Associated Press
Customers are seen at a Hobby Lobby store in Denver on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. A challenge to the federal health care law faces its most prominent test yet in a full 10th Circuit hearing in Denver on Thursday. Hobby Lobby stores is challenging a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morining-after birth control pill. The Oklahoma based arts and crafts chain says the mandate violates the religious beliefs of its owners. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge is temporarily exempting Hobby Lobby Inc. from a provision in the new federal health care law that requires it to offer insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar birth control or face steep fines.

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After hearing brief arguments Friday, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction for the Oklahoma arts and crafts chain. The judge stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the federal government time to consider an appeal.

The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and the Mardel Christian bookstore chain argue that their religious beliefs are so deeply rooted that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their conscience.

The hearing comes several weeks after a federal appellate court ruled Hobby Lobby was likely to win its case.