Friday, January 11, 2013

Blessed Christian Patriarchy and Blessed Pennies on the Dollar

A lot of the arguments used in Hobby Lobby’s defense can be brokered down to an overwhelming sense that Hobby Lobby is actually a good, caring employer and takes care of its employees. The government – and especially the OBAMA government – is just forcing them to buy baby-killing pills against their good, Christian conscience.

None of which is actually true, of course. These are statements – on abortion, on religious rights, on employment – that belie a fundamental concern of Conservative Christianity – one that undermines Jesus’ own commandments: patriarchy.

In other words, the conservative Christian defense is one supporting Christian Patriarchy. Christian Patriarchy being an oxymoron. In Aristotle, Greeks were above non-Greeks, males above females, free-borns above slaves. There is order and dominance; dominating and ordering. “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor freeborn.” “You are not to lord over others,” Jesus demands of his followers. We Christians are to serve. Not force. Not rape. Not act as the parents of our employees. Not force them to go along with our religious convictions. Not gloat about paying certain ones a near-living wage while forcing others – in another country who look different from most of Hobby Lobby’s state-side employees and customers - to make pennies on the dollar for their work.

The pennies on the dollar phrase comes from a glowing Forbes profile on David Green, Hobby Lobby's founder, CEO, and patriarch. Here, Green is valued as a pious hero of capitalism who claims that it’s religious devotion and God’s favor that has raised his capital worth to well over $3 billion. Forbes, being the capitalist cheerleaders they are, could smell Green’s veiled business plan a few thousand miles away. In China, for instance.

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes with the founder, walking through a local Hobby Lobby store, to see the reason he has been able to expand his company into a well-oiled, moneymaking machine without bringing in any outside investors.
Stopping at a display marked 30% off, Green explains how a kitschy rooster ornament is produced overseas for pennies on the dollar, then sold as part of an in-house brand of home accents.

Father David Green / had many employees /
Many employees had Father David Green...
Hobby Lobby doesn’t usually like to divulge such reasons, so Forbes had quite the scoop here. Usually, David Green answers questions about Hobby Lobby's success with religious pablum along the lines of “God has been faithful,” or, “I was full of pride and God heard me when I humbled myself.” Neither of which I buy – not that they are not true. But lots of good Christians are faithful and humble and decent and don’t exploit overseas workers for pennies on the dollar. And they end up with miscarriages and early deaths and sick kids and behind bars. Most of them – contrary to what conservative, mostly white, mostly suburban churches imply – are living in sub-poverty and hand-to-mouth conditions. Many, many lack clean, running, potable water. Most lack adequate food. Very few are comfortably middle class. And only, out of over a billion, probably fewer than I have fingers for, are billionaires.

This intensely unique blessing, of course, entitles Hobby Lobby to be relatively generous to its full-time employees. They pay a starting minimum wage of $13 for FT workers (closer to state minimum wages for most part-timers, though) and even offer them health care insurance. Where, we have been told, they cover contraceptives. But just not the Morning After Pill. Because that would be killing babies.

Even though that's not what it is.

Of course, lots of companies and organizations offer selective coverage. And I suppose they are entitled to that. Of course, if we truly had universal health care, this would not be an issue. And that is an underlying issue here - no mistake about it. But then it was the Evangelical culture of which Green is a part of that fought universal health care tooth and nail - under, again, the misguided notion that their opposition was saving babies' lives, rather than killing more lives. Truthfully, the "pro-life" movement is responsible for more abortions by not supporting universal health care and for risking the lives of women everywhere by both not supporting universal health care and trying to forcibly block abortions, rather than try to persuade people that they're serious about life*. But I repeat myself again...

Another point here is the fact that Hobby Lobby is not providing health care for all eligible workers - which is why it is supposed to comply with the Affordable Care Act in the first place.

Yet, his position as Blessed Employer/Billionaire entitles Green to know what God wants. And Green's version of God doesn't want him to participate in a health care plan that would give working class women options over their own bodies or health and which Green finds religiously offensive - despite the fact that the science isn't there to support his claims to the contrary and his employees don't have to share his religious obligations over their own bodies. The Morning After Pill is abortion, Christian Patriarchy logic says, because every spermed egg is sacred. (Not sacred enough to keep the human body from flushing from 1/2 to three-fourths of them, but sacred enough that the idea of a pill that negates it is boogey-monstering them up all hours of the night).

Keep on swimming, swimming... Must not fail daddy...

More to the point, his position as Blessed Employer/Billionaire endows Green with the green light to tell his employees how to live.

There is a notice to vendors on the wall at Hobby Lobby headquarters prohibiting "gifts of any value" to employees, who must "pay their share of lunches" and shouldn't be expected to accept dinner invitations no matter who's paying, "as they will be with their families during the evening." 

It's business ethics to have employees turn down gifts from vendors, of course. It's unethical, to say the least, to tell either vendors or employees what employees will or should do in the privacy of their homes.

That includes, I argue, cases of rape, health, domestic violence or whatever other reason that a woman may need to take a Morning After pill. Even against what Father David Green argues.

The rate of abortion doesn't go down when abortion becomes legally restrictive. It comes down when there is less of a need for it due to poverty and domestic violence. There are other reasons, but those are two of the biggest - and ones I think the pro-life movement, if it really wants to be considered Pro-Life imho, should concentrate on limiting.


  1. Nicely written. I agree!

  2. Grammatically correct so I guess is nicely written. But the pen drips with sarcasm and bile. Mr. Green is a very public figure and much of what he does and says is known. His enterprise does provide employment in Asia and the States. What have you done lately other than complain about what others are doing?

    1. Oh, grammar has little to do with how well something is written. Take the Left Behind books, for instance. Please!

      Also, I wrote this on a keyboard... so there's that...

      As far as Mr. Green's employment in Asia, it is slave wages. I don't think that's something to brag about. And his employees in the states are asked - as we've mentioned here - to deny certain rights that go against Mr. Green's religious views. So, freedom of religion for the employer, but not for the employee?

      As far as what I do for others? I help students find their skills, I empower, I give access and equity. That's my day job. Yeah, I rock. Thank you.

    2. Yes you do rock, JasDye. You totally rock. <3


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