Wednesday, leaders in the Oklahoma Christian faith community shared their views concerning Hobby Lobby's lawsuit against the U.S. Health and Human Services mandate requiring businesses to pay for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs for their employees.
Loren Gresham, president of Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, said he was not surprised that the Green family of Hobby Lobby decided to take their opposition to the mandate to court.
“I know that company and the family that owns it,” Gresham said.
“They are people of deep faith, they respect life and I think they are representative of millions of people across the country who are deeply offended by this mandate.”
Gresham said his Church of the Nazarene university hopes to join with other several other Oklahoma faith-affiliated colleges and universities to file their own suit against the mandate. He said having a Christian-owned business of Hobby Lobby's prominence among fellow dissenters is advantageous.
“I don't know how many will come forward and take on a plaintiff's role,” he said of other like-minded businesses. “Our part of the faith community is looking for allies wherever we can find them. Hobby Lobby certainly is one of those types.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has arguably been the most vocal faith organization to express outrage over the mandate and an ongoing commitment to see it quashed. The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, a USCCB member, gave his views about Hobby Lobby's legal news Wednesday, though he said he had not seen the lawsuit's specifics.
“I have not read the pleadings associated with the Hobby Lobby lawsuit involving the HHS mandate,” Coakley said. “However, I am pleased to see that Christian business leaders are joining the USCCB and many of our Catholic institutions throughout the United States in opposing the HHS mandate's unprecedented assault on conscience rights and religious liberty.”
The Rev. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, also shared his comments.
“I wholeheartedly support the action taken by Hobby Lobby,” Jordan said in a statement.
The convention is the state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention. Southern Baptists represent the state's largest denomination.
“No person or organization should be forced to violate deeply held religious convictions in order to uphold an unjust government regulation, especially one that so clearly threatens the rights to life and religious liberty,” Jordan said. “We applaud and stand with the Green family, whom I know to be people of deep faith.”
The Rev. Frank Cargill, superintendent of the Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God, said he also applauded Hobby Lobby for taking a stand against a mandate that he feels exceeds legislative authority.
“No act of human governance should be respected if it attempts to redefine or to restrict the moral issue associated with our basic right to life — from conception to natural death,” Cargill said.
He said he believes that the nation appears to have forgotten its foundational cornerstones.
“Anytime that our government attempts to legislate morality, such action violates our reason for existence,” Cargill said. “God defines morality — not government.”