Friday, July 5, 2013

Religious businesses

Given that just over 83% of Americans are religious, it's not surprised that many businesses are owned by religious people. And with 78.4% of Americans professing some form of Christianity, it is more likely than not, that the business were were spend our earnings are owned by Christians. There are some notable exceptions like Microsoft, Apple, and facebook (among others) that were started by non-believers. But the majority of businesses should (statistically) be owned by believers.

But you know what? For the most part, it doesn't really matter. A lot of these businesses do not allow their religiosity to control their business exercises. But then there are those that make their religion the cornerstone of their business, or use their business as a vehicle to broadcast their beliefs. It is this latter example that I will no longer finance by way of spending my hard earned money at their establishments.

Probably the most obvious business of late would be Chick-fil-A. I once enjoyed eating a nice
Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and waffle fries (until they ruined them by switching from peanut to canola oil). But no longer. I haven't eaten at a Chick-fil-A for some time and have no regrets. But why the change? I always knew they were a religious company. I was aware that their being closed on Sundays due to religious reasons. But this didn't impact me at all. Sure, sometimes I'd get a craving for chicken tenders on a Sunday, but their belief seemed innocent...

Then some news came to light. It turned out that Chick-fil-A's Christianity extended far belong being closed on Sundays. They were actually donating a good portion of their profits to anti-gay groups.  When questioned, their defiant stance showed just how ugly their beliefs truly were. Because of this, I am happy to no longer call myself a customer of their establishment. I simply refuse to give them money that will go to finance their hate. It isn't their belief that is the sole problem for me.

In-n-out Burger is not an establishment that we have here on the East coast. Their inclusion of Bible verses on their packaging is fairly well known. For example, soda cups simply read 'John 3:16' on the bottom. So not even the referenced verse is printed. While I don't care for the inclusion of the verses, it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me in and of itself, if I enjoyed their food. But if they were engaged in other activities, I'd have to consider a boycott of them as well.

The other big name is Hobby Lobby. After one visit to the arts and crafts retailer, their religious beliefs are readily apparent. But it's not the religious items that turn me from their stores, or the absurd fact that they don't use bar-codes on items because they think it's the 'mark of the beast',  but their blatant proselytizing. They are known for the large ads they run on Easter and Christmas. But they are not adds for Hobby Lobby at all. In fact, only the fine print shows the adverts to be finances by Hobby Lobby. Instead, the ads looked more like something you'd expect to see from a church then a business.

Then there are the ads that they run for Independence Day. These ads are quite frankly dishonest. What are they advertising for the 4th? Oh, just the same old tired fantasy that the United States is a Christian nation founded by super Christian founders. But a simple look at history and the facts shows that the USA is not, and never was a Christian nation. Additionally, most of the founders they reference were actually Deists and not Christians. This form of blatant proselytizing and misinformation is something I refuse the help finance.

But it doesn't stop there for Hobby Lobby. When the recent healthcare debate was taking place, Hobby Lobby got political. Their issue? The coverage of the morning after pill. There is a provision that states that religious institutions that do not believe in birth control do not have to cover it in their healthcare plans. So what does Hobby Lobby do? The founder claims that his religiosity makes Hobby Lobby a religious organization, and thus exempt. But the truth is that it doesn't qualify for that exemption. Here's what the Obama administration had to say about Hobby Lobby and the exemption:
The company's pursuits and products are not religious; it operates a chain of retail businesses that sell "a variety of art and craft supplies, home decor, and holiday decorations." ... The company was not organized for carrying out a religious purpose; its Articles of Incorporation makes no reference at all to any religious purpose. ... The company does not claim to be affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church or that any such entity participates in the management of the company. Nor does the company assert that it employs persons of a particular faith; indeed, quite the opposite. ... the company "welcomes employees of all faiths or no faith." ... In short, there is no escaping the conclusion that Hobby Lobby is a secular company.
 Quite frankly, I have to agree with the conclusion that Hobby Lobby doesn't qualify for the exemption. The owners are allowed to practice their religious rights by simply not taking the pills that they take issue with. But what they want to do is push their beliefs on to their employees as well. Being that it isn't an inherently religious organization, should we allow the founder to force his beliefs on all their employees? It is a corporation with a board of directors as well. So are the founders beliefs even all that relevant?

Also, where do we draw the line? What if the owner is a Jehovah's Witness? Should they be allowed
to not cover blood transfusions for all employees? Is the denial of one coverage on the ground of one persons beliefs have the potential of interfering with the religious rights of many an employee? If so, are we then forced to decide who's rights are more important? Because of their legal challenge, and more importantly, their proselytizing, I can not support Hobby Lobby.

There are other businesses that allow religion to get in the way of running a fair business. Recently, a screen printing business refused to fill an order for an atheist group simply because they are atheist. Then there have been pharmacists that have refused to fill prescriptions for the 'Plan-B' pill because of their personal religious beliefs. But there is another aspect of religious businesses that I've noticed... The strange notion that they are somehow more trustworthy.

Most of us in this area have been recommended a mechanic or contractor with the additional proclamation that they 'are a good Christian man.' Either that, or you will see their signs or business card emblazoned with the so called 'Jesus fish' symbol. To a Christian, they see that symbol or hear that recommendation and think 'this is someone I can trust.' When I see the fish symbol my initial thought is 'a pagan carpenter displaying a fertility symbol? Go figure.' No, not really. But the Christians never seem to get that joke. My real thought when I see the fish on a sign is 'Look at me! I'm a Christian!' Okay... good for you. But is what way is your religious belief related to your skill and a carpenter, mason, or mechanic?

Are they trying to tell me that they are trustworthy? If so, they also fail at that mission in regards to me. Actually, if they are putting God first in their business, I think I'd actually trust them less. Why is that? The Christian doctrine of forgiveness. If God and their religion really is at the forefront of their business, that means that in their minds they can always ask Jesus for forgiveness for anything. Maybe a religious builder feels that Jesus is his highest authority. You may see he is religious and assume you will get the best price. But he could overcharge you and than clear his conscience by asking Jesus for forgiveness. Or he could cut corners on building products and ask forgiveness because Jesus is a higher authority than building codes.

You may think that a religious mechanic will be trustworthy as well. He would never lie about repairs that don't need to be made, or rig other things to break later and necessitate a return for another repair. But why is that? The religious are no more moral, so why trust someone who professes a religious belief more? Remember the forgiveness problem. The mechanic could very well lie about needed repairs to make a quick buck, and then 'wash their hands clean' by simply asking Jesus to forgive them. No need to apologize to the actual vehicle owner or ask their forgiveness. Nope, just ask Jesus to forgive them and everything is somehow okay now...

This likely isn't the case with all religious businesses, but this is a possibility that many don't even begin to consider.b But if they profess God to be number one in their business, I suggest keeping the aforementioned possibilities in mind. As you can see, religious businesses aren't necessarily all their cracked up to be, and sometimes, there are good reasons to simply refuse them your patronage.

-Brain Hulk

Please share, subscribe, comment and follow us on your favorite social networking sites!
facebook | google+ | twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment