like something your boss tells you to do or not do get another job.

      December 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    For the record, I have not posted anything on this blog in two days and it looks like I need to change my name

    December 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      AB, is that you?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Yes it is me. What in the world has been goin on? Did I piss some psyco off or something??

      December 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  7. Pat

    More proof that ignorance is the mother of all religion and religion will be the downfall of humanity.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Haha

      You know, I bet if you slapped the rise in number of atheists/agnostics in the country on a graph with the decline in morality and good sense, you'd get a big fat X. It's pretty obvious which way things are going with a mere cursory glance at today's society. No manners, no compassion, no understanding, and no tolerance are all rampant here now.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • sixin

      What haha said..

      December 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • jajakin

      @Haha As compared to when 50yrs ago? 100? 200yrs?
      I beg to differ!

      December 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Psychotic, evangelical fundamentalist nutwads. I will never shop there again. No, I don't want your stupid, personal story in the lobby, hobby lobby d!@k.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Davidavid

      Psychotic? D!cks? Gesh, calm down. People like you on every side tear the country apart. Sure, hold a view and argue it, but show some empathy and try to understand the other point of view instead of assume people you don't agree with are psychotic.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  9. The Lord of Excess

    It is hilarious how "faith" is so convenient in this case as it gives them cover for being greedy. That is all this boils down to is greed. As well marketing as many of their locations are in conservative southern areas which overwhelmingly voted for Romney. It is a page right out of the Chic-Fil-A handbook.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Wendy

      Has nothing to do with greed. I believe a CEO has the right to run his company how he sees it. If you don't like it then don't shop there nor work there. The more we allow our government to dictate how we are going to run our companies the closer we become a communist nation where the government runs everything.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Wendy

      And why do the ights of a CEO overrule the rights to choice a employee has? When did it become the right of a CEO to dictate the religious adherence of employees?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Wendy

      He's not affecting your right to an abortion. You just have to pay for it yourself. You don't like it, go work for someone else.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      But he is affecting the right to standard healthcare coverage as defined by the government. If he doesn't like it, then change to a non-profit and be funded completely by a church, then the company would be exempt.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Wendy

      This is why healthcare should be privatized. Get it out of the hands of the employer and into your hands. Employers should convert all the health benefits into dollars, similar to the way it used to be years ago, and let you decide what coverage you want. The government nor the employers should dictate what coverage you get. Do this and you will not have a companies bias affect your decisions.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And yet all healthcare companies do not have coverage to all 50 states, and are subject to business decisions of their own. If you really want to fix these kinds of things, healthcare cannot be a for-profit venture. This is the result of privatizing and making everything a capitalist venture.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Cacherdo

      Wendy – is it ok if your employer denies you any health care coverage based on his or her beliefs that prayer is the only acceptable form of medical intervention? How about no blood transfusions? These beliefs are fundamental to certain established religions such as Christian Science and Jehovah's Witness. Health insurance is part of an employee's compensation just like his or her paycheck. Should an employer be able to dictate how the paycheck is spent?

      December 28, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Mark

      IIt's not greed. Plan B is much, much cheaper than a kid. If it was greed, they would highly promote contraceptives.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  10. fharlass

    Methotrexate is a cancer chemotherapy agent that saves lives. It is also an abortifacant. If I disagree with Methotrexate based on religion, for a person that has Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, is that OK by the standards of Hobby Lobby?

    December 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Mark

      What?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • keldorama

      @Mark – Methotrexate is a cancer treatment drug that can also cause an abortion. Should HL be able to say it won't cover the use of Methotrexate? Better?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  11. Darth Cheney

    Wow, I didn't know corporations had religious beliefs. Can they get venereal diseases too?

    December 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  12. rsone1

    Hobby Lobby is probably bleeding red ink. I've only seen a few Hobby Lobby stores. They all closed after about 2 years. I'm guessing there's only so much scrapbooking and crafts stuff you can sell. Of course, they'll blame ObamaCare.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      Hobby Lobby has been in OKC for many decades, I used to shop there when I was a kid, some 30 years ago. I don't know whether or not they are profitable but they are a huge chain of jesus-freak stores in the Midwest, where the crazies are.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  13. Cedar rapids

    "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."

    Quite right. If you want to be a business then business law trumps every time.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  14. Kat S.

    If they are using religion as their excuse, why not make it a requirement for employment? Only pro-lifers need apply. But they can't do that because it is illegal to ask someone's religious beliefs. Who has ever applied for a job and refused to accept it because of the owner's religion? Privacy issues should remain private. If I were an employer, I believe the morning after pill would end up being more cost efficient than providing maternity costs and another dependant.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  15. MSAWICKI

    "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."

    Law vs Faith.. hmm. Yes, it can.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Wendy

      We have laws to protect people not dictate how someone runs their company or what benefits to provide. Can't you get your abortion pill somewhere else? A company shouldn't be forced to pay for your damn abortion.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Cacherdo

      Wendy – Hobby Lobby is paying for comprehensive health insurance that provides all sorts of treatments as part of an employee's compensation package. Specifically excepting a legal and medically relevant treatment for one class of employees – women – is discrimination plain and simple. Employers are no more morally responsible for how an employee uses heath insurance than how he or she uses his or her paycheck.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  16. Patrick

    Let's see...if a group of druids formed a corporation and stated that it was against their religious beliefs to eat meat, could they refuse to pay for their employees by-pass surgery on religious grounds based on the theory that their employees' needs for by pass might have been caused by the intake of too much cholesterol? No, I think not. Health care is not an ala carte package that we get to pick and choose which parts we agree with and which parts we don't.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  17. Poltergeist

    Eh the things cost $30-50 at a CVS or walmart. Its not as if the employees can't just go buy one. You should be able to afford these things before engaging in risky behavior anyways. I'm looking for two words one starts with a P the other a R.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you talking about the morning after pill? what if it's not he morning after? and who are you to decide that anyone that wants an abortion engaged in 'risky behavior'? who are you to decide what 'risky behavior' is?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • caw

      THIS is why we need universal healthcare in this country. We need to get medical decisions out of the hands of companies, courts and insurance companies and back in the hands of doctors and their patients. At the moment I trust the Federal Government a heck of a lot more than I trust for-profit insurance companies and companies who want to screw over their employees.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Patrick

      Eating meat is "risky" behavior too...it leads to high cholesterol and heart attacks. What if all the vegans decided they shouldn't have to pay for all the heart surgeries of people who ate too much meat because they chose to engage in risky behavior. That isn't how health care works. It's pooled risk.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • AngieS

      People who work at Hobby Lobby can't afford $30-50 per month to keep from becoming pregnant with children that the same salary certainly couldn't support...hence the nature of the discrimination, here. These companies are trying to foist their beliefs and impose these financial decisions on some of the least financially capable amongst us. It amounts to an insidious form of class warfare that most are loathe to even mention.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Honestly the overweight people are taking out a bigger share. Maybe they should push for a vegan plan.

      A risk is any action that may have consequences intended or not.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      We shouldn't cover people who ride bikes, or motorcycles, or even people who drive a car. All of these are risky actions. How about denying life insurance to people who intend to skydive or bungee jump. Where do you draw the line? At what arbitrary area will it stop? You've already somewhat advocated for the vegan thing, even though meat eating isn't truly a cause of obesity.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      If you are a skydiver/bungee jumper you pay higher premiums. Obviously you couldn't ban vehicle drivers or no one would be on the policies.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So where's the line? How do you determine the line? Your religious convictions?

      December 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      My determination doesn't matter, it's the companies stance. Exceptions have been made for other orginizations so I dont see this being too different. If you work for a nfp, you have to buy your own pills.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Do you mean non-profit? If so, then are you unaware that hobby lobby is a for-profit company? The exception is for CHURCHES, are you seriously saying you don't see the difference between a church and Hobby Lobby?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Yes, I'm aware. And it's not just churches, other nfps with Chrisitan leanings have the same exception. From a managerial stand point an nfp is run just like any other business except for the fact that it doesn't earn a profit.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So are you trying to say that non-profits and for-profits are the same and that therefore Hobby Lobby should be exempt? Are you that desperate for religious favoritism?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      They aren't exactly the same. A for profit distributes dividends to investors, a non profit invest all earnings back into the orginization. That's the major difference between them. But other than that they have boards, staff, and managers and you run both like a business. A job at an nfp is no different than a job at a for profit. Why should a profit change whether or not an organization can have a stance or not?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Look up the requirements for non-profit status instead of looking at the outside. I work for one, and it's nothing like a for-profit organization.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Would any of these requirements somehow justify a non profit's stances being respected as opposed to a for profit? Is there anything about your employment that's significantly different than working in a for profit?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      For one, my job is a lot more tenuous on grants and certifications. One bad audit could cut the entire agency in half. Two, we are still under federal regulations for non-discriminations due to government grants. If the non-profit were funded through a church, then that wouldn't apply. You really have no idea what goes on or the laws governing different types of organizations based on status, funding, and what not do you?

      December 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      I don't need to know every HHR regulation. NFP aren't the only type of corporation that can get or need government grants. But if you need specifics REG-120391-10 under Legal Guidance for Group Health Plan Requirements is what gives religious nfps their exemption. It a special exemption granted specifically so these organizations do not have to violate their stances, if paying for contraception is against them. If the IRS is willing to make an exemption that respects the stance of a nfp, it's not unreasonable for that exemption to be extended to a corporation with a regular stance. This arguement is starting to circle itself so have the last word if you'd like.

      December 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • D

      I don't agree with what Hobby Lobby is trying to do. A law has been passed and they need to follow it. In regards to the citation you noted, "The store is not formally connected to any denomination"...so the citation doesn't apply to them.

      I think they are throwing around their personal belief in order to get out of giving their employees what is due to them. It's a shame, because now they are going to pay more in fines and eventually go out of business.

      December 28, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  18. KD

    Everyone has the right to their religious beliefs but they are your own beliefs and should be kept to yourself, not forced upon everyone else. What is right for you might not be right for someone else. There are many Catholics who use birth control, even though it is "against their religion". Would you rather your taxes pay for a family who has 10 children because they can't afford to take care of them or would you rather just pay for the damn birth control? Are these employers going to compensate these women for any children they may conceive because they were denied birth control? Doubtful.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • jOEbLOW

      Nobody is being denied birth control. Anyone is free to go purchase their own at any time
      People are refusing to buy other people birth control. The employers are the only one's who's rights are being violated as they are being forced to pay for something that they equate to the murder of another person.

      I'm not religious. I have no dog in this fight. But to say that a right is being denied is just asinine.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Wendy

      joeblow is spot on.

      December 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Cacherdo

      Wendy and jOEbLOW could not be more wrong – women employees are being singled out and denied a part of their employment compensation. How is it any different morally for Hobby Lobby, or any other employer, to give a person money in the form of a paycheck to buy contraception versus health insurance that covers it?

      December 28, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • MacV

      Yet that is what the government did, through Obamacare. Forcing it's beliefs on the American people.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Teresa

      Joblow has it right. Anyone can get birth control. A company should not have to provide it if they choose not to.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • KMDAB

      @joeblow: I am morally against paying for somebody else's cancer treatments because they are a 2-pack a day smoker. I am against paying for somebody's else's b0ner pills. I am against paying for somebody else's insulin because they eat like crap. Why do religious reasons get a pass?

      December 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • KD

      To be clear, I didn't say that a right was being denied, and yes, people have access to birth control through other means such as clinics etc. My point is that the business should not get to decide what is good for others because they don't like it. There are things I don't like or agree with/believe/ or think is moral either but that is my opinion and I am not going to tell someone else that they can't do something because I don't like it. Sorry but I don't disagree with the "belief" that everyone should be able to have health insurance.

      December 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Scalia, the most conservative of the activist Roberts court once wrote in Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith: “We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.” The case can be read at http://www.law.cornell.edu/nyctap/I06_0127.htm, it is Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany v. Serio in which the following argument was upheld - The United States Supreme Court's decision in Empl. Div. v Smith 494 US 872 [1990]) bars plaintiffs' federal free exercise claim. In Smith, the Court interpreted its First Amendment decisions as holding "that the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a 'valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes)'" (id. at 879) (quoting United States v Lee, 455 US 252 n 3 [1982] [Stevens, J., concurring]). The Court held that where a prohibition on the exercise of religion "is not the object . . . but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended" (494 US at 878).

    By that test, the First Amendment has not been offended here. The burden on plaintiffs' religious exercise is the incidental result of a "neutral law of general applicability," one requiring health insurance policies that include coverage for prescription drugs to include coverage for contraception. A "neutral" law, the Supreme Court has explained, is one that does not "target[] religious beliefs as such" or have as its "object . . . to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation" (Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v City of Hialeah, 508 US 520 [1993]). Religious beliefs were not the "target" of the ACA, and it was plainly not that law's "object" to interfere with plaintiffs' or anyone's exercise of religion. Its object is to make broader health insurance coverage available to women and, by that means, both to improve women's health and to eliminate disparities between men and women in the cost of health care.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Dayyumm! Best post on here I've seen yet! Thanks, Kevin!
      Keep posting that stuff!

      December 28, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  20. J.C.

    Companies don't "believe" anything. Companies, despite what the Supreme Court says, are not people. They don't have values, feelings, or souls. Saying Hobby Lobby doesn't "believe" in something so important as contraception is ridiculous. Their employees, on the other hand, can choose to avail themselves of the contraceptive options or not as is falls within THEIR personal believe system since, being people, they can have beliefs.

    December 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • D F

      you are a moron.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • jOEbLOW

      It's obvious that someone is a life-long job taker.

      A job creator would recognized how ridiculous that post was. No company is autonomous.
      When you create a company, you set forth it's goals and morals. By a very direct extension, the owners morals ARE the companies morals and vice versa. To say that a company can have no beliefs or morals is to deny it's owners the right to their beliefs and morals.

      December 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.