Do Mennonites Who Make Cabinets Have Religious Liberty in America?

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

“When my father started the company, he never would have imagined that he would be filing a lawsuit to protect one of his core Christian values, both personally and professionally,” Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties tells National Review Online. “It turns out we took our religious freedoms for granted.” The Hahn family’s religious liberty will get a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court in the spring term, along with the Green family that runs Hobby Lobby. The Hahns are Mennonites who make cabinets in Pennsylvania


KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s a Mennonite family like yours doing at the Supreme Court?

ANTHONY HAHN: Freedom of religion is very important to us. We don’t just live our Christian life at home and at our church, we live it every day of our lives, including at work. While we’d rather not be in court, it was the only way to protect this way of life.

LOPEZ: Why are you bothering with litigation?

HAHN: Our options under the government mandate were very limited: either comply and violate our Christian beliefs, or don’t comply and pay huge fines that our business cannot bear, or harm our business and our employees by dropping their health insurance.

LOPEZ: Why won’t you simply comply with the law?

HAHN: Human life is a sacred gift from God. Therefore it is against our convictions to be involved in the termination of human life through abortion, euthanasia, murder, or anything else that can end human life.

LOPEZ: Does your wood-cabinet company have anything to do with your religion, though?

HAHN: My father founded the company on Christian principles, and our faith is expressed in the way we run our business. Our goal in everything we do is to serve our customers and employees in a way that honors God.

LOPEZ: Do you object to headlines claiming this case is about “birth control” and businesses having religious liberty?

HAHN: The headlines often miss the point. This case is about whether government can take way our religious liberty.

LOPEZ: What do you make of supporters of the mandate claiming your position is discriminatory toward women? That the morality of abortion and these other “preventative services” among your employees are none of your business?

HAHN: Before the mandate, women already had access to all the drugs the mandate would force us to provide. They still have that access. We simply believe that those who have moral convictions against providing certain potentially-life-ending drugs shouldn’t be forced to do so.

LOPEZ: How long have you been fighting this battle and what have you learned?

HAHN: We filed this lawsuit in December 2012, and are gratified that so many Americans stand with our freedom of conscience.

LOPEZ: Did you ever expect to be fighting this mandate in an ecumenical coalition, alongside Evangelicals and Catholics, among others?

HAHN: No. However, we are grateful for everyone who has taken a stand against this mandate.

LOPEZ: Had you thought much about religious freedom before this?

HAHN: When my father started the company, he never would have imagined that he would be filing a lawsuit to protect one of his core Christian values, both personally and professionally. It turns out we took our religious freedoms for granted.

LOPEZ: Is there anything you’re grateful for surrounding this?

HAHN: I am grateful that there are still many people who support the sanctity of human life and our freedom. I am also grateful that we have the opportunity to take the case to the Supreme Court, not only for Conestoga, but for the liberties of all Americans.

LOPEZ: What’s your hope for the Court?

HAHN: I hope the Supreme Court will protect religious liberty.

More from Hahn in an Alliance Defending Freedom video here:

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