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Green family, Hobby Lobby connected for 40 years; court order says link key to Monday decision

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Monday's Supreme Court ruling that the Hobby Lobby crafts store chain does not have to provide all forms of birth control marks the first time the high court has said some businesses can hold religious views under federal law, in cases where there is essentially no difference between the business and its owners. Here's a look at Hobby Lobby's owners, the Green family of Oklahoma City.

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A FAMILY AFFAIR: David Green in 1972 expanded a picture frame company started two years earlier and named the new business Hobby Lobby. Green is the privately held company's chief executive officer and his son, Steve, is its president. In 1981, another son, Mart, founded the Mardel bookstore chain, which concentrates on religious material. Mardel also was a part of the lawsuit decided Monday.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel include mission statements on their corporate websites outlining a dedication to Christian principles.

Hobby Lobby says it aims to honour the Lord by following biblical principles; establish a work environment that builds character, strengthens individuals and nurtures families and provides a return on its owner's investment so he can share the Lord's blessings with its 13,000 employees. Mardel was established "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ," quoting St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

No Hobby Lobby store is open on Sunday "in order to allow our employees and customers more time for worship and family."

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A NATION IN DANGER: Steve Green is a driving force behind the proposed Museum of the Bible and the Green Scholars Initiative, which intend to place a Bible-based academic curriculum with the nation's public schools.

"This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught," Steve Green told the National Bible Association last year. "There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it, and if we don't know it, our future is going to be very scary."

Green, a member of the Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma, has succeeded in convincing the Mustang, Oklahoma, school board to offer the curriculum as an elective this fall. Course work will include how biblical principals have influenced art and academic subjects, but a draft copy of the textbook also details the consequences people face if they disobey God.

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NOT ALL BIRTH CONTROL IS EQUAL: The Green family's challenge to the Affordable Care Act centred only on certain types of contraception. Its lawsuit said the family's religious beliefs "forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices."

In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus, but anti-abortion groups say any action taken to prevent implantation is the equivalent of an abortion. One effect of the morning-after pill is to chemically alter the uterine lining to prevent implantation; an intrauterine device blocks implantation through mechanical means.

The Green family says it has no moral objection to other contraceptives.

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THE COST OF LOSING: The Green family had argued the federal health law required a choice between violating God's law or the nation's laws.

"We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate," David Green said in 2012.

The company had calculated last summer that it would have had to pay $475 million in fines annually for failing to comply with the nation's health care law (a $100 fine per day for each of its 13,000 workers) or pay $26 million to the government if it dropped its health care plan altogether.

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WINNING WORDS: "Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court's decision. Today the nation's highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country's founding principles. The Court's decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey." — Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby.

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