To Boycott or Not to Boycott? That is the question!
When a company or business is using their money and influence to attempt to shape public policy should we boycott that company if we disagree with their politics? This is how David Arthur answers that question.
When the LGBT (the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual community) called for a boycott of Chick-fil-a because of comments, which they perceived as “anti-gay”, made by Dan Cathy on July 16th, many of us were outraged. As evangelical conservatives many of us responded in mass on August 1st. The lines at your local Chick-fil-a began at dawn and lasted until closing time. The point was made with such an emphasis that many in the world of business are wondering if Dan Cathy’s comments were a marketing stunt to drive up sales. By the way, we believe that is not the case. Dan’s comments were sincere and from the heart. He believes the Bible is true and therefore stands on what it says regardless of public opinion.
But, about the same time a parallel event almost slipped by unnoticed. On July 27th, eleven days after Dan Cathy’s comments, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and his wife, MacKenzie donated $2.5 million, of their personal money, to help pass the same sex marriage referendum in Washington State. It is interesting that so far the response from the business world has not suggested their donation was a marketing stunt.
So – here is the question –
Should we threaten to boycott Amazon because their founder supports a world view which is contrary to Scripture? Target, Starbucks, Disney, and General Mills have all supported same-sex marriage referendums, and both the American Family Association and the National Organization for Marriage have called for boycotts against them for doing so. How should Christians respond?
It seems like there are actually two questions that need to be asked.
- Should we boycott businesses that support a world view that is contrary to Scripture?
- Should we support businesses that use their position and dollars to influence public policy in ways that violate a Christian world view?
Honestly, the questions are easier to ask than to answer. Boycotts don’t always work the way we hoped they would, and sometimes they have the opposite effect. For example, remember how we responded to the boycott of Chick-fil-a? The result was not what the LGBT had in mind! On the other side even the National Organization for Marriage is not sure that its boycotts are having an impact on the businesses they have asked us to boycott.
Should Christians support businesses that have a world view which is contrary to Scripture? Before you answer, remember there are no real Christian businesses. There are businesses run by Christians and businesses founded on Christian principles, but a Christian is a person not a company. All businesses that are owned or operated by someone who is not a Christian are going to reflect an un-Biblical world view at some point. It would be hard, if not impossible, to live in this world and not be involved in commerce with businesses operated by a non-Christian. And, if we are to be salt and light in a dark decaying world then one way to engage people and open the door to share Christ with them is to do business with them. To only do business with Christians so isolates us from the world that our influence becomes negligible. How can we be a bright light if its hidden under a bushel? (Matthew 5:15-16)
But, what if a business uses their power and money to influence public policy in a way that clearly violates a Biblical world view? Specifically, how should Christians respond when a company or an individual supports a same sex marriage referendum in their state? Should we boycott Amazon because the CEO and his wife donated $2.5 million dollars to persuade the citizens of Washington State to pass a referendum on same sex marriage? Perhaps.
In Luke 16:9 we are commanded to use our opportunities and our money wisely as we deal with the world. Surely we would all agree that as Christians we should use our influence and money to shape public policy toward righteousness and justice, as defined by God in His Word. The question then becomes, how do we do that?
How do we exercise influence? Do we just stop spending our money with that business?
To do so silently is to miss the point of excercising our influence. No, maybe a better idea is to politely and gently let them know what you want them to do, and why. Use a boycott as the last resort, not the first option. Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16b)
For example the organization Love146, which exists to end child sex slavery and exploitation recently challenged Amazon regarding the book Age of Consent: A Sex Tourists Guide which was Amazon was selling.
“Great care goes into how we approach an issue like this…. As many as 10 people from our office and our Task Force were involved in the discussions about our approach to Amazon, over the course of six weeks before we acted.” …We spent several days creating the initiative and the accompanying letters and scripts because we desperately wanted to approach Amazon in the most positive and collaborative way.”
“We have learned some important lessons on how to thoughtfully approach a problem like “Age of Consent”. Feel the urgency. React, but don’t be reactionary! Pause, think, pray … respond thoughtfully and if you can in humility and gently ... there is enough anger out there already.”
They approached Amazon with their concerns and their solutions. Amazon responded quickly to remove the book from their site. Love146 has not called for a boycott of Amazon, as you see they have instead chosen to approach Amazon gently with humility.
Should we boycott a company that is intentionally pushing an agenda contrary to a Biblical worldview? Sometimes perhaps we should. But, how and why we initiate the boycott is vital. If you boycott you should let the business know why with gentleness and kindness. Speak the truth in love.
Where someone spends their money is ultimately a very personal decision. At Precept Ministries we know you can buy many of our books from Amazon, and some of you receive free shipping with them. We could never compete with Amazon. But, since you have a choice, let us tell you how we invest the money we make from the sale of books.
Precept Ministries is a non-profit organization. All of the “profit” we make goes straight back into ministry. We reinvest every dime into our mission of establishing people in God’s Word. Our sales in the US fund translation work in other countries, train people to make disciples, and equip others to lead Bible studies in areas where Americans are not welcome. When you purchase from us you are actually funding ministry.
It is up to you where you spend your money, so we wanted you to know what we do with your investment in Precept Ministries.
To boycott or not to boycott?
With this specific situation with Amazon we are not recommending a boycott. Instead write Amazon and share your concerns – kindly and clearly. Then consider investing in the biblical mission of Precept Ministries international instead of Jeff Bezos and his support of same sex marriage in Washington State.