Browse By

Hobby Lobby Reiterates its Bigotry: For Political Leadership, Only Christians Need Apply

Today is Independence Day in the United States, and while many people treat Independence Day as a historical commemoration of the Revolutionary War, it is not.  Independence Day marks the signing of a piece of paper on July 4, 1776 and invites us to consider the ideas animating that paper.  Some of those ideas are good ones, some elicit giggles (“manly firmness”), and some are enough to make a person wince (“merciless Indian Savages”).  We should not accept the words of the Declaration of Independence simply because they were uttered by men who are now venerated.  After all, at the time those who signed this document were reviled in some quarters as traitors. A person can read a great deal of what they already believe into the words of the Declaration of Independence, but also recognize in the document a fair amount that they may themselves not believe.  The Declaration of Independence is a good object for meditation on Independence Day, focusing thoughts not just for consideration and acceptance but for discernment and judgment.

In God We Trust: When you shop at Hobby Lobby, Mardel or Hemispheres, you support Christian religious propaganda that promotes religious bigotry in politics.  This is a full size advertisement from July 4 2015 doing just that, with naked appeals to authority.On breakfast tables across the nation this morning, Americans are unfolding their newspapers to find a full-page advertisement paid for by the company that runs Hobby Lobby, Hemispheres, and Mardel stores.  This ad promotes the notions that the United States is a Christian nation and that the powers of the United States government should be used to promote Christianity.  I won’t spend any time trying to refute the advertisement’s argument, simply because it doesn’t have any argument.  Instead, readers are simply bombarded by a list of quotes by famous people who lived in the 1700s and 1800s.  The implicit idea of this “appeal to authority” is that if famous dead Americans agree with Hobby Lobby, then you should too.  You recall what your mother thought of this sort of justification; her line had something to do with jumping and cliffs, didn’t it?

Since there’s no actual argument to dispute here, I’ll just note the most centrally-placed quote on the page.  John Jay, a Supreme Court justice from long, long ago, is quoted as saying the following:

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

This is not the text of a Supreme Court ruling; it’s not a Supreme Court dissent, either, or the transcript of testimony or a speech or a pamphlet or a letter to the editor of a newspaper.  These words of John Jay’s come from a private letter sent to John Murray in October of 1816.  Jay’s words promote religious bigotry — the refusal to accept members of religions other than one’s own.  The idea stands opposed to Article VI of the United States Constitution (no mere private letter but the supreme law of the land), which declares that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

If you shop at Hobby Lobby or Hemispheres or Mardel, you help to disseminate such calls for religious bigotry.  If you find the idea of Christian-only standards for political leadership to be odious, perhaps you should declare your own Independence and consider shopping elsewhere.

12 thoughts on “Hobby Lobby Reiterates its Bigotry: For Political Leadership, Only Christians Need Apply”

  1. Bruce Nappi says:

    The position of Hobby Lobby is very easy to understand: pure hypocrisy. And this is nothing new. Political and business leaders in all ages have largely ignored their religious AND LEGAL documents, picking and choosing only the material that satisfied their current drives for power. That’s what the Hobby Lobby article is all about.

    The problem that concerns me, however, is that so many people in our culture are not able to understand this. They are not capable, due mostly to brainwashing in school, of critical thinking. So when pushed on the problem of bigotry, they say, “The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion – END OF STORY.”

    The problem with that view, of course, is people have no clue how far this view is from the truth. The fact is, our Constitution is a disaster. It is filled with inconsistencies and misused words. Let’s just look at the first amendment.

    While most people believe that the first amendment “guarantees” the RIGHT of FREEDOM of religion, they are off on the wrong foot to begin with because they have an idealized image of the word “FREEDOM”. They believe such a thing can actually exist. It can’t. As soon as ANY religion establishes a “thou shalt” which doesn’t agree with a “thou shalt NOT” of another religion, the possibility of freedom without conflict in society breaks down. For example, if one religion believes all those who do not believe their doctrine are “heathens” and must be killed, then there is NO possibility of freedom without conflict for anyone as soon as there is one other religion in the society. Or, if a religion believes that ALL the people in a society must say one of THEIR prayers to their god every day or they will be subject to punishment from their god, then freedom is again lost for either for them or any part of the society not in their clan. The fact that our country is home to over a THOUSAND religious doctrines brings this problem to a head very quickly.

    I’ve heard it stated many times, “can’t each person just keep their religion to themselves?” This sounds logical at first, but falls completely apart in practice. The reason is that most religious beliefs require “social action” on their beliefs in some form from their members. So people might hold some beliefs inside themselves. But any of those beliefs that require outside action create a conflict with others who don’t hold the same belief. And in the case of Hobby Lobby, they have no intention of “keeping their religion to themselves.”

    So, back to my opening problem: why do so many people in our society fail to understand this? This answer is what I call the “Multiple Religions” problem and how it is brainwashed into our culture. I discuss this at length at the reference above. But for this comment, here’s a summary.

    Each nation in the ancient world had its own self contained religion. That essentially minimized internal religious conflict. But modern communications have exposed people to hundreds of religions. Each thinks they are the true religion. To avoid conflict, world leaders, acting from denial and ignorance, created a tragic “work around”: “telling everyone they are allowed to believe ANYTHING they want.” At first, this sounds pretty “democratic”. In sparse populations, like colonial times, where social ideas didn’t mix much due to slow and minimal communication, and rural farming life was pretty simple and independent, this still tended to work But the situation completely collapsed due to the COMPLEXITY of modern society.

    Take medicine as an example. How would medical care work with an “anything you want” philosophy? What if every doctor, every nurse and every drug company could do things any way they wanted? How about paying taxes? Couldn’t everyone just follow their own beliefs about that? How about our legal system? Couldn’t everyone decide what laws they want to follow? How about automobiles? Couldn’t everyone decide to drive any way they want? How about living in a house? Couldn’t everyone decide to build a house anyway they want? Why do we need all those fire-prevention codes, or electrical-codes, or zoning codes? Couldn’t we all decide how to dump our garbage and sewage any way we want? How about electric power? Couldn’t every power station decide to chose their own voltage? How about every railroad being able to put tracks anywhere they want?

    The point is, for our modern, COMPLEX society to survive, all world societies, and everyone in them, needs to figure out how to rethink FREEDOM. And the whole notion of FREEDOM OF RELIGION needs to be near the top of the list.

  2. Charles Manning says:

    Last night I watched most of the Ken Burns show on the Roosevelts. One statement by FDR made a big impression: he saw WWII as a battle to defend “our religion.”

    When I consider the things mentioned in your comment on the Hobby Lobby ad, ISIS, and all the countries in the Middle East, it occurs to me that the survival of “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” is a miracle.

    Bruce Nappi raises an interesting idea. I think the “no religious test” clause is the single most effective protection against domination by any religion, or at least puts a limit on how dominating any religion can be, in our country. It doesn’t stop one religion from competing with, and overwhelming, another religion. It just tries, at least, to keep government from taking sides in the competition. And leave some wiggle room for those of us who choose the most vital freedom of all: the freedom to reject all religions.

  3. ella says:

    I see, so by your own definition, you are a BIGOT. But you have not mentioned what you base your bigotry on. What are your alternative preferences in religion? Or political/social preferences?

    1. Charles Manning says:

      If you embrace your religion, doesn’t that mean you reject all the others? And do you call me a bigot because I reject one more religion than you do?

      Actually, I subscribe to what Einstein called “cosmic religious feeling.” And I believe that religions, like other belief systems, recognize the innate human moral sense. That’s where real right and wrong comes from, although each religion decorates the moral sense with its own rules and customs.

      1. ella says:

        But actually, C. Manning, it wasn’t you, but the articles author I intended. Many apologies. Jim Cook:
        If you embrace your faith/religion you do your best to follow the precept of the faith/religion. True there is no need to enter into disagreements with people of different beliefs. Which is my point. If a business owner/owners have a belief system and they operate their business according to that system, just like an organized group, they have the right to do business as they wish. That does not mean that any business open to public use has a legal or moral right to refuse to allow patrons to do business with them. Unless it involves the business personnel being required to commit an act that is contrary to their beliefs. To force those actions on an unwilling person or person’s is an act of aggression or hate or bullying. That is wrong, in my belief. If a person has a different view from mine and it does not interfere in my life, I go on about my life. If it does, then I try to find a peaceful way tend to my business that excludes that person or business. It’s a big world and a small world. A lot of people are angry and don’t even know why really, but they want someone to take it out on. Faith can help relieve that strain, if a person is willing to practice it.

        1. Charles Manning says:

          Ella, apology accepted! And I apologize for the misunderstanding.

          The way the comments appear can be confusing. On other boards, the person being replied to is identified by the name or other identifying symbols used, not just the position of the comment.

        2. Jim Cook says:

          Wait. See, Ella, I thought you must be referring to someone else, too. How is pointing out that Hobby Lobby promotes a religious test for government office a bigoted observation? How is pointing out bigotry itself an act of bigotry? These aren’t rhetorical questions.

          1. ella says:

            Definition of a bigot from article above, in part: “…a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.”
            You said: “We should not accept the words of the Declaration of Independence simply because they were uttered by men who are now venerated.” Because at the time they were writing the Declaration of Independence the were reviled by some… Obviously so, they were declaring independence from those very people who reviled them. It is very unfair to dislike those who are responsible for our right to be here today, to debate or discuss issues of our day, without rancor. But I am so glad you do appreciate the Declaration itself.
            You said: “The implicit idea of this “appeal to authority” is that if famous dead Americans agree with Hobby Lobby, then you should too. You recall what your mother thought of this sort of justification; her line had something to do with jumping and cliffs, didn’t it?” Absolutely not! Why do you dislike the people who are responsible for the forming of this nation, who so brilliantly, and painfully sometimes, constructed documents that would last the ages, while, if followed, would guarantee the future freedoms of our nation? No matter what differing personalities these people had, they most definitely deserve respect for what they accomplished. And that includes their intention at the time of the writing, which was not done in ignorance of the future. Nothing is new “…under the sun.”
            A very useful quote you used illustrates the wisdom of John Jay. The United States were formed in order (in part) that Christians or Christ followers, would have a place to freely practice Protestantism: ““Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.””
            Now I will take that quote in part: “to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Note the word “prefer”. That only follows as a truism. Does a frog prefer other frogs, or a snake? As some snakes eat frogs, you should see my point. I don’t believe you were intentionally bigoted.

          2. Jim Cook says:

            P1 & P2: I didn’t say I disliked the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence. I said that authority veneration is a weak foundation upon which to build support for an idea.

            P4: You’re saying that bigotry (disproportionate like for and promotion of one’s own group) “only follows” and is natural, considering that people unlike oneself are as different as and as predatory upon one another as members of entirely different species. I disagree that bigotry is biologically, psychologically or politically necessary. I think it’s a variable and that societies that are less bigoted do better, not just for other people but for themselves, too.

          3. ella says:

            It would certainly be nice if people could just avoid an emotional reaction to people who for some reason they disagree with, but that is not the case for the majority, I believe. Competition between ideologies is well documented throughout human history, as well as competition between individuals. Then of course there are the myriad other reasons people enter into emotional conflict, territorial conflict, etc. In other words, it is very difficult to live a lifetime and never be bigoted! We are all guilty at one time and another. I’ll leave you to consider what “…that authority veneration is a weak foundation upon which to build support for an idea.” is actually saying. “Authority veneration” is saying the men in power. even though they were political authors who assembled for the ‘purpose’, they were just men for the most part. Many of them served in the newly formed government after the dust settled. You might say that support for an idea was based on a distant memory that just happened be to be put in writing, like The Bible. I am not comparing the two documents, just illustrating as an emotional comparison. Many still support a civil society based on long established societal rules – thousands of years worth – and consider them more substantial than sudden emotional reactions. That is why it was put in writing, so we could go ahead and be people, but have a strong base to return us to the right track. I am grateful there are and were those who realize the human condition is so fragile. I understand where you are coming from.

  4. ella says:

    “The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or abridging the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”” That means that religion belongs to the people who practice it, any religion. Business has been established as an entity, i.e. political donations, and has the right to express their beliefs. It seems that it would effect their bottom line, but that is for the business to decide. Politicians seem to avoid the subject of religion to the best of their ability. But it is true that religion is not a factor in the election process, other than how the voting public views it. As for shopping elsewhere, it is the right of the individual to shop where they choose. The Supreme Court has no right to legislate from the bench concerning any religion or religious belief. And, as C. Manning said, “And leave some wiggle room for those of us who choose the most vital freedom of all: the freedom to reject all religions.”

  5. sheridan says:

    Christians can also reserve the right not to shop at stores or stand back for powerful lobby groups that constantly threaten degrade insult christian values .
    I think its high time decent christians everywhere begin to speak out and flex our economic muscle
    We have been far to gentle and quiet for far to long. Time to take action gentle christian souls . You have been lied about and and walked over far too long. Let’s stand up silent majority We have all the right in the world too and its high time. Let’s speak up and take action in all spheres that we don’t agree with. In jesus name

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!