Upsetting the Apple Cart
Apple’s old logo was colored by the rainbow -- and it looks like their top management still is. Three years after taking the company over for an ailing Steve Jobs, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed what many people suspected: he identifies as a homosexual. Cook, the head of the tech world’s colossus, said he made the announcement because his predecessor had urged him to “be himself” as the company’s chief executive.
“While I have never denied my sexuality,” Cook wrote, “I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” writes Cook. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” Of course, the news was greeted with a huge round of media applause, as words of support and encouragement continue to pour in from the corporate world.
For the LGBT community, having the weight of one of the world’s biggest companies at their disposal is being hailed as a watershed moment. “This serves as an opening of the door for other CEOs, senior-level managers, senior-level executives to say I’m ready to bring my authentic self to the office and I know now that it’s not potentially a detriment, it’s an asset to be out and proud in the workplace,” a homosexual activist cheered.
But what about Christian conservatives? Should Cook’s sexuality really matter? Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was one of the few Republicans to react. It’s a “personal decision,” he told reporters. But when it comes to marriage as a political issue, Senator Cruz made it clear that he’s focusing on the constitutional questions of marriage and “who has the authority” to redefine it. This may surprise liberals, but as far as I’m concerned, Cook’s sexuality is irrelevant. It only becomes an issue when homosexuals make it one -- and use their businesses as a platform for radical activism.
When companies get involved in cultural battles, every consumer is forced to take part. And whether people realize it or not, their money could be fueling an agenda they strongly oppose. As conservatives, we aren’t looking for businesses to take our side. We don’t want them to take either side! All we’re asking is for them to focus on their mission of providing quality products and service.
Unlike liberals, we aren’t grabbing pitchforks and demanding Cook’s head like the “tolerant” Left did with Mozilla’s Brandon Eich (who, incidentally, never wore his marriage views on his sleeve -- like Cook literally has). We will not be working to force Cook out, because we believe in freedom and the power of dialogue. Tim has every right to express his views -- just as Brandon did. But consumers have rights too -- including the right to respond.
As Christians, it’s incumbent upon us to be good stewards of the money God’s given us. And there are powerful resources to help us do exactly that -- as consumers and as shareholders. Over the past couple of years, several programs and apps have exploded on the scene to help Americans not just voice their values, but shop them. One of those options is 2nd Vote, which evaluates companies on host of issues including life, marriage, the Second Amendment, and the environment. “The premise,” said 2nd Vote’s Executive Director, “is the first vote is at the ballot box, and the second vote is where you spend your money every day. Conservatives will be shocked to see who companies fund,” Chris Walker explained.
Faith-driven Consumer is another great resource that offers business rankings on everything from fast food to airline carriers. And, if you’re an investor, your stock portfolios have the opportunity to make the biggest impact. Shareholders can check their stocks at Steward Funds or The Timothy Plan. If you think it’s impossible to change corporate America, think again. All too often, we get angry at the culture but don’t do anything about it. Being conscious of where your dollars are going is a small thing that can have a big impact. Regardless of political correctness, money talks. And believe me, corporate America is listening.
Subduing the Conscience
Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s original demand that five Houston pastors turn over their sermons and communications under the threat of fines and/or incarceration created a First Amendment firestorm. She’s now withdrawn her demand. However, given the history of Parker’s tenure as mayor, it’s clear this was never about sermons or speeches -- or even about biblical teaching on human sexuality -- it was about political intimidation.
Many Houston area churches were stirred from their slumber as Parker began to push an agenda that she herself admitted was “personal.” This personal “to-do” list included a special rights ordinance, which not only made public bathroom selection a matter of multiple choice, it set religious freedom and sexual expression on a collision course.
The citizens responded to the leading voices of Houston’s biblically orthodox churches and within a 30-day period over 55,000 citizens, well over the 17,296 needed, signed petitions to place the Mayor’s ordnance on the ballot for repeal. The response was overwhelming from a public that had been relatively lethargic toward the openly lesbian mayor who was ushered into the city’s top job when only 16 percent of voters turned out to vote.
Threatened by a revived public, in a highly unusual and suspect move, Parker and the city attorney, David Feldman invalidated over two-thirds of the signed petitions. When organizers sued, she struck back at who she perceived to be the ringleaders, a diverse group of five pastors with subpoenas. Public support nationwide is on the side of the pastors with 77 percent of likely U.S. voters in a recent Rasmussen survey saying they do not believe the government should be allowed to prosecute religious leaders for comments that criticize government and social policies that violate the basic beliefs of their religion.
In a nation that is politically divided, this underscores the deeply engrained, almost subconscious understanding of the role of the church in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated this understanding in his book Strength to Love when he wrote, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
This weekend, nearly 3,300 churches and home groups from all 50 states will gather together for I Stand Sunday a nationwide Sunday night church service standing with the pastors of Houston and standing up for the religious liberties, upon which our nation’s future security and success depends. Fifty years later, let’s pray this overt act of intimidation by Houston’s mayor may serve to rekindle the church’s prophetic zeal.
** The Obama Justice Department has plenty of time on its hands thanks to its zero-enforcement policy on obscenity. Check out Rob Schwarzwalder’s new piece, “Obscenity and Legal Prosecution: A Case of Non-Enforcement,” for more.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.