Just a few months ago I was watching the Super Bowl commercials—for me, perhaps, a more entertaining endeavor than the game itself. I noticed something very different about this year’s crop of multimillion-dollar ads: there were very few products. Most of the commercials did a good job of showcasing the brand, but made only subtle nods to products. In the marketing world this is a somewhat new phenomenon. Brands want to connect with people, but people don’t connect with corporations; people connect with people. Thus, brands have gone out of their way to offer an authentic personality that reflects the values of the people within the corporation.
McDonalds wants you to know that they value love. Microsoft showed us how we might find power in adversity. Nissan and Dove want to talk about the importance of dads. Always wants to empower women. We, as consumers, are demanding that corporations show their humanity.
This week the brave new world for brands publicly took a dive into hypocrisy.
Walmart, Apple, Salesforce, NCAA, Microsoft, and Angie’s List all spoke out against state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA). The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) applauded these, and other, organizations that “have stood up for equality, proving that discriminating against LGBT people is not acceptable in today's marketplace of ideas.” What HRC fails to mention is that when corporations stand up for religious freedom, they are penalized.
In an interview, just last night (April 01, 2015), Don Lemon told ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner “if you own a business you are providing a service . . . If you don’t want to serve every consumer in the country, then perhaps you should be doing something else.”
But opponents of religious freedom have been ecstatically applauding businesses that were looking not to serve everyone by boycotting Indiana in response to its recent RFRA legislation. The NCAA and NFL are looking at whether or not to have events in Indiana. Salesforce’s CEO stated that he would rather do business with “Communist China” than Indiana. And Angie’s List is withdrawing a campus expansion proposal due to the state RFRA.
Apparently, these businesses can exercise their corporate values, but that freedom is not being extended to all.
It is important to clear the fog of this hypocrisy: It is OK for a business to support LGBT issues with its decisions and values (like Apple did), but it must shutter its doors if a business seeks to exercise religious freedom (like Barronelle Stutzman did).
Now, ADF is a legal organization, so what does the law say? According to ADF attorney Doug Wardlow religious freedom is a fundamental right, and “wherever we go and whatever we do, our freedoms go with us.” He points to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell as a prime example:
The United States Supreme Court held that the federal RFRA, which applies to ‘a person’s’ exercise of religion, includes natural persons as well as entities such as corporations, partnerships, firms, societies, and the like. Both Indiana’s RFRA and its federal counterpart thus recognize that a person doesn’t give up her religious liberty just because she forms a business entity.
Opponents of religious freedom agree that business entities should act on what they believe, but only if those businesses agree with them.
And that is exactly why RFRA is needed.
- Sign the petition today to let all 50 state governors know that you stand for religious freedom!
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