Christian-owned arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has been accused of “dominionism” after running a full-page ad in newspapers nationwide on the Fourth of July promoting the idea of “One Nation Under God.” The ad highlighted quotes from prominent Americans promoting God and the Bible.
The ad featured a child running with an American flag with the words, “One Nation Under God.” Lower in the advertisement are the words of Psalm 33:12, which reads, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”
The page also features a series of quotes from American founders and other leaders essential to the shaping of the nation, touching on the importance of God or the Bible. Among those highlighted are former presidents, Supreme Court justices and Founding Fathers. The bottom of the page offered contact information for those interested in having a relationship with Jesus.
The ad ran in newspapers across the U.S. and was published on Hobby Lobby’s social media pages.
Social media users slammed the ad as “unconstitutional” and “propaganda.” And the secular legal organization Freedom from Religion Foundation posted a rebuttal.
“In Hobby Lobby We DON’T Trust,” the title of FFRF’s rebuttal webpage reads. The webpage includes a breakdown of each of the quotes Hobby Lobby included in the ad.
“Do these quotes prove we are a Christian nation? Click them to find out,” FFRF, which advocates for strict separation of church and state, posted with an exposition of each quote.
Critics accused Hobby Lobby of advocating for dominionism, a subset of American Christianity seeking a Christian-run nation governed by their understanding of biblical law.
David Weissman, a former Republican Trump supporter-turned-liberal Democrat, tweeted: “As an American Jew who served in the United States Army and took an oath to defend the Constitution; I find your statement of America should be lead by Christians to be asinine and unconstitutional. Shame on you @HobbyLobby.”
Other influential users called the ad “absolutely frightening” and “dominionist propaganda.” Some used the hashtag #seperationofchurchandstate.
A headline on the LGBT blog Joe My God reads, “Hobby Lobby Goes Full Dominionist In July 4th Ad.”
Prominent evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and leader of the evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, commended Hobby Lobby’s ad and thanked God for Hobby Lobby’s owners.
“Hobby Lobby is being attacked for running some beautiful full-page newspaper ads on July 4. …,” Graham shared on Facebook.
Messianic Jewish radio host and author Michael Brown published an op-ed defending the ad’s message.
“What we do believe is that God’s ways are always best, and that’s why we advocate for biblical principles and seek to live by them personally,” Brown wrote. “In the same way, others (such as atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, or secular activists) advocate for their own particular spiritual or secular worldviews and seek to live accordingly. This is all part of the fabric of our nation.”
“In short, I do believe that the more truly Christian we are, the more blessed we will be as a nation,” he continued. “But we are not forcing this on anyone (God forbid), and we live by the rules of a Democratic Republic. Since the Hobby Lobby ad will get a lot of negative attention, let’s be prepared to affirm what we do believe and deny what we don’t.”
Hobby Lobby, a company known for its conservative, Christian values, ran a similar ad in past years on Independence Day.
The company includes biblical messages in most of its holiday ads and provides a list of its prominent holiday ads since Easter 1997 on its website. Each of the ads provides a spiritual component.
Holiday Messages became part of Hobby Lobby’s mission when founder David Green felt commissioned to do something more with advertisements in 1995 after noticing that newspapers failed to provide the true meaning of the advertised holidays.
Hobby Lobby ran its first newspaper ad that explained the true meaning behind Christmas in 1996. The company began “placing beautiful full-page ads celebrating the real meaning of Christmas, Easter and Independence Day in newspapers across the country” from then on, the Hobby Lobby website explains.