Hobby Lobby ruling puts Green family in crosshairs

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm •  Published: July 1, 2014
Advertisement
;

David Green felt like the black sheep of his family. His five other siblings had followed their preacher father into church work; David went into retail.

But as his business successes mounted, he found his religious calling: using the financial might from his Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain as an engine for evangelism. That mission, until recent years carried out largely within the world of Pentecostal Christianity, took the 72-year-old Green all the way to a landmark victory Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court over the birth control coverage rule in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

"I don't think they decided to go into that kind of an area. I think it was forced on them by the government," said Vinson Synan, a friend of the Greens and a prominent scholar of Pentecostal history at Regent University. "They'll be heroes to the very conservative religious people who are very much against abortion."

The justices ruled 5-4 that requiring closely-held companies such as Hobby Lobby to pay for methods of women's contraception to which they object violates the corporations' religious freedom. It was the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

Women's rights groups and their supporters condemned the decision. But the ruling revitalized religious conservatives who, after a series of defeats over gay marriage, felt they were on the losing side of the culture wars. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy arm, said after Monday's ruling, "I'm so happy about this I almost want to be dancing in the streets about it."

Before the court case, the Greens were already considered a first family of Pentecostalism because of their largesse and the example they set as Christian business owners. Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma City, has about $3 billion in yearly revenues and donates millions of dollars in profits to charity.

The Greens close their stores on Sundays so employees can attend church or be with family, and they pay full-time employees a minimum of $15 per hour. The family buys full-page newspaper ads each Christmas and Easter to emphasize the religious beliefs behind the holidays and advertise a Christian ministry they support called Need Him. They have spent tens of millions of dollars to buy vacant buildings, land and entire campuses, which they have given away to churches and religious colleges.

Yet the family's profile began rising far beyond Christian circles around 2008, when Mart Green, David's son, spent about $70 million of the family fortune to rescue Oral Roberts University, the Pentecostal school in Oklahoma that was engulfed in a spending scandal and burdened with tens of millions of dollars in debt. Mart Green told The Associated Press that year he stepped in because, "if ORU goes down it affects all the Christian colleges."



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Verizon: We track you, you get free stuff
  2. 2
    Is this Apple's new iWatch?
  3. 3
    Survey: Users unhappy with Facebook
  4. 4
    NBC Analyst Tony Dungy: I Never Would Have Drafted Michael Sam
  5. 5
    Top High School Basketball Player Signs $1.2 Million Contract In China Instead Of Going To College
+ show more