Anthony Hahn is president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties, which, along with Hobby Lobby, gained a win for religious liberty in the Mennonite-family-owned cabinet company’s case before the Supreme Court on the last day of June. (Conestoga Wood was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.) Hahn talks with National Review Online about the victory.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What was your first reaction upon learning the news of last week’s Supreme Court decision?
ANTHONY HAHN: God is good! This was an answer to prayer and God deserves to get all the credit for this decision. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld one of our fundamental rights, the freedom of exercising our religion in all areas of our lives.
Anthony Hahn at work
KJL: Was going to the Supreme Court just about the last thing you ever wanted to do?
HAHN: Yes, we did not want to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, but this ended up being the only option that we had.
KJL: What did you learn about politics, law, and the media during the course of your case?
HAHN: Well, I learned that politics could be very challenging and can sometimes get in the way of or stifle freedom. Our elected officials need to focus on the issues and not on how they can use the issues to their political advantage. I also learned that our laws that we take for granted can be challenged and even changed by appointed governmental departments or judges. I have learned that the media can blow things way out of proportion by not necessarily stating all the facts or not stating the facts correctly. I learned that you need to be careful what you say, how you say it, and to whom you say it. The media has a way of twisting things. In general, the media pushes an agenda hostile to freedom.
KJL: How has this deepened your appreciation of religious liberty?
HAHN: I have learned to appreciate the religious liberties that are afforded to all Americans through the Constitution and not to take them for granted. We need to do what it takes to protect those religious liberties so they can be maintained and available for future generations.
KJL: Have you found yourself thinking about those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs throughout the world?
HAHN: Yes, I have. When I think about Christians in other countries where they are outright persecuted for their faith, I am glad that we still have our religious freedoms here and that the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold one of those freedoms. I also think about the future and whether our society will continue to challenge these religious freedoms, and I wonder whether we will someday be persecuted for our religious beliefs here in America.
KJL: Will you do anything differently now because of this fight you were in?
HAHN: No, we will continue to run our business in a way that honors God and respects all of our family members, board members, management, employees, customers, and suppliers. We will continue to stand strong for religious values that are so important to us and our family business.
Anthony Hahn with his family
KJL: What has been your prayer for religious liberty? Are you praying for others who are still in court over the HHS mandate?
HAHN: I pray that our religious liberties will never be taken away from us as American citizens. Yes, I pray that all the people and family businesses that filed lawsuits opposing the abortion-pill and birth-control mandate of the Affordable Care Act will also get their exemption from this terrible rule. As I stated before, we did not just go to the U.S. Supreme Court for Conestoga and the Hahn Family, but for anyone and any family business or faith group that has a religious objection to this mandate and wants to see our religious liberties upheld.
KJL: What would you hope that the president of the United States and those who were opposing your conscience rights would consider about their view of religious liberty?
HAHN: I just hope that all of our elected officials and anyone who opposes our position on protecting religious liberties would realize that our founding fathers framed the Constitution with these liberties spelled out for the benefit of every American citizen. These religious liberties should not be taken away or changed. These liberties are what make America America. Do we want to be like an autocratic country where they do not have religious liberties? I just hope that whoever opposes us understands that we are not advocating taking liberties away from anyone; we are only trying to protect those afforded to every U.S. citizen through the Constitution and laws of the nation.
KJL: Did anything surprise you about the news of the decision? Or during the oral arguments?
HAHN: I was a little surprised at how strong the opposition to religious freedom is and continues to be. Even with the U.S. Supreme Court making this decision, I am surprised that the administration still continues to push this mandate. I would hope that after many lower courts have granted injunctions and now the U.S. Supreme Court stating that the government has gone too far in enforcing this mandate that they would recognize this as a bad regulation that needs to be repealed. I also was surprised that the decision was so close, 5-4. I thought that it might be a 6-3 decision. I was also a little surprised about some of the negative reactions to the news of the Supreme Court decision.
KJL: As a husband and father, what have you thought about the accusation that you and others who oppose the abortion-drug mandate are somehow against women and their rights and health?
HAHN: That accusation is obviously false. This is not about taking away women’s rights, it is about protecting our religious liberties — liberties that are exercised by both men and women. This is about saying no to a government mandate that goes against our deeply held moral and religious beliefs. We have not taken anything away from the women in our workforce. We have always provided a very generous health-benefits package and we continue to do so. Women had access to contraception before the mandate and they still have public access to the same contraception, we simply do not want to pay for abortifacient items. Nothing changed other than that the government was asking us to give up our rights. As a husband and a father, I have a deep and loving respect for my wife and my daughter. I also have a respect for all the women that work in our company.
Anthony Hahn at prayer
KJL: How are you celebrating your win?
HAHN: We are humbly celebrating by giving God thanks for decision by the Supreme Court. We just want to get on with our lives and run our business in a way that honors God.