Once Steve Green sets his path, there’s no turning back.
Not when he and his high school girlfriend, Jackie, totaled their cars playing chicken. “No one turned off,” he said, recalling how he aimed right at her and she just kept coming. A year later, she married him.
Not when he saw no point in college, going directly into his family’s Hobby Lobby craft store business. Green, now 50, rose up from assembling picture frames for “bubble gum money” at age 7 through every job, including cleaning toilets, to president of the $3.3 billion national chain, one of the nation’s largest private companies.
And certainly not now when, he says, the U.S. government is challenging his unshakeable Christian faith and his religious liberty.
Next week (March 25) Green’s path leads straight up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to witness oral arguments in the case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.
That’s Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The department included all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of contraception among services required for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Hobby Lobby has provided insurance with contraception coverage for years, paying for 16 of the FDA-approved forms, from barrier methods to pills that prevent fertilization. Not covered: intrauterine devices and morning-after pills such as Plan B. Those, the FDA acknowledges, could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
Blocking implantation would “terminate life” says Green. “We won’t pay for any abortive products. We believe life begins at conception.”
While scores of faith-based organizations and private business owners have filed suit seeking exemption from the mandate, Hobby Lobby has become the standard-bearer for religious opposition. The potentially landmark case is a First Amendment battle testing whether a private corporation can have freedom of religion rights and, if so, whether the government has a “compelling interest” in overriding such rights.
The justices will wade through thickets of questions: Can a company pick and choose laws to obey, based on the personal beliefs of the owner? Is it the job of government to decide whether those beliefs are worthwhile and sincere, deeply and consistently held?
Steve Green is a Southern Baptist, grandson and nephew of Pentecostal pastors, a Sunday school teacher for decades and leader of a business that has declared its Christian principles from opening day. Hobby Lobby stores are all closed Sundays “to allow employees time for family & worship,” the front door signs say.
He may be the ideal plaintiff “for such a time as this” — the line from the Book of Esther that believers often call on for courage when standing on faith.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Cathy Lynn Grossman