NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The American Family Association launched a boycott of McDonald’s July 3, saying the restaurant chain’s corporate leaders refuse “to remain neutral in the culture wars” by promoting the homosexual agenda.
An official with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, while not commenting specifically on the AFA boycott, issued a statement to Baptist Press recapping general principles regarding Christian stewardship in their consumer spending.
“Discerning Southern Baptists note which corporations support causes or movements which are antithetical to a biblical perspective and then weigh carefully which businesses in good conscience and, perhaps of necessity, they can patronize,” ERLC Vice President Dwayne Hastings said July 7.
“In this day of conglomerates and multinational corporations, it is difficult to find a large corporation that does not in some way support something which stands in opposition to what we know to be good and moral,” Hastings added.
“Yet as Christians, we should be consistent in living out our values, rooted in God’s Word, even if it means we have to sacrifice. Each of us has an obligation to carefully and prayerfully consider where we spend our money. Yet at the end of the day, that is a personal decision each of us must make.”
Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, told The Washington Post that the association proceeded with a boycott when McDonald’s declined to remove itself from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re saying that there are people who support AFA who don’t appreciate their dollars from the hamburgers they bought being put into an organization that’s going to fight against the values they believe in,” Wildmon said.
AFA says on its new website www.boycottmcdonalds.com that the boycott “is not about hiring homosexuals. It is not about homosexuals eating at McDonald’s. It is not about how homosexual employees are treated. It is about McDonald’s, as a corporation, refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars. McDonald’s has chosen not to remain neutral but to give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, according to its website, “represents the interests of the estimated 1.4 million LGBT owned businesses in the United States. Through its affiliated network of 45 state and local chambers and business organizations, the NGLCC is the largest LGBT business development and economic advocacy organization in the country.”
The website also makes clear that the chamber lobbies Congress on a wide range of issues related to the homosexual agenda.
In April, AFA informed its 2.8 million e-mail alert subscribers that Richard Ellis, vice president for communications at McDonald’s, had joined the board of directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m thrilled to join the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce team and ready to get to work,” Ellis said at the time. “I share the NGLCC’s passion for business growth and development within the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community and I look forward to playing a role in moving these important initiatives forward.”
AFA corresponded with McDonald’s executives several times following the Ellis announcement, including a May 29 letter from Pat Harris, global chief diversity officer for McDonald’s, who wanted to “take this opportunity to reaffirm our position on diversity.”
Harris said a core value of McDonald’s is the company’s “longtime commitment to our People through diversity and inclusion.”
“We treat our employees and our customers with respect and dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factors,” Harris wrote to Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of AFA. “We support our employees’ personal involvement in organizations of their choice.”
The letter ended with Harris’ declaration that McDonald’s “will continue to support our people and their right to live and work in an inclusive society.”
Also in May, Jack Daly, a McDonald’s senior vice president, confirmed to AFA that McDonald’s gave $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and that Ellis, an open homosexual, personally approved the contribution.
As of July 7, McDonald’s still was listed as a corporate sponsor on the chamber’s website. A Baptist Press request for comment from the McDonald’s corporate office in response to the AFA boycott was not returned by deadline.
In comments reported by The Washington Post, McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman reiterated the company’s commitment to inclusion.
“Hatred has no place in our culture,” Whitman said. “That includes McDonald’s, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”
In order for the boycott to end, AFA has said they want McDonald’s to give up its membership in the chamber of commerce and remove its logo from the chamber’s website.
AFA was at the forefront of a lengthy boycott of Disney that ended in 2005, and in March the family association ended a two-year boycott of Ford Motor Company after the company met the conditions of an agreement to stop supporting homosexual causes. During the 24 months the boycott was in effect, Ford sales dropped an average of 8 percent per month. AFA conceded the boycott was not entirely responsible for the drop in sales but said it played a significant role.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach, with reporting by editor Art Toalston.