Happy (Christian) Fourth of July from Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby AdTens of millions of people saw a now-familiar name in their newspaper Friday morning, attached to a now-familiar message: America should be a Christian nation.

Every Easter and Fourth of July since 1997, Hobby Lobby, has taken out full-page ads in newspapers around the country; by their own numbers, 290 newspapers in 30 states in 2007. The Hobby Lobby name may be more familiar to people this Fourth of July than in the past, of course, due to the Supreme Court’s ruling this past week.

Friday’s newspaper message, like similar ones before it, lacks nuance: Emblazoned at the top is an American flag, the words, “In God We Trust” and the Bible verse, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” It features quotes of Founding Fathers, presidents, Congressional reports, and the 1636 Harvard “student guidelines,” all of which extoll the importance of a Christian God and religion in American governance and education, among other aspects of life. Most poignantly, the ad features quotes from Supreme Court Justices and Supreme Court decisions.

Many of the quotes are from the colonial era (yes, there was no United States of America when that 1636 class of Harvard students received their guidelines), or early American history, such as Patrick Henry’s “…give me liberty or give me death,” (a quote that begins with the necessity of an appeal to God). But there are also some quotes from the mid-19th century, highlighting – according to the ad – why the Supreme Court has okayed prayer in public schools, ignoring later Court decisions that disagree with that conclusion.

On any other Fourth of July, the quotes and the ad would merely represent a buffet-style political theory, mixed with theology, for American government, without discussion or debate. After all, it’s not hard to find Christian/religiously-based quotes justifying a myriad of unsavory beliefs from racism to denying women access to work and professions (from the Supreme Court, no less).

But the ad is more poignant this Fourth of July given the Supreme Court decision. Moreover, this sort of proselytizing is in keeping with the mission and goals of Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Greens. It’s only a little ironic that Americans, of all religious stripes and beliefs, opening their newspapers Friday morning to an onslaught of decontextualized quotes on Christianity and the history of the United States is, in a way, a remarkable testament to the freedom of religion that we celebrate on the Fourth of July: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

ebaxter@americanprogress.org'

Emily Baxter is a research assistant for women's economic policy at the Center for American Progress. Previously, she was the special assistant for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center.

  • Jim Reed

    This nation was founded by those who left England and came to America for freedom to persecute the religions of their choice.

  • Tige Gibson

    Is the word (name) God capitalized in the ad?

    “Blessed is the nation whose King James VIII is The King?”

    “Blessed is the nation whose King is King?” Which God now?

    “Blessed is the nation whose King is MY King?” The Christian God, not the Muslim or any other God, but they fail to make that clear.

    Anyway, not having any god at all doesn’t imply being cursed by any interpretation of their statement, not even the ones that don’t make sense.

    They just didn’t study it out.

  • DKeane123

    An excellent rebuttal: http://ffrf.org/hlr/HobbyLobby.html

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    403 error.

  • DKeane123

    Hmm, I just clicked into it using Chrome. Odd.

  • fiona64

    I got a 403 error as well, using Firefox.

  • fiona64

    Hobby Lobby, and their worshipers, would be delighted to live in a theocracy — as long as it suited their particular religion. But the Venn diagram overlap between such folk and the “no Sharia Law!” types is so large as to be nearly 100 percent … without them being bright enough to recognize the irony of their position.