Jeff Atwater’s Perspective:
Ensconced in our nation's history is both the divinely inspired notion that we should have a society that respects individual freedom and the guarantee that we always be a nation that respects and allows the exercise of faith. Yet both of these principles have been under attack and, perhaps, there is no better example than the recent experience of David Green and his chain of retail stores, Hobby Lobby.
Our Constitution, and the subsequent Bill of Rights, enshrines the specific liberties that Americans recognize as coming from our creator. It also defines a clear system of limits and accountability for government. But somewhere along the way, the roles of accountability are being reversed.
The absolute truth that a free people must hold their government accountable is being rejected by some and replaced by a failed idea that citizens ultimately answer to government.
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Hobby Lobby is a family-run business started in one man's garage and now has grown to more than 500 stores nationwide. The entrepreneur who started it, David Green, embodies the exceptional promise of America. He had an idea, took the risk of advancing that idea to the marketplace, and created a business that succeeds.
He also made a choice that any private business owner should be allowed to make; to have his stores reflect the values of faith and family. So, the stores have operated for more than 40 years on a set of principles derived from its owners' faith.
Like the Greens, the thousands of employees in the company understand the company's values and exercise their own freedom by working for a retailer with such clearly defined beliefs.
Now, though, because of Obamacare, Hobby Lobby is being forced by the federal government to provide abortion-inducing drugs to its employees — a mandate that violates the conscience and values of its owners.
Hobby Lobby's struggle against this intolerance and violation of liberty has led them to the federal court system. In fact, the latest federal court ruling was that the government could force them to pay fines of $1.3 million a day for noncompliance. This outrageous financial penalty threatens the company's continued success and puts in jeopardy the future of more than 18,000 employees.
On May 23, Mr. Green and his company will continue their effort to protect freedom in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appellate court. As we wait for their next day in court, I hope you will take the time to learn more about this case.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit, public-interest legal group that advocates for free expression of all faiths, is defending the company and the Greens to protect the founding principles of the Constitution. The organization has a website —
www.becketfund.org — where you can learn more about the legal case.
As you learn more about it, I invite you to join me and remember what our founders asked of us. By their sacrifice we became Americans, people not subject to a tyrannical government but citizens who take the phrase "We the people" as a call to action. When we see the founding principles being ignored, we can and must demonstrate our support.
So let us stand, united, in support for the company and the Green family.
You may ask, “how can I help?" It is crystal clear the case brought by the Greens is about freedom, not promoting their business.
Nevertheless, I plan to shop there and let my dollars be a simple expression of my willingness to stand up for this American company and the men and women who work there.
Jeff Atwater is Florida's Chief Financial Officer.
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