David Barton is on the warpath again. Unable to understand why he and fellow opponents of same-sex marriage are losing ground faster than you can say “I do,” he has set his sights on a new target: Starbucks.
He’s calling for a boycott, and I must admit, it’s not a bad strategy. Starbucks hasn’t been shy about its support for marriage equality, and with its enormous influence over the American public, it is clearly a big player. I mean, who doesn’t base their voting decisions on the opinions of their favorite coffeehouse chain, after all? Take Starbucks out of the equation, the thinking goes, and gay-rights advocates won’t have the heart (or the caffeine-induced energy!) to go on.
Here’s what Barton had to say on the issue:
[T]here’s no way a Christian can help support what is attacking God. I’m sorry, you’ve got to find some other coffee to drink. You can’t drink Starbucks and be biblically correct on this thing. It’s just a real simple principle.
Shaming your followers into doing what you want — that’s the example Jesus left for us, right?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I think Barton’s call for “biblically correct” Christians to side with him in boycotting Starbucks is a terrible idea. Actually, I don’t think we should be talking about it all (attention-seeking trolls are usually best left ignored), but it’s out there now. And, as an evangelical Christian myself, I feel compelled to respond.
Frankly, I find Barton’s words ill-advised and rather shortsighted. Starbucks supports gay marriage — so what? The company is not propagating a business model that requires its underpaid overseas laborers to put themselves in mortal danger on a daily basis. It’s taking a stand for “respecting diversity,” in solidarity with its 200,000 employees and millions of customers.
Maybe you disagree with their position; lots of people do, and that’s OK. But I don’t think it’s really a “Let’s-try-and-put-them-out-of-business” kind of offense.
Now, I’m not naive. I know Starbucks’ stance isn’t just about being a crusader for justice. If we learned anything from last year’s Chik-Fil-A debacle, it’s that these types of polarizing issues can be just as big a motivator for your supporters as they are for opponents. I’m sure Starbucks’ executives expected at least as many people to start patronizing their stores because of its pro-gay marriage position as they feared might boycott them.
It’s not just a moral issue for Starbucks; supporting gay marriage makes good business sense. It’s a fact that Nike, Intel, Verizon, McGraw Hill, Cablevision, Morgan Stanley and dozens more of our country’s largest businesses acknowledged earlier this year when they filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of nationwide marriage equality.
As the companies pointed out in the brief, the current state of affairs creates a number of administrative headaches for them and their bookkeepers, and they fear it will hurt their recruiting. They say:
By singling out a group for less favorable treatment, Proposition 8 impedes businesses from achieving the market’s ideal of efficient operations — particularly in recruiting, hiring, and retaining talented people who are in the best position to operate at their highest capacity…potential recruits or employees [that] are members of a same-sex couple…may forgo the opportunity to work in California, and prefer other states (like Iowa, New York, and Massachusetts) or other nations (like Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, or Belgium) where they can be married and obtain equal treatment and respect under the law.
Surely, a free-market capitalist like Barton can see where they’re coming from.
So, not only do I think boycotting Starbucks is misguided, it’s hypocritical, unless one also — following the clear biblical principles of fairness and equality — boycotts Apple, Facebook, eBay, Levi Strauss, Office Depot, Panasonic and any other business that has or does sign on in support of gay marriage.
If you feel obliged to boycott Starbucks because of its stance on same-sex marriage, then by all means, do it. But to be fair, looks like you’ll be signing on for a whole lot of boycotting.
Sounds pretty exhausting, if you ask me.
I don’t often go to Starbucks, anyway. It has nothing to do with their politics, or the fact that their logo is a topless, pagan symbol (anyone else surprised Barton didn’t even mention that in his sermon?). No, I’m just incredibly cheap and don’t like paying 10 times as much for something a plastic machine can make for me at home.
But even if that weren’t the case, I’m pretty sure I’d ignore this boycott. I’d rather see us try to base our consumer decisions on whether the companies do good work, treat their employees fairly and make the world a better place.
Maybe Starbucks is on that list, and maybe it isn’t. But that’s for you to decide — not me. And definitely not David Barton.