Opinion: Hey liberals, there’s a logistical problem with your Hobby Lobby boycott

Protesters outside of a Hobby Lobby store in Totowa, N.J.
(Elizabeth Lara / Associated Press)

Here’s where the “Boycott Hobby Lobby” movement is going as of this week, according to the CBS-LA website:

“Dozens of protesters Monday gathered at a Hobby Lobby store in Burbank in response to last week’s Supreme Court decision that allowed the company to exempt certain contraceptives from employees’ medical insurance on moral grounds.”

Dozens of protesters? Really? That’s impressive! Here’s more:

“Prior to the event, supporters had been encouraged to ‘dress up in an IUD or condom costume’ in order to ‘celebrate the beautiful sexual autonomy which people (but especially women) posses (sic)” on the group’s Facebook page.” (Warning: That Facebook page contains a colorful word to describe Hobby Lobby owner David Green that is usually deemed unacceptable in polite company.)


Yes, dressing up in a condom costume and holding a sign that reads “Your Boss’s Superstition Trumps Your Doctor’s Prescription” is going to put Hobby Lobby right out of business — this week! (Actually, Hobby Lobby looks like an excellent place to shop for the makings of that condom costume. The crafts chain has an entire “sewing and quilting” division.)

The Burbank protest is just one part of the “reproductive rights” mass hysteria that has been on a rolling Internet boil since the Supreme Court handed down its June 30 decision upholding Hobby Lobby’s right, as a closely held family corporation, not to pay for certain kinds of contraceptives for its employees that it deems to be abortifacients. Only four contraceptives were at issue in the ruling: two kinds of “morning-after pills” and two kinds of IUDs.

All four, although primarily designed to prevent fertilization, can also possibly prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, according to WebMD (here and here). Many Christians, including Green and his wife, believe that the latter is tantamount to abortion. In the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act permits the company and two other family corporations owned by conservative Christians to opt out of a 2012 Health and Human Services Department mandate requiring employers to subsidize the four controversial contraceptive methods.

Despite the narrowness of the Supreme Court’s ruling, you would think that the justices had reinstated the Comstalk Law. “We don’t need ANYONE telling us what to do with our bodies!” fumed a commenter on the boycott’s lead Facebook page. Actor George Takei has turned himself into the boycott’s de facto spokesman — even though, since Takei is gay, it’s hard to see what reproductive-rights dog he has in this fight. “Hobby Lobby Ain’t a Church. It’s a For Profit Business,” Takei titled one of his blog posts. Richard Kopf, a federal judge in Nebraska, recently blogged that the Supreme Court ought to “[expletive].”

There’s a big problem with all this boycott mania: There’s almost no Venn-diagram overlap between the nearly 18,000 people who “like” the boycott’s Facebook page so far and the consumer base that actually shops at Hobby Lobby. Crafts customers — people who make their own quilts, soaps, scrapbooks, Christmas wreaths and kids’ Halloween costumes — are certainly overwhelmingly women. But they also tend to be stay-at-home moms (who else has the time?), and it’s safe to say that a large percentage of them are religiously and probably politically conservative. Dressing up like an IUD doesn’t do it for them.

In fact, the whole idea that an employer should be obliged to pay for someone else’s birth control, period, probably sticks in the craws of many of them. What’s wrong with buying your own contraceptives? A Hobby Lobby boycott by people who never shopped at Hobby Lobby in the first place isn’t going to accomplish much. When was the last time Takei visited a Hobby Lobby outlet?


My suggestion to liberals itching to boycott something reproduction-related: Try Eden Foods, a Michigan-based producer of soy milk and other organic products whose Catholic owners have a lawsuit pending against the Obama administration arguing that their religious beliefs should exempt them from providing any kind of contraceptive coverage.

You liberals drink a lot of soy milk, don’t you? Get out your condom costumes and go for it!

Charlotte Allen writes frequently about feminism, politics and religion. Follow her on Twitter @MeanCharlotte.