What to do about Wells Fargo? It’s a question that comes up from time to time among Christians who are understandably concerned about supporting companies that take actions which not only violate biblical values but ultimately jeopardize religious freedom in America.
Take, for example, back in 2005 when it came to the attention of Focus on the Family’s then-chairman, Dr. James Dobson, that Wells Fargo—the Christian group’s bank—sponsored the "Leather Alley" space at a gay pride festival at one of its locations in San Francisco, where the bank is headquartered. In reaction, Dobson decided to pull the $150 million organization’s bank accounts to a more faith-friendly option. "Focus on the Family has elected to end its banking relationship with Wells Fargo, motivated primarily by the bank's ongoing efforts to advance the radical homosexual agenda,” said CEO and President Jim Daly. “Our decision is not personal, but principled, and we trust our constituents and others will respect it."
And just last week, Franklin Graham came to a similar decision after Wells Fargo rolled out an ad featuring a lesbian couple. In announcing that he was pulling all Billy Graham Evangelistic Association bank accounts from Wells Fargo, Graham called on Christians to boycott businesses that fund and promote the gay activist agenda. "This is one way we as Christians can speak out," Graham said. "We have the power of choice. Let's just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against almighty God's laws and His standards. Maybe if enough of us do this, it will get their attention."
While boycotts have their place, and consumers on all sides of issues have the right to patronize businesses that align with their values and worldview, corporations also have the right to pursue specific groups with advertising messages that resonate with intended target audiences.
And while the freedom to choose is part of what makes America great, what happens when the options available to Christians are increasingly limited by a corporate culture that has increasingly embraced values in opposition to biblical teachings? Here, the conundrum facing Franklin Graham is evident: BB&T, the bank that BGEA is switching its $100 million in accounts to, is a sponsor for Miami Beach Gay Pride.
We believe that now is the time for Faith Driven Consumers to push beyond the natural human tendency to boycott companies that we disagree with and instead collectively and positively make the case to Corporate America that the economic power we yield as 41 million Americans who spend $2 trillion annually is also worth welcoming into the rainbow of diversity.
Here, we can argue that in a pluralistic society like ours—where identity groups and their needs are widely accommodated—communities defined by religious identity like Faith Driven Consumers deserve the same respect afforded to other groups.
What do you think? Are you ready, willing and able to reach out to Wells Fargo and ask them to actively welcome you as a Faith Driven Consumer just like they do for other groups?