I wish this following item was from Lark News, a kind of Christian The Onion, but it's not. It's from the New York Times, (hat tip) announcing yet another Christian boycott. I am getting tired, really tired of Christian "leaders" announcing boycotts. These boycotts usually have something to do with homosexuality, and we all end up looking silly when we seem to be declaring that the most important thing the followers of Jesus have to say is that you shouldn't drive a Ford because Ford markets their trucks to gay men.
The American Family Association, led by Donald Wildmon, has announced a boycott of American Girl products because of their alleged support of abortion and homosexuality. American Girl, which makes a highly successful line of dolls and related books aimed at girls age 7-12, is sponsoring the sale of "I Can" bracelets, with the proceeds going to Girls, Inc, a non-profit group with the nefarious goal of "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold."
Now I personally am very comfortable with girls being "strong, smart, and bold" and actually pray from time to time that my daughter will be all of these things. I was very pleased when Katie took a liking to the American Girls dolls and especially the books, because the stories are about girls being, well, "strong, smart and bold".
I am fully aware of the consumerism which underlies the American Girl merchandising, but Wildmon's boycott is not about consumerism - a topic people like him never touch and is a temptation for fifty times (as in, like, everybody) the number of people who feel inclined to homosexual behavior.
In fairness to Wildmon, he is not just making stuff up. The Girl's Inc website includes a series of "Advocacy Statements", which include some rather standard feminist positions about being non-judgmental on sexual behavior and identity and supporting abortion as a way of maintaining "reproductive freedom".
Look, I think that framing abortion as an issue of freedom is nonsense, and I continue to believe that any kind of extra-marital sexual activity is sinful, so I probably would never be a board member of Girls, Inc. But I just cannot see how Wildmon's approach would be a good idea.
First, none of his boycotts have worked. But second, and most importantly, Wildmon's targets are people to be convinced, not enemies to be beaten back and defeated. Christians are supposed to view even the gravest sinner as someone in need of redemption and forgiveness. Our struggle is not against "flesh and blood" but against the powers which lie behind sinful behaviors. We may have an Enemy, but shouldn't try to make enemies among our fellow humans. The weapons of the Spirit are service and convincement and witness, not coercion and threats and demonization.
Christians must engage with the culture, and I think that even boycott's have a place - I still won't shop at Von's after last year's grocery strike - but this kind of secondary seperation that Wildmon advocates is just silly. Campaigns like this don't make us look merciful or concerned with justice or give the impression that we even understand how society works. They just make us look dumb. And it needs to stop.
Edit 10/19/05: Fixed misspelling of Donald Wildmon's name as "Widlman"