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OKC Reverend speaks out against Hobby Lobby lawsuit

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Church of the Nazarene Reverend is speaking out against the Hobby Lobby lawsuit filed recently in protest of a new law requiring companies to provide coverage for controversial contraception prescriptions.

Church of the Nazarene Reverend Lance Schmitz was asked to leave the Hobby Lobby corporation headquarters campus Thursday as he was trying to deliver a packet of petition signatures.

Reverend Schmitz, and 80,000 other Americans, have signed a petition requesting Hobby Lobby drop the lawsuit they filed against the federal government earlier this month.

Petitioners are calling on the company to not use their Christian faith as an excuse to do harm to women’s health.

In their ongoing lawsuit Hobby Lobby has asked the federal government for an exception to the Affordable Health Care Act so that the $3 billion dollar arts and craft giant would not have to pay the $1.3 million a day fine for failing to provide coverage of two kinds of prescription contraception.

"We're asking them to drop their lawsuit because they're stating that this medication causes abortions, and the simple fact of the matter is that it does not. It's contraceptive coverage. When you increase access to contraception you decrease abortions, and no one's really against that." said Reverend Schmitz.

Hobby Lobby owner David Green said has always provided daily contraception coverage for the company's employees.

The Green family filed the lawsuit because they oppose a requirement to provide coverage for two controversial types of contraception: the morning after pill and the week after pill.

"Our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintain the religious beliefs that have made our business successful." said Hobby Lobby owner, David Green, during a conference call earlier in September.

Reverend Schmitz and 80,000 Americans who signed the petition believe allowing a religious exception for Hobby Lobby will erode valuable health care protection for  women.

"My decision to do this came to me after prayer and much reflection and discernment with friends and colleagues and ministers and doctors." said Rev. Schmitz.

The lawyers working on behalf of Hobby Lobby tell us the company will continue to provide coverage for traditional birth control medications, but they are opposed to the controversial "morning after" and "week after" pills for religious reasons.

The online petition of 80,000 signatures was organized by two non-profit organizations, Faithful America and UltraViolet.

Faithful America is an online community of over 175,000 people of faith taking action on pressing moral issues of social justice and the common good.

Faithful America's petition reads: “Don't use your Christian faith as an excuse to obstruct health care reform and deny women access to birth control. I won't shop at your store until you drop this lawsuit, and I'll tell my friends to do the same.”

UltraViolet is a community of women and men working to fight sexism and expand women's rights. With hundreds of thousands of members in every state and congressional district, UltraViolet members make our voices heard to further the cause of full equality, empower women, and fight attacks on women's rights.

UltraViolet's petition reads: "All women deserve affordable access to birth control and it's a woman's personal, medical decision on which form to use. I won’t be shopping at your store until you drop this suit, and I’ll be telling my friends to do the same."

Hobby Lobby provided this statement regarding the petition of 80,000 signatures:

“The Green family respects every individual's right to free speech and hopes that others will respect their rights also, including the right to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” -Mandi Broadfoot, Hobby Lobby spokesperson.

The legal team helping Hobby Lobby in their lawsuit, The Beckett Fund, provided the following statement:

“The Green family respects the religious convictions of all Americans, including those who do not agree with them. All they are asking is for the government to give them the same respect by not forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.

 “The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue its longstanding practice of covering these preventive contraceptives for its employees. However, the Green family cannot provide or pay for two specific abortion-inducing drugs. These drugs are Plan B and Ella, the so-called morning-after pill and the week-after pill.  Covering these drugs, as the government is forcing them to do under the threat of $1.3 million penalty per day, would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception, when an egg is fertilized. The FDA-approved government birth control guide clearly states that these two drugs, the morning-after pill and the week-after pill, may prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, thus aborting the fertilized egg.

“Hobby Lobby is not 'denying women healthcare,' as the petition falsely claims. Hobby Lobby provides generous health care benefits and wages to all its employees. Their benefits have always included the vast majority of birth control drugs and will continue to do so. The government, however, wants to force Hobby Lobby to cover two specific drugs that can cause early abortions. This is illegal and unconstitutional. The only people who are being denied anything are Hobby Lobby and the Green Family, who are being denied the right to practice their religion or face millions of dollars in fines.

"The petition also claims that Hobby Lobby is 'confusing matters' by claiming that the morning after pill causes abortion, but it is the petition itself that is confusing matter by spreading misinformation. The federal government’s own birth control guide clearly states that drugs like the morning after pill and the week after pill can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb. Millions of Americans would consider that an early abortion.

"Finally, the petition says Hobby lobby 'needs to hear immediately' that it cannot 'use Christian faith as an excuse to undermine healthcare reforms.' The petitioners are flat wrong, the only thing being undermined here is Hobby Lobby’s Christian faith, not 'healthcare reforms.' The morning after and week after pills are widely available and employees are free to purchase them as they please. The government itself spends billions of dollars a year on free family planning services. But what the petitioners “need to hear immediately” is that the government cannot use healthcare reform as an excuse for trampling on religious rights.” -Kyle Duncan, The Becket Fund