Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Religious Freedom and the Fourth of July

The Hobby Lobby victory yesterday could not have been more appropriately timed.  On the last day of June, in a week that will end on Friday with the Fourth of July, the Green family learned that the federal government cannot violate their religious beliefs by forcing them to provide abortifacent contraceptives to their employees.  The victory was a victory for all people who value freedom, faith and conscience--it was the triumph of individual liberty over the collectivist machine that tells us what we can think, believe, value and promote.

As I tweeted yesterday, the Hobby Lobby victory would not have been possible in the first place if one family, the Green family of Oklahoma, had not been willing to take a stand for their personal convictions and fight an expensive and drawn out legal battle to defend their individual liberties.  As I tweeted yesterday, in doing so, they risked everything.  One liberal Twitter troll smirked in reply, "What exactly did they risk?"  Well, it's very simple, Mr. Troll.  The Green family risked their company.  They risked decades of work and sacrifice.  They risked annual fines of $475 million for refusing to comply with the mandate which would have become due and payable if SCOTUS had ruled against them.  They built a crafts business that has become a household name and for many a beloved shopping experience, and they risked closing the doors of that business so that they could take a stand on principle.  It would have been so much easier, so much cheaper, so much safer, to say, "It's the law.  There's nothing we can do.  We don't encourage people to get abortions.  We don't have abortions ourselves. But we can't fight this--the risk is just too great."  If they had taken that stance, today we would not be celebrating a huge affirmation of our fundamental principle of religious freedom.

As I wrote last year, I have never been a Hobby Lobby shopper, until very recently.  There was a Hobby Lobby store located reasonably close to my former office in El Paso, but I never went there.  I did not object to Hobby Lobby--I just never thought about them at all.  Then last year as we saw them in the thick of this battle to defend freedom, I promised myself that I would buy my holiday candles from them in 2013 and that I would continue to purchase my holiday candles every year that they remain open. As I wrote last year, it was an exceedingly small purchase, but the money I spent on candles went to them rather than elsewhere.  Now that I live in the Dallas Metroplex there are Hobby Lobby stores everywhere, including one close to my new home and my new office.  Every time I have passed the store in the last two months, I have remembered my commitment to purchase my candles from Hobby Lobby, and I have wondered whether the stores would still be open this fall.  Now I have my answer, and the Greens have my business, small or large, for as long as they remain open and committed to traditional, faith-based values.  It is the least I can do.

That this victory should come at the Fourth of July is significant.  When the 13 colonies first rebelled against Great Britain, they did so at great risk.  Taxation without representation was only one abuse by the British government.  The soldiers were stationed in the public square in Boston and their commanding officers frequently administered public floggings for small infractions.  Soldiers could be quartered in private homes without the consent of a home owner.  Printing presses that printed articles speaking against the crown or in opposition to British policies were routinely destroyed.  And yet, the penalty for insurrection was confiscation of property and death.  It would have been so much easier for the colonists to say, "There's nothing we can do.  The British empire is the most powerful government in the world.  We don't have the resources to win. We don't have the training; we don't have the army.  Whatever happens to us, we just have to endure.  We can't fight this--the risk is too great."  If they had taken that stance we would not have the Constitution or the Bill of Rights which guarantees Americans the very freedoms that had been trampled by Great Britain.  We would not have the United States of America or 1776.  We would not be celebrating our Independence Day--the Fourth of July.

Ronald Reagan famously said that freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.  We didn't inherit it from our parents and we don't pass it on in our bloodstream to our children.  Every generation must defend the attacks on freedom.  Defense of freedom always brings great risk.  It is always easier to say, "There's nothing we can do."  But the Green family reminds us that today, just as in 1776, when we stand up for freedom we can win--even if the odds against us seem tremendous.  If all that is needed for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing, the converse is also true:  Evil is vanquished when good people stand against it.

Happy Fourth of July.   

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

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