Are Amazon, Microsoft, Nike and Starbucks "anti-God?"

A Christian pastor pushes for a boycott of Northwest corporate giants that support gay rights. What we need, he says, are "God-fearing companies" to replace them.

Crosscut archive image.

A Starbucks mug.

A Christian pastor pushes for a boycott of Northwest corporate giants that support gay rights. What we need, he says, are "God-fearing companies" to replace them.

Many conservative Christians believe that free-market capitalism is enshrined in the Bible. In essence, that any person — corporate person or otherwise — acting on capitalistic principles would be doing God's work. But apparently not all, according to pastor Steve Andrew, president of USA Christian Ministries. Pastor Andrew has called for a boycott against Starbucks, Amazon, and Nike for their support of marriage equality. He doesn't like Microsoft's support of gay marriage either, but he says they're harder to boycott being almost god- or Google-like in their omnipresence. 

Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who recently said that John F. Kennedy's speech about the separation of church and state made him "want to throw up," has expressed worries that Satan is working to destroy the US of A from within. "Satan [has been] attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition," he told a university audience in 2008.

Who knew that Satan's guerilla war was waged with unlikely tools, not unlike the underwear bomber. This time tennis shoes, books, and venti mochas are the weapons. Microsoft software? Well, yes, that's obviously the devil's work.

In a press release, Pastor Andrew lays it out this way: "The boycott of Starbucks by Christians and churches has expanded to include Nike, Amazon and other businesses that promote homosexual sin. Starbucks announced in January that homosexual 'marriage' was 'core to who we are and what we value.' " Andrews urges churches to stop serving Starbucks coffee to congregants because they are among companies that are ungodly. "Christians can pray for God-fearing companies to replace the anti-God companies," the press statement suggests.

In terms of doing bad, it's not hard to make a case against these pillars of Pacific Northwest America's economic outreach. And it has nothing to do with gay marriage.

What evil do they do?

Well, Starbucks sells over-priced, highly addictive products that combine caffeine, sugar, and animal fat. Some outlets now sell alcohol too.
Nike has used sweat shop workers to produce the overpriced shoes that often cause people to riot. People have even killed for a pair of Nikes. Their products are often endorsed by sports figures who are no strangers to scandal.

Amazon has committed the sin of smashing the old-school publishing model, destroying your local bookshop, and burning the printed book on the fire of Kindle.

Microsoft of course, is famed for its rapacious business practices, crazy-making products, and what amounts to tax-dodging in their home state.

A case can be made that the harm they've done outweighs any benefits, a reckoning that, if these "persons" had souls, they might await reckoning at the Pearly Gates. 

Yet in conservative eyes, such sins are not boycott-worthy, and they are accepted by most Republicans as simply good business practices. They are practices that produce prosperity, which is God's reward to the good and faithful among us. Exploiting consumers or workers and rewarding greed, that's all in-bounds godliness-wise. 

But, make a decision to support gay rights, and suddenly capitalism's heroes are in league with the devil. Allowing your gay brother or sister to marry the love of their life? That sends you to hell, even if it's profitable.

It's tempting to think that Pastor Andrew is a put-up job, his boycott a welcome tactic that will make Amazon, Nike, and Starbucks more popular, more sympathetic, more moral in the eyes of their employees and hometown customers. As with Hollywood protests, nothing improves box-office like a bunch of religious nuts picketing your movie. 

Some customers might be tempted to reward these corporate giants precisely because they are under attack. Certainly, they have decided that supporting marriage equality is good for business, and is even morally right. Pastor Andrew and his boycotters are praying that they're wrong.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.