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, Gap “does not use the word ‘Christmas’ to avoid offending those who don’t embrace its meaning,” writes Buddy Smith, executive assistant to the president of the AFA. “I interpret Gap’s decision as a warning sign to Christians to get out there and tell people about Jesus Christ,” writes Smith.
Let’s discuss some issues here:
1. When are secular corporations supposed to follow Biblical teachings? Sure it would be nice, but we’re kidding ourselves into thinking they’re only interested in marketing to the Christian audience. Maybe we should worry more about getting our own house in order.
2. Talk about a distraction. When it comes to engaging the culture, we have a lot bigger fish to fry. This culture is literally going to hell in a hand basket, and I seriously doubt saying “Happy Holidays” will trigger the apocalypse. Let’s focus on more important issues.
3. From my perspective this is really about fundraising. Regardless of the impact (or lack thereof) in the culture, it will certainly raise money from hard core supporters of AFA.
4. Finally – I’m curious if a single person has ever been led to Christ through a boycott. Let’s consider how missionaries work for a moment. Do they travel to another country, surround a tribe, criticize them, and then start a boycott? No matter how difficult, they reach out to that culture, develop a relationship, win their trust, love them, and then share the gospel. The only problem with that approach is that it’s not very good for fundraising (which may take us back to the real heart of the matter).
I’m sure The American Family Association is run by good people trying to make a difference in the culture. But if we don’t take a hard look at strategies that backfire – like this one certainly has – then we’ll never really impact the culture in a significant way.