Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) Plan Hypocrisy

Mother Jones’ Molly Redden is out with some excellent investigative reporting, revealing that Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) plan invests in mutual funds with holdings in companies that manufacture the very drugs Hobby Lobby objects to covering in its insurance plan.

As Redden points out, there are options available to companies like Hobby Lobby (or to individuals) who only want to invest in funds that meet their specific religious criteria. The Timothy Plan, one mentioned by Redden, promotes mutual funds that refuse to invest in companies that fail to meet its “Judeo-Christian” litmus test. It also maintains a “Hall of Shame” of companies, based on whether the company is involved in abortion, pornography, (presumably unwholesome) entertainment, (presumably unwholesome) lifestyle, and vices (gambling, tobacco, and alcohol).

Two companies identified by Redden as being included in the mutual funds available in the Hobby Lobby 401(k), Teva Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer, Inc., are listed on the Timothy Plan’s Hall of Shame in the abortion column.

Teva, as Redden notes, is the manufacturer of Plan B and a copper IUD, both of which Hobby Lobby objects to covering in its group health insurance plan, claiming (erroneously) that they are abortifacients.

It’s worth asking, then, why Hobby Lobby has made a federal case out of covering those items in its group health insurance plan, when it hasn’t even bothered to find out whether its 401(k) matches invest in the companies that manufacture them.

At Forbes, Ryan Ellis calls Redden’s piece “absurd” and “ridiculous:”

401(k) plans are directed and invested by employees, not by employers.  It’s the Hobby Lobby employees that would be disenfranchised by the twisted logic employed by Redden. . .  They are the ones–not their bosses–who choose which mutual funds to invest in.  This is true both of the employee’s elective deferral and the employer’s match.

Funny how Ellis, whose expertise is in tax and fiscal policy, thinks it would be “disenfranchising” for Hobby Lobby employees not to be able to pick their own retirement funds, and to be forced into certain choices by their employer. But their own method of contraception? That’s something their employer can choose for them.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email

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