A shopping network that contributes some of its profits to leading Christian family organizations is battling an Internet-organized campaign by homosexual-rights activists.
The Charitable Give Back Group, formerly known as the Christian Values Network, says activist websites that enable users to create their own “cause” boast they have prompted hundreds of corporations to cut ties with the shopping network because it contributes to “anti-gay” non-profit organizations.
The activists are mobilizing through websites such as Change.org and Allout.org.
Change.org says it is “organized around more than a dozen leading cause-based communities, ranging from gay rights to women’s rights to animal welfare.”
Earlier this month, a Change.org petition with 700 endorsers prompted Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz to back out of a speaking engagement at a leadership conference hosted by well-known evangelical Christian pastor Bill Hybels, whose Willow Creek Church teaches marriage is reserved for one man and one woman.
One petition at Change.org claims that it forced the popular Internet movie rental site Netflix to quit the Charitable Give Back Group with only 300 signatures.
An online signer wrote:
“Shame on you, Netflix, and any other company which supports CVN’s donations to hate groups. I choose not to support you unless you stop supporting CVN or CVN stops permitting donations to hate groups.”
The referenced “hate groups” include Focus on the Family, the Catholic League and the Family Research Council, which are targeted because of their support for traditional marriage.
Responding to the campaign, the Catholic League said in a statement that “radical proponents of gay marriage have taken the culture war to the marketplace.”
“Rejecting diversity and tolerance, these activists have declared an economic war against any organization that embraces the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage,” the Catholic League said.
The Catholic League rejected the assertion by the Change.org activists that some of the recipients of the funds are Christian “hate groups.”
“This is a lie,” the group’s statement said.
Customers who shop through the Charity Give Back Group can choose to give a portion of their purchase price to one of 170,000 established charities in the network.
John Higgins, president of CGBG, told WND that the activists “initially caused 350 big name retailers to pull out of the network because of their lies and distortions.”
Higgins received an email from Walgreens announcing the drug store chain had terminated its affiliation because “it has been determined that you may have ties with discriminatory organizations, which is a violation of Walgreens terms and conditions.”
Allout.org also has boasted of success.
“Thanks to your voice, Expedia, Hotels.com, Avis, Westin and Apple have joined Microsoft, Macy’s, Delta, and more than 200 other corporations and cut ties with CVN.org, a network that allows people to donate part of their online purchases to hate groups.”
But the website urged much more to be done.
“Unfortunately, hundreds of other corporations are still participating,” it said. “If you haven’t already, sign our letter to the companies still using CVN and we’ll follow up soon on our next target.”
Rejecting the activists’ “lies,” Higgins argues that CGBG is politically “neutral.”
“We ask our retail partners to also remain neutral,” he said.
One self-described “gay-Christian blogger” from San Francisco touts his success in getting retailers to “dump” CGBG.
On his blog he describes the response he received from an executive at an unnamed corporation he talked into leaving the charity network.
“I mentioned it to my wife,” the executive told the blogger. “… For the first time I can tell her I did something for you people, and I’m happy to do it.”
The blog targets CGBG because of the Family Research Council’s membership in the network.
“This boycott campaign is based on anti-gay and anti-women organizations receiving financial support from good corporate citizens,” the blogger wrote. “It is based on a known hate group receiving financial support from good corporate citizens. This is about being a good neighbor, a good person, and being a good friend. This is about empathy, tolerance, and understanding.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told supporters last week that the online political activists “have engaged in a misinformation campaign that bullies retailers including Netflix, Walgreens, Petco, and Westin Hotels into discriminating against customers and charities based on their religious beliefs, specifically the traditional and biblical view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Perkins pointed out that marriage between a man and a woman is the law in 44 states and has been upheld by voters in 31 of 31 states where it has appeared on the ballot.
Higgins told WND that CGBG has countered the online activists’ distortions with the truth.
“Once these retail partners heard the facts, many of them have realized that they had been had,” he said.
So far, he said, 250 of the 350 retail partners have come back online, and he expects more will follow.
“We just want the retailers to be consistent,” he said. “There are other charity sites like ours that weren’t targeted by the activists, and the same retailers that dumped us were still donating money to the same charities we had on our site.”
Higgins said he “found that in many cases a junior executive made a knee-jerk reaction to dump CGBG, and once a senior manager heard the truth, the retailer has come back online with us.”
The Change.org petition that caused Starbucks’ Schultz to back out of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in South Barrington, Ill., Aug. 11 and 12 called Hybel’s church “anti-gay.”
The petition said it was “unacceptable” for Schultz to speak at Willow Creek, which “has a long history anti-gay persecution.”
Hybels rejected the characterization.
“Willow is not only not anti-gay, but Willow is not anti-anybody,” he said.
The pastor lamented “a growing trend to throw stones first and ask questions later.”
Tom Minnery, executive director of Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, noted the campaigns by the online “gay” activists.
“They don’t want to just throw stones,” he said on the ministry’s CitzenLink Report webcast. “They want Christians and anyone who doesn’t embrace the concept of same sex marriage to go away.”