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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
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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. ep tor

    So now an employer can ram their religious beliefs down the throats of its employees? That is religious persecution. Do their employment want ads say "devout Christians only, others need not apply"?

    A work around could be to make the contraception part of the policy a mandatory addendum that would be paid either by the employer for normal companies or by the employee if they work for a company owned by religious extremists. However, where the employee needs to pay, the employer will be required to add the premium amount to the employees remuneration and withold it along with taxes and other benefits.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      This whole healthcare thing could best be fixed by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone. We already have the infrastructure and the procedures and all that. One of the other things we would need is for the gov't to take over those greedy sumb/tches in the health industries and do all healthcare as a non-profit, as all gov't agencies are basically designed to be anyway. They have budgets, not customers. Healthcare should be socialized, and soon. Health is not a product to be sold, but a service to be given to all Americans to help them, to provide for their most basic needs.
      We need to be a country for all the people, not just the rich.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Angela Birch

      No he can't the court ruled against him. An employer doesn't have the right to impose his religious beliefs on his employees.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • Steve

      This employer is not ramming any belief down anybody's throat, moron. The company and its principles existed before a single employee was hired. If the employees have problem with not being allowed to kill a baby, they can go find work elsewhere.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Steve, you are yet another ignoramus who doesn't get it. The morning-after pill doesn't cause abortion. It will prevent them by preventing any pregnancy in the first place, you stupid git.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Steve

      I'm a git purely because I believe life begins at conception, huh? Your beliefs carry you into eternity. Be careful what you convince yourself of to maintain your political correctness liberal intellect. Do you believe in capital punishment, too?

      December 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What kind of fvcking moron are you that can't pick up a book or look at a website that's reliable to find out what the morning after pill does? Please, please tell me you ALWAYS use protection, even if you want kids. The earth doesn't need one more idiot like you who can't learn and refuses to try, and insists that everyone else be as stupid as he is.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Debbie

      They have a right to believe how they believe. They are a Christian company and if you don't like that, then don't work for them.

      December 29, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Debbie, you can believe whatever you want, but you act according to the law. If the owner wants to donate funds to change the law, that's his busines.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Chris

      Its not about cramming ones beliefs down the throat of another. Muslims dont have to pay for Obamacare due to religious beliefs so why should this company have to carry coverage if they dont agree with it?

      December 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  2. Joseph Anthony

    They are dictated a choice to either pay for drugs that potentially kill human organisms at the earliest stages of development (by inhibiting implantation), or pay a fine. Hobby Lobby considers the first a violation of human dignity, and the second is ultimately crippling and unsustainable. The Health and Human Services Contraception Mandate effectively makes it impossible for a convinced pro-lifer (religious or non) to own a business and live in accordance with that belief. It does not strictly dictate what beliefs can be held, but it does outlaw one ancient, respectable, and wildly held philosophy from the public square. Regardless of what people of contraception, Americans should have the right to not pay for products that they believe kill human beings without being penalized.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Fred M.

      You wrote: "Regardless of what people of contraception, Americans should have the right to not pay for products that they believe kill human beings without being penalized."

      Then you tell the IRS that you're not paying your taxes because you have a right to refuse to pay for guns, bullets, drones, missiles, grenades, mortars and all of the other products that the military uses to kill human beings. Tell them that it's against your religious beliefs. Let me know how that works out for you.

      Corporations are not Americans. They are legally recognized business organizations and nothing more. They aren't living human beings. They don't have religious beliefs any more than your car does.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Angela Birch

      Frd is right.. Add in where to draw the line. Do we let Jehovah Witnesses insist that their employees not have insurance that allows transfusions?
      In addition it is actually more expensive to have a policy specially written to mot include contraceptives, because at that point the insurance company is assuming the risk of covering pregnancy, complications and deliveries at a higher rate. So the employer is just being asked to provide health insurance., if he wants to get all precious about it he can ask his employees to pay $20 a month for coverage. Health insurance should not be dependent on the loony beliefs of an employer. Whan you start granting exeptions for what the emp[loyer believes it is beyond stupid.
      I woner if he is a Christian planning on going to heaven? Has he measured a camel for an eye of a needle has he sold all he owns and given the money to the poor, I doubt it. A billionaire is really not much of a follower of God. You don't see him caring for the widowed and orphaned.. There is a reason why I can't take Chritianity very seriously, Christians don't.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • TheRationale

      This is an old, ignorant, and out of touch concept that demonstrably hurts society. Access to birth control lowers teen pregnancies and abortions, and denying it makes the rates go up again. Inhibiting egg fertilization isn't murder by any definition, it's stopping the process before it even starts. And morning after pills? The idea that a small cluster of cells is interchangeable with a human life is ridiculous – you're completely ignoring the existing lives that would be changed for the worse.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Theresa

      Does Hobby Lobby also require their employees to contribute to their health insurance or does the company pay 100% of the cost? If the employees are paying for a portion of their health insurance then they should have a say in the coverage as well.

      December 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Kevin Michel

      As I have said on other forums, as long as Hobby Lobby is paying for 100% of the cost of the health care program, they should be able to opt out of specific coverages. If they pay for only a portion of the care, they should not have any say in what coverages are available. One way or the other, not both.

      December 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  3. Joe citizen abroad

    Okay, one more time...the religious beliefs of the employer must NOT be forced upon the employees. That's what this country was founded upon...freedom from oppressive religious zealots. This is a free country. There are no "narrow exemptions." If Hobby Lobby is so concerned about supporting things that conflict with their narrow view of Christianity, perhaps they should think about how much money they're pumping into atheist communist China, as almost everything in their inventory originates there.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • matt

      If you don't like the views of the company that you work for than don't work for them. That's your right but don't take the rights from the employer.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      A company doesn't have the right to refuse compliance with a government mandate.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Joe of Eagleville

      freedom from oppressive religious zealots! That is the STUPIDEST thing I ever heard about what our country was founded upon! Our country was founded by people trying to escape religious persecution from people like you and the Obama Administration!!!! Its a shame the screwups are in charge again.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • greyguy0

      My employer tells me what time I and going to come to work and when I get off. they tell me what I can and can't do during my working hours and for that I get a paycheck. People seem to think it's all well and good as long as everything is for them and the devil may care about the employer. I am fairly sure that the people that work for Hobby Lobby and Mardels are well aware if the Greens religious beliefs prior to getting hired. They are eager to accept the benefits that those beliefs give them such as the higher wages and time off. If the government doesn't accept the Greens belief then why do we have legally recognized holidays such as christmas ? Should the people that don't believe have to work and not get off ? Why is it that the government mandates that they have to pay for those unworked days since it is a religous holiday ? What happened to the days when a owner of a company had some say about "their" company ?

      December 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you think the owner should be able to deny coverage to a person who is gay? Black? Jewish? Atheist? Should the owner be allowed to pay less than minimum wage?

      The days when the owner had all the say ended when the industrial age resulted in the deaths and illnesses of millions of workers. Get over it.

      December 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • KIM

      Joe, I am sure the employees that are having the owners religion "forced" on them don't mind that the same religion gives them EVERY Sunday off and EVERY religious holiday! You cannot have your cake and eat it too!

      December 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Angel Moronic

    The Hobby Lobby has not laid off 13000 US employees yet is only because they have not found an offshore factory that is more profitable than here in the US ( oh wait ... they may have already 🙁

    December 28, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  5. Didn't these guys learn anything from Chic-fil-a?

    .

    December 28, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • Extra Medium

      BOTTOM line $$$ rules !!!!!

      December 28, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • Joe of Eagleville

      What do you mean about Chick fil A? Chick fil A had their best financial quarter EVER because of their stand and Christians turning out in droves to support them.

      December 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  6. QuietStormX

    Really, people and corperations who try to avoid trying not to supply young women health care. You don't see young CBA women trying to hold up or not provide health care for women who need it.

    December 28, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  7. darknesscrown

    It actually is irrelevant that they oppose contraception on religious grounds. So, it's ok for the Catholic Church and other religious organizations to equate forcing them to pay for contraception as a "violation" of their religious rights, but THEY are free to spend their church money on campaigns to outlaw gay marriage–citing that it is immoral and indecent? Since when do Christian (or Muslim, or Sikh, or Jewish, or Scientologist, or any of the other fruity philosophies out there) organizations get to dictate policy in this country? I really, REALLY wish this country's politicians would grow a pair and start taxing the ever-living snot out of every church/religious organization in this country. Seriously. Especially if they are going to get politically involved.

    You can't have it both ways. You can't oppose something saying it's a violation of your rights and then, in the virtually the same breath, say that another person's lifestyle should be OUTLAWED because you THINK it's immoral. More people need to start standing up to Evangelical Christianity in this country. I'm only one man...I can only crush one lame "god" argument at a time.

    December 28, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  8. nomad2003

    this corporation is a private corporation... different rules than a public corporation...

    1.3 million per day is excessive.... they fees should have been stayed until the court decision is made.

    if they hold to their convictions, they can either cancel all insurance or close the company and put 13,000 employees out of work.

    i

    December 28, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Extra Medium

      No one is stopping Hobby Lobby from doing anything that you are suggesting

      December 28, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • darknesscrown

      Likely over-inflated figures...like everything. There is patently NOTHING socialist about "obamacare" at all. Nothing. Name 3 things that are even remotely socialistic.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • Angela Birch

      You don't catch a billionaire closing the source of his wealth, Not going to happen. As for not covering his employees. An employer that refuses his employees adequate health care is hardly a Christian. He could condemn an employee to death rather than have as part of an insurance policy contraception? Now there is a true nut. The Bible doesn't mention Conraception, heck the Bible doesn't mention abortion. Thou the Christian God that was supposed to be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow sure advocated for it aling with infanticide and murder of children in the old testament. Never could believe in a God that ordered the murds of babies and children. And not his followers get all het up about a pill that stops a pregnancy from occuring. Makes about as much sense as most tthings Christians believe.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  9. drakewolfe

    The whole Obamacare has to do with U.N. Agenda 21 indoctrination, of course the gov't isn't going to budge...

    December 28, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • darknesscrown

      Keep the conspiracies coming. What's next? The government secretly developing Human-zees?

      December 28, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • Fred M.

      If you honestly believe that, you need psychological care. Your thoughts are delusional and seem like some kind of manifestation of paranoid schizophrenia.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Angela Birch

      WOW another tin foil hat on way too tight.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  10. Kelcy

    Easy fix. Just stop providing health insurance. Up the employees salaries commensurate with how much they pay for the business side of their health coverage. And then let the employees get their own health insurance. Then there is no conflict. It is none of their business what kind of health insurance their employees buy after that.

    December 28, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Good corporation like Hobby Lobby care very much for their employees. They don't want employees to take abortion pills because that weaken their moral fibers.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • D

      Individual employees buying their own policies on the open market would face much higher payments as they would be *individuals* and not able to purchase policies at the group rate they and the company currently enjoy. thus, supplementing their pay with how much the company currently pays would only cover a portion of their new expense and would leave the employee on the hook for the rest. thanks for playing!

      December 28, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Phil

      D you forgot about the government SUBSIDY to purchase insurance under the ACA.

      For example. I think employer sponsored health care will go away, replaced by the employee to fund with a company "match" or a one time raise. For example, an hourly employee at hobby lobby making $15 an hour, who is single, 35 years old and requires coverage just for themselves under the law would, under the kaiser family foundations subsidy calculator, cost $4,000 in premiums to the employer. If the employer dropped coverage and paid the 2,000 fine, the employee would have to buy insurance, contributing a little more than 8% of income. That's 2,400 and the government gives a refundable tax credit of 1,600 to make up the difference. So hobby lobby drops coverage, gives the worker a $2,000 raise to buy insurance and hobby lobby breaks even and the employee takes control of their purchasing decision.

      Now if you have mostly married people with family policies making 40 an hour, it REALLY pays to drop coverage. Here is why. If a 45 year old married man making 80,000 a year requires $14,200 in premiums (again according to kaiser) and the company drops coverage, pays the 2,000 fine AND gives the employee a 7,600 raise to cover his government mandated share of a family policy, the government gives the taxpayer 6,600 to complete the purchase, the employee gets the same coverage as before, the employer saves 4,600 and nobody is worse off ( except the taxpayers). Give it 5, maybe 7 years and this is exactly what will happen at big companies. Walmart effectively does it already, McDonald's and 100's of other firms threatened and received 1 or 2 year exemptions from the government. Those will expire, business is here to make money, if the employee can easily get insurance on the exchanges with a big help from government you can expect it.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • Fred M.

      Atheism is what happens when a rational person thinks. Your illiterate couple of sentences read like an advertisement for atheism.

      Yeah, children may need imaginary friends, but adults are not supposed to.

      "They don't want employees to take abortion pills because that weaken their moral fibers."

      Because it's so "moral" to have a kid that you don't want and can't afford to raise on the meager pay you get working the counter at Hobby Lobby.

      Ignorant people like you just scare the heck out of those of us that choose reason over believing in a sky-daddy.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • Angela Birch

      it is not an employers business what pills their employees take and the employees moral fibers( where do they keep them) are their own business.. Their employer is not their mommy and they are not 12. An adult has the right to decide these things for themselves.
      Let Mr Boss start living up to the requirements of his faith before he starts attempting to shove them down the throats of his employees.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Angela Birch

      No phil, wlmart doesn't do that as all. Their employees in my state make minimun wage. No benefits. If they need health care they are invited to go apply for medicaid, and let the taxpayers pick up their health bill. One of the reason I don't shop there. I prefer an employer that doesn't expect me to subsidise their bottom line with my tax dollars.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  11. Gmail

    So every single one of their 13,000 employees believe in their same religion? News flash Hobbly Lobby: You are a registered corporation. Corporations do not have a faith. Those are called Churches, which you are not. Comply with the law like everyone else, or pay the fines. It is really that simple. Furthermore, your merchandise is overpriced JUNK! It's a mystery why anyone with a right mind would shop there.

    December 28, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Extra Medium

      Corporations do not pay any income tax so that qualify them as churches.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • everettreb

      If they want to protect their religious beliefs they could just go out of business.
      Is that what you want to see 13,000 more employees out of jobs because of Obama?

      December 28, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • Extra Medium

      That is the BOTTOM line choice Hobby Lobby must make. No one is stopping them.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • Extra Medium

      Remember corporations exist because of profit not for any moral reason.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • darknesscrown

      everettreb says, "If they want to protect their religious beliefs they could just go out of business.
      Is that what you want to see 13,000 more employees out of jobs because of Obama?" -- Excuse you? Obama would be the reason 13,000 people lose their jobs? Uhhhh, they aren't Obama's employees...they are Hobby Lobby's. If Hobby Lobby doesn't want to follow the damn law and their employees get laid off, that's Hobby Lobby's choice. All the ACA says is that insurers have to provide services they were withholding prior to the law. It also says that any money they don't spend on YOUR care has to be returned to YOU. SOCIALISTS!!! lol You guys need to learn to read and stop listening to Sean Hannity and Glen Beck.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  12. Mikey

    This story reminds me why I never shop there.........

    December 28, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  13. loremipsum2011

    This is a corporation that is in violation of US law. These people are criminals. They should be fined and prosecuted into oblivion. Comply with the law, and work to change it. This is the extremism that is tearing this country apart—They are blurring the separation between church and state. Find their board members and slap irons on them for trying to ruin America. Just like ENRON, or WorldCom execs who didn't think they had to follow the laws either. Common criminals.

    December 28, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • justageek

      And what exactly have they done wrong...yet?

      December 28, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  14. Dave

    I think this is a weird slippery slope personally.

    "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."
    What? IT"S faith? The corporation has faith? If it is good, does it get to go to heaven?

    Look, I get that the owners and even employees can share a faith, but I can not believe a corporation can have a faith. If that is the case, can I declare my corporation to be of a religion that exempts me from ALL health care, taxes etc. etc.

    Tell me this won't be abused. ala 'My company belongs to the Universal Life Faith Church of No Medical Insurance Allowed and All Taxation Is of the Devil, therefore I don't have to provide my employees with any insurance or pay any taxes. Oh, it is also against my company's religion to pay it's employees or it's bills'.

    As a better solution, could it be possible for insurance companies to allow individuals to opt out of coverage based on religious beliefs? For example, they can have the same plan same everything, but check a little box that says 'due to my religions beliefs I would would like to opt out of all contraceptive coverage' or whatever?

    That way it's an individual employee's choice, not a company's.

    Are there any employees at Hobby Lobby that might feel differently about birth control or the morning after pill? If they did disagree, think there might be any pressure there, silent or otherwise, to keep quiet about it?

    I respect people's religious beliefs, but if even one employee wants that coverage and the law says they can't be denied it.... I don't see how you avoid a law suit one way or another. Hobby Lobby is suing over religious freedom being intruded upon... and there may be something to that... but if just one employee there doesn't believe that way and wants that coverage, guess what, now Hobby Lobby is intruding on THEIR personal freedoms and religious beliefs.

    Again I ask, how can a corporation have religious beliefs? Honestly. People can, yes. Is someone going to try to tell me corporations have souls now? Seriously. So the CEO, majority ownership, and majority of employees might all share a religious belief at a company. But should a non-christian be denied a job there because of their religious beliefs? (albeit, considering the store, their customers and their reputation, I could say it's fair that Christians tend to gravitate there...) but let's say a Buddhist, or an atheist, or a Wiccan, or a... anything other than Christian... who is very qualified for a job, intimately familiar with a product line, craft or some hobby a store has a need for. So if they don't discriminate and do hire him, how is denying that person medical coverage due to 'corporate' religious beliefs not an intrusion on that person's religious freedoms?

    There are two honest sides to this. And both have to be addressed fairly.

    I think some 'opt out' choices would be a great option to allow people, that could solve this. But I would also say it is absolutely not the employer's right to know whether I check that box or not. It should be a private decision made by an individual in accordance with their own beliefs, not a dictate from the beliefs of the CEO or owner. Same price, same everything, just opt out of the offensive coverage if it bothers you.

    Also I would say an employer would probably honestly NOT want to know... what if someone doesn't check the opt out box reflecting the majority religious belief of the company... then gets fired... could be for something totally unrelated to that... but now it might LOOK like that... so honestly, if I were the employer, I honestly wouldn't want to know. 'That is between you and your insurance company, but as a religiously conscious company we do offer you choices in your plans that can allow coverage in accordance with your own beliefs'.

    Am I crazy or is that an easy compromise, 'problem solved' kind of thing?

    December 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Phil

      Here is where the law makes no sense. If they provide insurance to 13,000 employees that is non compliant they can be fined 1.3 million per day, but if they cancel the insurance all together and make coverage the governments problem ( at their hourly wages the gov would pay most of the cost on a health exchange) they are only fined 2,000 a year per employee. That's a much better option for hobby lobby and a very stupid one for the government / taxpayer. See how stupid this law is?

      December 28, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • GunnerGA

      Phil, the company is free to stop coverage. They will get fined. Your point is that the company comes out ahead. I would beg to differ. Employees who depend on this coverage from the company as part of their benefits package will look elsewhere for employment. The company will suffer from the lower quality of work force, sales will diminish and the company will likely pay more in the long run because of this. Their only smart move is to make sure their employees remain covered as required under law. Companies do not have religions. Their purpose is to make money. NOT honor G-d. Suggesting that any company that is not a church has a religious purpose outside of profit is being disingenuous. If you make profit through the use of my tax dollars (for your police, firemen, roads, bridges, schools and more), then you better damn well follow the laws that permit you to have such a business operating in the USA in the first place. if you are an employee of such a place, leave if they cancel your insurance and work elsewhere... that business is going down.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • ScienceSoma

      You are right. If a company can have faith, that is another human right a corporation has in the same vein as the Citizens United ruling. It echoes with Romney's "Corporations are people too, my friend." statement.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Derek

      I would generally agree with you, except for one point. I don't really see why there should be an opt-out option for the employee. All the plans could technically cover what is required by law, and someone of a particular religion who does not believe in a particular type of contraceptive, naturally won't make use of it. There is no reason to change a plan or opt-out really if the user wouldn't consider the contraceptive an option anyway. And when their perfect son or daughter, turns out to not be quite so pure, they may reconsider their beliefs or "break the rules" because of other social pressures.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • Phil

      Gunner,

      I agree that they have a choice, pensions are a perfect example of what I think will happen to employer sponsored health care – it will go away, replaced by the employee to fund with a company "match". For example, an hourly employee at hobby lobby making $15 an hour, who is single, 35 years old and requires coverage just for themselves under the law would, under the kaiser family foundations subsidy calculator, cost $4,000 in premiums to the employer. If the employer dropped coverage and paid the 2,000 fine, the employee would have to buy insurance, contributing a little more than 8% of income. That's 2,400 and the government gives a refundable tax credit of 1,600 to make up the difference. So hobby lobby drops coverage, gives the worker a $2,000 raise to buy insurance and hobby lobby breaks even and the employee takes control of their purchasing decision.

      Now if you have mostly married people with family policies making 40 an hour, it REALLY pays to drop coverage. Here is why. If a 45 year old married man making 80,000 a year requires $14,200 in premiums (again according to kaiser) and the company drops coverage, pays the 2,000 fine AND gives the employee a 7,600 raise to cover his government mandated share of a family policy, the government gives the taxpayer 6,600 to complete the purchase, the employee gets the same coverage as before, the employer saves 4,600 and nobody is worse off ( except the taxpayers). Give it 5, maybe 7 years and this is exactly what will happen at big companies. Walmart effectively does it already, McDonald's and 100's of other firms threatened and received 1 or 2 year exemptions from the government. Those will expire, business is here to make money, if the employee can easily get insurance on the exchanges with a big help from government you can expect it.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Angela Birch

      And another bit of information on Hobby Lobby the boss is a billionaire and his employees would be eligible for basically medicaid. Another good Christian piling up the sheckels. Sorry but this is an employer that is a Christian on the surface. Of course it is interesting that anyone thinks a Corporation has a faith. Goodness a legal fiction has a faith.Does it go to worship on the appropriate day, I bet it doesn't give to the poor.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      I think that all we need is to simply, very simply, expand Medicare to cover everyone and take healthcare out of the hands of profiteers that gouge the sick and the poor but give huge discounts to the wealthy.
      And what about mental health coverage? And DENTAL for cryin' out loud?
      Notice how dental coverage keeps getting left out of every health care program?
      Why is that? Dentistry is medical. Mental health is medical. Drug addiction is medical. Yet these things are always left out as often as possible. Why??
      The money. Follow the money. Moneymoneymoney.

      December 28, 2012 at 3:28 am |
  15. GaryB

    I suppose the easiest way to solve this problem would be for the FDA to approve the morning after pill as an over-the-counter drug. Insurance companies don't generally cover OTC drugs, so anti-choice organizations like Hobby Lobby shouldn't have anything to object to, and making the morning after pill an OTC drug would most likely result in it becoming significantly lower-priced and easier to access. Sort of a win-win.

    December 28, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Lucyktt

      The morning after pill is already sold without a prescription. These imbeciles also think any birth control causes abortion.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • brian

      There actually is an FDA approved OTC medication –> Plan B. It's just a high dose of a type of progesterone. It is approved for up to 72 hours after unapproved intercourse.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Brain Hertz

      Brian,
      you mean "unprotected", right? 😉

      December 28, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  16. josh

    I do not see why they are being penalized when they already provide insurance. Also, there is a much cheaper way to prevent pregnancy. It is called abstinence.

    December 28, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Abstinence has been completely effective....oh wait....maybe not

      December 28, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • ScienceSoma

      Mary was abstinent. Look where that got us... 😉

      December 28, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • MOCaseA

      So parts of my religion use intercourse as part of their devotions to the Gods. However there is no dogmatic law in my religion that says the morning after pill is just a convenient abortion. As a matter of fact there is nothing in my religion that says abortion is wrong. It is seen to be an immediately personal decision of the potential mother and is thus none of the rest of the religions members business.

      So your declamation of abstinence being the better option smacks of poor research and horrible programming by the Judaic religions. Yours isn't the only religion around buddy...

      December 28, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  17. mikef4172

    David Green has always been a tight wad! Worked for the company while going to college. He is just trying to find reasons to save money and not help his employees. He doesn't want to provide healthcare for all his employees. Christian based company is just a front to appeal to consumers.

    December 28, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Franklin Romney

      But they cover Viagra.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  18. TheRationale

    Hobby Lobby clearly has nothing better to do than waste its resources on losing legal battles. Let them sink. Another shortsighted, forcefully religious organization gone.

    December 28, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • justageek

      Yeah...shut down another company and put more people out of work...perfect...pfft.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Saraswati

      @justageek, and your solution would be ignoring it when companies break labor, safety, se'xual harassment and other laws enacted to protect workers?

      December 29, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  19. JJ

    A corporation has no faith. If you can't separate the two in your meager excuse for a brain, you deserve the fines.

    December 28, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • justageek

      I'm guessing your meager brain hasn't figured out that it is a private company therefore the 'corporation' can have any belief it wants.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Fred M.

      @justageek: JJ is of clearly superior intellect to you - as is the average houseplant.

      A corporation is not a person. It doesn't have religious beliefs. It doesn't have emotions. It doesn't have loved ones, next of kin, a spouse, a family, or aspirations. It's just a legally defined business organization that is governed by our laws - including laws about compensation which cover minimum standards for health insurance.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @justageek
      Just to belabor the point a little, if you think a corporation should have all the rights of a person and none of the responsibilities, then we should just require you to publicize all your private individual information like we do for corporations.
      Oh, you don't like that idea? Gee.

      December 28, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • justageek

      I reckon you all were to wrapped up thinking I was as smart as a houseplant to connect my comment with the content of the article. I'll be more clear and slow for you all. I don't believe a corporation can have faith goofballs...but it seems they can because a church can get out of paying. I think that is ironic but I guess my humor didn't make it through to you goofballs.

      December 29, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  20. denver

    Oh hi there! I'm a Christian Scientist who owns a coporation and I believe that prayer is the only thing that can heal people. Therefore, I refuse to offer any health benefits at all; prayer is free, after all. Praise Jesus!

    December 28, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Hank, Fribbist Death Priest

      And I am Fribbist. My religion says that I can murder anyone I want. Freedom of religion! Shoot-em-up! Pow! Pow!

      December 28, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Dippy

      What's a coporation?

      December 28, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • CORY

      lmao, that made me chuckle.

      I belong to the Church of the Fonz (Eyyyyyy). My religion requires all employees posses the divine ability to punch start a jukebox.

      December 28, 2012 at 1:59 am |
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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.