To Boycott or Not To Boycott

Boycott– an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. The purpose of a boycott is to inflict some economic loss on the target, or to indicate a moral outrage, to try to compel the target to alter an objectionable behavior. Sometimes, a boycott can be a form of consumer activism, sometimes called moral purchasing.

As the daughter of a Baptist pastor in the Bible Belt, I’m well acquainted with the concept of boycotts. I remember boycotting Kmart for selling pornographic books when I was a child. Eventually, the books were removed from the shelves and to this day I rarely shop there out of habit. This is probably the reason why I have spent so much money at Wal-Mart over the years.

A few years ago most of Christendom was considering boycotting Starbucks after a video of CEO Howard Schultz went viral. When a shareholder complained that the company was losing money because it supported same-sex marriage legalization in Washington State, Schultz defended the decision and advised him to sell his shares if he had a problem. For a refresher, click here. Since the shareholder’s inquiry came as a result of a drop in stock prices, I would venture to say that many Christians altered their coffee consumption habits for a time to make a point.

The current North Carolina H.B. 2 (bathroom bill) controversy and the coordinated attacks/pressure/bullying from major corporations and celebrities alike is leading many to consider a boycott against retailers such as Target. The company recently announced a change in its’ bathroom policies. Prior to researching and writing a weekly newsletter on religious liberty for several years, I would probably have been more pro-boycott than I am now.

Before you decide to launch a boycott, here are a few things to consider.

1. Most companies are interconnected and, as such, have an amazingly complicated web of subsidiaries and suppliers.

2. Most of your favorite brands (Coke, Angie’s List, Google, Amazon, Delta, Starbucks, Apple, NFL, etc.) have been actively working to undermine religious liberty for years.

3. Most boycotts don’t affect the CEO or board of directors. They hurt the average store employee who has no influence over corporate policy in most cases. (Exception: Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle who was forced to resign after his decision to get involved in the Indiana religious freedom bill (RFRA) fight caused the company to lose subscribers.)

Bottom Line: The best boycott is a targeted (no pun intended) boycott. An example would be a group like One Million Moms boycotting “The New Normal” by Ryan Murphy (a LGBT activist who has pledged to push boundaries with his controversial television shows). Television networks understand ratings drops. Parents spoke up and the show was pulled from the lineup.

The other alternative is a free app called Second Vote. The company’s founders, which include the husband of Rep. Diane Black (R-TN),  has compiled an extensive database which tracks how companies spend their money and provides lists of alternative options. Website Promise: Our goal is to help you make better decisions when you cast your 2nd Vote every day by letting you know where your money really goes when you’re buying a product, eating at a restaurant, or supporting an organization. 2nd Vote is a group of conservatives who are dedicated to helping you be informed about the everyday choices you make. We believe you can make a difference, and with 2nd Vote you will. Check it out, click here.

P. S. The idea of boycotts actually originated from a conflict between Irish farmers and Charles Boycott.“The term boycott is derived from a nineteenth century British estate manager named Charles Boycott (1832–1897). During the potato famine of 1880, Irish tenant farmers on Boycott’s land told Boycott he had to reduce their rents so they could survive the famine. Boycott refused, and the farmers joined together to refrain from any interaction that might benefit Boycott and his sympathizers. Boycott never backed down, but he eventually moved out of Ireland.


6 thoughts on “To Boycott or Not To Boycott

  1. Thanks for writing this! I’m fairly certain that if we begin down the boycotting road without research and a concerted effort, we will find there are very few places we can shop without offending our faith/conscience in one area or another. And…. My local Target has a handy family bathroom, so we’re choosing to “boycott” the restrooms and use the family one instead. 🙂


  2. We did the kmart boycott too! Lol! I didn’t even know what it was for, but I seriously never go there even now, I just don’t like going. The only other thing we ever boycotted was when the southern baptist movement decided to boycott Disneyland… That didn’t last long…I remember my dad saying, “were not even Southern Baptists, let’s go to Disney next week!” Ha! I think growing up in a town where slot machines are in most grocery store, gas stations and air port you tend to not boycott, Bc you wouldn’t be going anywhere if you didn’t agree with the morals of theanagement. Love your articles! Keep them coming!


  3. I’m just avoiding Target because I don’t want to be–ugh–surprised in the restroom there. I don’t think that obliges me to trace every corporate connection in the world.


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