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OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)—Hobby Lobby has been pushed to the front lines of a monumental battle over religious liberty just when the arts and crafts chain is aiming to open a Bible museum near the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
“God’s up to something,” Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, often says.
“We’re just along for the ride.”
Hobby Lobby’s founder—Green’s father, David—has publicly stated the company will not obey a federal mandate to provide employee health insurance that covers abortion-causing drugs. The 530-store chain could face government fines amounting to $1.3 million a day if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forces its will on Hobby Lobby and numerous other privately owned businesses lead by Christians who regard abortion as the taking of innocent life.
Steve Green, meanwhile, is leading Hobby Lobby’s plan to open a museum showcasing many of the 40,000 Bible artifacts in The Green Collection secured by the family’s company over the past three years. The museum and accompanying research center will be housed in 400,000-500,000 square feet renovated from two office buildings two blocks from the Air and Space Museum and a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The yet-unnamed museum could open as early as the fall of 2016.
Green spoke about the court battle and the museum to editors who visited Hobby Lobby’s headquarters, its sprawling manufacturing plant and four distribution centers on the outskirts of Oklahoma City during the Association of State Baptist Publications’ Feb. 11-14 annual meeting.
Asked if the HHS mandate, if ultimately enforced by the courts, could cost Hobby Lobby its solvency and its vision for a Bible museum, Green said, “I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that we’re in good hands. I anticipate that it’s going to be a long battle.
“And what and where God directs this, I don’t know.”
Hobby Lobby, in its suit against the HHS mandate, remains in federal appeals court among dozens of companies objecting to the abortion insurance requirement.
“We haven’t gotten to the merits of the case,” Green said of the Hobby Lobby suit. “This is just asking for the injunction. ...
“Even if we get a no” on the merits of the case—if two appeals courts issue “two different rulings—and there have been on the injunction—then it’s more likely that the Supreme Court would make a ruling on it. That’s probably, at earliest, a couple of years down the road,” Green said.
Asked how Hobby Lobby’s supporters can pray for the company, Green requested prayer “for the wisdom to say the right things and not say what we shouldn’t be saying. I think that we’re pretty clear. We know what our answer is.
“Pray for our government leaders,” Green added, “and the judges who are going to make the decisions, that exactly what God wants, happens.”
Green said it is difficult to tell whether Hobby Lobby’s customers have been affected by the company’s stance against the HHS mandate.
“We get a lot of support ... people that are very supportive and then there are some that are very angry,” Green said. “It’s a very volatile issue and we hear from the two extremes. On average, I would guess that our customers are more supportive.”
In sales, “last year was a great year” for Hobby Lobby, Green said, acknowledging, “... We’re in the news a lot. People are thinking about us and they’re wanting to be supportive and they come out. That could be a part of it.”
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