Recently, in the chapel service of FIRE School of Ministry I spoke about the de-Christianization of America. Since then I have seen several examples of it in action, not least of which occurred a few days ago, when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told one of his shareholders to sell his stock in the company if he does not like its position in support of supporting gay marriage.
Has buying a cup of coffee just become an issue of conscience and conviction about the biblical teaching on marriage? What does gay marriage have to do with selling cups of coffee to the masses? Why does a concerned investor receive approbation for questioning the intrusion of political and moral ideas into a place where it does not belong, especially when such intrusion affects the return on his investment? Mr. Schultz has decided to use his position of influence as a bully pulpit to promote his personal views on political and moral matters. And when confronted about this, rather than explain to his investors why he has made this controversial move, he gives a “my way or the highway” answer, only later mentioning that his support of gay marriage “was not an economic decision.”
Some might argue that Schultz’s response was not wrong, and many CEOs might say the same thing in similar circumstances. But even if that is true, it does not make it right. the stockholder, Thomas Strobhar, is a man known for challenging pro-gay activists, and it is clear that Schultz saw this as an attempt to do just that. But Strobhar did everything rightly and properly. He did not confront Schultz on his stance on gay rights. He did not object to his investment being used for activist causes he disagrees with. He did not engage in a moral discussion. He simply questioned whether Schultz’s activism was wise considering it polarizes some of Starbucks’ clientele. This is exactly the kind of question that should be asked at a stockholders meeting, because schultz’s actions affect their profits. For this reason he deserved a fair answer. But rather than give one, Schultz censured Strobhar, refusing to answer his question. In so doing, he spoke not only to Strobhar, but to all investors and potential investors in Starbucks: if you are not for gay marriage and you say something about it, why don’t you take your business elsewhere.
Maybe Schultz did not mean to say that, but was only referring to a single individual. But the message goes out just the same, so let us posit what this message says and where it may lead. If Schultz wants to excise from his company those investors who do not share his views about sex and marriage, then what would he say to customers who do not share his views? Since it is not an economic decision, losing the business of those who support traditional marriage should not affect his opinion. Therefore, we can only conclude that he would tell everyone who disagrees with his political position to take their business elsewhere, too.
As I said in my chapel message, if you keep going in a certain direction, sooner or later you are going to get there. This step by Mr. Schultz effectively states that it is okay for pro-gay businessmen to choose not to serve those who disagree with them, even if it means a loss of revenue. The next step is to punish such people with sanctions, taxes, or by other means. This is already scheduled to begin with the Obamacare measures that will force business owners whose consciences do not permit them to fund abortions to pay a penalty, a tax, for their non-conformity. After it becomes fashionable to punish people who do not toe the line, the next step is to forbid dissenters from joining certain groups, work certain jobs, or eat in certain restaurants, based on the preferences of the owner of the establishment. Based on the direction the nation is heading, it will not be long before all Americans are forced to affirm the gay lifestyle or be excluded from tax breaks, government aid, and perhaps even health care.
If this sounds reminiscent of 20th century business owners whose store windows sported signs telling African Americans that they were not welcome, it is because that is where we are headed; only instead of African Americans, it will be Christians that are shut out of normal society. Do not be surprised if some day signs appear in the windows of Starbucks stores, saying, “Gay supporters only.” This is the 21st century now, and Christian is the new black. Supporters of traditional marriage are the new persecuted group that will no longer be welcome in certain places of business.
But it does not stop there. This is not just about gay marriage. It is about the de-Christianization of America. When Schultz spoke defiantly against the shareholder who questioned his political stance, he took a strike at everyone who believes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Consider who it is that stands for traditional marriage. What percentage of them take their stand for religious reasons? How many people today who are fighting against gay marriage do not use the Bible as the source of their position? Those who want to de-Christianize America know they can polarize the Christian community on the gay marriage platform, and they are using this divisive issue to make Christians look as though they are on the wrong side of history.
That seems to be the tack taken by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who compares those who oppose gay marriage to racist bigots when he says, “Even Governor Wallace in the end came around”* Similarly, in a recent article commenting on statements by Republicans in support of traditional marriage, Jena McGregor said: “Republican leaders run the risk of looking even more like they are on the so-called wrong side of history”**
But Griffin and McGregor assume that the current direction history is taking is the right one. Not all historical trends move in the right direction. It is unfair and inaccurate to compare gay marriage to slavery, but if Griffin wants to make such an analogy, he should ask which side of the slavery issue corresponds to gay marriage and which side corresponds to traditional marriage. Those who opposed the importing of slaves to America in the 17th century might have been warned by the establishment that they were on the wrong side of history. Those who opposed the use of African slaves in 17th and 18th century England to work on plantations in the West Indies were no doubt viewed as being on the wrong side of history. When history is trending in the wrong direction, people need to stand up and resist the trend.
I am reminded of the Confessing Church in the 1930s, which was formed to resist Hitler’s attempt to control the church and make it a vehicle for Nazi propaganda. It is time for a new “confessing” church to arise in America: one that will not go with the flow of a sinful society, but that will stand against an immoral avalanche of untruths aimed at breaking down the moral fiber of the family unit and removing all that remains of a Christian America. The segregation of Christians is at our doorstep. If the church does not unite and speak for truth with one voice, we may soon see signs in stores telling us not to use their restrooms or drink from their water fountains. We may have to hide our Bibles because they have been banned as hate speech. We may be herded into jails and reconditioning camps to undergo sensitivity training, not to be released until we affirm the gay agenda. Thankfully, we do not live in anything like Nazi Germany today. But if the church does not stand up and resist the evil trend that is redirecting the destiny of our nation, our children might have to live through things we thought could never happen in America.
If we are heading in this direction, eventually, we will get there…unless something happens to change it. That is the job of the church. No longer can we just sit around the table criticizing the bad things that are happening in America without lifting a finger to change it. The time has come when we all must unite or perish. We must speak up or our right to speak will be taken from us. How do we start? We can begin with a thoughtful, righteous response to the aggressive stance that Starbucks is taking. We can just quietly take our business elsewhere. No fanfare. No boycott. Just a quiet change of scenery to give Mr. Schultz what he is asking for.
As I write this I am sitting in a coffee shop that has no explicit political agenda. The coffee is good, and the internet is free. And I am free to frequent this establishment instead of Starbucks as often as I like. Do not let the music of the green siren woo you into her trap. The next time you think about spending $4 to support the gay agenda, maybe you should give it for a good cause instead. I believe we can all live happily ever after without being married to Starbucks and their aggressive pro-gay agenda.
* Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Ready to Fight Gay Marriage at Court Door,” New York Times online article, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/23/us/politics/brian-brown-fights-same-sex-marriage-with-zeal-and-strategy.html?_r=0. Accessed March 26, 2013.
** Jena McGregor, “GOP leaders, gay marriage and the arc of history,” Washington Post online article, http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/gop-leaders-gay-marriage-and-the-arc-of-history/2013/03/22/e97e409e-932d-11e2-a31e-14700e2724e4_story.html. Visited March 26, 2013.