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
Well done, Hobby Lobby. I wouldn't pay for someone else's abortion, either. I would die before contributing to the murder of a tiny baby. The government's job, before anything else, is to protect life. It baffles me how people can be ok with murdering a tiny, innocent child.
Since when is contraception abortion?
Colin, Contraception is abortion in the following case. An egg is fertilized by a sperm, conceiving a child. When the child tries to find the womb, where it will grow, develop, and be nurtured, the womb won't accept it because the "Mother" has taken a pill that makes the womb uninhabitable. So the baby dies. That's killing a baby, otherwise known as abortion.
I am not sure the morning after pill functions that way, but I don't know. Either way, a small collection of cells can hardle be considered a human being.
Actually sallie, morning after pills block a "possible" pregnancy and along with the other contraceptives out there, blocking is the key word
Sallie – That's also known, in millions of cases a years, as having a period.
Stay out of other peoples lives. Hobby Lobby, stay out of other people lives.
Wow, guys, I can't believe that you all don't know how the Morning-After pill works vs. menstruation, conception, condoms, etc! Quick run-down... With a period, there is no fertilized egg, and therefore no life. With a condom, same thing. With the pill that makes the womb incapable of accepting a fertilized egg, a life has been created, but there is no where for it to go to survive. Killing a fertilized egg, no matter how far along in the pregnancy, is abortion. Many people like myself are fundamentally against abortion and view it as nothing other than murder. Therefore, it is unconscionable for us to partake in any act that enables it.
No, Sallie. You're wrong. Look it up. Up to 80% of all fertilized eggs fail to implant, and women have normal periods without even suspecting how close they came to being pregnant.
Sorry sallie but a woman isn't considered pregnant just because there is a fertilized egg inside her. It has to embed itself before that happens. The morning after pill prevents pregnancy, it does not terminate one.
And thus another view of a law violating the right of someones belief. Last I checked Hobby Lobby was a private company and founded with believes in church. Politics needs to stay out of the private sector and the private lives of good people.
And private companies need to stay out of other peoples lives. Hobby Lobby can tell them where to work and how much they make, but they don't get to choose other peoples religions or run their personal lives.
Let's see against contraceptives that prevent unwanted pregnacies and also against abortion. I guess preventing pregnancies to lower the number of abortions is against their religion and common sense. They are also brilliant business people. Guess they only want to do business with less than half the country.
Being an Athiest, my view is not religious based. But I do not feel I need to pay for other peoples controceptives. Heres an idea, if you do not want to become pregnant, how about you go out and buy some condoms? Its no my job, nor anyone elses, to pay for you to not get pregnant. Keep your legs shut, buy condoms, or shut up about it and deal with it.
Why didn't your parents pay for you to be aborted? No jobs?
Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:
(a) The ancient Celts;
(b) Bronze Age Egyptians;
(c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or
(d) Modern Christians
Q. 2 You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:
(a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;
(b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;
(c) a scientific fraud; or
(d) a Christian
Q. 3 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or
(d) A Christian
Q.4 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
(a) A gifted psychologist
(b) A well respected geneticist
(c) A highly educated sociologist; or
(d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
Q5. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian
Q6. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
Q.7 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
Q.8 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from Christianity:
(a) Christianity tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Christianity can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas Christianity is regional and a person’s Christianity, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than geographical upbringing; or
(d) All of the above.
Q.9 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Q.10 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) the mafia
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) any given Christian church
Q.11 What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
(a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
(b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
(c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
Q.12 The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
(a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
(b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
(c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or
(d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.
Q.13 The statement “I believe in God because the Bible tells me to and the reason I follow the Bible is because it is the word of God” is:
(a) Circular reasoning at its most obvious;
(b) The reason 99% of Catholics believe what they do;
(c) Specific to the Judeo-Christian parts of the World and totally rejected by all other parts of the World; or
Q.14 Probably the most fundamental tenet of Christian faith is that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to die and save us from the original sin of Adam and Eve. We now know that Adam and Eve was a myth. As such, any thinking Christian should:
(a) Honestly and courageously question this and any other aspects of their faith that don’t make sense.
(b) Make up some euphemistic nonsense like “well, we didn’t mean that literally” after having done exactly that for the last 1900 years until science comprehensively disproved it.
(c) Just ignore the blatant contradiction and sweep it under the mat; or
(d) Hold on to the myth because it makes them feel good.
Q.15 Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.
(a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.
(b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.
(c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.
(d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.
Q16. If you are worried that your children, who you love very much, will not believe something you tell them, such as "smoking is bad for you," would you:
(a) have your family doctor explain to them the various ill effects of smoking;
(b) show them a film produced by the National Insti.tute for Health on the topic;
(c) set a good example for them by not smoking; or
(d) refuse to give them any evidence of the ill effects of smoking, insist that they rely entirely on faith and then take them out into the backyard and burn them to death if you ever catch them smoking?
And, as a bonus question, what would you think of an "all loving Father" who chose option (d)?
You sir, appear to be a complete moron. And, no. I didn't even read ANY of your stupid post.
@Dick, I commend your mother in her foresight in naming you.
I take it you've read Price, Carrier, Loftus and the Four Horsemen...? Excellent. Me, too. The more you know about science today and the religions of the ancient world, the less it is possible to believe what you were taught as a child, even if you wanted to. Education is the remedy.
I'm an atheist and even I agree with the person below.
Colin....what time are you going to post the answers? I'd like to know my score before I go to bed.
Hopefully they'll be driven out of business and everyone will lose their jobs.
People make their own choices. The Church wants to be in a position to dictate other people choices. You fail Hobby Lobby.
Or, you have a choice not to work there, and work somewhere else that offers the plan you want? I am an athiest, but i say good for Hobby Lobby for sticking up for what they believe in.
Well said, Phil.
They're for-profit, and not a church. They are under federal regulations and standards. If they don't want to comply, let them go bankrupt or become a non-profit and be completely funded through the church and private donations. Otherwise, they're merely required to be on the same playing field as everyone else.
Everyone seems to forget about the employees, since they're the ones that are actually effected by it, shouldn't it be their option? You can't argue that Hobby Lobby can object because they're paying for it, it's actually the employee's benefit and the insurance company is paying for it, it's no different than an employee taking their paycheck and using it to buy birth control. Or should Hobby Lobby be allowed to say what an employee can and can't spend their paycheck on? If the company doesn't want to pay for an employees benefit then fine, they should have to increase the employees wage enough so that they can afford to pay for it on their own, which would likely be far more expensive to pay for individually than company wide and would cost Hobby Lobby a lot more money.
"Corporations are religions, my friend."
– Bishop Mitt Romney
Hmm...who works at or shops at a such a fabulous Art Supply store? Wait until civil marriage equality goes national in 2013, and Hobby Lobby has to cover legal same-gender spouses. Joseph Smith, that upstanding and respected marriage traditionalist, will be rolling over in his grave...or perhaps into one the graves of his 30 wives.
I believe in a Bronze Age Palestinian sky-fairy, too. My sky-fairy wants me to ignore the law that says I can't discriminate against women. Do I get to ignore that law of the land based on my religious belief, too?
Christians can believe whatever antiquated bullshi.t they want to, but this does not give them the right to break the law. Fine away!!
well if they can't afford the $1.3 million in fines every day then the choice is clear...... obey the law; hey I don't like to pay speeding tickets too!
I applaud Hobby Lobby for standing up for their beliefs if in fact that's what their decision is based on. The big socialist push here in America recently is pretty disturbing and I fear for our future. This way of thinking can only end in tyranny as it has in the past, but apparently we need another lesson because we've clearly grown too far away from our past experiences. I'd love to do the easy thing and blame our statesmen and particularly Obama, but the fact of the matter is that there will ALWAYS be people like these willing to fill the role. They are merely a reflection of the mentallity of the people. Remember the wise words of Samuel Adams – "The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought."
I bet when other religious groups start standing up for their beliefs, you are going to wet your pants,
That's President Obama to you, buddy. President Obama, the real messiah.
Hobby Lobby's owners can believe whatever the want. They don't like Obama dictating to them what is covered through health insurance, but they want to dictate what is covered through health insurance to their employees?
You can't dictate your personal beliefs to your employees Hobby Lobby. Your religious beliefs don't equate to everybody else's religious beliefs. You are in the Hobby business. Stick to that.
As a nation we have to decide who determines what medical procedures are appropriate, the employer or the employee. I for one do NOT believe any employer has the right to force their (or their owner's) religous or cultural beliefs on an employee. In any conflict between individual freedom and corporate "freedom" I will always side with the individual.
Don't insurance companies have the right to pay for THIS drug and not THAT one already? Why is it so offensive for some of you to pay for your own pills? Abortion pills are fine with me but I don't automatically equate my employer with the "provider of all my medications" as some of you apparently do. Jesus Christ, pay for your own abortion pill, why don't you? I have to pay for my own medical marijuana don't I? It's about lifestyle choices. Peace, Out.
People have religions, companies do not.
Religions are going out of style, ever since that pesky Science started (400 years ago). The bible thumpers seem to realize this. That's why they have been going completely nuts lately.
"Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law.""
A corporation has no faith!! Make your organization a church-based bookstore, i.e., non-profit if you don't want to dole out contraceptives. Or only hire male employees.
Corporations actually have one religious belief: Make Money.
A corporation has no religious beliefs. The people who run it may but, so do the people who work for them. What health care options one provides does not violate a religious belief only what one person decides to use or do. Corporations are just looking for any way to cut cost and not provide health care. Trying to kill the law one section at a time.
$474 Million a year from Hobby Lobby?? Awesome! Keep it coming! Every bit counts toward deficit reduction....
I agree. Knock your self out Hobby Lobby. We can use your money.
Hobby Lobby is NOT against subsidizing things their religion says are immoral. Hobby Lobby is perfectly willing to provide birth control (most forms) which they know very well may be used to engage in behavior they consider immoral (e.g. fornication). But there's a big difference between subsidizing something you simply believe is immoral and subsidizing something you believe is directly killing an innocent person who has no say in the matter. That's a distinction most who are posting against Hobby Lobby don't seem to realize or address.
It's because their religious convictions do not enter consideration when it comes to the coverage of their employees. I really don't care what they think. They want to run a for-profit business, then they damn well better be prepared to play by the rules.
A corporation does not have feelings and is not moral. A corporation is a creation of the state and therefore subject to regulations of the state. I would have a lot more sympathy for the owner of Hobby Lobby if it was run as a sole proprietorship and not picking and choosing how he wants help from the government in managing risk, liability, regulations and taxes. Besides, many of the so-called abortion drugs are used for cancer and auto-immune disease treatment, so it is not as simple as just not covering a specific drug.
I believe abstinence is a form of murder. Can I r.ape women based on my religious belief?
I was unaware a corporation could have a religion.
If companies have this right, then a company owned by Jehova's Witnesses could deny insurance coverage for blood transfusions for their employees. There is no end to the kinds of exemptions a company could claim. Actually a company could claim it violates their religious rights to even provide any kind of health insurance. (There are religions like the one founded by Mary Baker Eddy and certain Pentecostal religions that don't believe in medical care other than prayer.)
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.