Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Christian Products for Pagan Purposes

Yesterday, this article went around Facebook explaining some new revelations in Hobby Lobby's challenge to the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare). Hobby Lobby, for those of you that don't know, is a chain of craft supply stores running through most of the United States. They are quite famous for being a Christian run, and rather activist, business. In fact, they're so ostensibly Christian that they make it a feature on the 'Our Company' section of their business' website:
The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.
 When I shared this link, I got a number of responses ranging from people affirming their decision to purchase craft supplies online, to people highlighting alternative businesses to patron, to folks that say they get joy from buying products from a Christian store to use in their Pagan craft. Actually, a lot of people made similar comments to this, and this isn't the first time I've heard folks touting the idea of giving money to admittedly Christian businesses for specific Pagan usage. Even some Pagan books, when mentioning where to get altar supplies, recommend getting products from Christian book stores, as they have a wide array of things like bells and censers and other altar-related items.

And here is where I have my quandary...
What is it that we think we're accomplishing by giving money to Christian businesses? Because, obviously, it is the owners of said stores whose opinions shape the business practices, and so on, not the cashier who checked you out while you were rocking your pentacle...not the stock boy who checked on that wood burning kit that you made sure to tell him was to make witchy altar tiles...not even the management who you felt the need to casually mention to that you were deigning to shop in this Christian establishment with your Pagan money...

If that was a thing you did.

The story that came out regarding Hobby Lobby said that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a business can absorb the religious beliefs held by its owners, and that it can mold its business practices thusly. Now, while the salacious headline makes it sound like a parroting of the 'Corporations Are People' bologna that the SCOTUS gave us some time ago, it isn't quite. But, they did hold that corporations can be considered to be religious persons under the RFRA - or Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

All of this, the court case, came about because Hobby Lobby's owners are one of a number of businesses challenging the Affordable Care Act's - Obamacare - requirement that employers provide insurance that also covers contraception without a co-pay. Because, you know, a woman's right to choose isn't 'honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with Biblical principles'. It should be noted that these same Christian businesses have no problem supplying medication for erectile dysfunction.


So, they are a business that is actively attempting to take rights away, given by the federal government, from its employees. Actually trying to make its employees lives a little harder, a little more complicated, and a little worse. We've heard stories coming from other famously Christian businesses such as Chick-Fil-A, which gives money to anti-marriage equality organizations. Though, I don't hear as many people saying they're buying chicken sandwiches to eat at their local Pride parade.

Also, one other thing to know about Hobby Lobby is that it isn't the only store owned by the private company. They also own a company called Mardel, which is a Christian-based homeschooling resource and bookstore. Their textbooks include such gems as 'Advanced Physics in Creation', which is a textbook from 'Apologia'. From the website:
Apologia resources are designed to give homeschooled students a scientific education that will help them make a reasoned defense of the Christian faith.
Mardel obviously isn't as large or lucrative a business as Hobby Lobby, so the company helps Mardel stay afloat with extra money from its crown jewel: Hobby Lobby.

So...in other words...those craft supplies you're buying might be the extra pocket change that helps put 'Advanced Physics in Creation' and other balderdash in the hands of a tragically misinformed homeschool kid.

I ask you... What is it we think we're doing when we patronize activist Christian businesses for our own purposes. There are quite a number of businesses whose owners are famously Christian that don't attempt to take away the rights of its employees or give money to political organizations. There are even some quality Christian book stores whose owners seem to support a healthy live and let live philosophy. But, every now and then, you get a business that uses money from chicken sandwiches to try and take away the rights of GLBT citizens. A business that uses its resources to take away contraception from its employees and put utter lies about science into the hands of today's youth.

Do we really have no other options at this point? In 2013? You're reading a blog right now from some kind of smart device or computer. Can you not click on to a craft supply website? A giant online warehouse store like Amazon or even find a similar privately owned business website? Etsy is chock full of craft suppliers who make no bones about who they sell to.

I will leave you with the question: is the joke really on them, or are we laughing to make us feel better about giving money to people we know we shouldn't?

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

14 comments:

  1. Fire Lyte, this is right on! I refuse to give money to the Salvation Army or the local church-run thrift shops for exactly this reason. In our culture, money is power: why give our power to those whose declared aim is to further religious bigotry and gender discrimination against us and those like us?

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  2. Ha ha, I love the comment about the ED meds. I refuse to eat at Chik-Fil-A. I will not shop at Hobby Lobby (coming up with reasons for my conservative MIL gets quite fun!). My husband, while identifying as Christian, finds my refusal to eat at Chik-Fil-A silly. He respects my choice though and if he does in fact consume this disgusting food, he does it out of my presence. He supports my refusal to shop at Hobby Lobby, though his reasons are different. He doesn't believe that anyone should legislate the human body. We're poor. He, as conservative and "Christian" though he is, is outraged at the idea that someone can tell us that we cannot have access to birth control. He says that no one should be able to tell us that we do not have a choice in how many children we have. Right now, we're barely keeping our heads above water. We could qualify for governmental assistance, but we choose not to because we know we can make it on our own. If I were to get pregnant right now that would change. We can't afford another child and we know it.
    I agree that we should be boycotting any retail establishment that supports causes that we're against. I'm sorry if it makes things slightly less convenient for you. Sure it's fun to tell the very Christian person that you're Pagan. I did it to get the guy hawking Christian kids' books to stop bugging me every time I walked by his stand. I reveled in his discomfort and shock. However, the store I was in wasn't overtly Christian.
    Please, everyone, support establishments that support us!

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  3. Craft supplies are readily available at Michaels', JoAnne's, and other outlets nationwide, as well as many local stores and online outlets. There is no need to patronize bigots. As for the employees, they know what their employer is. By continuing to work there, they surely realize they're furthering their bosses' agenda. I have no sympathy.

    -- Dana Corby

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  4. We vote with our money. I'd much rather wait to buy my metaphysical things till I make the hour trip to the closest one to my home, just to be able to support -them- with my moolah... they may not be local in the geographical sense, but I feel like I enjoy my doodads and books and such that I get at "my local metaphysical shop" -more- because I got them from a place that supports my lifestyle.

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  5. I'm going to use this opportunity to plug my favorite and long-running online Pagan supply store --> www.13moons.com . I am not affiliated with them -- just a very happy long-time customer.

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  6. Thanks for the background info. You've given me a lot to think about. I'll probably be changing my supply-purchasing habits because of this.

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  7. I've learned to not be bashful when a store's people really piss me off, to state right out loud (neither whispering nor shouting) that "Well, if this is how you ______ , then I'm going elsewhere to spend my money."

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  8. You make some good points and several months ago I would have agreed wholeheartedly. Today I want to respectfully offer another take on it. Over the past several months I've had my eyes opened to the fact that the us against them paradigm is something that is perpetuated among religions, races, cultures and economic tiers because while we all look at each other with distrust we aren't looking at those in power and what they are doing. While I admit I do despise a holier than thou Christian, same goes for some pagans I know! I don't disagree with your points, I just want to present an alternate perspective on a couple of things. I don't own a business but if I did and I wanted to proudly site my pagan beliefs in my mission statement, I'd feel it was my right. I must admit is is their right also then. I adamantly believe that birth control and sexual protection should be affordable and readily available to all, but I wonder if someone who honestly in their heart believes it's wrong should have to pay for it. I know my tax dollars are spent on things I don't believe in and I wish I could hold that bit back. I don't know what the solution is, but I know that being sexually active is a responsibility. Is part of being responsible paying a co-pay? I pay a co-pay to go to my dentist or other service providers.
    As a pagan I support Christian, or Jewish, or Catholic or whatever parents who want to homeschool their kid and teach their children what they believe because I wouldn't want someone to say that as pagans we were misinforming our kids if we taught them pantheism. After all once children grow older they are free to study what they are drawn to and follow their own spiritual path. (I followed your link to the textbook and opened the sample chapter - what I saw was all physics no religion) What I'm saying is that if they were actively slandering pagans I would be the first to boycott, I'm just not sure this rises to that level. But again I do respect your point that when you spend your money at a business that is the only thing they really count. They will have your receipt on the books long after they've forgotten what kind of necklace you were wearing.

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  9. I agree with many of things Anonymous Rioter said. In fact, I wish I had read the response before I replied to you, Fire Lyte, at my blog, for I feel we said some of the same things.

    This is such a difficult topic. In our hearts we all feel we are right. My reply was rather long, but this is what I ended with: "No, I don’t want the people/organizations who treat others like non-people to get richer. But I don’t want the people who work for them (many times because they might not have other options) to lose their source of income after the business is gone. I don’t know how to make things better—and by my soul, this is frustrating!—but I don’t think that attaching the economy to religion is the answer. Some have been doing just that for thousands of years and look how is working.

    Again, I don’t know how to fix it, and it drives me nuts! But squeezing someone by the neck while they are squeezing us by the neck has never ended any wars. Well, I guess that’s not necessarily trued; it could be argued that the one who squeezes harder will win, and that might be right… and very sad."

    In Darkness? Light!

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  10. I do shop at Hobby Lobby, not in a while, but they have relatively cheap crafts supplies where at a place like Joanne's or Michael's i would be paying twice as much. i have not checked out any online store, mainly because i hate shopping online.

    What i have a problem with is that by allowing one corporation to skirt by with an out-dated philosophy of human, and federally mandated, rights is that if one can, then so can another. and it may not be contraceptives they are denying. it could be corps. no longer hiring gay employees, or anyone of an alternative faith. I mean we finally put the "Jim Crow mentality" behind us when it came to establishments. or trying to. and now this just opens the door to that kind of backslide thinking.

    of course if more people know about it people could actively boycott these establishments, but when you think of how many people hold onto homophobic,racist, sexist, holier-then-thou-because-bible-tells-me-so beliefs compared to the rational and free thinking people, even if there was a huge boycott would it really be enough?

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  11. Every storm, every flood began with a single drop of water. Do folks still not get that just because one person doesn't get immediate gratification that your single action means something? Stop looking for applause and do the right thing! Thanks Fire Lyte...another thought provoking blog...

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  12. A few years ago, as I became more aware of Hobby Lobby's corporate stance against women and families, I stopped buying there entirely. It is a hardship since their prices are low. But even for the sake of convenience, in good conscience, I won't help subsidize bigotry and anti-women/anti-family/anti-gay/forced pregnancy corporate activities.

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  13. I didn't know Hobby Lobby had these kinds of practices. I admit to shopping from them, but it's more because they're (relatively) cheap and have a huge variety of stuff (great when you're a broke college adult). After reading this, though, I just can't feel comfortable shopping there. While I respect their right to believe whatever they believe (however bigoted), it still leaves me disappointed to see what their income goes towards.

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