SCOTUS’ ruling yesterday in favor of Hobby Lobby moved many people of faith to declare their intention to never again buy their scrap-booking supplies at the national craft chain. And then there are other people of faith who will intentionally spend their money at Hobby Lobby when they haven’t before.
We people of faith often make our purchasing decisions according to what we privately support/don’t support in hopes of making a small difference. For example:
- I shop at Costco because they are good to their employees in terms of minimum salaries and benefits. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that this is the way businesses should treat their workers.
- I buy Aveda products because they have a good environmental record. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that we are called to be good stewards of the earth.
- I eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because their economic policies were developed to keep the pay ratio between the highest salaried executive and lowest earning worker to be no greater than 5 to 1. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that he said more about greed than most other things and I want to reward business leaders who are not greedy.
Nevertheless, the truth is that:
- Costco is routinely criticized for packaging their items in environmentally-unfriendly paper and plastic, and their big box stores with big box items require a car/personal 18-wheeler to get the stuff home. There are no bike racks outside Costco for a reason.
- Aveda is now owned by Estee Lauder which refuses to refrain from using cancer-causing ingredients from their products according to this article.
- Ben and Jerry’s is now owned by Unilever and their salary guidelines currently resemble most other corporate models.
My own denomination – which also does not invest in tobacco and alcohol companies for spiritual reasons – famously voted recently at General Assembly to divest funds from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions because of the products they make which are used in Israel-Palestine for “non-peaceful pursuits.” As a follower of Jesus, I believe that – while Israelis are understandably concerned about their security – Palestinians are mistreated to the point that it looks like apartheid to many.
On the other hand, my denomination continues to invest in Coca-Cola which has been accused of human rights violations in Columbia and other nations.
My point is that no one is pure.
We may try to follow Jesus in our buying patterns and in our daily consumption, but the world is complicated and we can’t possibly keep up with all policies and corporate purchases.
Secondly, followers of Jesus disagree.
The Green family who own and run Hobby Lobby are Assemblies of God Christians. They give millions of dollars away to organizations that support their theology and this is their right and their calling. But other Christians disagree with them. And this is also our right and our calling.
Thirdly, there is no such thing as a Christian business. In many communities in the United States, there are Christian Yellow Pages which list Christian Florists, Christian Dentists, Christian Manicurists, and Christian Housepainters. Presumbly there are no Christian Bartenders or Christian Marijuana Farmers (in Colorado) included. But in real life there actually are Christian Bartenders and Christian Marijuana Farmers and Christian Planned Parenthood Nurses and Christian Weapons Dealers.
My fourth point: we all fall short of the glory of God.
My fifth point: “Christian” is a terrible adjective. To say that Hobby Lobby is a Christian company is confusing and unhelpful in terms of sharing the gospel.
My hope is that we will allow each other the personal freedom to express our faith the way we choose.
Image from “The Christian Business Phone Book.”