Oh Boy, Boycotts!
By Pastor Robbie Carnes
Never would she ever, ever, ever(!) enter a Sears department store again. It was the last straw, the final offense. She was going to boycott Sears for the rest of her life. Why? They didn’t allow her to return a purchase. For many years, it was a secret vanity of hers to imagine that her personal boycott had helped bring about the collapse of the business.
Have you ever felt the desire to boycott a business? There are many reasons that you might do so. Whether it be in response to hiring practices or working conditions; the lack of use of sustainable materials or wasteful manufacturing practices; or a nod to a political or cultural movement that you disagree with. More and more the role of being a consumer requires being literate in symbols, logos and ideology. It is becoming more important to know what a business ‘stands for’ because the power of a logo to promote an idea can insinuate a consumer’s own stance.
For instance, there has been much ado about the promotion of the Trans-gender experience by Bud Light and Target. Needless to say, there are many Christians (and others) who have felt the need to boycott these companies. It is remarkable how much a particular beer or where you buy paper towels can say about you.
In what way does the boycott by Christians of businesses for certain practices or social comments promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Granted, there are many valid reasons why Christians may choose to avoid certain establishments. Jerusalem’s exhortation to avoid meat that has been sacrificed to idols in Acts 15 is an example. However, the question is significant because boycott is not the primary tool of evangelism. Jesus sends us to all nations. That means go to them, not avoid them.
Boycotts can backfire. Did you know that some Christian groups are boycotting the Chick-fil-A restaurant and ‘The Chosen’ films? The former is due to a new hire of a vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The latter is because of a rainbow flag that was seen on the production equipment for four seconds during a ‘behind the scenes’ promotional video. Seen as bastions of Christian Culture, it is a blow to see that these two business are ‘caving’ to social pressure.
Here is what Chick-fil-A says about that on their DEI website (https://www.chick-fil-a.com/dei): Chick-fil-A’s Corporate Purpose is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Here is what Dallas Jenkins, The Chosen’s creator and director, says about that on Twitter: “Just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no belief at all) than we do, we will work with anyone on our show who helps us portray or honor the authentic Jesus. We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger, because we’ll always let you down.”
Brothers and sisters, beyond whatever you feel about these particular issues; beyond how you feel about what is lost and what is gained in cultural battles; please prayerfully consider how Chick-Fil-A and Dallas Jenkins have witnessed to Jesus’ Gospel in this matter. In what way are they going to places where boycotts cannot? In what way can you share Jesus by extending a welcome rather than a boycott?