Tag Archives: Christian

Hobby Lobby takes their Religious Freedom Fight to the Supreme Court

If you have paid any attention to the political scene in America lately, you will proabably have heard about Obamacare, as it is colloquially known, or the Affordable Care Act.  It has been making waves for a number of political reasons, but a key religious freedom argument has arisen from it.  Hobby Lobby has sued the governement (or actually Kathleen Sebelius who is the Secretary of Health and Human Services) over being forced to provide contraception that they, and the FDA, have deemed could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall, which is “technincally” an abortion and against Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, and his family’s Christian beliefs.

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Hobby Lobby is a Crafts Company owned by Steve Green and his family.

In this article from Religion News Services, they discuss not only Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which is being heard by the Supreme Court this month, but also Steve Green’s religion.  The first oral arguments are scheduled to be heard March 25th.  For years, even before the mandate was sent out, Hobby Lobby has been providing 16 of the 20 FDA approved contraception methods as part of their insurance plan.  They merely have an issue with the others, specifically IUD’s and pills like the Plan B pill.  There grounds are that these could technically result in an abortion, and since abortion is against their Christian beliefs, they should not be required to pay for it.  What the case really boils down to, in my opinion, is does Hobby Lobby as a corporation have the same protection under the First Amendment as a person.

 

There is no doubt that Hobby Lobby, much like Chick-fil-a is an overtly Christian company.  Not only are they closed on Sunday, but on their Hours sign, for Sunday it says “Closed Sunday to allow employees time for family and worship”, but they also refuse to do business with companies that promote alcohol.  The Green Family Foundation is even opening a Bible Museum in Washington DC that will display thousands of ancient texts.  There is no denying that the Hobby Lobby Corporation as a whole is clearly an overtly Christian Corporation and should be afforded the same rights as a person. 

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Hobby Lobby is closed Sunday for “family and worship”

When we were reading Albanese’s book, we also discussed in class how the first amendment in America was unlike anything that had ever been done before.  There was to be a complete distinction between the religion in America and the government in America.  The question this case is raising, is how far does the protection given in the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.  Hobby Lobby is claiming that the government forcing them to pay for things that violate their religion is a breach of the Free Exercise Clause, specifically “Congress shall make no law […] prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

 

The reason Hobby Lobby might have a chance is that Hobby Lobby is filed as a Closely Held Corporation.  This means that they are owned by a few select individuals, which in the case of Hobby Lobby, and in most Closely Held Corporations, is almost entirely members of the Green family.  This basically means that even though it is a large corporation, it is still a family owned business, and since the family members are the people who are liable for the company, they technically are the company. 

 

No matter what way this turns out, it will be a landmark case in the religious freedoms in America at this time.  Be sure to look out in the coming future about the results of this case.

 

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The Ultimate Confluence: Michael Sam and the Spirit of Christ in America

In his famous book Crossings and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion, religious studies scholar Thomas Tweed describes religions as “confluences of organic-cultural flows that intensify joy and confront suffering” (Tweed). I can think of no better modern example of that idea than the subject matter behind Adam Ericksen’s blog post for God’s Politics entitled “How a Gay Football Player Could Help Redeem the Church”. Michael Sam’s coming out,  and his future as potentially the first gay professional football player, according to Ericksen, has a distinctly Christ-like feel to it.

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Let’s first consider for a second all of the ideas wrapped up in that one title. I want to break it down phrase by phrase.

Michael Sam is gay. Not only is he gay, but he is now in a unique position of prominence in America. Sam’s now famous homosexuality goes along with Catherine L. Albanese’s description of “nations within nations” in her book America: Religions and Religion. According to a Williams Institute study in 2011, about 3.5 percent of Americans identify as LGBT, which is over eight million people. Sam, whether he intended  to be or not, is now a pioneer for the LGBT “nation” in America.

That nation, by Sam’s coming out, is expanding its reach occupationally. Now we are into the “Football Player” portion of Erickson’s title. Through Sam, being openly gay will now be tested on its most popular stage. 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago, and the league set a record this season by generating over 10 billion dollars in revenue. Needless to say, Sam’s audience is both loyal and eager, and he will certainly have a lot of eyeballs on whatever he does in his rookie season.

The confusing part of Ericksen’s title, at least to me, was the last one. How could a gay football player “redeem” the church? As a protestant Christian myself, I am very hesitant to use the word “redeem” about anyone. Where did we get to the point in America, considering the original state of the American protestant church, that the idea of a redemptive gay football player could even be possible? It seems bizarre, but I think Albanese’s narrative of “manyness” as well as Americanization both apply in this context.

Ericksen’s post seeks to prove the point that Sam’s attitude in and of itself is an example of a Christ-like sense of self-assuredness and gentleness.

“Michael Sam is the right person to be in the spotlight not just for promoting gay rights, but because, when it comes to a sense of identity, he is a good model for the church to follow.” – Adam Erickson, God’s Politics

Sam first came out to his coach prior to the 2013 season, then his teammates, and then, as of last week, to the world. Ericksen’s main point in his article is that his handling of his sudden fame, which brought with its inception a lot of attention both positive and negative, is an excellent example of humility and acceptance for Christians to follow. He describes how Sam’s ability to resist the urge to “mirror” the hostility pointed towards him, and how he embraces the idea that Christians should “take responsibility for how we respond to that negativity” (Ericksen). Sam’s example of a man being confident in who he is, as well as accepting of the criticism of others, is the Christian example according to Ericksen.

As I believe Albanese and Tweed would observe it, this story is a massive collision and collaboration of sexual identity, racial identity, and occupational identity, all observed from a Protestant perspective. Even in the midst of a story that seemingly goes against what the modern conservative church would promote as “redemptive”, the 21st century Americanization of protestant Christianity has allowed us to observe stories like this through a Christian lens, and write blog posts that address them explicitly as such. Where else could you find a story about an openly gay black man who plays a game for a living written by a white male who sees his story as a model of Christ? Only in an America full of confluence.

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