I love Starbucks coffee. That’s why I was horrified when a friend told me that Starbucks is a direct contributor to Planned Parenthood Federation, the nation’s largest abortion provider. This friend encouraged me to check it out for myself on the website of an organization called 2nd Vote, which discloses the causes – both liberal and conservative – supported by major corporations.
The truth is, I didn’t really want to know the answer. But my conscience nagged me until I looked up the website. Sure enough, Starbucks was on the list, along with many other corporations, as actually “matching” private donations to Planned Parenthood.
Now the question was, what would I do about it?
For years I have written and spoken about the injustice and inhumanity of abortion. I have submitted legal briefs in defense of common-sense laws imposing limits on the deadly practice. I have stood before legislative committees and administrative agencies to plead the cause of the helpless beings who, though undeniably human and obviously living, are treated as property rather than persons. I have lamented that segments of our society seek to render the taking of these innocent lives as inconsequential as the removal of a wart. Now, knowing that the Starbucks logo represents the lifeblood of an organization dedicated to that very goal, how could I ever again enjoy my latte from a cup emblazoned with it?
In the end, I decided I couldn’t.
For a few weeks, I reminded myself that my weekly bag of Starbucks House Blend and my occasional splurge on a barista-made chai amounted to less than a drop in the ocean that is the Starbucks financial coffers. Without question, my withholding such a pittance from Starbucks will make absolutely no difference in the coffee giant’s calculations about where to send its charitable donations. And besides, how can I possibly know which causes are supported by every company I patronize?
What I couldn’t escape, however, was that I did know about this company. I began to see the issue as one of integrity.
People mostly use the word “integrity” today as a synonym for honesty. But I prefer the classical definition. The word “integrity” is derived from the Latin adjective “integer,” meaning “whole” or “complete.” I once read an article comparing the concept of integrity to a basket that holds together, intact, even under pressure.
So I had to ask myself: are there “holes” in my basket of advocacy for life? I concluded that to knowingly patronize a business that channels money into America’s largest abortion provider would be a particularly gaping one. How can I argue (which I do), with a straight face, that taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood violates my rights of conscience, while my voluntary coffee purchases fund the same organization? Maybe someone else can do it, but I can’t.
I strive to be a person of integrity and to nurture that quality in my children. I fail in all sorts of ways to fully achieve it. But in this case, having integrity – being “whole” in my worldview that abortion is wrong – was a simple matter of putting my money where my mouth was. Or, more specifically, not putting one dime of my money where my taste buds would have liked it to be. In short, I had to decide which was more important: what I liked, or what I believed.
Now I need to say one more thing. I’ve always been a bit of a “coffee snob.” I prefer French press; I am repulsed by “non-dairy creamer”; and I would rather go without coffee than to drink it out of Styrofoam. But I won’t become a coffee morality snob by imposing my own coffee conviction on my Starbucks-loving friends and neighbors.
That said, I welcome everyone to join me in breaking up with Starbucks. One woman’s boycott won’t keep a penny of funding from abortion, but if every pro-lifer were to join me, I know we could make a difference.
And Starbucks, if you’re listening, please hear this: Nothing would give me more pleasure than to receive an e-mail telling me that 2nd Vote got it wrong, or that you no longer contribute to Planned Parenthood. In fact, I’ll look for that email every morning, as I sip my off-brand French Roast with a clear conscience.
Congratulations to WND on its 20th anniversary this week. In the midst of a vulgar, self-centered, “post-truth” culture, WND’s commitment to truth, justice and virtue is more significant than ever. Here’s to 20 more years of carrying out this noble mission. I am honored to play a small part in it.