Yesterday, TheBlaze brought you five companies that join Chick-fil-A in promoting Bible-based values. Despite the fury coming from both sides of the gay marriage debate, this isn’t the first time that faith has played a role on a massive push for widespread spurn against businesses.
Consider seven of the most interesting faith-based boycotts that have occurred over the past 1o to 15 years. JC Penney, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Disney, Target, Heinz and Starbucks are only a few of the well-known companies that have faced backlash for their support of issues or causes that some saw as improper, dangerous, ant-Christian, anti-gay and, inevitably, boycott-worthy.
Below, find information about seven of the most infamous and noteworthy faith-based boycotts (aside from Chick-fil-A, of course):
JC Penney: The popular department store chain found itself in the middle of controversy earlier this year when it formed a partnership with popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. The problem? The comedian is a lesbian and some groups, like One Million Moms (OMM), felt that, as a result, she was a poor spokesperson, role model and personality for the company to select. Here’s what OMM wrote about DeGeneres on its web site earlier this year:
“Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. DeGeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store. The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there. The small percentage of customers they are attempting to satisfy will not offset their loss in sales.”
While the organization inevitably backed off of the call for a boycott, Monica Cole, the director of the group, said, ”We have heard back from men and women — not just moms — saying they will no longer shop there at JC Penney, as long as Ellen DeGeneres is their spokesperson.”
Ellen, of course, defended herself, joking, “I mean, if they have a problem with spokespeople, what about the Pillsbury Doughboy? I mean, he runs around without any pants on and basically begging people to poke his belly. What kind of message is that?”
Lowe’s Home Improvement: TLC’s controversial program “All American Muslim,” was apparently intended to introduce American society to mainstream Islamic adherents. Instead, it caused a firestorm after a conservative group, known as the Florida Family Association, began pushing companies to pull their sponsorship from the program.
The group pushing the ban felt that the show served as “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” While Lowe’s quickly stopped purchasing commercials, some felt that the response was issued too quickly and hastily. TheBlaze originally reported:
Branding expert Laura Ries said Lowe’s made two mistakes. The first was advertising during a show that could be construed as controversial. The second was pulling advertising too quickly.
“For a big national brand like Lowe’s, they’ve always got to be incredibly careful when advertising during any show that could be deemed controversial,” she said. “Will it seriously damage the brand in the long term? Probably not. But it is a serious punch in the stomach.”
Amid low ratings and advertising drama, the show was inevitably pulled and will not be returning to TLC.
Best Buy: Best Buy, the popular electronics store, faced backlash from gay activists for allegedly supporting a PAC that gave funds to Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage. Emmer ran for governor of Minnesota in 2010 and served in the House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.
“Best Buy has also been found to have donated 100,000 to the same PAC as Target,” reads a Facebook page created by Towleroad, a gay rights web site. “A PAC which supports Tom Emmer, an opponent of equal LGBT rights.”
The fan page, which has more than 7,700 fans, is called, “Boycott Best Buy Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics.” Mediaite has more about the 2010 boycott, which impacted both Target and Best Buy:
Retailers Target and Best Buy are under fire from gay rights groups, who are organizing boycotts over both companies’ corporate donations to support Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who they say is virulently anti-gay. The donations of $150,000 and $100,000, respectively, were made possible by the Supreme Court’s hotly debated Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited political donations by corporations. This confrontation will test the limiting effect of the free market on Citizens United.
While opponents of the decision fear it will open the floodgates to a political process already corrupted by moneyed interests, proponents of the decision argue on free speech grounds, and that other, market-based forces will naturally limit the effects of Citizens United.
Disney: For eight years, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) boycotted Walt Disney Co. over its perceived stance on homosexuality. Originally deciding to issue a proclamation against the children’s entertainment group back in 1997, the Baptists took a firm stance against what they saw as a promotion of the “homosexual agenda.” While the religious group was a key part of the mission to rail against Disney, the initial boycott was initially launched by the American Family Association (AFA) in 1996.
The AFA, among other groups, dropped its boycott in 2005, around the same time as the SBC. While critics claimed that conservative religious groups had become defeated and had thrown in the towel, the SBC defended its actions and pledged to continue monitoring Disney’s content and actions.
MSNBC has more about the boycott and the decision to end it:
…the Southern Baptist resolution defended the boycott as having “rightly and appropriately” challenged Disney and said that for a boycott to work, “it must be specifically targeted and of limited duration.” It said the action had “communicated effectively our displeasure”; the convention noted an executive shuffle and the dissolution of Disney’s deal with the founders of the Miramax studio, whose film “Priest” was the touchpoint for the boycott in 1996.
That explanation echoed the reasons given…by the AFA, the Tupelo, Miss.-based ministry run by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, which said that conservative Christians had made their point and that it was time to move on.
Target: The popular discount retail store caught the ire of Christians in 2004 when it abruptly banned the Salvation Army from ringing bells and collecting funds outside of its then 1,300 stores. The move purportedly left the organization, which serves the poor and those in need, without many millions of dollars it had previously collected at the stores.
The move was widely viewed as an attack against a cultural tradition. Thousands of faith leaders stepped up to the plate to call for a boycott of the retail chain, with many pledging — and urging their congregations to do the same — not to shop at Target.
Over the years, tempers have simmered, as it seems Target has loosened its policy a bit regarding Salvation Army bell ringers. Today, the company promotes its ongoing partnership with the organization on its web site, writing:
Target proudly supports The Salvation Army as it serves more than 30 million people across the United States each year. Some of our year-round efforts include grants to local chapters, volunteerism and in-kind donations to help those that need it most. Target also partners with The Salvation Army to support its disaster relief efforts in communities across the country.
Heinz: Known for producing delicious condiments, Heinz has joined other corporations in igniting controversy. The company caught fire from Stonewall, a gay rights group, after pulling an advertisement featuring two men kissing. The Telegraph provides a recap of how the event unfolded in England:
The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 200 complaints about the Heinz Deli Mayo advert in less than a week, before it was voluntarily taken off air.
Viewers complained it was “offensive, “inappropriate” and “unsuitable to be seen by children” and said it raised the “difficulty” of parents having to discuss same-sex relationships with their children.
The gay rights group Stonewall has urged supporters to stop buying Heinz products.
While the company said that the ad was intended to be humorous, the U.K. division maintained that it’s Heinz’s policy to listen to customers. Considering that there was such a backlash over the same-sex kiss, they decided to remove the ad. Inadvertently, this caused a boycott call from homosexual rights groups.
Starbucks: Known for its coffee and support for activism, Starbucks has also found itself in the cross-hairs of America’s gay marriage debate. In March, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced a boycott on the companies products over its pro-same-sex marriage stance.
“NOM decided to organize a boycott, dubbed the ‘Dump Starbucks’campaign, because the company’s corporate leadership actively supported efforts to legalize same-sex marriage,” The Christian Post reported in March.
Here’s how the “Dump Starbucks Campaign” describes its efforts:
We are urging customers across the globe to ‘Dump Starbucks’ because it has taken a corporate-wide position that the definition of marriage between one man and one woman should be eliminated and that same-sex marriage should become equally ‘normal’. As such, Starbucks has deeply offended at least half its US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers.
On January 24th, 2012, Starbucks issued a memorandum declaring that same-sex marriage ‘is core to who we are and what we value as a company.
Starbucks also used its resources to participate in a legal case seeking to overturn a federal law declaring marriage as the union of one man and one woman. [...]
In taking these actions, Starbucks has declared a culture war on all people of faith (and millions of others) who believe that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman is worth preserving. [...]
We urge consumers across the globe to join the ‘Dump Starbucks’ campaign.
These are only some of the faith-based boycotts that we’ve seen over the past 10 to 15 years. There are, of course, many other examples of individuals and organizations on both sides of various issues attempting to use the power of the consumer to convince companies to embrace — or abandon — viewpoints.