Hobby Lobby is again in the middle of a controversy, this time over the nationwide Christian craft store's decision not to carry Jewish-themed holiday items.
Political blogger Ken Berwitz has accused the store, which is owned by billionaire evangelical pastor David Green, of anti-Semitism over the omission.
After seeing a wide selection of Christmas items, including crosses, and Christian-themed cards, Berwitz called a store in Marlboro, N.J., to ask whether any Hanukkah-related goods would be for sale.
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An employee at that location reportedly told Berwitz no, "because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he's a Christian, and those are his values."
Berwitz blogged about the experience, as well as an earlier instance in which he was allegedly told by a clerk, "We don't cater to you people."
Green, whose net worth is listed at $5 billion as of September, makes no secret of his Christian faith. All 561 locations close on Sundays, and the company's mission statement says: "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future."
The company released a statement on Monday to Entrepreneur.com
in an attempt to defuse the situation:
"Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Due to multiple customer requests, we are currently evaluating our holiday items and what we will carry in the future. Alleged comments made by employees are currently being investigated and will be addressed accordingly. These comments are in no way indicative of Hobby Lobby culture, the owners and the operators. Marlboro is a great city and has wonderful people and we are blessed to be a part of the community."
Commenters on the story at Buzzfeed
seemed to agree that the alleged employee comment was inappropriate, but generally sided with Hobby Lobby's right to choose what merchandise to sell.
"Why is this even a story?" posted Rachel Freeman. "You wouldn't walk into Victoria's Secret and expect to be sold a burka, why would you expect Jewish merchandise in a Christian-based store? This is the kind of [stuff] that causes issues when there wasn't even an issue in the first place. I don't agree with the employee telling the customer, "We don't cater to you people" and agree that punishment is due in that aspect but...really? You're crying because a Christian store won't sell a Menorah?"
Hobby Lobby has also been in the spotlight lately as the company is suing the federal government over an Obamacare stipulation that forces private companies to provide birth control coverage for employees, regardless of whether a business owner's morally objections. Last month, federal officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that requirement, amid Hobby Lobby's claims as well as 60 other cases.
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