Thursday, July 31, 2014

Billy Long: We should celebrate companies like Hobby Lobby

In a portion of his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long sings the praises of Hobby Lobby.

At the beginning of July, our nation celebrated its 238th anniversary of independence. On July 4th, 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence made it clear that Americans would no longer tolerate an oppressive form of government. The Bill of Rights reaffirmed the ideal that everyone in the United States has the freedom to express their religious beliefs without government interference or prohibition. When the president’s health care law was enacted four years ago, that freedom of religion was attacked.

On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell that forcing closely-held corporations to comply with a mandate that goes against its owners religious beliefs is unconstitutional. In writing the majority opinion, Justice Alito said that the mandate violated theReligious Freedom Restoration Act on the grounds that the mandate was not the least restrictive method of providing universal access to cost-free contraceptive.

Without the Court’s ruling, Hobby Lobby faced approximately $475 million dollars per year in fines for refusing to provide abortion inducing drugs that are used as contraception. If Hobby Lobby dropped the entire plan for its employees altogether it would still have cost the company about $26 million per year, however, Hobby Lobby did not wish to cease providing health coverage for its employees.

It is important to remember that Hobby Lobby did not refuse to pay for contraceptives that it believed to be preventative in nature. It solely requested that it not be forced to provide the four contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration that it believed to be the equivalent of an abortion. The owners of Hobby Lobby, like many Americans, believe life begins at conception. It has been shown that the four contraceptives that Hobby Lobby refused to provide did not prevent fertilization but destroyed an embryo once it had already been created.

The objection to providing these four types of abortion inducing contraceptives is not an attack on women but a defense of unborn children. As a pro-life advocate, I do not support the use of any drug that ends the life of an unborn child, but I fully support the right of anyone to use contraception, and this decision does not prevent anyone from accessing or using contraception.

Hobby Lobby has continually showed that it cares about its employees. The starting salary for their employees is nearly double that of the national minimum wage requirement. CEO David Green said that it has set such a high minimum wage because he “wanted [his] employees to feel like they are part of a family.”

As a nation we should be celebrating companies like Hobby Lobby that make their employees a part of their family instead of demeaning them because their values flow from strong religious beliefs.

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