Hobby Lobby fired an employee yesterday for divorcing her husband without company approval.
33-year old Jennifer Silverton of Scottsdale, Ariz., spent seven years as a cashier at the arts and crafts retail giant and was promoted to assistant manager just two weeks ago.
However, her employment was abruptly terminated for reasons of “moral laxity” after upper management learned she had divorced her husband two months ago after six years of marriage.
“My ex-husband Brad has a severe drinking problem,” she explained to the Scottsdale Times. “I tried very hard to make our marriage work, but towards the end he became increasingly violent. After my daughter was born, I decided that I just couldn’t be in that kind of environment anymore.
“I never expected filing for divorce would affect my job. But here I am. Unemployed. They told me it was for religious reasons, whatever that means. I just hope I can find something soon. I’m already late on my rent this month.”
Hobby Lobby is no stranger to controversy regarding religion and its employment practices. The company has sued the Obama administration in federal court in order to avoid giving its female employees health insurance with contraceptive coverage, claiming doing so would violate the company's closely held Christian beliefs.
That case is currently before the Supreme Court and a decision in Hobby Lobby’s favor could give companies new power to exempt themselves from vast swaths of federal law.
“Our religious beliefs tell us that divorce is a sin,” says David Green, the CEO and founder of the company. “Consequently we cannot be in business with divorced individuals. We gave Ms. Silverton a choice. We told her she could stay with the company if she took her husband back.
“But unfortunately this fornicator refused to take the Christian path. Why should we be forced to employ some hussy who bounces around from one man to the next? Maybe if she had performed her wifely duties properly, her husband wouldn’t have needed to drink so much.
”Look, the Bible doesn’t even specifically mention contraception. But Luke 16:18 tells us that divorce is as bad as adultery, which is in the Ten Commandments. That’s why we had to let her go. We couldn't let her rotten moral core corrupt all the other employees.”
In a statement posted on its website, Hobby Lobby’s chief legal counsel said that it shouldn’t be forced to compromise its Christian principles by employing women like Silverton.
“We are aware that some in the legal community believe that it is illegal to fire someone because of their marital status. We maintain, however, that our actions are protected by the First Amendment’s protection of religious expression and will take our case all the way to the Supreme Court.”
Silverton says she hasn’t decided whether or not she will file a wrongful termination lawsuit.