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Counterpoint: The Case for Boycotting Starbucks


Oct 01, 2015 / By: Gregg Cunningham (Guest Blogger)
Category: Abortion in the News

A note from Abort73's Michael Spielman: Six weeks ago, I posted an article that called into question Starbucks' alleged support of Planned Parenthood. Unbeknownst to me, the organization I formerly worked for, The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR), was preparing to launch a national boycott against Starbucks. A few days after the publication of my article, I had a long and painful phone conversation with Gregg Cunningham, CBR's executive director. It would be almost impossible to overstate his displeasure at what I wrote! Even though we don't see eye to eye on the subject of Starbucks, I respect Gregg immensely and value his opinion. Gregg Cunningham—more than anyone else in the world—opened my eyes to the horrific injustice of abortion and my Christian responsibility to intervene. Without him, it is almost certain that Abort73 would not exist. He deserves a hearing. I have already said my piece; this is why Gregg believes I am wrong.

Our good friend Michael Spielman (Abort73) recently posted a commentary expressing opposition to the boycott campaign being waged against Starbucks Coffee for its support of Planned Parenthood. The title of Michael’s post was “Starbucks, Planned Parenthood & the complicated ethics of gift matching.”  With all due respect, we don’t think the ethics are complicated at all.

I was surprised by the content of his essay because Michael and I so seldom disagree over issues which matter most. We recruited him into full-time pro-life activism and for many years he managed our website and provided graphic art support for our signs and videos. Even now we quote his materials, wear his T-shirts, and drive traffic to his excellent Abort73 website. But regarding Starbucks, we pray he will reconsider his position. It is, nonetheless, a testimony to his sense of fairness that he offered to also post my arguments rebutting his.

Michael’s principal concerns appear to be that Starbucks donated “only” $1,200 to Planned Parenthood during the most recent year for which he has numbers – an amount he thinks too small to merit a boycott. He is also troubled that the Starbucks donations were made by matching the contributions of its employees – a philanthropic policy he thinks absolves Starbucks of any moral responsibility for the activities of the organization to which the donations were made. Finally, he thinks that even though Starbucks is giving money to an organization which cuts through the faces of late-term babies – while their hearts are still beating – to remove their brains for sale and transplant into lab rats (without consent of aborting mothers), Starbucks should be given a pass because they also give money to Michael’s organization and other “good causes.”

To Michael’s point about donation sizes, he chafes at comments from two critics of his post who describe Starbucks as “a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood” and as “one of the biggest Planned Parenthood abortion supporters.”  Michael’s critics, however, may be closer to the truth than he is. Starbucks is, in fact, number 187 on the Fortune 500 list and operates 22,000 stores in 66 countries. Planned Parenthood values corporate sponsorships for reasons that go far beyond money in any amounts – particularly from respected corporate donors, and Starbucks’ enormous size certainly qualifies it as “huge” and “one of the largest” Planned Parenthood donors. The support of America’s most iconic brands helps Planned Parenthood conceal the fact that they torture babies to death and market fetal organs. Planned Parenthood must surely be a mainstream, socially responsible healthcare charity if they are funded by admired companies such as Microsoft, Nike, and Bank of America.

The effectiveness of this diabolically clever strategy was acknowledged by then Planned Parenthood President Faye Wattleton in her book Life on the Line:

Corporate support was only about 5% of our budget, but it meant a great deal to us. The credibility that such endorsements bestowed was at least as valuable as the actual dollars given.

These deceptive corporate sponsorships are a major reason that, according to a recent survey commissioned by National Right to Life, 88% of voters believe they are familiar with Planned Parenthood, but 55% actually don’t know that this abortion industry giant even performs abortions. As a consequence, 63% have a favorable impression of the organization, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center reports a related survey which found that 63% of Americans also oppose legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.

Gay and lesbian activists don’t grant Christian bakers absolution if they “only” refuse to cater a few small homosexual “weddings.” They mount brutal boycotts for even one refusal. Compare this pagan passion to bully Christians with the strange passivity of our friends at the “Anti-Choice Project.” Tom Herring and Andrew St. Hilaire display our abortion photo signs on busy streets, but they won’t take these images anywhere near a Planned Parenthood corporate sponsor which does not contribute at least $10,000 per annum. Where did they get that arbitrary, illogical number? They just made it up. And like Michael Spielman, they totally miss the point that Planned Parenthood’s desperate drive to recruit supportive corporations has almost nothing to do with the amounts of money they donate. If the pro-life movement adopted Tom and Andrew’s boycott standards, corporate sponsors could mock us for allowing them to avoid a boycott while still giving Planned Parenthood huge credibility and one dollar less than $10,000. No wonder we’re losing. In Luke 16:8 Jesus observed that “… the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” Our Lord wants us to be shrewd. In Matthew 10:16 he tells us to “… be shrewd as snakes ….” Dreaming up new ways to obstruct and sabotage boycotts of Planned Parenthood’s business donors is not “shrewd.”

Just as puzzling is Michael’s contention that Starbucks’ support for Planned Parenthood is morally excusable because its corporate donations merely match its employees’ donations. Because it is the employees who direct the corporation to support Planned Parenthood, Michael describes Starbucks’ philanthropy as “charitable neutrality.”  He would have us believe that Starbucks officials are innocent bystanders who should not be punished for the evils of their employees. This argument, however, is predicated on misstatements of fact and lapses in logic. It is precisely the sort of blame-shifting we see in Genesis 3:12, where Adam tells God that Eve made him commit the original sin, and in the next verse, Eve blames the satanic serpent. Michael himself admits that Starbucks employees who want their employer to match their charitable donations must apply for approval of the designated charities. Their proposals then go through a vetting process which obviously involves evaluative criteria which would reject requests for matching grants to organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. Starbucks obviously has philanthropic standards. They can reject employee match proposals. Planned Parenthood kills more people every day or so than the Klan lynched in its entire existence. Responsible consumers should refuse to give Starbucks even one more dollar until Starbucks refuses to give Planned Parenthood another dime.

Michael’s third excuse for giving Starbucks money they will then give to America’s largest abortion provider is that Starbucks also gives money to Christian causes. If this moral standard were adopted by the entire Body of Christ, every corporation, no matter how evil, could shield itself from consumer boycotts by doing something virtuous to insulate itself from accountability for its philanthropic evil. Boycotts would no longer be possible. We would be throwing away an incredibly effective tool for reform.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined “Giving Till It Hurts,” August 1, 2003, reports that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company donated to “… more than 400 churches and synagogues ….”  Applying Michael Spielman’s corporate accountability standards would require that Mr. Buffett’s support of faith-based institutions blind Christian consumers to the fact that, according to the same article, “… the Buffett Foundation has helped to finance trials of the abortion pill RU-486” and has “… purchased suction machines used for abortions around the world ….”  Should Mr. Buffett also be protected from pro-life boycotts despite the fact that his “… Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation is by far the largest donor to Planned Parenthood in America” (LifeSiteNews, August 3, 2015)?  The same article reports that in addition to the $230,915,706 Mr. Buffett has given to Planned Parenthood, he serves on the board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated $14,521,748 to Planned Parenthood. Mr. Buffett is also a major donor to the Gates Foundation, but even if the Gates Foundation gave no money to abortion providers, would a boycott still be out of bounds despite the fact that the foundation often hires former Planned Parenthood officials? How our adversaries must laugh at us.

Abortion is child sacrifice. Amazon.com sells a pagan devotional book titled The Sacrament of Abortion. It is written by Ginette Paris, a university professor and pagan priestess. She unapologetically asserts that abortion is the sacred sacrifice, not of a calf, but of a living human baby, to the goddess Artemis. Her book is given to women at abortion clinics.

Satan loves human sacrifice. National Review’s David French reminds us in an August 19, 2015 article that in the 1500s, the Aztecs practiced “human sacrifice on a shocking scale. Tens of thousands of people were hauled to the top of temples and cut wide open with flint knives. Priests pulled out human hearts even as they beat in the screaming victims’ chests ….”  The Aztecs sought prosperity from their deities. Planned Parenthood pulls out beating fetal hearts to obtain prosperity from organ brokers like StemExpress – a hellishly demonic merchant of death. LifeSite reported an August 13, 2015 story headlined “Planned Parenthood has committed over 7 million abortions since 1970.” But abortion’s association with Hell is even more direct than that.

On August 26, 2015, RealClearPolitics ran a National Review article headlined “Meet the new public face of abortion-on-demand: Satanists.” The story reports that “Satanists are becoming a leading public voice for abortion rights. In their mockery of Christianity they reveal the dark heart of abortion-on-demand: the radical worship of self.” At a recent pro-abortion political rally outside the Texas legislature, protestors carried signs which read “Hail Satan.”  A few months ago, “the Satanic Temple filed much-publicized state and federal lawsuits challenging Missouri’s abortion waiting period.” Outside a Michigan abortion clinic “… Satanists poured milk all over women, allegedly simulating the oppression of breast milk and motherhood.”

LifeNews posted an August 20, 2015 essay titled “Former Satanist: ‘I performed satanic rituals inside abortion clinics.’” The interviewee claims to have participated in “141 ritual abortions.” He explains that:

… [I]n Satanism, killing something or the death of something is the most effective way of getting your spell accomplished. As far as trying to get Satan’s approval, to give you something that you want, killing something is the best way to go. Killing something is the ultimate offering to Satan, and if you can kill an unborn, that is his ultimate goal.

This reformed occultist adds that “[t]he World Church of Satan isn’t the only organization that does satanic sacrifices in [these facilities]. There are other witchcraft organizations, such as Wiccans, who are really involved in committing abortions ….”  Most chilling is the claim that “… a lot of the people that work at those places are witches or Satanists.” Does it really please God when his people compromise by patronizing businesses which, at any level, associate themselves with child sacrifice?

On December 6, 2012, Mitchell Moss, who writes for Beyond Today magazine (United Church of God), wrote an article titled “Why I don’t boycott Starbucks for supporting Planned Parenthood.” He begins by mistakenly contending that “as most know, [Planned Parenthood] provides abortion services.” In fact, survey data indicate that most people do not know this. He then says that if he “boycotted everybody who had a point of view that … [he] disagreed with, or who supported a cause that’s disgusting … [he’d] have to be a subsistence farmer.” But giving money to Planned Parenthood through Starbucks doesn’t merely support a disagreeable point of view or disgusting cause; it participates with the demons to which Planned Parenthood sacrifices children. Mr. Moss cites 1 Corinthians 8 for the proposition that eating meat sacrificed to idols is wrong when it offends others, but that is only one of the reasons it is forbidden. First Corinthians 10:20-21 says “… but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons … and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, too.” Is it unreasonable to see a cup of Starbucks as “the cup of demons”?

The Zondervan Handbook to the Bible notes concerning 1 Corinthians 10:14 that “Christians must choose between the Lord and idols (empty in themselves but behind them real demonic powers). There can be no compromise. It is playing with fire to have any part in pagan sacrifices.”

In Revelation 2:12-17 and 2:18-29, Christ rebukes the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira because they were “eating food sacrificed to idols.”  The NIV Application Commentary for Revelation explains that:

One of the most difficult forms of this temptation may have been its challenge to the Christians’ livelihood by denying their ability to participate in trade guilds. Trade guilds involved meals [serving meat sacrificed to idols] honoring a patron deity at their meetings, and especially in Thyatira it would be difficult to evade the trade guilds that so dominated city life. On the theological level, compromise with the imperial cult [by eating meat sacrificed to idols] to save one’s life and compromise with the pagan activities of trade guilds to save one’s livelihood are all of one piece …; they represent accommodation to the world at the expense of total devotion to God’s standards. One who advocates such accommodation, like ancient Israel when unfaithful to Yahweh, is a ‘prostitute’ …. By the early Second Century, Roman officials recognized Christian influence in refusal to eat sacrificial meat and responded harshly ….

First Corinthians 10 and Revelation 3 repeatedly warn us against compromise with an economic system linked to demonic sacrifice. You give money to Starbucks; they give it to Planned Parenthood; Planned Parenthood performs the satanic sacrament of child sacrifice. Michael asks “Is going to Starbucks really the moral equivalent of having an abortion?” Perhaps a better question is whether it is “participation with demons.”

Revelation 13:16-17 also warns of the coming of a “beast” who will forbid economic activity by anyone who refuses his “mark.”  True Christians will be boycotted to the point of death:  Satan commands economic boycotts of Christ’s servants. Christ commands economic boycotts of Satan’s servants. Our Lord doesn’t approve of compromise if only a small animal has been sacrificed to demons, or if the meat is merely snacked upon by Christians. Where child sacrifice is involved, no evil is inconsequential. And Michael, you humorously suggest Dunkin’ Donuts coffee as a Starbucks alternative, but seriously, both their house blend and their dark roast coffees are immensely better-tasting than any coffee served by Starbucks!

The pagan left is far more effective than the Christian right where boycotts are concerned. EthicalConsumer.org reports that Palestinian solidarity boycotts are being waged against businesses with a presence in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. In 2010, “Nestlé gave in to pressure from Greenpeace and promised a zero deforestation policy in its palm oil supply chain. That same year, Fruit of the Loom crumbled in the face of the largest ever student boycott … [and] re-opened a Honduran factory it had closed after workers had unionised.” There are countless additional examples of liberals weaponizing consumer boycotts to force policy change, but none more ironic than Staples office supply stores surrendering to an environmental boycott related to its paper products. All the while, Staples continued defying a pro-life boycott related to its Planned Parenthood support. Liberals go out of their way to pick fights to draw attention to their causes. Conservatives go out of their way to avoid fights, because the Christian right sees fighting as an annoying and/or risky over-reaction to evil. The pagans win. The Christians lose. The environment is green. The babies are dead.

We believe God would have us boycott all 50 or 60 of the major corporations on Doug Scott’s Life Decisions International list of businesses which support Planned Parenthood, but we think the most effective way of picketing business donors (using abortion photo signs) is one corporation at a time. We will start with Starbucks because they have the most retail locations and their stores are conspicuously placed and easily accessed. Michael suggests we would be better advised to picket Planned Parenthood. We think we should picket both. Let’s engage women where they abort and vastly larger numbers of consumer/voters where they patronize Planned Parenthood’s corporate donors. Let’s let both groups see exactly what Planned Parenthood does.

Michael might see our boycott policy as “absolutist,” but actually it isn’t. Life Decisions International, the pro-life group which maintains the boycott list, recommends that rigorous integrity be balanced against reasonable practicality. There is essentially no alternative to Microsoft, so CBR uses Microsoft to fight Microsoft with pickets, etc. Bayer Pharmaceuticals is the only source for a medicine I must take twice a day, so I use Bayer to fight Bayer. But there are many alternatives to corporations such as Nike, Southwest Airlines and Bank of America. And even if there were no alternative to Starbucks (there are many), I could always switch coffee to tea without dozing off at the wheel.

We are working to raise $15,000 to fund the cost of truck billboard and picket signs which depict aborted baby body parts. Please help. I heard a Christian attorney on television ask “What kind of people kill babies and market their organs?”  I want to know what kind of church tolerates such an outrage.

Gregg Cunningham is the executive director of The Center for Biol-Ethical Reform. He is a former two-term member of The Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel, and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

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