To Strike Back at Hobby Lobby, Crafters Re-Knit the Wall Between Church and State
Crafters are putting their skills to work, but not for what you’d expect. In protest of the Supreme Court decision allowing the craft supply retailer Hobby Lobby to deny coverage of its employees’ contraception on religious grounds, some members of the store’s own market base have turned against it—boycotting Hobby Lobby products and knitting their way to Washington.
Launched on July 2 by the Secular Coalition for America, the #KnitABrick campaign calls for knitted red “bricks” meant to rebuild the wall between church and state.
Organizers believe the wall between church and state in the United States exposed its cracks with the June ruling. Though key to the country’s founding values, the concept of separating church and state has been repeatedly undermined on issues ranging from what’s taught in schools to women’s rights. But the Secular Coalition for America, a national advocacy group for nontheistic Americans, wants to reinforce that crumbling wall—and they’re using "craftivism" to do it.
Craftivism: “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper, and your quest for justice more infinite.”
The coalition’s campaign encourages craftivists to participate in three ways: to #KnitABrick by contributing their own knitting, to #GetAnotherHobby by purchasing their materials from somewhere other than Hobby Lobby, and to #JoinTheDissent as knitted bricks are accumulated and the campaign is spread across social media.
The organization has already acquired hundreds of bricks from across the country, and even some from around the world, as they receive dozens per day by mail. Anyone can mail one in, and the coalition has posted a handy how-to guide on Pinterest.
The deadline for sending in bricks has been extended to August 5, by which time the coalition hopes its goal of 800 bricks will be met. As of Wednesday, July 30, 700 bricks had been collected, far surpassing the original goal of 400 bricks. If 800 bricks are collected, they’ll be delivered to Congress—and if the coalition receives 1,200 bricks, it has promised to bring them to President Obama’s staff at the White House.
“It’s a visual demonstration of people’s anger about this decision and a constructive way to show lawmakers that they have the ability to change it,” Lauren Anderson Youngblood, the organization’s director of communications, told the Religion News Service.
For the non-knitters, bricks can be sponsored for a donation of $10 to $100. Interns, staff members, or even the coalition’s president will knit these sponsored bricks.
As a social media project and a creative play on the petition drive, the #KnitABrick campaign engages both modern and traditional methods of protest. It has become a nationwide project uniting crafters and activists for a common goal: to reinforce the wall between church and state.
Kali Swenson wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Kali is a writer living in Washington state.
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