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News from the Plains: All this RED can make you BLUE

Hobby Lobby: Check your Judaism at the door
by Barry Friedman

For the love of Christ. And, apparently, just for the love of Christ.

“Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values."
That was the answer given when a customer called Hobby Lobby and asked why there were no items for sale at the store for Hanukkah.
The Hobby Lobby Hanukkah controversy began when Berwitz learned that on a recent shopping trip his wife’s friends could not find anything related to Hanukkah at their local Hobby Lobby store in Marlboro, N.J., though it was stocked with Christmas items.

According to Berwitz, one of the women asked about bar mitzvah cards, and a Hobby Lobby salesperson replied: “We don’t cater to you people.”

Nice, huh?

In response, the company was shocked--just shocked--there was Anti-Semitism going on.

“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.”
Well ... yes and no.
Berwitz told Religion News Service that he then called Hobby Lobby’s corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, and the company confirmed that it does not stock items for Hanukkah, and did not give a reason. When he asked whether the company carries Passover merchandise, he was again told no.
No Passover merchandise? Even when you consider there is more than enough evidence that indicates the Last Supper was a Seder?
“Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Our customers have brought this to our attention and we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future.”
Really? This needs to be brought to your attention? Jews have just come to your attention? Hanukkah predates Christmas by about 165 years and Jews didn't just land here from Mars. We're in the Bible. In fact, we were in the Bible before you were in the Bible. And how is it nobody had to bring to your attention the need to stock merchandise for Halloween? Halloween--that's about Satan and paganism, right?

So, for Beelzebub, you'll take--you should pardon the expression--a leap of faith, but not for Jews? You'll stock jack-o-lanterns, but not dreidels?

David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, is presently fighting the Obama Administration over the Affordable Care Act, asserting that requiring him to provide insurance that might offset the cost of drugs that physicians prescribe to female employees that might interfere with procreation (even if it's for endometriosis) is an affront to his Christianity and thwarts God's marketing plan for the store.

Green has said he believes his company’s success has endured “by God’s grace and provision.”
And now you want him to stock picture books about the Maccabees?

Like Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby wants it both ways. It says it welcomes all faiths, all lifestyles into its stores--just don't make a stink about how the companies operate, what restrictions they put on their employees, or what products they stock.

Speaking of, Hobby Lobby is selling the following items this Christmas: Christmas trees, Christmas light sets, Christmas cards, Christmas floral arrangements, and decorative snowmen--all of which have as much to do with Christ as I do with the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

And Jesus said, "Ceramic Santas ... Now 40% off!"

But it's a private company--I can hear you say--so it can do what it wants.

Yeah, and not too long ago African Americans couldn't get a tuna melt at privately owned luncheonettes.

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
But that could never happen here. Besides, this is just about gays who want to file a joint return, women who want Depo-Provera, Jews who want Menorahs.

It's about store owners who believe and just want to serve God.

It's different.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A business owner can have religious principles; (10+ / 0-)

    a corporation can't. While the Hobby Lobby owner is certainly entitled to practice his religious beliefs privately as he see fits, there is no logic or reason why the government should allow those beliefs to shield him from legally enacted Federal law.

    But as far as religious principles goes, I'm pretty sure that Jesus was about love, tolerance and love of your neighbor. I don't see an examples of Christ-like behavior in David Green's practices.

    Hopefully any true Christians will vote with their feet (and their wallets) and walk right out of Hobby Lobby and to a store that lives up to our American ideals.

  •  That store was in NJ? (4+ / 0-)

    That branch won't last long. Boycott/picket the hell out of it and run it into the ground.

    I suppose it's technically legal--unlike the lunch counter analogy it's not that they're barring Jews from the store or refusing to serve them.  It's just that it gets annoying to be served by al these little mini-Hitlers that keep showing up everywhere you turn these days.

    F**k that guy, the salesgirl and his shop.

  •  I love the quote you posted at the end of this. (13+ / 0-)

    My Mother grew up in Holland during WWII and her family hid Jews.  The biggest lesson she stressed in my childhood was to always speak up when you see something that is wrong.  Your diary does just that.

  •  Interesting info in your diary (5+ / 0-)

    But I don't think their failure to carry merchandise is at all equivalent to not serving blacks at lunch counters.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 04:22:00 AM PDT

  •  Christmas is really a conscripted pagan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MadRuth, Kimbeaux, wilderness voice, avsp


    "Drudge: soundslike sludge, islike sewage."
    (-7.25, -6.72)

    by gougef on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 04:32:12 AM PDT

  •  I dislike (4+ / 0-)

    Hobby Lobby as much as everyone else (though I am all for cheap candles), and dislike their Christian minded business model just as much as I dislike ChikFilA's or some other company, but I find it well within a store owners rights to carry whatever merchandise they want. Most anyone should know that Hobby Lobby is a Christian organization and really shouldn't expect them to cater to other religious beliefs. I would not expect to go into a Christian bookstore and find a book on atheism or Islam.

    The response given by underpaid and under insured employees was rude and just plain wrong, but that does not mean that every other employee is a jackass.

    "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

    by LieparDestin on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 05:01:48 AM PDT

    •  But... (5+ / 0-)
      I would not expect to go into a Christian bookstore and find a book on atheism or Islam.
      Hobby Lobby isn't a religious-oriented store.  I agree, a Christian bookstore doesn't have to sell books on Islam, but this is a CRAFT store.  It sells popsicle sticks, glitter and glue.  I do think there's a difference.

      (Plus it's also just poor business practice not to cater to your customers and in the area of NJ this store is located in there is a large Jewish population.)

      "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

      by ItsJessMe on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 05:11:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bad business decision (6+ / 0-)


        But just because it does not say 'Christian Crafts' most everyone should know that Hobby Lobby is a Christian oriented store.  Its in their mission statement afterall.

        They are not telling people to 'check their Judaism at the door', they are just not selling merchandise related to Hanukkah. Jews can still buy their glitter and picture frames.  Hell, Im not even sure that my local walmart carries Hanukkah merchandise either.

        It feels weird defending Hobby Lobby as I hate their position on contraceptives and the ACA, I just don't like the idea of going after businesses for what they don't sell.

        "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

        by LieparDestin on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 05:24:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Jews are free to shop elsewhere, but that's not the point. Why are Christians shopping there? This is about a store trotting out its Christianity whenever society asks it to act like a mensch, be it healthcare or this, to act like its part of a community. You want to sell fake snow but not menorahs and then talk about God's plan for your store? Please!

      •  Hobby Lobby is, in effect, a religious store. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They promote the owner's religious "values" in every way possible--from the benefits it provides workers to the merchandise it sells. Those who disagree with these "values" (and I'm one) should not shop there.

      •  Hobby Lobby makes very clear that the chain (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LieparDestin, Radiowalla, VClib

        is run on  Christian principles.  See here and here.  

        An owner can run his/her business in accordance with his/her religious principles without saying "religious" in the name.  

    •  Unless you're looking in the bookstore of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 05:26:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Would it ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      be discriminatory, in your opinion, for the federal government to not contract with Hobby Lobby for whatever supplies it buys because of its policies? And can you imagine how loud the Greens would yell if that happened? How THEY would scream discrimination?

      •  No (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        Id hope the would reject any contracts due to the failure to provide a livable wage/insurance. But If they want to use religion as the reason for not providing a contract that's more than fine with me. Now if only they would cancel the national prayer breakfast and the whole swearing in on the bible thing.

        "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

        by LieparDestin on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 06:09:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  once again we see the figleaf of religious beliefs (0+ / 0-)

    where an owner can make business decisions based on religious beliefs.  Now for those who missed this tidbit, how about if I am a member of the Church of the Creator?

    Under the logic used by various anti-ACA groups, I should not have to serve African Americans, Jews or any other minorities whom I deem inferior.  Of course if I opened a business and only sold to White Aryans, it would not be long before the wrath of the government would come down on me.  The question is how is this guy's religion superior to the Creativity Movement's beliefs so he gets to discriminate but I would not?  

    •  One clerks (4+ / 0-)

      remarks do not make a company policy however.

      Jews, Pagans, Atheists and Spaghetti Monster worshippers can still shop at Hobby Lobby. They just will not find decorations for the holidays they observe.

      Just like if a republican walked into the DKOS Market and was like 'WTF, why are you not carrying Mitt Romneys autobiography!'.

      Will the market lose money because it does not cater merchandise to all customers from all political background?  Sure. Should Dailykos HAVE to carry republican merchandise? Of course not, it goes against the whole mission statement of the site.

      "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

      by LieparDestin on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 06:14:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  although I'm pretty sure that 'your kind' remarks (0+ / 0-)

        while not expressly spoken from the top are pretty reflective of a culture that comes from the top.  This isn't the only employee to hate Jews, I'll warrant.

        It goes a bit (as in waaaay) beyond not being able to find holiday decorations.  While there isn't any LEGAL recourse against H.L. here, it does go beyond simple business models.

      •  why would a holiday store in an area where Jews (0+ / 0-)

        are a large part of the demographic not stock items for Jewish holidays?  Now if the Jewish population was 1% or so, it would be understandable but even then the owner may do special orders in the interest of good will.

        I think that your example of Dailykos is a false equivalence since political affiliation is generally not a protected class while religion does exist as a protected class.  A closer comparison would perhaps be the recent stir-up over Chick Fil-A. (BTW DK does carry GOP ads and winger type ads from time to time)  

  •  Hobby Lobby is privately held (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as is Chick Fil A and as is Barilla Pasta.

    Companies that are privately held often get into public relations fiascos that would never happen in most publicly held companies who try very hard not to offend or drive away any potential customer base.

    In privately held companies it sometimes just comes with the territory since they see their "corporate culture" as being part of their branding. It's only when the "corporate culture" hits the fan in a negative way that change sometimes occurs.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 05:53:22 AM PDT

  •  Should we require Kosher delis to carry bacon? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jhecht, nextstep, Rudy VA, coffeetalk

    While I disagree with the sentiments that are expressed by the staff at the Hobby Lobby that the diarist visited. There is a very easy way to control the behavior of the company. Don't shop there.

    You can't (and shouldn't) be able to dictate to a private company what they will or won't sell.

  •  I still don't understand why anyone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, Utahrd

    would go to Hobby Lobby for Hannukah decorations. Yes, I do understand they carry Christmas items, but so does the convenience store at the gas station. Should we complain that Kwiki Mart doesn't carry Hannukah stuff.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 06:48:10 AM PDT

  •  Yes, and McDonald's doesn't serve kosher food. (5+ / 0-)

    And has anybody tried to buy a Festivus pole anywhere?

      Hobby Lobby is just a store and it sells some things and not others. Even if it doesn't sell everything you would like, that isn't a public accomodations issue like being refused service at a lunch counter.
       The corporation has the right to sell what it wants to sell and not sell what it doesn't want to sell.
        The Pastor Niemollar quote, BTW, was over the top and trivializes the Holocaust.

  •  another reason for me to not spend money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at Hobby Lobby.

    (if I wasn't already shopping there, is it really a boycott?)

    At least that particular franchise owner acknowledged that Jews exist. I spent an afternoon recently arguing with several people who consider "Jews to be Christians" because they "worship yhwh."

    yes, really. It's a thing in some fundie circles. If they're not fetishizing Jewish traditions like Sarah Palin does (or they all do with that horrible term "judeo-christian"), they're opting for full erasure.

    when it was explained how deeply wrong and disturbing that is they whined I was making victims out of them.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility- mperiousRex.

    by terrypinder on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 07:16:48 AM PDT

  •  Overreaction in the diary. (7+ / 0-)

    No, this is not the same as refusing to serve African-Americans.  No one at Hobby Lobby is refusing to serve anyone.  Anyone who wants can come in to buy what Hobby Lobby is offering.  

    Yes, the comment by the store employee was rude.  But it was one comment by one employee.  

    What's going on here is a privately-owned business is making decisions about what items it will sell.  A privately-owned business can make those decisions on whatever basis it wants.  Because it carries Christmas items does not mean it has to carry Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, or all other religious items from any religion that could have any followers in the area.  It can decide not to carry those items simply because it doesn't believe they will sell enough to make a profit.  If it can make a decision based on dollars not to sell certain items, it can make a decision based on the principles of its owners.  I don't find one any more outrageous than the other.  Business owners can make those decisions -- sometimes those decisions attract customers, sometimes they don't.

    Yeah, and not too long ago African Americans couldn't get a tuna melt at privately owned luncheonettes.

    "In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

    I have no problem with anyone advocating for people not to shop at Hobby Lobby unless they also Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc. items.  That's the right of every customer.  But it's a complete overreaction to compare this decision to decisions of some places during the segregation era not to serve African-Americans.  It's not the same thing at all.  It's more akin to a restaurant making a decision that it will serve traditional "Christmas" items like Turkey or whatever but not to serve Kosher food.  And it's a HUGE overreaction to make any kind of analogy to the rise of Nazism, in that second "First they came for . . ." quote.  
  •  This is just in case (0+ / 0-)

    Jews had to be reminded of why fundamentalist Christians care so much about Israel. It's not about the fate of the Jews who live there.  They just have to keep Israel around long enough for the second coming.  So essentially, they kind of just put up with them.  That means Hobby Lobby may have to stock some menorahs - it's an eyes on the prize kind of thing.

  •  Pioneer Day? (0+ / 0-)

    90% of the people that celebrate Pioneer Day are Republicans.

    But they are also Apostate Mormons that are going to hell for believing in Jesus wrong.

    Does Hobby Lobby sell Pioneer Day decorations?

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 08:08:51 AM PDT

  •  I don't think that Green is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    truly an anti-Semite. As others have pointed out above a single clerk does not a company policy make and simply not stocking Channukah or Kwanzaa items (I don't believe they have the latter either) might just be because of who does most of the shopping there. If the audience doesn't buy enough for it to be profitable there's no reason to stock them.

    Anyway, Green acknowledges Christianity's roots in Judaism much more openly than most evangelicals. Here's an interesting article I ran across recently while trolling the archeology sites.

  •  Before we yell prejudice, lets investigate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am a Jew and I live in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area (yes, there is a Jewish population here).  Yesterday, I had a nice conversation with Joel Jackson, Customer Service Manager at Hobby Lobby's Corporate Office here in Oklahoma City. He gave me an update concerning the hobby lobby Chanukah controversy.  He told me that they are in the process of investigating the incident, including an outreach to the blogger who raised the issue, Ken Berwitz (who he says has not contacting him back).

    The following points summarize what he told me:
    1.  Apparently the incident involves overheard conversation by a third party who relayed the information to the blogger.  It is also unclear as to what actually happened.

    2. Hobby Lobby definitely does not have a policy of not catering to Jews.

    3. Hobby Lobby buyers are working with their suppliers to identify opportunities to serve the Jewish communities around the country, including stocking items for Jewish holidays and for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. They are open to suggestions as how to serve this market.

    4.  In the past, when they have stocked Chanukah items, they did not sell very well.  However, as they move into new markets, this may change.  Mr. Jackson pointed out that the Marboro store is new.

    The conversation was very cordial and included suggestions on what to stock and what holidays to stock for.  He brought up that they were looking into carrying Bar and Bat Mitzvah related items.  I also suggested that Hobby Lobby reach out to the local Jewish community here.

    There was a recent blog that accused Hobby Lobby of removing discussion of Chanukah from its facebook page.  I just checked and there is very active discussion there.  I am a regular reader of Daily Kos alerts and trust them for accuracy.  That is why it is imperative that, before Daily Kos reporters publish, they need to check their facts.  That appears to have been lacking here.

  •  Jews are missing the point,...Again. (0+ / 0-)

    I believe that Jews need to take a deeper look into what is actually going on here.

    Here is my full response: Hobby Lobby: American Jews are missing the point,...Again.

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