Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Put Your Money Where Your Hoop Is

I never intended to let politics seep into this blog, but yesterday's SCOTUS decision made it unavoidable.

I first encountered Hobby Lobby in college, where there was a location nearby.  It was ok, with no discernible difference in quality from Michael's or Joann's.  Someone gave me a gift card for it.

Then a few years ago, I found out that Hobby Lobby was printing full-page ads in newspapers on the 4th of July.  An example of one ad is below.

The print is pretty tiny, so I will give you the gist of it.  This ad tells me, in no uncertain terms, that Hobby Lobby doesn't think I am really an American because I am Jewish.  I was born here, my grandfathers and other relatives fought valiantly for this country in WWII, and my great-grandfather carried his citizenship certificate around so much that it had to be held together with tape.  None of that matters to the Green family that owns Hobby Lobby.  Apparently, America is only for Christians--specifically, only certain kinds of Christians.

After finding out about these ads, I sent the corporate office a message saying that they have made it abundantly clear that they do not want me as a customer, and I would be taking my embarrassingly large craft budget elsewhere.  I have not spent one cent there ever since.

The information that has come out since then has only solidified my decision.  The store refuses to cover certain types of birth control, allowing their beliefs to trump scientific facts about how those types actually work.  One store got flack for telling Jewish customers who wanted Chanukah decorations, "We don't cater to you people here."  The Green family also has ties to Bill Gothard, a cult leader with the belief that fundamentalist Christians should rule America.  (You might have heard of him because the Duggar family of TLC's 19 Kids & Counting are his most famous followers--and he is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal for taking advantage of young women at his organization.)

The recent SCOTUS decision perpetuates ideas about birth control that are factually incorrect.  It continues to stereotype birth control, and women's health in general, as optional or "not really medicine."  Most troubling, it places importance on some religious beliefs over others, and gives power to a group of people who do not want to stop until everyone believes what they believe (or at least, until everyone is following their rules.)

But what does all of this have to do with crafting?  On Ravelry, there is a Hobby Lobby fan group that specifically does not allow political posts because the controversy "doesn't change the yarn itself one tiny little bit."

The yarn might not change, but the money paying for the yarn should.  While I personally have boycotted Hobby Lobby for years, I was always reluctant to bring it up to other people.  When the students I worked with came in with craft supplies in Hobby Lobby bags, or a knitter at Warm Up America talked about buying a new skein of yarn there, I would cringe inside and stay silent.  Not anymore.  People are going to hear about why the store shouldn't get their money, and this court case will make it easier.

Here's a handy list of other craft stores to go to for supplies.  This list appears to be centered on the Pacific Northwest, so I also encourage you to check out your local craft stores and sources.

It's not realistic for all of our consumer decisions to reflect our values, but this is one case where it is important to me.  Make your crafting purchases send a message.

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