Hurricane Arthur brought lots of rain but managed to bring us some spectacular weather after he left town. I hope you had a great Fourth of July weekend and were able to enjoy the weather. Summer is the time to relax and enjoy the season. The Gospel last week spoke about resting in the Lord and Pope Francis spoke about how Sundays are no longer days of rest. He lamented the abandoning of the traditional Christian practice of not working on Sundays, suggesting that it has had a negative impact on families and friendships. Pope Francis stated that poor people need jobs to have dignity but that opening stores and other businesses on Sundays as a way to create jobs wasn’t beneficial for society. The Holy Father said the priority should be “not economic but human,” and that the stress should be on families and friendships, not commercial relationships. He stated: “Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom.”
Interestingly enough in last Sunday’s New York Times, the columnist Ross Douthat wrote an excellent column about the Hobby Lobby store chain. Douthat wrote that the 600 stores owned and operated by a devout Evangelical Protestant Family employs nearly 13,000 people. It sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 per hour and it also donates 10% of its profits to charity. Hobby Lobby is also closed on Sundays because the owners believe in honoring the Sabbath. Hobby Lobby has much been in the news lately thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court Decision regarding the Obama Administration’s Healthcare Mandate that employers pay for abortion inducing drugs used by employees. The Court ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “preventive services” mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as applied to Hobby Lobby to the extent that it would have forced them to provide insurance coverage for drugs and devices that violate their religious convictions on respect for human life. Douthat’s column raises some serious questions for those who would quickly dismiss the decision’s support for religious liberty for a small family owned business. He suggests that many have turned the idea of religious liberty upside down by maintaining it is confined only to liturgy and worship. I highly recommend you read his insightful column.
Sadly the decision has resulted in some terrible attacks in the media upon Hobby Lobby, committed Christians and also Catholics. Last week the Freedom from Religion Foundation ran a full-page ad in the New York Times decrying the decision and attacking the five Supreme Justices who made the decision for their Catholic Faith. Cardinal Dolan of New York responded to the ad in his weekly column stating: “Would they take out such an ad (and would any respectable newspaper publish it?) claiming a Jewish congressman could not freely vote on aid to Israel?; or that a Mormon judge could not rule on marriage?; or that a Baptist legislator could not clearly vote on issues of liquor or gambling?; or that a Quaker president was unable to be Commander-in-Chief?; or that an African-American justice had no objectivity on a civil rights issue? Of course not! But, in keeping with a long, shadowy, legacy of antipathy, justices who happen to be Catholics—never mind their past frequent votes hardly consonant with the public teaching of their faith—are branded and bullied by a group who only succeed in providing the latest example of a prejudice that has haunted us for centuries.” Locally the pro-abortion, atheist group called the Humanist Society of RI held a tiny protest at Hobby Lobby last Saturday. The small group attacked the company’s Christian beliefs and called for a boycott. I suggest just the opposite and urge you to go shopping at Hobby Lobby. Support them in their mission to remain faithful to their religious convictions not just at Church but also at the workplace. Of course if you go to Hobby Lobby, you cannot go on Sundays as they are closed in honor of God! God Bless.