DENVER – It's a company with 50 years of service to the Denver community, employs hundreds of people, has preserved a historic cotton mill, is a "responsible and respectful employer of a diverse workforce" and raises funds and donates to the victims and fighters in the West's recent wildfires.
So what's a city to do?
If you're Denver, a heavily Democrat enclave in the American West, you think about honoring the company with a "proclamation," then consider the company owners' Christianity and drop the plan like a hot potato.
That's what has happened to Hercules Industries, which recently won a preliminary court fight with the federal government over an Obamacare mandate that would require employers to pay for contraception and abortifacient services in its health care program.
The company is challenging the demand, because it would force the owners to violate their Christian faith. A federal judge has prevented the government from imposing the requirement pending further court action.
Hercules' executive Bill Newland told WND that Denver Councilwoman Robin Kneich had contacted him about a proclamation recognizing the 50 years of business success the company has contributed to the city's economy.
There was an exchange of information. The city asked for particulars and Newland provided information. A proclamation honoring the company was drafted. It was reviewed.
"She saw some of the things that we were developing with our business, regarding historic rehabilitation of some structures, our health care package," Newland said.
The draft of the document notes that Hercules, which produces energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation components, not only runs two locations in Denver, but another 12 in other parts of the of the region, including New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona.
Further, the company operates in "the historic 1890 Overland Cotton Mill, the only successful Colorado cotton mill, and the original manufacturing operation was laid out exactly as the building is used by Hercules today."
Also cited were its "diverse workforce," its "generous employee health care coverage" and its donations for wildfire victims.
Then city officials got word of the company's lawsuit.
Just days before the presentation was scheduled, Kneich called again.
"She told me that proclamations are not meant to be controversial in nature, and because of our stance on freedom of religion, it wasn't going to be presented," Newland said.
"It did seem odd to us," he said.
But Newland said he told the councilwoman that the company intended to continue its business operations that benefit Denver, no matter.
WND requested comment from Kneich, but none was forthcoming. WND contacted the city council staff, and a worker said she could not even find a draft of the proclamation in the files any longer.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working with the Newland family and the company in the fight against Obamacare, said that in response, Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty issued a state proclamation from the Republican-majority body, praising the company "on behalf of the state's House of Representatives."
"It's sad when the very values that drive a family to serve others are used to try to disgrace them," said Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. "The city council saw this family's contributions, but then said 'no honors for you' because Hercules' leaders took a principled stand for freedom of religion and conscience. That stand makes the Newlands more worthy of respect, not less so. We thank Speaker McNulty for standing up where Denver would not in recognizing the numerous contributions that Hercules Industries has made to its employees and community."
The state honor says: "The Colorado House of Representatives is pleased to honor the Newland family for their continued commitment to their employees, community and historic preservation. We congratulate Hercules Industries for 50 years of exemplary business practices and wish them continued success."