Hobby Lobby cleared to challenge federal birth control mandate
Oklahoma City – Hobby Lobby has received permission from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to continue its challenge of the federal mandate requiring for-profit employers to offer certain types of birth control coverage as part of their employee health care plans. As a result, Hobby Lobby will at least temporarily avoid having to start paying millions of dollars in fines for non-compliance next week.
Hobby Lobby will continue its arguments in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma that providing federally mandated coverage for what are commonly known as “morning after” and “week after” pills violates the religious beliefs of David Green, founder and CEO of the company, and his family, and that exemption from the mandate should be extended beyond non-profit religious groups. Hobby Lobby currently provides coverage for preventative contraception and says it will continue to do so.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said David Green, founder and CEO. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”
Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit group providing the retailer legal representation in the case, said the decision is a milestone for Hobby Lobby.
“This is a tremendous victory not only for the Green family and for their business, but also for many other religious business owners who should not have to forfeit their faith to make a living,” said Duncan.
Local charity scores big with Walmart donation
The Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. hosted the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G last week, and this week the golf tournament gave regional charity Cancer Challenge its largest gift ever.
In honor of its 20th anniversary this week, the Cancer Challenge received a $100,000 contribution from Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.
"On behalf of the Cancer Challenge we are thrilled to accept this gift from the tournament," said Tina Waggener, executive director of The Cancer Challenge. "Many more lives will be touched here in Northwest Arkansas as a result of this generosity. The tournament has become one of the jewels in our community, and their commitment to improving the quality of life here for all our citizens is commendable."
Waggener said the size of the gift will require the organization’s board of directors to begin considering how best to apply the contribution toward one or more of the organization’s key focus areas that include preventive education, treatment, navigation and social services, and survivorship.
In addition to receiving this contribution, the Cancer Challenge also joined the tournament and P&G in driving awareness and donor participation in the Pantene Beautiful Links program which helps provide free wigs to women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment including women in Northwest Arkansas. This program culminated in a special hair donor event held annually during LPGA week in Northwest Arkansas. At this year’s event on June 19 at the John Q. Hammons convention center in Rogers, 344 people donated their hair toward this cause, more than double the donors from the previous year.
The 20th Cancer Challenge event takes place June 27-29 in Northwest Arkansas and consists of golf and tennis tournaments, a trap shoot, a run-walk, and the Sparkle and Spurs gala.
"The Cancer Challenge has been doing important work in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years now, and as part of our charitable outreach this year we wanted to do something of significance to support the organization’s mission and outreach in this community," said Jay Allen, tournament chairman.
Parting with Paula is a bittersweet affair for Walmart
Paula Deen fell from grace this week faster than a slab of butter melting in one of her opening price point pans Walmart no longer sells.
Walmart, as well as Home Depot, Target and Smithfield Foods, sought to distance themselves from Deen after racist comments she made during a deposition came to light and she was canned by the Food Network.
Deen’s demise is a loss for Walmart because despite her grating nasal voice, excessive usage of the word "y’all" and fat-laden recipes she was a relatable personality that resonated with Walmart’s core customers, many of whom will be unhappy her products are no longer available on the retailer’s shelves.
Walmart had sold products bearing Deen’s likeness for years and as a testament to her popularity during the 2011 holiday season featured her 20-piece Paula Deen cookware set for $86.44 as one of its doorbuster items. A little more than two months ago, Deen was in Walmart’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark., to receive a key to the city from mayor Bob McCaslin, meet with Walmart, tout a new line of prepared foods and attend an American Heart Association event.
Deen had begun to turn over a new leaf as a more healthful cook which helped her better align with Walmarts’ desire to make food healthier and healthier food more affordable. She had introduced a new book, "Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up," and become a spokesperson for diabetes drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk. During her Bentonville visit, Deen said it was an honor to help the Heart Association and went so far as to claim it was a personal mission of hers was to encourage kids to get more physically active and eat healthier.
Deen’s poor choice of words resulted in a sudden fall from grace, but don’t count her out. She has been on a whirlwind damage control tour and even the most vilified of celebrities, athletes and politicians(Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton) have a way of bouncing back.