The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case has brought Christian cultural engagement back into the limelight. There have been some wild blog posts and other responses in light of the announcement – a shocking number completely hysterical. But we need to remember that while the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, the wider culture is moving in a different direction. As Ed Stetzer reported after the ruling, “A LifeWay Research study conducted in November of 2012, shows most Americans support mandatory contraception coverage through ObamaCare. In other words,
Karen Covell, Director of the Hollywood Prayer Network had an interesting conversation with an employee of a major ministry regarding their position on boycotting the entertainment industry. Karen, (like most of us Christians in the entertainment business) prefer to think of boycotts as a completely last resort. It raises plenty of money for fundraising campaigns, but as a strategy to change the culture, it simply rarely works.
But Karen responded to this ministry with such a clear and direct explanation of her position, I thought it worth posting. With Karen’s permission, here’s her letter:
I was in Greensboro, North Carolina recently and visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Located in an old F.W. Woolworth retail store, it’s the original site where in 1960, four African-American college freshman sat down at the store’s “whites only” lunch counter. I was in first grade in nearby Charlotte when it happened. While it wasn’t the first “sit in,” it was remarkable for sparking similar nonviolent protests that spread like wildfire throughout the South. As more and more sit-ins happened, people started boycotting stores with whites-only lunch counters. Sales in those stores dropped by a third, prompting the entire
Although I obviously recoil at those who trivialize our faith, and sympathize with other Christians who feel offense, I’ve always been consistently resistant to boycotts – especially when it’s about Hollywood – for a number of reasons:
First, if boycotts worked, why don’t missionaries do it? Can you imagine surrounding a tribe in a 3rd world country, criticizing them, calling them names, and boycotting them? Would that actually change their behavior? No. The key to success in missions is to develop a relationship of trust, become one of them, and then share your faith. Instead of always criticizing, what if we did that to Hollywood?
Second, I have yet to meet a single person who has accepted Christ as a result of a boycott or petition drive.
Third, as a strategy, boycotts are incredibly risky. In most cases, they backfire and actually work against you. For instance, during the last Christian boycott of Walt Disney Studios, Disney profits actually went up and they experienced record sales.
Fourth, I’m one of thousands of dedicated believers working inside Hollywood trying to make change happen from the inside. When Christians criticize Hollywood from the outside, it makes it very difficult for us to make a difference.
Fifth, “petitions” generated from direct mail campaigns rarely work. Christians in the industry will tell you that when networks receive packages of these orchestrated petitions, they usually toss them in the trash. Want to know what works? Original, individual, considerate letters from concerned viewers. Those letters get noticed.
Sixth, in my experience, boycotts make very little change happen, but they raise a great deal of money for the organizations behind them. For the most part, I believe the real reason for these petition drives and boycotts are simply fundraising strategies.
What do you think? I’d love to know your opinion.
The American Family Association has embarrassed themselves again over another boycott – this one against Gap. The Mississippi-based ministry last week issued a boycott against Gap Inc. — the retailing giant whose brands include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. They’ve called for a “two-month boycott over the company’s failure to use the word ‘Christmas’ in its advertising to Christmas shoppers.” As the ministry says,
I fell compelled to write one more post as a result of all the responses to my pointing out the Miracle Theater’s full page ad in USA Today. My biggest disappointment is how quickly a discussion like this disintegrates into personal attacks, gossip, and strife. Honestly, I was a little amazed at how much some people got off topic, and raced into areas that mattered very little to the issue at hand. You want my opinion in a single post? Here it is:
While we spend most of our time exploring the digital media world for entertainment, or the wonderful uses of new mobile devices, we often forget much more significant advances brought about by digital technology. According to The Economist magazine: “Opposition movements around the world are able as never before to swap ideas with citizens of repressive regimes. That is partly because of the ease of digital communication.” When I read that piece, I started thinking about how we could
We had a really interesting question by a blog reader recently, responding to Karen Covell’s post on boycotting:
When groups like the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association stage a boycott, they often provide people with a template for an email that you can send to network. Do the networks really take the same email from a million different people seriously? I don’t think so.
I responded with: