The American Family Association (AFA) sponsors a website entitled www.boycottthehomedepot.com. The AFA accuses the company of Home Depot of promoting the homosexual agenda by giving its “financial and corporate support.” Recently, the Home Depot had its yearly meeting of shareholders. Randy Sharp who is the director of special projects for the AFA reported a petition was presented to the chairman of Home Depot at that meeting.
Sharp said, “the American Family Association presented to the Home Depot chairman, the board of directors and the shareholders 254,000 signatures on a petition saying that they were boycotting the Home Depot until it became neutral in the culture war regarding homosexuality.” Added to previous signatures this gives a total of almost three quarters of a million customers that are actively taking a stand against the retailer. From what I can gather this did not illicit even a shrug from the management of Home Depot.
In the past I have participated in boycotts and walked picket lines for the “cause of Christ.” I don’t do that anymore. Here’s why.
I question the effectiveness of such practices. I question whether or not the AFA boycott has seriously affected the profit margin of Home Depot. It is easy to sign a petition, for whatever reason, to boycott a business; it is a different matter to actually boycott it. If Home Depot has been significantly impacted by this boycott I cannot tell it, and evidently, neither can they.
I question the motive behind such practices. I do not believe the Church of Jesus Christ should force acceptance of its beliefs and practices by financially bullying a company into submission. What about the Christian employees who are trying to be a witness on the job, and could be adversely affected by the boycott? If you are going to bully them into being neutral, why not bully them into supporting the Christian agenda? Is that what Jesus would do?
I question the singling out of Home Depot. Given our nation’s increasing materialism and its bent toward consumerism, there probably exists within corporate America a plethora of practices that are not Christian. AFA may be advocating the boycott of other companies, but how is one to pick and choose who to boycott? Why should Home Depot be singled out?
I question the goal of such practices. Has God called Christians to lobby the boardrooms of America, or have we been called to “make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)?” I do not believe the Church will change our world by employing the practices of the world. We will only change people by obeying our scriptural mandate. Boycotting and picketing are inadequate substitutes for witnessing and praying.
I remember an issue that arose years ago in my hometown, Jacksonville, Florida. Churches were in an uproar over liquor stores and bars opening and operating too close. They were concerned about the presence and influence of these businesses on the churches. I thought at that time this was a reversal of the climate in the book of Acts.
There was a time when the disciples were accused of having “upset the world (Acts 17:6, NASB).” In the King James Version this same passage reads the believers were charged with having “turned the world upside down.” They did not do that by boycotting and picketing. Later a silversmith named Demetrius, who earned his living sculpting statues of the Greek goddess Artemis, complained to his fellow tradesmen that they were in jeopardy of loss (Acts 19:23-27). He said Paul was preaching “gods made with hands are no gods at all (Acts 19:26, NASB).” What I thought was a good point made by Paul, Demetrius found offensive.
I look forward to the day when churches are not concerned about the presence and influence of society and businesses, but society and businesses are challenged by the presence and influence of the churches. Boycotting will not clean things out, it will only cover things up. Lives that are changed by the transforming power of the Gospel will change our culture, industry, and government. We need a change within, not one from without.