In a case brought by the Hobby Lobby chain of crafts stores and the Christian bookseller Mardel, businesses founded by the Green family of Oklahoma City, Okla., U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton said in a ruling on a preliminary injunction Monday the retailers were "secular, for-profit corporations" and did not have free-exercise rights under the First Amendment.
The stores challenged the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's provisions pertaining to certain employer-funded contraception device and pills that will go into effect Jan. 1. The suit was assisted by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported Tuesday.
"We disagree with the decision and we will immediately appeal it, said Becket's general counsel Kyle Duncan in a statement. "Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs."
Hobby Lobby CEO David Green, in a statement Monday, said his company, the largest non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the coverage mandate, is operated "in a manner consistent with Biblical principles," adding he had no moral objection to what he termed "preventive contraception" and would continue to cover those under Hobby Lobby and Mardel health insurance plans.