February 26, 2020

Beyond Christmas Wars & Boycotts: Faith-Driven Consumers?

shopping-family-festival-650

As Faith Driven Consumers, we choose to match our wallets to our worldview and support companies whose corporate actions are compatible with biblical faith. This is action every one of us can take, every day. And we can advocate for and grow faith-compatible businesses all over America.

Faith Driven Consumers are creating space in the American marketplace for those who hold to a biblical worldview. If you seek to steward the resources you’ve been entrusted in ways that create a more faith-compatible marketplace, join the Faith Driven Consumer community today. It all starts with you!

Faith Driven Consumer

* * *

Here, in the midst of Christmas shopping season, your faithful Internet Monk secret shopper has found you a new way to exercise power as a person of faith in our culture. It seems that the Joint Chiefs of the evangelical-industrial complex have devised a new strategy in the ongoing battle against cultural decline.

Moving beyond the “Christmas Wars” approach of boycotting businesses that purportedly offend the faithful, an online advocacy group named Faith Driven Consumer now enables you as a believer to direct your shopping dollars toward businesses that “welcome us and respect our values.” And they want businesses to know that “we’re ready, willing and able to switch our loyalties to brands that include us.”

FDC publishes a Christmas Guide as well as buying guides for other seasons and holidays which provide rankings to help Christians choose the retailers and corporations they would like to support with their business.

What criteria does Faith Driven Consumer use to evaluate companies?

  • Pro-life: “This category evaluates the degree to which a company’s actions and policies align with the biblical pro-life worldview – with particular attention paid to issues surrounding the direct or indirect support of abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia.”
  • Biblical Sexuality, Marriage and Family: “This category evaluates the degree to which a company’s actions and policies align with the biblical worldview on sexuality, marriage and family – with particular attention paid to issues involving attempts to redefine gender, marriage and family and normalize homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism in the economic arena and broader culture.”
  • Non-pornographic Materials: “This category evaluates the degree to which a company’s actions and policies promote the production, distribution and sale of products or materials that objectify, degrade, diminish or deface the image of God we humans bear as male and female – particularly when it depicts unwholesome, unseemly, titillating behavior and nudity in ways intended to objectify others and/or cause sexual excitement.”
  • Wholesome Entertainment: “This category evaluates the overall wholesomeness of entertainment content produced, distributed or supported by companies in the form of books, magazines, television shows, movies, internet, music, video games, advertisements and more.”
  • Social Responsibility/Philanthropy: “This category evaluates the degree to which a company’s actions and policies promote philanthropic efforts to generously and freely give back to the broader community a portion of the bounty to which they’ve been entrusted. This includes sponsorships, donations and partnerships with other organizations and community groups – particularly charitable contributions that align with a biblical worldview and values system.”
  • Corporate Responsibility: “This category evaluates the degree to which a company’s actions and policies promote and exercise positive corporate responsibility in the areas over which they have been granted stewardship. This category examines how companies treat their employees, customers, business partnerships and the environment.”

They use a star system to rank companies by these criteria, rating them based on how strongly they “lean toward a Biblical worldview.”

housewife_grocery_shoppingHere are some examples of FDC’s rankings:

Hobby Lobby is one company that earned FDC’s highest ranking. Here is what they say:

Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose is to “honor the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” Its declaration of faith, operating policies, and other efforts to reach out to Christians demonstrate a high level of faith-compatibility. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced daily $1.3 million fines by courageously taking a stand against the Obamacare “preventive services” mandate forcing faith-based employers to violate conscience by providing coverage for drugs or devices considered by many to induce abortions. We commend Hobby Lobby this, and for remaining closed on Sundays for worship and sharing the Gospel message through advertisements.

On the other hand, Amazon receives a lower rating, with the following explanation:

While Amazon uses the word “Christmas” in its advertisements and supports a number of charitable causes, its sale of some pornographic content and unwholesome entertainment is a concern for Faith Driven Consumers. In addition, its staunch support of same-sex marriage and the homosexual, bisexual and transgender political and social agenda is in opposition to the biblical understanding of sexuality, marriage and family. Finally, Amazon’s sale of pro-abortion materials and support for the United Way, which indirectly funds Planned Parenthood, is problematic for Christians.

Apple gets FDC’s lowest ranking:

Apple is a market leader in computer manufacturing, software and electronics. While Apple has worked to improve its corporate philanthropic efforts and allowed a Christian employee group to form, it vocally supports same-sex marriage, actively donated to efforts to defeat Proposition 8 in California and caved in to pressure from small groups of homosexual and transgender activists and their allies by removing previously approved, faith-based apps supporting natural and traditional sexuality, marriage and family. Here, Apple showed a high level of insensitivity toward a much larger market of Christian consumers and needs to take active steps to rebuild a relationship with those who hold to a biblical worldview and values system. Beyond this, Apple promotes internet pornography and was listed as one of the “Top Ten Worst Advertisers” in 2012 by the Parents Television Council.

* * *

A-man-and-a-pregnant-woma-007Well, my Internet Monk friends, what are we to think of this?

Allow me to toss out a few thoughts, observations, and questions, and then I’d love to hear your opinions.

1. I’m all for encouraging corporations as well as individuals to be ethical and socially responsible.

2. Christians are free to have convictions about how and why they do business with various companies and organizations, just like others are free to buy “green” or invest in corporations that reflect other values they hold. However, these convictions should not be coerced nor should it be made to seem as if only certain courses of action define “the Christian way” of behaving.

3. Why do we struggle so to live the Gospel in our daily lives in this free and democratic culture? Why do we continue to emphasize proclaiming Law (or Wisdom teaching) to the world rather than Gospel?

3. Does not this approach exhibit a spirit and way that is antithetical to the Sermon on the Mount and many other teachings of Jesus that urge his followers to forsake tactics of opposition and power toward the “enemy”?

4. This approach seems to me to be antithetical to the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians. He said we should not separate ourselves from the immoral and idolaters outside the church, and declared that it was not his job to hold the unbelieving world accountable to “biblical” standards — “For what have I to do with judging those outside?” (1Cor. 5:9-13).

5. This group ranks companies as “biblical” only in a very selective way. The list of criteria is defined by specifically conservative cultural war priorities in the U.S. For example, Hobby Lobby is commended in the light of a few issues that reflect American politics, but FDC says nothing about a fact many have noted — that Hobby Lobby buys loads of its goods from China, hardly an exemplar of biblical morality and ethical practices.

6. The idea of ranking companies based on a few selectively chosen moral criteria that we think are most important can lend itself easily to a spirit of self-righteousness and the practice of judging others. Should we really create another class of Christians who justify themselves as “faith driven” consumers, in contrast to others who are not?

7. What do these FDC rankings say to committed Christians who work at these companies? Are we supporting our sisters and brothers and their relationships and witness in the workplace?

8. The FDC website speaks of “the unique needs of Christians,” and of “under-represented Christian consumers.” Is this what we’ve become? Have Christians become reduced to a special interest group, with a mission to make sure our “unique needs” are met and that we are well positioned in the eyes of society? Is our aim to find the best place from which we can exercise power and guarantee respect and security for ourselves? Is this not the opposite of “losing our lives” in order to “find them”?

9. We Christians continue to find it difficult to unravel our identities as citizens of the Kingdom and citizens of the U.S. What many mourn is not the decline of “biblical” Christianity per se, but of a superficially Christianized culture. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to claim we have a “biblical worldview” but we want it on our terms — we want to call the shots, to be free to live and pursue the American dream without interference or criticism, and yet also be honored as genuine followers of Jesus Christ. We want to go to heaven. We don’t want to die.

* * *

In other words, Faith Driven Consumers is just another vehicle for the church to practice triumphalism in our culture. In my opinion, this is not a strategy that advances the Gospel or lifts up the Lord Jesus Christ.

In an article called, “The Witness of Sinners,” theologian Jennifer McBride talks about an alternative vision that she sees most clearly in the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer asked a question that I find helpful for thinking about this. He asked how Christians can be the church, people who are “called out” or chosen for a particular mission, without understanding ourselves “religiously as privileged.” Bon­hoeffer suggests that Christians instead “belong wholly to the world” by recognizing our solidarity with other human beings in sin and redemption. “Christ would no longer be the object of religion,” he says, “but something else entirely, truly lord of the world.”

Christians communicate to others that we are specially favored when we position ourselves as judges over society and standard-bearers of morality. For about 30 years Protestants of all stripes have turned public witness into battles over morality. This presumption not only contradicts the great Protestant truth that “no one is righteous” but God (Rom. 3:9), it also contradicts Jesus, who did not present himself as a model of moral righteousness but belonged wholly to the world by taking the form of a sinner in public life.

Christians define themselves by Jesus and the cross.

Not by their consumer choices.

Comments

  1. “Yeah, but that guy, he’s a good christian fellow.”
    The all important qualifier that recommends someones services. So, an acquaintance of mine who used to be a service contractor for my employer is now a pastor (and loving it) talks about how when he walked up to a door and saw a bible verse or ‘fish’ by the front bell caught himself saying “Aw shit”. Too often a sign of someone who is unreasonable and demanding, rarely gracious, but quick with ‘tract’ or bible verse to send you on your way.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Didn’t Jeff Dunn post that once when he was working at a radio station, any advertiser who self-proclaimed as Christian(TM) was “CASH In Advance, No Exceptions”?

      • James the Mad says

        Ah, but they’re just being “good stewards.” Which, of course is Christian(TM) code for cheap!

    • James the Mad says

      I tend to have the same reaction – often the fish in the front window is nothing more than bait to draw the faithful. One of my worst experiences was with a “Christian” tire shop, whose owner refused to admit his crew could possibly have done anything wrong.

      I’ve been surprised a couple times, but mostly my experience with the ICKTHUS in the window is that it means sub-standard service, and sometimes even products, which I’m forced to accept because I’m “keeping it in the family.”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > One of my worst experiences was with a “Christian” tire shop, whose
        > owner refused to admit his crew could possibly have done anything wrong.

        Christian tires…. Honestly, how can a sane person take that seriously? They are *tires*. They go on the car, hold air, and stay round – or they don’t.

        > I’ve been surprised a couple times, but mostly my experience with the ICKTHUS in the
        > window is that it means sub-standard service

        +1 It makes sense of course – why would you advertise your business based on a facet of you [and all your employees? that raises legal issues] that has nothing to do with your business?

        Shop at my shoe store because I’m a white middle-aged blond guy who likes artichoke hearts! It’s just: Huh!? That is either sleazy or nuts.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      So, an acquaintance of mine who used to be a service contractor for my employer is now a pastor (and loving it)…

      My current pastor at St Boniface is a Mexican immigrant who started out in the States as a construction worker. He said once that when he entered Seminary he knew only about two dozen English words — all cusswords.

  2. First you say that you are “all for encouraging corporations as well as individuals to be ethical and socially responsible”, then in the rest of the points you argue against just that. When St. Paul said “Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience”, it is not like he meant that it was OK to eat human meat.

    These “faith-driven” people have chosen their issues, and I don’t see any problems with the means they are using to address those issues. Of course these issues are just taken from the tired Cultured Wars. One thing I don’t understand is why corporations should give to charities. Either that is hypocritical advertisement, or using other peoples money.

    • Actually it’s more problematic than that… Item #5 (above) making social responsibility/ philanthropy a standard for judging a corporation’s acceptability specifies that the charity in question must be a “good” one… Namely, one of “ours”… In short, they are saying, give money to “us” or we will make you feel the hurt. If any of you can tell me how this is something other than a racketeering shakedown, please tell me what I’m missing here.

      Chaplain Mike gets it right when he states that evangelicals are proclaiming “Law” to our society and calling that Christian. Exactly the problem that Jesus had with Pharisees of his day. It’s the Gospel that the Spirit-guided people God have to offer our culture to transform it, not some version of “Law”.

  3. I’m glad that Hobby Lobby has a good reputation for ethical behavior — but the store is filled with the worst gimcrack, ticky-tacky kitsch that it can import. Do I support Hobby Lobby by spending money on junk I don’t need? Do my fellow faith-driven consumers and I link arms and chant “They’ll know we are Christians by our stuff”? Must I be only a consumer? I try to shop at businesses I approve of, on the rare occasions that I shop at all, but if the Culture is waiting to be transformed by my spending, it’s going to wait a long, long time.

    • This cracks me up av little. I ,m prone to buy misting paint and day old bagels….anyone want to join my Hobo religion ???

    • Damaris, Hobby Lobby was also the first place I ever saw the classic “Santa praying next to Baby Jesus” manger scene…

    • +1

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’m glad that Hobby Lobby has a good reputation for ethical behavior — but the store is filled with the worst gimcrack, ticky-tacky kitsch that it can import.

      And this surprises you? We used to have a saying “It’s gotta be Christian(TM), look how shoddy it is!” and IMonk has done several essays along those lines.

      P.S. That “ticky-tacky kitsch” was probably imported from Third World sweatshops, maybe from actual slave labor.

    • Hobby Lobby isn’t a particularly great employer if you look up their rating online. Each store’s manager is like a little king and that can be good or bad (I have a friend who worked at HL and she said it was the worst job she ever had). On top of that — somehow they function without a perpetual inventory system, and expect all of the employees to have their arcane register system memorized. As an accountant, I find it baffling as to why and how a business as big as they are can function like it’s the 1960’s.
      I won’t even go into the whole birth control/Obamacare thing….

      • I have to admit, while I have always found the cashiers knowledgable, I am BAFFLED by the arcane inventory and register system. For starters, it increases transaction time by about 5 fold. In the words of the nearly-immortal Sam Walton “Never make someone wait to give you their money”.

    • “Keep in mind, China is controlled by some of the most dedicated Communists in the world,” write the apocalyptic tag team of LaHaye and Jenkins. “They are a ruthless group of elite gangsters… the present leaders of China are real threats to the world…” Yet LaHaye’s preferred house – Tyndale – outsources printing of Bibles to Chinese factories providing cheap socialist labor. China continues coerced abortions under its one child policy, clamps down on unregistered churches, and leads U.S. imports in the yawning trade deficit. But good Christian companies have no problem, because bottom line.

      And I often wonder what some Chinese worker making $2 per day thinks about the authenticity of the American Christian lifestyle, as ships off countless container-loads of HL trinkets. He or she must wonder about the fantasy land where all those big person toys go, which only the self-absorbed affluent could want, and which wind up in the dumpster in a few months anyway.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > cheap socialist labor

        Huh, “cheap socialist labor”. That may be the very first time I [a Socialist] has ever heard those three words together.

        Anyway, China is Communist. They are like unto Socialists as the Jehovah Witnesses are to Christians. They share historic roots – but represent a different direction.

        Even then I wouldn’t consider the poor Chinese worker in those factories to be “cheap Communist labor”. I’d consider them a worker with no recourse or representation; a “waged slave”.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > but if the Culture is waiting to be transformed by my spending

      Eh? The culture is transformed by spending *constantly*. It is probably in the top 5 forces for cultural change. Does it lead or trail? Both probably; spending leads development which reinforces spending with more spending.

      It just takes a *LOT* more spending to wiggle those needles than this demographic can hope to muster [or sequester by boycott]. And the multiplier effect takes a long time to kick in – so they need to keep it up, sustained, for a l-o-n-g time (years at least) before business plans will reflect the impact [assuming they manage to create a measurable impact… doubtful].

  4. Internet Monk clearly presented the culture war as one of the reasons for a coming collapse. Jennifer McBride presents a clear understanding of why being a judge over society is a privileged position and contradictory to the Gospel. . It speaks to me of putting the axe to our conservative( as in law observing and being pure) , liberal( as in setting aside orthodoxy), and radical(as in separating into a refuge) ideologies. We all need to step back, even to our baptism, about what that means for living today. We have been so blessed. And it definitely was a gift, although we act like it was something we acquired and deserve to be lifted up about.

  5. A technical point that bears repeating ad nausem: RANKING SYSTEMS LIKE THIS ONE ARE BASICALLY ARBITRARY.

    Now some ranking systems are based on statistical analyses where you’re trying to predict an outcome (think of credit scores, which try to predict whether you’ll pay). However,most rankings systems like this one consist of certain arbitrary inputs which are then assigned certain arbitrary weights in its black box algorithm and then, voila, you have an arbitrary ranking. Tweak a weight or input here and there and you can get vastly different results.

    Additionally, rankings don’t indicate the degree to which each company differs from the next. #1 and #2 may be very close to one another, or instead maybe #1 is vastly better than #2, #3, etc. WIth mere rankings, you just can’t tell.

    I blame David Letterman for all this, by the way.

  6. While others might enjoy shopping some of these places, I’ll be using Amazon, because frankly, they offer a better price on a lot of things. That way, I have more money to give to the poor, and to the Church. Here’s some thoughts to consider, for those who are obsessed with buying “Christian”:

    “The soul that would preserve its peace, when another’s sin is brought to mind, must fly from it as from the pains of hell, looking to God for help against it. To consider the sins of other people will produce a thick film over the eyes of our soul, and prevent us for the time being from seeing the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’– unless, that is, we look at them contrite along with the sinner, being sorry with and for him, and yearning over him for God. Without this it can only harm, disturb, and hinder the soul who considers them. I gathered all this from the revelation about compassion…This blessed friend is Jesus; it is his will and plan that we hang on to him, and hold tight always, in whatever circumstances; for whether we are filthy or clean is all the same to his love.”

    +Lady Julian of Norwich+

    “Do not be irritated either with those who sin or those who offend; do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor, and for judging him, as we are in the habit of doing. Everyone shall give an answer to God for himself. Everyone has a conscience, everyone hears God’s Word, and knows God’s Will, either from books, or from conversation with other people. Especially do not look with evil intention upon the sins of your elders, which do not regard you; ‘to his own master he stands or falls.’ Correct your own sins, amend your own life.”

    + St. John of Kronstadt +

  7. (by:the incomparable Steve Taylor)
    GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION

    So you need a new car?
    Let your fingers take a walk
    Through the business guide
    For the “born again” flock

    You’ll be keeping all your money
    In the kingdom now
    And you’ll only drink milk
    From a Christian cow

    Don’t you go casting your bread
    To keep the heathen well-fed
    Line Christian pockets instead
    Avoid temptation

    Guilty by association

    Turn the radio on
    To a down-home drawl
    Hear a brylcream prophet
    With a message for y’all

    “Well I have found a new utensil
    In the devil’s toolbox
    And the heads are gonna roll
    If Jesus rocks”

    “It’s a worldly design!
    God’s music should be divine!
    Try buying records like mine
    Avoid temptation”

    Guilty by association

    So you say it’s of the devil
    And we’ve got no choice
    ‘Cause you heard a revelation
    From the “still small voice?”

    If the Bible doesn’t back it
    Then it seems quite clear
    Perhaps it was the devil
    Who whispered in your ear

    It’s a Telethon Tuesday
    For “The Gospel Club”
    “Send your money in now
    Or they’re gonna pull the plug!”

    Just remember this fact
    When they plead and beg
    When the chicken squawks loudest
    Gonna lay a big egg

    You could be smelling a crook
    You should be checking The Book
    But you’d rather listen thank look
    The implication

    Guilty by association

  8. And of course there’s no “love your enemies – peace” criterion is there?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      To be fair I do not believe ““love your enemies” necessarily includes “fund your enemies”. If you believe they are your enemy – of course you aren’t going to want to give them money. For someone who accepts the premise the conclusion and the action is not irrational.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    FDC publishes a Christmas Guide as well as buying guides for other seasons and holidays which provide rankings to help Christians choose the retailers and corporations they would like to support with their business.

    What criteria does Faith Driven Consumer use to evaluate companies?

    “You’ll be keeping all your money
    In the Kingdom now;
    And you’ll only drink milk
    From a Christian cow…”
    — Steve Taylor, “Guilty by Association”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LheJpwMusKQ

  10. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    5. This group ranks companies as “biblical” only in a very selective way. The list of criteria is defined by specifically conservative cultural war priorities in the U.S.

    i.e. “HOMOSEXUALITY, Abortion, HOMOSEXUALITY, Evolution, HOMOSEXUALITY, HOMOSEXUALITY, HOMOSEXUALITY…”

    These guys are more fixated on HOMOSEXUALITY(TM) as Ted Haggard or a gay bathhouse in the Castro.

  11. Years ago, when I worked in the convenience store industry (we probably didn’t sell a single product that would pass muster with this group), I learned this when hiring people: the more people talked about their faith on applications and in interviews the less likely they were to be honest or diligent employees. What the job required, simply, was trustworthiness and a good work ethic; one’s religion cannot tell that about a person, but the unscrupulous can use it as a pretty good smoke screen.

    Similarly, when I buy something, I want the best product that I can afford. Whether it is made by people who proclaim themselves Christians or not has nothing to do with product quality. If I am ill, I want the best doctor specializing in my illness — I’ll pick a competent Muslim doctor over an incompetent Christian one any time there is a choice.

    If anyone is committing an offense against the faith, it is groups like “Faith Driven Consumers”: they are attempting to manipulate the faith of sincere Christians in order to get them to buy certain products or to support certain companies and to reject others. They want to enlist Christ as just another shill for their chosen products. My guess is that He has not yet actually signed up.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > one’s religion cannot tell that about a person

      Or it can: if the religion is loud and aggressive – then it is a religion primarily concerned with one’s self-interest.

    • Preach it, brother!

    • Martin Luther would have gotten a low rating from FDC. He stated that he’d rather buy well-made shoes from a Moslem shoemaker than poorly-made ones from a Christian.

  12. Christians define themselves by Jesus and the cross.
    Not by their consumer choices.

    Yes. But, Evangelicalism has become defined by a set of consumer choices. It’s become a sub-cultural ghetto with very little tolerance for non-conformity. It will continue to push silly little gimmicks like this one as it slowly dies off at an increasing pace because people find it increasingly useless. Which is a very ironic thing for a religion that tries so hard to be relevant.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Nothing gets stale faster than over-relevance.
      Except Pretentious over-relevance.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Yes. But, Evangelicalism has become defined by a set of consumer choices.

      Usually of the “Just Like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” pop culture knockoff variety.

      op cit Steve Taylor, “Guilty by Association”

      It’s become a sub-cultural ghetto with very little tolerance for non-conformity.

      When I was in-country, the most amazing thing for this “Martian” observer was how these independent splinter “Fellowships” had this Total Conformity Groupthink dynamic internally yet Cro-Magnon levels of Anarchy on the macro level externally. Like a bunch of North Koreas always at each other’s throats.

      It will continue to push silly little gimmicks like this one as it slowly dies off at an increasing pace because people find it increasingly useless.

      And then when it realizes it’s “dying off at an increasing pace”, double down and get Fundamentalist — no, MORE Fundamentalist. I’ve seen that reaction in companies circling the drain, in the history of Communism, and in Islamic history when Islam realized the West had pulled ahead of them and was rolling over them in colonial domination.

  13. It amazes me as to how fundagelicals always have a war to wage, always have an enemy to assault, etc… And the fact that they do it in the name of God is what stuns me the most. I’ve been reading some of teh coverage of Nelson Mandela’s death and how he faught apartheid. You know what stunned me? Is realzing that the orgins of apartheid is from the Dutch Calvinists. Yes they created laws in the name of morality…but look at the other evils they created.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It amazes me as to how fundagelicals always have a war to wage, always have an enemy to assault, etc…

      Just like the three Superstates in Nineteen Eighty-Four (or the ideological dictatorships that served as Orwell’s model for them).

  14. CatelynStark says

    Conscientious use of our money is one thing, but it’s the self-righteousness of this mindset that’s the turn-off.

    “To avoid a man’s society because he is poor or ugly or stupid may be bad; but to avoid it because he is wicked — with the all but inevitable implication that you are less wicked, at least in some respect — is dangerous and disgusting.” -C.S. Lewis

  15. “Christians define themselves by Jesus and the cross.
    Not by their consumer choices.”

    I want to add this: John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Sometimes that means encouraging brothers and sisters to do their best work for the Lord. Other times it may mean rebuking them for second-rate workmanship. And yet at other times it may mean evaluating whether to buy from a company that sells products made at labor camps. http://bit.ly/18mbncW These consumer choices are just a subset of the choices we make every day to reflect our love to God and others.

  16. Having been around people of other religions and the religions of the liberal (you know, stuff like “organic”, “ethical”, “fair trade”, “diversity-supportive” etc…) people in this country are so hot to trot for doing things that not only ‘support their own’, but have consumer practices that somehow reflect to the world their ‘values’, much in the way of putting bumper stickers on your car or wearing a band t-shirt from a show.

    I don’t know what do to with this kind of stuff anymore. I never liked it back when I was EV and I certainly don’t like it now, but it’s not for me. I feel powerless to stop this brand of Christianity from, as Miguel said above, putting themselves into a cultural ghetto, and I guess if they want to do that, then go ahead. They can feel the comfort of having their own little niche that makes them ‘different’ in exactly the same way every other sub-culture of this country is. I certainly can’t say that I don’t make consumer choices based on some sort of egotistical view of myself, and am trying very purposefully to not wear my faith like I would a band t-shirt this time around.

    On top of that all… the fallacy of ‘ethical’ consumerism is always there. The vegan turns a blind eye to all of the mice and insects killed while their grain is harvested, and the person who shops at Hobby Lobby is likely supporting communist china and sweatshops.

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    7. What do these FDC rankings say to committed Christians who work at these companies?

    You mean the Lukewarm Godless Apostates(TM) who were Never Really Saved(TM)?

  18. Perhaps the best thing to do this time of year is to not change one’s usual buying habits at all from that of the rest of the year. It saves money; leaves one focusing on less extraneous spending, and reduces next spring’s landfill requirements. My wife and I will do our best (we’ll fail in some areas, surely) to substitute loving acts to each other and to the others we touch as gifts instead. (Not being a parent, I am sure this would be hard to achieve).

    Don’t worry about the economy. It’ll take care of itself. But I hope we’ll make a difference in our own hearts.

    Great discussion, all.

  19. Tying this back into the Dave Ramsay discussion, should Christian businesses accept credit cards?

  20. Vega Magnus says

    Notice how in the two negative examples mentioned they do not say a single thing about, say, unethical sweatshop labor. No. Just Culture War talking points.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Culture War Talking Points” as obsessed with HOMOSEXUALITY(TM) as a Gay Pride Parade in the Castro.

      And as for Unethical Sweatshop Labor, how else can the Godly Elect get all their Christian(TM) goodies on the cheap?

  21. The ridiculousness of the idea that something being “Christian” makes it automatically more “safe” may best be illustrated by the story of a man being chased by a bear. In order to escape, he climbed up a large tree, but the bear continued to follow him up. The man finally reached the top branch and knew he was out of options. As the bear came within reach he turned to the sky and pleaded, “Dear God, please let this be a CHRISTIAN bear!” At this point, the bear stopped, bowed his head and said, “Thank you, Lord, for this meal you have provided for me.”

    If anything, placing “Christian” in front of something really has the potential to make it more un-safe. The Christian confession has cost countless their lives. For pete’s sake, the Christian God is the least “safe” person in the universe. You’d be safer in the hands of the devil! It’s not like Jesus said “Follow me, and I will keep you safe, your family together, your children obedient and heterosexual, and your society respectable in all areas at all levels.” That would be the kingdom of this world. …where it is usually a lot more “safe.”

  22. If people are concerned about buying from a corporation that reflects their values that is their business. I see nothing hypocritical or wrong with that.

    In America, money speaks loudly to corporations, and if people do not do business with them for ethical reasons that’s okay.

    So why aren’t many of us here going back to our old evangelical churches. They are fellow Christians there! Aren’t we being judgemental?

    • “Money speaks loudly” which is why I’m doing all that I can to defund Lifeway and other so-called Christian businesses.

      I welcome the Biblical opportunity to be judged by the standards I am judging.

  23. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Sounds cynical, but as “Faith-Driven Consumers” is is a non-profit, will we find Hobby-Lobby among its donors? Just wondering…

  24. AARGH! I just refuse to wrap my head around this article! It is obviously anti-CapitalistTM; but the alternative is to deny culturally relevant fundygelical Christmas shopping awesomeness! This is obviously a false dilemma propagated by SATAN aka “an anagram of SANTA”.

  25. Christians define themselves by Jesus and the cross.
    Not by their consumer choices.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    But it is not inconsistent with the cross to make choices based on ethical reasoning.

    Most people just go out and work, then come home and do not have the time to chase down if a particular vendor is up to something they disagree with. So someone doing that research and making it available is doing these people a service.

    In other words, Faith Driven Consumers is just another vehicle for the church to practice triumphalism in our culture. In my opinion, this is not a strategy that advances the Gospel or lifts up the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Sorry Mike, I agree with you on a lot of things but on this one I think you may be off. Is it even remotely possible it has nothing to do with triumphalism but maybe that someone may not want to support a corporation that clashes with their values? Does everything have to be in terms of either supporting the gospel or not?

    • Just actually looked at their website, and it is not quite the way I would have done it.

      I do think we need to make ethical decisions, but that group is definitely slanted in a way that seems typical of an American fundamentalist expression.

      • Ken, I said in the first point that I am in favor of encouraging individuals and corporations to act ethically. But point 2 is key — we must do so in a way that respects freedom in Christ and the complexity of various issues.

  26. How do we respond to the shallowness out there? I can’t see us being critical, or condemning so much as hopeful for something better for people.
    And in that frame of mind I came across a quote that helped me focus away from my own human ‘dark’ response to the idiocy ‘out there’ and refocus my thoughts on the wonder tht I find within this Season that I have come to love so very much:
    In that spirit, I thought this was so beautifully said:

    “THE SEASON of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”

    (Jan L. Richardson)

  27. Wasn’t it the Pharisees that believed a return to rigorous adherence to the law and tradition would expedite the coming of the Kingdom of God? As for me (a still practicing evangelical by the way), I’m sick of this damned ‘culture war’. 1 Peter 2:17 says to “HONOR ALL PEOPLE, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” – emphasis mine of course. This includes Muslims, homosexuals and the transgendered, and even, dare I say it, liberals like me. You know what Jesus did when he encountered people like this? He ate supper and drank with them. (But then I forget, this really pissed off the Pharisees.)

    Oh, and I’m sure everyone is really worried about it still so let me put your mind to rest. When I bought my son the Lego Bible at Costco (I’d boycott church before I’d boycott Costco by the way) it was labeled non-fiction. I’m sure there’s a lot of (well-paid, fairly treated) people in their public relations department shaking their heads thinking ‘shouldn’t those crazy Christians be feeding the hungry or something’?

  28. “4. This approach seems to me to be antithetical to the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians. He said we should not separate ourselves from the immoral and idolaters outside the church, and declared that it was not his job to hold the unbelieving world accountable to “biblical” standards — ‘For what have I to do with judging those outside?’ (1Cor. 5:9-13).”

    Does this observation apply to the application of Christian perceptions to social justice issues as well, say, for instance, the issue that the new Pope is focusing on when he criticizes the “trickle down theory,” and when he seems to be “holding unbelieving world,” as much as the believing world, “accountable to ‘biblical’ standards” ?

    • Robert, I’m not saying we should never speak “prophetically” to issues in the world or take stances on such issues. But I question the wisdom of giving simplistic ratings numbers to companies based on a few narrow criteria. This does not recognize the complexity of the issues involved, a number of other issues that perhaps should be considered, and diversity of opinion in the Body of Christ about these kinds of issues and how we might respond to them. The Pope is speaking in the context of the Church’s long tradition of social and ethical thinking. Other denominations regularly conduct in-depth studies and have procedures for discussing them and coming to decisions about them. Furthermore, the best of Christian teaching may (and should) critique social, moral, and ethical issues without advocating a judgmental separatism — which is the real point of why I invoked this passage from Paul. The article I quote at the end of the post discusses the difference between “triumphalistic” approach and “non-triumphalistic” approaches.

      • I think I understand your distinction, and agree with it.

        But I think we have to careful not to be hoist on our own petard, especially when we remember the advocacy on the progressive side of the church for divestiture of economic interests as a tactic in supporting social justice, as happened in regard to South Africa during the end of the apartheid era; or the support for purchasing from underdeveloped countries on the basis of fair market values of products; or again the significant support many churches gave in recent times to the idea of debt relief in connection with the biblical idea of Jubilee.

        Some of our arguments for disqualifying the advocacy of Christian groups we disagree with may apply to our own advocacy as well, even if we call it “prophetic” or “long standing tradition.”

        I do agree that the issue of avoiding judgmental separatism makes an important difference. When our new Pope speaks to these issues, one gets the sense that he is speaking from among us rather than from above us, that he is engaging us in considering the best values we hold in common rather than haranguing and lecturing us with strange and alien values from a strange and alien land.

        The same can not be said for all Christians on the conservative, or progressive, side.

      • I appreciate this response. I’m wrestling with what the pope has stated and what Tom Wright has said elsewhere regarding the social role of the collective church. I admit that I exercise discretion in my buying (avoiding sweatshops and animal testing for example) but feel uncomfortable with calling any offender out publicly much less engaging in open economic conflict. Didn’t Jesus teach us to not resist evil and to love our enemy?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          There’s a story from the Eighties associated with Tony Campolo that might have some bearing on this.

          The situation was Gulf-Western was mistreating its Third World workers in its Latin American holdings (this was during the Late Cold War, the time of the Sandinistas & Contras, when non-Communist banana republics were propped up by the USA on an “Enemy of my Enemy” basis and Gulf-Western was the United Fruit of the time).

          Christian activists first bought stock in Gulf-Western, giving them the right to attend the company’s shareholders’ meetings. And they attended the meetings, bringing up the subject of mistreatment of their native workers each time, trying to get appointments with Directors to present their grievance, publicizing the problem before the other stockholders (including corporate reps). It took a while, but Gulf-Western began treating their native workers better. One of the arguments was that treating their workers better meant they were less likely to rise up and/or kick the company out after the next revolution.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    From McBride’s linked article:

    Christians of most stripes, and certainly conservative evangelical Christians, would say that the cross of Christ and Christ’s suffering for sinners is at the center of their faith and theology. Why has it not been part of their public witness?

    In white North American Christianity, the cross tends to function as a symbol for Jesus taking on my individual sin and forgiving me. It refers, in other words, to a central claim in a doctrinal system rather than to a way of life, a way of being in the world based on conformation to the incarnate and crucified Christ.

    Here, McBride echoes what’s become one of my pet peeves: the Evangelicals’ Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation — and its side effects.

    This might be how Ayn Rand ended up the Fourth Person of the Trinity, above and beyond the political “Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”: A Gospel of ONLY Personal Salvation will naturally incline towards selfishness with little community — “My PERSONAL LORD and Savior”, “Jesus & ME, Nobody Else” — and lay a Christian foundation predisposing you to Rand’s philosophy of straight-on-the-rocks Utter Selfishness.

    “The Devil sends temptations in matched opposing pairs, so in fleeing one we embrace the other.” — C.S.Lewis

    Communism begets Objectivism.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Wholesome Entertainment: “This category evaluates the overall wholesomeness of entertainment content produced, distributed or supported by companies in the form of books, magazines, television shows, movies, internet, music, video games, advertisements and more.”

    To me, “Wholesome Entertainment” means something on the order of ONLY Bowdlerized Bible Stories, novels written by Jerry Jenkins, and movies starring Kirk Cameron; all else is Heathen(TM).