WASHINGTON – Hobby Lobby Stores' 600 U.S. craft shops close each Sunday, posting a notice that employees are spending the day with their families and at worship. It's a visible sign that the company is as focused on honoring God as it is on making money.
That dual mission is at the core of an ideological showdown over President Obama's health care law, set for argument before the Supreme Court next week. Hobby Lobby seeks a religious exemption from the requirement that employers cover birth control in workers' insurance plans.
Hobby Lobby is asking the court to give corporations the same religious freedoms as individuals, with potentially sweeping rights to opt out of laws they say are immoral.
"Why … do I have to give up religious freedoms, which are core to what our nation was founded on?" said Steve Green, the president of the company.
The Hobby Lobby case focuses on the First Amendment's separate guarantee of "free exercise" of religion, along with a 1993 federal religious-rights law.
Critics of Hobby Lobby's position say religious rights are impossible to square with the nature of corporations.
Corporations "have no soul, and they certainly do not have a relationship with God," said Caroline Mala Corbin, a University of Miami law professor.