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The Hobby Lobby story: Obama’s government can rightly be described as tyrannical

Posted: January 6, 2013 at 8:00 am   /   by

These is a simple set of facts that people appear to have forgotten.

Human beings have rights that preexist government. Government does not grant these rights. Government’s job is to secure these rights from molestation by itself or by other people.

Government is to modify these rights ONLY to the MINIMAL degree necessary in order to provide certain public goods. Those public goods must only be things that the private sector is incapable of providing, and they must be broadly accepted as necessary to the well-being of the general society.

Everyone should have equal access to these public goods, and everyone’s rights should be equally protected by government. (For example, we agree to be taxed—a modification of our property rights—to pay for military, police, and the courts because that is something everyone needs and from which everyone benefits, and from which no one can be excluded.)

Everyone must be required not to take actions that encroach upon the rights of others, and to face consequences or make restitution if they do so. However, as a general rule, no one should be compelled to take actions on behalf of others.

A government that strays outside of these bounds becomes problematic. A government that strays far beyond these bounds, in a systematic and protracted way, is tyrannical. Barack Obama’s government has crossed that line.

Requiring private entities to provide certain goods (like health insurance) to their employees is highly problematic. Requiring businesses to provide health insurance that includes features that violate their freedom of religion and conscience is a clear violation. It crosses a line that must not be crossed.

Requiring SOME businesses to provide that conscience-violating feature but exempting others doesn’t just cross the line—it crosses the line, turns around and makes vile gestures at the line, and then walks a mile further down the road to full-blown despotism. It is arbitrary. It is cronyism. It is tyranny.

Recently, David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, penned a letter that poignantly lays out the facts:

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God‘s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby – and my family – are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American – and no American business – should have to make.

The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Obama’s government is deciding to punish a private entity that has not done anything wrong. Punishing people who have not done anything to merit the punishment is the act of tyrants, or of thugs and corrupt tin-pot officials in banana republics. Not in properly constituted constitutional republics.

Inventing a new thing that private entities must do, even if it violates their rights to do so, and then punishing them for violating the new “law” is arbitrarily despotic. It is an offense by government that is actionable by a free people.

The still nominally free people of America had a chance to take that action on November 6th, 2012. A majority chose to continue down the road to more of this tyranny. Most of them probably did so unaware of the disastrous nature of the choice there were making, but that ignorance does nothing to mitigate the tyranny to which we are, and will be, subjected.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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The Hobby Lobby story: Obama's government can rightly be described as tyrannical