An area we can hit dominionism where it hurts
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Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:53:58 AM EST
As the recent Ford controversy has proven, many companies are threatened by AFA with boycotts--and tend to come around when threatened with counter-boycotts by progressive groups.

One area where dominionist groups get a lot of their funding is via "affiliate programs" with major corporations--and in many cases, the corporations are unaware of just WHAT they are funding.

In this post, I will detail how progressive groups defeated just such a funding attempt by an Assemblies of God front-group that actively funded the American Family Association, and how dominionist groups--often associated with the AFA--tend to abuse nonprofit "affiliate" programs and how organised campaigns can "starve the beast".

Many major corporations have general nonprofit programs--usually allowing one to donate a certain percentage of a purchase to a charity, or giving discounts for charities, or both--that are generally done for both the tax writeoffs (for the corps) and for good PR and community support.

Dominionist groups--partly because the vast majority are organised as 501(c)3 tax exempt groups--have taken advantage of this increasingly as a funding source.  An example that I've found is with the American Family Association of Kentucky (run by notorious gaybaiter Frank Simon), who per their own website maintain "charity affiliate" relationships with Kroger's, Office Depot, Staples (yes, fully two of three office companies here), Thorton's Gas, and Everycall USA.

Very often, companies are not aware of what they are funding.  To give an example of some of the stuff AFA-KY and/or Frank Simon have pulled in past:

Quotes from Simon and other dominionists (compared with comments from the Nazi Party regarding Jews)
More quotes from Simon and other AFA leaders
Info re the latest anti-Fairness Ordinance mailing from Simon (in which he literally mailed sadomasochistic gay porn to 60,000 households with the stinger "Remember what the homosexual priests did to the children")
Anti-Islamic comments from the dominionist church Simon is affiliated with (Not Southeast Christian, the other one)
More info on the sadomasochistic gay porn Simon mailed in the latest attempt to derail approval of Fairness
Info on how the "gay porn mailing" literally caused two chairpersons to vote pro-Fairness (both of whom have stated they would have voted against Fairness were it not for Simon's mailing)
history on how Simon bought radio ads during the last Fairness vote claiming gay men would rape children (Fairness passed, by the way; the second vote was for a renewal of the ordinance post-governmental-merger)
Info on how Freedom's Heritage Forum has been investigated for illegal electioneering
Inf on how Simon literally accused a mere supporter of Fairness of supporting paedophilia
Info on how Simon attempted to accuse a gay newspaper editor of being a paedophile in support of a political candidate--this led to a libel suit

Simon also, notably, has promoted The Pink Swastika in his literature--that book is a bit of Holocaust revisionism that claims not only that gays were not murdered en masse by the Nazis but that the gays were, quite literally, not only Nazis but the very architects of the Holocaust (which is a bit of Holocaust revisionism designed specifically to appeal to "Christian Zionists"--Simon is the head deacon of the specific Assemblies of God church I walked away from, and the church itself is heavily involved in "Christian Zionism").

There is info re AFA state affiliates here.  Many of them take the same tactics--and partly because these are state affiliates, national and multinational companies may not be aware of the histories of these groups.

I mention this in part because--much like how pressure from progressive groups successfully got Ford to stop kowtowing to AFA's bullying--progressive groups have also successfully cut off funding sources to dominionist groups that are abusing affiliate programs.

One notable example is that of Kingdombuy.com.  Kingdombuy was a front group of the Assemblies of God that operated as a web portal for purchase--essentially, KingdomBuy would specifically register with affiliate programs of major companies, and when people would buy products online through KingdomBuy the latter would donate the money it received from affiliate programs to a number of dominionist groups.

Like the vast majority of Assemblies of God frontgroups, the group never advertised its links to the AoG, but the AoG was more than happy to note its links in its news service and the group was heavily promoted by Assemblies of God churches.  (It is also one of at least forty groups of national or international focus that qualify as AoG front-groups; this is a number comparable with other coercive groups like the Moonies or Scientology.)

One of the particular groups that KingdomBuy partnered with was the American Family Association; another was a group called Abiding Truth Ministries--the same group that publishes "The Pink Swastika".

There were quite a number of companies that KingdomBuy had suckered in as a "charity" towards its peak.  

One group--the Mississippi Gay Lobby, now Equality Mississippi--began the process of a boycott of each of the hundreds of retailers who were promoted via KingdomBuy--and also wrote the companies to inform them of just what their religious affiliate programs were supporting.

Quite a number of the companies were, to put it mildly, rather horrified and started dropping KingdomBuy affiliations.  Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart (for a time, anyways) and J.C. Penney were among companies that promptly dropped KingdomBuy like a hot potato.

Dominionist groups were not happy.  AFA practically crucified the head of Nordstrom after the CEO mentioned the promotion of the AFA was one of the main reasons they were dropping the KingdomBuy account, including literally accusing the companies that were dropping accounts of "supporting pornography".  

Companies kept dropping accounts after finding out just what KingdomBuy was supporting.  J. Crew specifically even condemned the AFA.  CVS also joined the growing list dropping their affiliations.

Dominionists stepped up and accused boycotters themselves of being pornographers.  The protest was made out in dominionist rags as being  run "by pornographers".

The result of people working together?  Multiple companies--most of whom were unaware of what the American Family Association or its ilk promote--left in droves, and kingdombuy.com's webpage is now dead (there is no longer a web portal operating at the site).

This shows the importance of watching not only national but state affiliates of dominionist groups, and watching specifically who they claim support from--if it's an affiliate program, more often than not (especially if it's an AFA or Family Research Council affiliate) the headquarters--often in another state--don't always know what's up.

We've beaten them before.  This is a way we can starve the beast, folks--to put some action in Talk2Action:

a) research what companies have partnerships with dominionist groups in affiliate programs (this requires going onto dominionist websites themselves--including websites of the churches behind the dominionist movement)

b) write those companies, call them, don't let pressure till they drop the affiliate programs (this is how KingdomBuy's racket was beat).  Include documentation in your letters including examples of the kind of stuff dominionist groups are spewing (this was a big part of the success in the campaign against both Ford's AFA capitulation and against KingdomBuy's racket).

c) For active supporters of dominionism (like Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby--both companies that actively fund the dominionist movement and are very close to dominionist groups), actively boycott them and be sure to tell folks exactly why--explain to them what kinds of stuff dominionist groups explicitly are supporting.




Display:
Which deserves to be in a special section reserved for the best ideas to emerge from this site.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 12:22:59 PM EST

I've always advocated going after their funding- if they're hit in the wallet, that will take a lot of wind out of their sails.

by Lorie Johnson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 01:02:38 PM EST

this is a very interesting post!

by IseFire on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 02:33:43 PM EST

Dominionism and the free market economy cannot grow together peaceably, since dominionists, if given all the power that they seek, would actually shut down many businesses or drive away their customers. It's time to explore the tensions between free enterprise (which thrives upon freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, and freedom of expression) and dominionism (which thrives upon condemnation, control, and limitation of liberty).

by jhutson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 05:55:19 PM EST

rational thinkers from taking advantage of such programs as well?

An ongoing topic of conversation at my house is that fundamentalist groups are used to digging deep to fund the desires of their chosen forms of religious expression. Unfortunately, rational thinkers tend to sit back and in their own form of dogmatism, truly believe people will change their minds when they see reason. Wake-up call...not gonna happen.

I really feel strongly that groups such as this one and those affiliated with it have no choice but to begin marketing IN THE SAME way as groups like Focus do -- only beating them at their own game. And, that, friends, will take money...so, why not have groups that are qualified join affiliate programs to fund efforts which at the very least will publicise the current battle, but as well will make moderates aware of the direction the country is truly taking?

Yeah -- I'm a PR professional...this is how I see the world -- not only in terms of speaking up, but in terms of using all the powers of modern media to effect change, not just dull minds.

by Irrevelations on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:07:51 PM EST
I agree, rational people -and people of good faith and good will generally- should organize similarly to raise funds for promoting our ideas.  

What's needed is to set up a large number of 501c3 tax exempt organizations and get them into the affiliate programs for funding.  

This very website is one example that could be turned into a 501c3 educational foundation, whose purpose is "to inform Americans about religious intolerance."  

Generally though, the new network of 501c3s should start with underlying issues that are not in and of themselves controversial, and do not directly engage controversy.  For example, to promote progressive religious charities and educational efforts, to promote alliances between progressive religion and science, to promote better understanding of mathematics, probablility & statistics, and scientific method, and so on.  The key here is to promote and advance core ideas, specific attitudes, and emotions that "vaccinate" people against extremism.  

For example, the attitude "God-loving" is antithetical to "God-fearing"; where fear inspires hatred, love inspires compassion.  The attutide of curiosity, combined with knowledge of scientific method, is antithetical to the attitude of closed-mindedness and obscurantism.  

One of the best examples of this type that I've ever seen is the series of radio & TV ads run by the Latter Day Saints' Church (Mormons), which consist of vignettes depicting togetherness between parents and children, and close with the line, "Family: Isn't it about time?" (meaning, to encourage parents to spend more time with their kids).  Regardless of whatever political controversies may arise around the LDS Church's positions on various issues, these ads are 100% wholesome and free of any controversial content. They promote a positive relationship between parents and children; and in doing so they reinforce the strengthening of family bonds without even touching hot-button issues.  

We can do this in a wide range of areas: faith, good will, science, open-mindedness, attitudes such as curiosity and compassion, and so on.  Linking up with funding sources such as these affiliate programs will provide the financial means to put these messages together and get them seen and heard.  

by gg on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 05:18:52 AM EST
Parent

You have expressed exactly what I have been saying at home -- positive associations are key!

by Irrevelations on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 08:41:16 AM EST
Parent



Thank you for providing a postive action that people can take to stop these creeps. I have spammed several key e-groups with your article.

My only problem is Hobby Lobby. Ouch! It's one of my favorite stores.

by RedSonja2000 on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 10:28:14 AM EST

Good to know it's getting out at any rate...curious as to where this will end up, but yes, I think an organised campaign needed to be started to hit dominionism in the pocketbook.

Re Hobby Lobby: We don't have one where I live, but I've had several inquiries about it and found out disturbing info:

(from this list of dominionist sponsors)

Hobby Lobby (dominionist-run store that (per http://www.usatoday.com/life/2005-10-19-starbucks-quote_x.htm) even goes so far as to only play "Christian contemporary" music in its stores; http://forums.desmoines.craigslist.org/?act=Q&ID=35007861 notes how Hobby Lobby may in fact violate federal law by discriminating against non-dominionists in hiring; http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1190 notes how owner of Hobby Lobby is major contributor to Jerry Falwell and his Christian Reconstructionist efforts; http://www.hobbylobby.com/site3/ministry/ministry.cfm is pretty damning in and of itself in regards to dominionist ministries funded (which includes at least one "godcasting" group, Bearing Fruit Communications, associated with PAX TV)

So not only do they fund dominionist causes directly, but may even discriminate in hiring.  (I have heard that Chick-Fil-A, a company that is among the top promoters and funders of dominionist causes, also discriminates against dominionists in hiring illegally.)

Then again, I'm in sort of a bind myself in my own area.  The only wholesale club in my area is, unfortunately, Sam's Wholesale (and even in grocery shopping Wal-Mart, Kroger's and Meijer's are the three major players here--the three-way competition literally drove Winn Dixie out of business, Kroger's still has the AFA misusing its charity program, and Wal-Mart has its own issues).  

You have no idea how badly I'd love for there to be a Costco or any alternative to Sam's for wholesale clubs :3  Unfortunately for me, Costco has no plans to expand anywhere near Kentucky (the closest Costco is in the Nashville metro area, to give an idea).

by dogemperor on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 10:46:56 AM EST
Parent



That is: "Abiding Truth Ministries" rang a bell. I'm out here in the Murrieta/Temecula Valley, and a couple of the attorneys out here link to a site called "defendthefamily.com."  It is sponsored by Abiding Truth Ministries.  Apparently, these attorneys back this "ministry."  One of the attorneys is Mr. S.L., author of the "Pink Swastika."  His partner ran for the local school board, and did not win, clearly articulating during his campaign that he was a conservative Republican and member of a very conservative Christian church out here.  The local progressives, myself included, encouraged voters to go to the polls, and two other fairly progressively-minded candidates were elected.  Small world.

by Maat on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 10:27:01 PM EST
Mr. S.L. co-authored "The Pink Swastika."  It was certainly startling to realize that certain fairly prominent members of the Religious Right lived right in the area.  There's an office of the Alliance Defense Fund down the street (the legal organization founded by James Dobson and D. James Kennedy, of the Relgious Hardright).

by Maat on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 10:44:03 PM EST
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