Many Christians have been looking more closely at the places they shop, concerned about the values the corporations’ owners endorse. Other Christians either choose to focus on issues more important to them or on the individual workers who could be harmed by a boycott. Complicating the matter for many is the difference between the approaches used by various groups: some groups directly encourage boycotts while others simply encourage being informed shoppers or consumers. Regardless of the approach, the intent is to prevent Christians from spending their money at a place that does not support their values. Some see this as a matter of stewardship of money that is entrusted to them by God, or entrusted to fellow Christians. Whether the group encourages direct boycotts or informed shopping, the concern for the stewardship of resources is the same.
American Family Association: Standing by Boycotts
The American Family Association has been successfully using boycotts for more than three decades. In spite of the ridicule and derision they often engender, they do tend to be effective. Randall Murphee, the editor of the American Family Association Journal, still stands by the decisions to boycott businesses based on their moral stance. One of the first boycotts was of Pepsi Co., due to the company’s choice to contribute half a million dollars to the Human Rights Campaign. Murphee and others saw this group as one of the most radical pro-homosexual activist groups in existence. Pepsi changed the practice of donating to this group, effectively ending the boycott.
The AFA currently sponsors a boycott of Target for its policy of permitting customers whose birth certificate lists them as one gender, but who claim another, to enter the restroom or changing area they claim as their gender. The reasoning given for the boycott is the safety of young people and a respect for the privacy rights of those who would not want to share a fitting room area with a potential peeping tom, as has happened in some states. (www.afa.net/the-stand/culture/2017/04/will-you-share-this-with-just-one-person/).
The idea behind Faith Driven Consumer is simple: encourage people of the Christian faith to shop where they are welcomed, not simply tolerated, or worse, disdained. This includes encouraging equal application of equal protections for all groups and respect for those who proactively live out their faith. Companies scoring 50 or over, and which are in the top 10 percent of their category overall, are recognized as “Best Places to Shop and Work for Faith Equality and Inclusion” and are encouraged to use this distinction in attracting customers.
The evaluations and the reasoning behind them are clear, though some Christians may disagree with the weights given to each category. For example, the weight given to the mention of Christmas is equal to the weight given to philanthropic support of biblically orthodox faith driven organizations. Some categories in the faith equality index have become more significant, such as the rights of employees in the workplace, as more businesses become less balanced between rights of fait- based employees and the perceived rights of more vocal groups. The Faith Equity and Inclusion Review rates a variety of types of businesses from wholesale clubs to hotels, and car rental companies to cruise lines. The website can be found at: www.faithdrivenconsumer.com.
2ndVote: The Conservative Watchdog for Corporate Action
Scientist Dr. David L. Black, in 2013, launched 2nd Vote after discovering that the March of Dimes funded Planned Parenthood. Since he would never donate to Planned Parenthood by voting for someone who supported taxpayer funding of abortions, he decided to research what other corporations and charities were donating to causes he could not support. Companies are ranked by their support of conservative causes or liberal causes with life, the Second Amendment, marriage and its definition, being on the forefront. Donations to or support for conservative groups will gain a business a 5 rating, while support for Planned Parenthood and similar groups will gain a 1 rating. Many of the companies’ ratings fall somewhere between 2 and 3, but there are companies rated at the extreme ends. The link to the scoring system is 2ndvote.com/how-we-score/.
Information, Action and Conscience
The groups encouraging informed shopping have similar concerns to the American Family Association; they are concerned about the stewardship of their members. The primary difference is in the approaches. Christians differ in their view of boycotts; some see them as wise stewardship of what God has entrusted to them, as Randall Murphee does. Others see boycotts as hurting innocent people who may work at the places boycotted. Regardless of one’s personal position, there are Scriptures that are related to it. 1 Corinthians 5: 9-10 declares do not fellowship with those who claim to be believers yet are immoral, and that it is impossible to disassociate ourselves completely with those who are immoral and not believers.
Offerings to physical idols were the issue of the day, not companies that support immoral lifestyles or abortions on demand, but there are some similarities. Paul suggests one eat whatever is found in the market place without raising a question of conscience, since the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (1 Corinthians 10: 25-27).
If a Christian is in an unbeliever’s home eating, he is to eat whatever is there, unless someone warns him, “This is food that has been offered to idols.” In that case, he should abstain for the sake of the person who warned him. ( 1Corinthians 10: 28-33)
Christians should be guided by the Scripture-enlightened conscience in these matters, and respect the conscience of fellow believers, even if they do not agree. This applies to the issue of boycotts as well; when shopping with a brother or sister, respect should be shown for the other’s conscience. (1 Corinthians 8) This will prevent harming the conscience of other believers for whom Christ died.
Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected].