Mona Charen

An administration as image-conscious as this one should have been more careful in its choice of antagonists. The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Catholic charity providing care to the poorest elderly in a hospice-like setting. They serve 13,000 people in 31 countries, and operate 30 homes in the United States. Their faith calls them to treat every person, no matter how old, disabled or poor as if he or she were "Jesus himself." There is no religious test for admission, only that you be poor and in need of care at the end of life. Think thousands of Mother Teresas. Today, they are facing harassment from the Obama administration.

In 1970, David and Barbara Green founded Hobby Lobby in their garage (which seems to be where all great American businesses are born these days). The family now owns 500 of the arts and crafts stores, employing 13,000. They also own Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores.

The Greens run their businesses according to their lights. They don't believe in alcohol consumption, so their stores do not sell shot glasses or other drinking-related items. They play Christian music. They close on the Sabbath (losing millions per year). Employees are offered free access to chaplains, other counselors and religiously oriented financial courses. Because the Greens abjure alcohol, they lose money annually by declining to permit their delivery trucks to "back haul" liquor. They provide health insurance that covers 16 different contraceptives. They draw a line, though, on providing four methods that they consider abortifacients, and that's why they have found themselves in court facing the federal government (along with 300 other litigants challenging the Department of Health and Human Services mandates).

Hobby Lobby, the federal government argues, must bow to the regulations promulgated by HHS under Obamacare and provide all 20 methods of contraception, including Plan B and Ella. If the company declines, it will be assessed a fine of $100 per day per employee, or $475 million per year.

Scrambling to justify this assault on the Greens' religious expression (guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993), the government argues that well, yes, individuals have religious rights, but when they engage in commerce in a for-profit corporation, they lose those rights.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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