Hobby Lobby will be staying open amid the coronavirus crisis after billionaire owner David Green said his wife had a vision from God.
As Raw Story reported, the nationwide craft and home goods chain sent a letter to employees this week telling them that stores would remain open during the outbreak that has gripped the nation. Many businesses have closed down in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and a growing number of states have mandated that all but the most essential businesses close their doors for an undetermined amount of time in an effort to curb the spread.
Though Hobby Lobby does not deliver essential services, it will not be joining the others in closing down. The letter that Green sent to his employees this week explained that his wife, Barbara, received a message from God explaining why the company should remain open.
“In her quiet prayer time this past week, the Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control,” the letter reads.
“Guide, Guard and Groom. We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now,” it continued.
The letter attracted viral attention online, with many sharing it on Twitter and criticizing Green for putting his employees in harm’s way by forcing them to continue working during the spread of the virus. Others took issue with Green’s advisement to employees that they would all need to “tighten our belts” during the crisis. The company has been criticized in the past for its stingy benefits offered to employees, including little to no sick leave or parental leave. The company’s owner has also pushed back against some health care reform efforts, not wanting to offer employees health insurance that covers birth control.
As Business Insider noted in a 2017 report, the company instead focuses on a higher base rate of pay and days off for employees rather than paid sick leave benefits. The report noted that the company closes stores on Sundays, and offered a base rate of $15.70 per hour at the time.
Hobby Lobby owner David Green is telling store managers to stay open despite the pandemic because his wife had a vision from god.
— Towanda the Avenger (@kendallybrown) March 22, 2020
Many critics also said the instruction to “tighten our belts” for the store’s hourly employees appeared to ring hollow from Green, whose net worth is estimated at $6.4 billion.