Chinese Red Herring: Hobby Lobby and False Charges of Hypocrisy

Barb Wire’s John Stonestreet posted an interesting article last week defending Hobby Lobby against charges that their business practices don’t line up with their Christian principles. Here’s Stonestreet:

Last Tuesday writing in “The Week,” Christian author and columnist Jonathan Merritt argued that we should stop calling Hobby Lobby a “Christian business.” Because in Hobby Lobby’s case, he says, he smells a strong whiff of hypocrisy.

Merritt writes:

“Turn over just about any trinket in a Hobby Lobby store and you’ll find a gold oval stamped with ‘Made in China,’ a country that is one of the worst offenders of human dignity, unborn infant life, and economic justice anywhere in the world,” said Merritt. So, he argues, the Greens are hypocritical for taking a stand against the HHS Mandate.

Again, here’s Stonestreet:

Now there are a lot of problems with Merritt’s argument. But let’s begin with this one: it’s not clear why he equates working with Chinese manufacturers with supporting the Chinese government, its forced abortions, political repression, or economic injustice. Chinese workers do pay taxes to their government, but so do we. If it’s unacceptable to work with them, it’s unacceptable to work with us, since American tax dollars go to support Planned Parenthood too.

As theologian Russell Moore pointed out in his response to Merritt, doing business in a place where evil exists is not the same as directly supporting that evil. In fact, it may even be a force for good!  For example, trade has dramatically improved the lot of the average Chinese worker, lifting many out of abject poverty. And it’s been instrumental loosening the grip the communist government there has on its economy and people. Ironically, the social oppression in China is the greatest force of its evil, particular forcing abortions on its people—precisely what Hobby Lobby is standing against in the United States by fighting the HHS Mandate.

Arguing that Christian business owners like Green are hypocrites for doing business in China just ignores basic economic and political realities. And I should mention, Merritt condemned Hobby Lobby without knowledge of how they do business in China, including their efforts to monitor quality control and worker conditions. Hobby Lobby’s faith commitments are actually evident throughout their company on many, many levels.

There’s more to this important post as well as an addendum — visit to read the entire article and follow the links to more information.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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