David Green, the billionaire CEO of Hobby Lobby, has determined that his employees – 43,000-plus people – shall continue showing up to work despite the upheaval caused by the coronavirus and social distancing orders. He asserts that they all will be fine because his wife, Barbara, received a message from God that they interpret as much.
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma City-based corporation released a statement describing the “proactively implemented” measures they are taking in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hobby Lobby promises advanced store cleaning, limiting employees from travelling internationally (and domestically, except when necessary), and a continual of online shopping.
“We…look forward to a return to normalcy very soon,” their statement concludes. They also direct readers to get guidance from the CDC, which currently recommends social distancing and staying home if you can as appropriate preventative measures.
Yet, in a letter to employees dated on Thursday, March 19, Green made it clear that they will keep stores open and continue operating. Green opens by noting that the United States has “experienced several calamities and disruptions over the centuries,” comparing the pandemic to terrorist attacks and world wars.
“I have every confidence that we, as a country and Company, will sustain and thrive again soon,” he claims.
He then begins telling the readers about his wife, Barbara. He describes her as the family’s “prayer warrior.”
Hobby Lobby owner David Green is telling store managers to stay open despite the pandemic because his wife had a vision from god.
— Towanda the Avenger (@kendallybrown) March 22, 2020
Green describes how Barbara had a divine encounter that should qualm any concern for their family – and Hobby Lobby. “In her quiet prayer time this past week, the Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control. Guide, Guard, and Groom.”
He explains, “we serve a God who will guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now…we can all rest knowing that God is in control.”
“I ask that you all pray for our health and a return to normalcy very soon,” Green concludes.
Green’s letter has made it online and of course, the reception has not gone so well. Hobby Lobby began trending on Twitter with users lambasting the decision, such as digital strategist Kendall Brown (who helped propel the letter into virility) noting that while Green and his family are worth well over $6 billion, they do not offer a majority of their employees benefits or paid sick leave.
In his letter, Green did also suggest that jobs will be in jeopardy to ensure that the company “remains strong and prepared to prosper once again.”
“We may all have to ‘tighten our belts’ over the near future,” he writes.
With at least 75 million people within 4 states under government order to stay home unless necessary, Hobby Lobby may need to brace for more than belt-tightening as the pandemic is not over – especially if people begin going out to retail stores in populated areas for art supplies.
Hobby Lobby family out here trying to get people killed. Which isn’t very pro-lifey of them. https://t.co/QmPVFMRZWq
— Kaili Joy Gray (@KailiJoy) March 22, 2020
Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby is telling customers via Twitter to call their local store “to check their hours and availability” if they would like to come in.
This isn’t the first time that Green’s religious beliefs have put Hobby Lobby into the ire of many. The company infamously got in trouble for smuggling religious artifacts from Iraq between 2010 and 2011, leading to 7-figure fines and global embarrassment. His son and company president, Steven Green, claimed they were for the Museum of the Bible that he founded in 2017.
Before becoming a successful Trump nominee for Court of Appeals Circuit Judge, Stuart Kyle Duncan refined his anti-LGBTQ reputation defending the corporation’s religious liberties all the way to the Supreme Court. He successfully argued in 2014 that corporations such as Hobby Lobby can operate outside of the Affordable Care Act based on their corporate “religious beliefs,” which objected to contraceptives.