Two biblical scholars combine to dig into the actions and words of the billionaire Green family, founders of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores.
Moss (New Testament/Univ. of Notre Dame) and Baden (Hebrew Bible/Yale Divinity School), co-authors of Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness (2015), focus on the lawsuit filed by the Greens that reached the Supreme Court in 2014. The Greens, who have long been major funders of evangelical Christian initiatives, believed they possessed the right as business owners to ignore federal law requiring employers to cover the costs of contraceptives for employees. In a 5-4 decision, the justices sided with the Greens. The authors explain how the family arrived at their view of the prosperity gospel: due to their literal interpretations of the Bible and their generosity to evangelical Christian causes, God rewarded them with widespread business success. Patriarch David Green claimed that the legal battle occurred because the family could not abide abandoning religious beliefs to obey a provision of the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama. The authors began their deep dive into the Green empire after becoming aware of the vast sums the family was spending to inject religion into school curricula, to collect rare biblical manuscripts, and to open a massive Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which is currently under construction. Moss and Baden portray the Green family members and their key executives as sincere evangelicals and benevolent employers. Throughout the book, however, they also show the Greens as naïve or disingenuous. To be sure, the family’s proselytizing is not neutral. Rather, they are promoting a historically inaccurate saga of the U.S. as an exclusionary Christian nation meant to marry church and state.
An impressive monograph by two scholars well-positioned to examine the impact of religion on secular life.