Is Hobby Lobby Refusing to Close During Coronavirus Pandemic Because of a 'Vision From God'?

Hobby Lobby has made the news quite a bit in recent days due to its ever-changing view on how to handle the spread of coronavirus. As the craft store chain initially sought to keep its doors open, a letter to employees initially cited a "vision from god" as the reason. While that particular phrase became a contested talking point online, according to fact-checking website Snopes.com, the claim is a mixture of truth and lies.

Going back to March 21, Hobby Lobby owner and CEO David Green sent a letter to employees stating that the U.S. has endured "several calamities and disruptions," including coronavirus. While he went on to write that he had "every confidence that we, as a country and a company, will sustain and thrive again soon," he indicated stores that weren't under order of lockdown would remain open. He also wrote that his wife, Barbara, spoke "three profound words to remind us that He's in control."

Essentially, Hobby Lobby did choose to keep all stores open that weren't otherwise ordered to be state or local governments, which several have enacted. However, in parts of the country that are under some type of lockdown, the stores remained closed. In short, the retail outlet didn't outright refuse to close some of its stores as much as it elected to keep the ones open that were permitted to do so by law. Though they did cite a "vision from god" as being the reason for the latter decision.

The Oklahoma-based chain had also come under fire after an employee told Business Insider on March 27 that he and his co-workers were considered to be essential personnel. "We are nonessential and yet we are still open," the employee said, who added that the company "makes every effort to continue working the employees."

On March 27, Hobby Lobby reversed course, and not only announced mass store closings, but paycuts for warehouse workers as well as a round of layoffs in another letter, this time from Darsee Lett, vice president of the company's art and creative division.

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"As a result of the devastating and unforeseen business circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unfortunately necessary for the Company to terminate your employment effective at the closure of business on Friday, March 27, 2020," the letter began. "This layoff is permanent, and I encourage you to file for state unemployment benefits."

Conversely, Texas Roadhouse CEO has deferred almost a full year's salary, as well as any added bonuses, in order to help employees. The contrast between the two has not gone unnoticed.