Guest / Limited Access /

In August, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz withdrew from a speaking engagement at the Willow Creek Association's Global Leadership Summit. The reason: An online petition had called the Illinois megachurch anti-gay and threatened a boycott of the coffee giant.

The petition had only 717 signatures. Senior pastor Bill Hybels said the church is "not anti-anybody" but believes the Bible reserves sexual expression for marriage between one man and one woman.

Around the same time, Apple removed iTunes from the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), formerly known as the Christian Values Network. The action came after activists collected more than 20,000 signatures complaining that the online hub allows customers to support "anti-gay hate groups" such as the Family Research Council.

CGBG's CEO, Jed Prosper, blamed the "hate group" claim on a "bullying campaign fueled by false information."

Earlier, TOMS Shoes distanced itself from Focus on the Family after 500 people signed an online petition on Change.org about the company's relationship with an "anti-gay, anti-choice group."

The backlash came from a brief mention of TOMS' budding relationship with Focus in a Christianity Today cover story on Focus's shift away from politics back toward an emphasis on the family.

At least two major factors appear to be at play as some Christian organizations find it difficult to partner with businesses: stereotypes and public opinion.

"Some evangelical groups [may] feel unfairly stereotyped," said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. "Whatever their views on gay rights, a pressure campaign could paint all evangelicals … the same."

The Internet has increased the speed at which such stereotyping travels as well as how quickly ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMark Driscoll Addresses Crude Comments Made Trolling as 'William Wallace II'
Mark Driscoll Addresses Crude Comments Made Trolling as 'William Wallace II'
Mars Hill pastor says 14-year-old posts were 'plain wrong' and he 'remain[s] embarrassed,' but 'I have changed.'
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickThe Softer Face of Calvinism
The Softer Face of Calvinism
Reformed theology is more irenic and diverse than you think, says theologian Oliver Crisp.
Comments
Christianity Today
Online Boycotts Separate Corporations from Christian Groups
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.