Boycotting Bad Religion - Part 3

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So we've looked at why evangelicals might consider a financial boycott of their church (Part 1) along with certain 'Christian' media companies and schools (Part 2).  In the conclusion of this series, we turn our attention to two more evangelical industries that you might want to take a second look at when it comes to doling out your dollars.

CHRISTIAN BUSINESSES (other than media)

You've got to love the not-so-secretive code sign: the Jesus fish!  Ah yes, just subtlety slap that baby on your company truck, business card, or website, and your prospective evangelical customer is sure to get the message. "Have us mow your lawn, do that kitchen remodel, or cater that wedding (so long as your not gay!), and you can be sure that your money isn't going to support some pagan business that is probably operating unethically because the owner doesn't have Jesus in his or her heart."

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But don't make the mistake of assuming that the sell of religiously superior ethics is the only thing in mind when it comes to most evangelical leaders in the market place.  No, there is a far greater cause that has been cemented into the psyche of many Christian business men and women.  Make sure you check out a previous article I wrote that looks at the evangelical idol of power.  The piece includes an especially revealing video made to inspire Christians to "take back" the seven mountains of culture.  In it, there is a particular emphasis on Christians reclaiming leadership in the domain of business so as to effectively resource the effort to return America to its Christian heritage.  Whether stated explicitly or not, this is one of the chief visions fueling this call to join the cadre of Christian capitalists, perhaps only eclipsed by stories of saving lost souls through a God-style economy.  You can find 'fellowship' in this effort through one of any number of Christian business associations, like The Christian Business Network, Christian Business Fellowship, or Convene.  The fact that the old religious right's culture war narrative is lurking not to far below the surface of these networks of success-hungry crusaders is made pretty obvious when the home page of the Northern Californian Christian Business Directory features a video promoting the Genesis Apologetics App.  This mobile tool will equip your good Christian teens to pretend like they know what they are talking about in the fight against public school teachers and their evil doctrine of evolution.  

But let's get back to ethics, where I am sure that the Bible has something to say about things like fair wages (Jeremiah 22:13 and James 5:4) or that Jesus taught his disciples to not embrace violence (Matthew 5:38-45).  Among a list of household name companies that are owned by the devout, most of them evangelical Christians, there are some interesting practices that makes you wonder if the Scriptures are their 'final rule for faith and practice'.

Like Chick-Fil-A Chairman and CEO, Dan Cathy, who has a net worth of 3.8 billion dollars.  And yet according to Glassdoor, his average entry level employee makes eight to nine dollars an hour and a store general manager pulls in just $49,500 annually!  That's paycheck to paycheck and public benefits territory.

Or take the maker of rifle scopes, Trijicon, whose revenue, by the way, comes in part from supplying the U.S. military.  It made some news awhile back when it came out that Bible verses were subtly inscribed on their products.  Yes, now you can "love your enemies" by blowing a whole in their head through the sight of your high-quality, Scripture-emblazoned Trijicon scope.

These, and a myriad of other hypocrisy ridden companies that are supposed to be built on the bedrock principles of God's Word, are in my opinion not worthy of your business.


Lets turn to safer territory, literally.  What about Evangelical humanitarian organizations who are often seeking to undue the effects of greed and war?  As most of you are aware, I previously worked for World Relief, an organization that serves as the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.  They, along with many other evangelical relief and development organizations, are chalked full of amazingly compassionate and creative people who are daily evidencing a true love of neighbors.  But that doesn't mean these institutions are not infected with the idols of evangelicalism and therefore in need of substantial reform.  And as we said in part one, economic withdrawal is the most effective way to achieve this kind of change.  So I suggest that evangelical Christians who are grieved by the same things that I am may want to reconsider their generous contributions to some of these organizations.

I'll give two examples of grievous practices that warrant a retraction of financial support.

  • Proselytizing: Among many if not all of these organizations is some level of exploitation of uniquely vulnerable people for the purpose of winning converts.  This is something I previously covered in a piece entitled Evangelical Ambulance Chasing.
  • Intolerant Hiring Practices: It was indeed a sad day when one of the largest global evangelical humanitarian organizations, World Vision, folded under the threat of economic withdrawal by the religious right and reversed what would have been a morally courageous decision to openly hire members of the LGBTQ community.  Or in my time at World Relief, I found it to be a violation of the Character of Christ and an embrace of the paranoia of conservative evangelicals to, as a matter of policy, deny Muslims the opportunity to work with the organization even though it was tasked with serving predominantly Muslim refugees.  I also feel that while currently legally allowable, this is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  You can find more of my thoughts on this in the two-part series on The Public Subsidization of Religion.

As you consider supporting humanitarian organizations with an evangelical affiliation, you have every right to investigate whether these and other policies and practices born of ignorance or bigotry are present before you write that next check. 

final thought

As we conclude, remember that just because you have chosen to not personally support a local, national, or international evangelical non-profit, whether humanitarian or educational, you may be indirectly resourcing them through your church.  So make sure your congregation has thoroughly vetted it's ministry partners.  You may find that you are indirectly resourcing an organization that is violating values that are important to you.  For example, if you are here in Sacramento you may be attending one of the over one-hundred churches that financially support William Jessup University, which as we discussed previously is a school whose leadership is blatantly embracing the idols of power and superiority.  If that is the case, it's yet another reason to reduce or withhold your tithe.

In the end, the congregation, like Congress, holds the 'power of the purse'.  Individually and collectively, exercise your rights and responsibilities as true principled disciples.  Give only to that in which you truly believe.