Following media criticism, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie has released a statement apologizing for speaking at an event with Focus on the Family (FOTF) about "faith in action." He used the release to make sure people know that his appearance was a mistake and that he and his company support "equal human and civil rights for all." And, he drove home the fact that FOTF will not be affiliated with his "One for One" movement giving shoes to children in developing countries:
"Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company's part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.
Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.
So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud."
"What has been reported" refers to a recent article in Christianity Today that suggested FOTF is "working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa." Following the event announcement and Christianity Today's article, Ms. Magazine organized a petition through Change.org asking TOMS to cut ties with "the notorious extreme right-wing, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-woman fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family."
FOTF describes its core beliefs as follows: All people are of infinite value, marriage is the foundation of family life, children are a gift from God, sex is an expression of love, and Christians have the responsibility to promote truth and social policy that improves the strength and health of the family.
Following Mycoskie's statement, media outlets have spun and twisted "Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner," to mean "Focus on the family misrepresented [its] relationship with TOMS Shoes."
In reality TOMS Shoes was referenced in three sentences of a larger 3500-word feature about FOTF's attempt to "thrive—and survive—past its founder." FOTF is never quoted claiming to be a "TOMS giving partner," only "making slow strides" to to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa.
Do you think this is a sign of things to come? Will companies be increasingly black-balled by the media for participating in any sort of apolitical charity work with groups supporting traditional marriage and pro-life views?