Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store that caters to an evangelical Christian clientele and it makes no apologies for doing so.
But the chain hasn’t been in Minnesota very long, so when a full-page ad appeared in the Star Tribune on Monday clearly defining the country as a Christian nation, it apparently shocked some readers.
This isn’t even the first time Hobby Lobby has run a July 4th full-page ad in the Strib. Here’s 2015’s:
Granted, Hobby Lobby’s philosophy isn’t for everyone — non-Christians and non-believers, for example — but is it a problem mixing religion and business?
Apparently it is for some readers, judging by today’s letters to the editor who believe it’s a veiled attack on non-Christians.
“Especially in light of the coverage of tragic sectarian violence in our world, this ad amounted to intimidation of anyone who does not fit the Christian label — or the narrowly defined Christian values of the far right,” Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries, pastor of the Mayflower United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, wrote. “When xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are issues just as serious as terrorism, this attitude is downright un-Christian and un-Minnesotan.”
“If we were to follow the teachings of Hobby Lobby, we would negate the learning and enlightenment of the past 300 years,” added John Clouse of Shoreview. “That is a formula for bigotry and prejudice and isolationism. Let’s use our God-given talents to improve the world, not draw ourselves into a cocoon of ignorance.”
The ad ran in papers across the country with similar reaction.
“The ad is Hobby Lobby’s annual ‘manipulations of history’ tome designed to convince you that those people who wrote our secular-appearing founding documents actually intended to create a Christian-based government,” Linda Allewalt, of Shelbyville, Ky., tells the Louisville Courier. “Honest, those Founding Fathers really did mean to pencil in God and Jesus into the preamble of the Constitution. They just forgot. Good thing we have the folks at Hobby Lobby to correct our history for us.”
The ads are not new for the Oklahoma-based company. Founder David Green started running them around Christmas in 1996, according to the company website. It now runs additional ads on Easter and July 4th.