Every Town Has An Alexander The Coppersmith Part 2
by Pastor Cary Gordon
In a recent article published by columnist Eric Erickson, he stated, "Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant and then it seeks to silence good. We are more and more rapidly arriving at a point in this country where Christians are being forced from the public square unless they abandon the tenets of their faith. In our secular society, Christianity is something you do on a Sunday and who you sleep with defines you."
How sadly true this has become in America.
On the Isle of Patmos, the elderly Apostle John warned of a time when hostile economic policies would emerge in a culture opposed to God’s law – a culture that would specifically forbid authentic Christians from “buying or selling” in their native market place.
The CEO of Opportunities Unlimited and seller of Jumpy Monkey Coffee revealed yesterday that they allegedly refused to sell my church coffee because of a particular "shelf-life" policy targeting church bookstores, in particular. How strange they never told us anything about that policy during no less than three phone conversations and two e-mail exchanges. We were shocked to learn of this policy while reading the newspaper Wednesday morning. Perhaps it was my fault for not making that fourth phone call? As stated in her article, she apparently believes so.
If what she now claims is true, and that policy existed when we attempted to support the mission of Opportunities Unlimited with our purchase, then it was truly unnecessary, impolite, and unreasonable for their organization to phone us and explicitly state their sudden reversal from an agreement to sell us coffee, saying (and I paraphrase), “The powers that be feel that your church has been too polarizing and that doing any business with you, with or without custom labels, will upset some of our employee’s parents, clients and our organization’s supporters.” Not once was the shelf-life issue discussed.
Here’s how this has unraveled, from our perspective, reading Stephanie Brown’s public remarks since first publishing my church blog last week:
Policy #1 was explained to my wife by phone last Wednesday morning as the reason we were denied service (again, I paraphrase): “We won't sell to you because your church is polarizing, and it will upset some of our clients, employees, parents of employees, and supporters.”
Policy #2 was explained to the Sioux City Journal two days later, in a Friday evening press release (I paraphrase): “We don't market our coffee to any religious organizations, provide custom labels for them, or act on our own personal biases unrelated to our stated mission. Cornerstone Church was treated the same as all other churches.”
Policy #3 was revealed for the first time in Wednesday’s newspaper after people from other various churches shared evidence with us that they DO and HAVE sold to many churches (I paraphrase): “We do sell to religious organizations and do fundraisers with them, but never church bookstores because of shelf-life issues.”
The CEO has now admitted through her own seemingly contradictory public statements (see policies 1 – 3 above) that their company’s last-minute refusal to sell coffee to our church was, in fact, because they did not agree with our public stands on what we all know are issues of my convictions as a Christian. Choosing to characterize our public stands as “too polarizing” as a primary cause to refuse service may or may not make sense to a lot of coffee drinkers. Buying coffee, after all, isn’t really supposed to be a polarizing event. Moreover, it is not logical to assign a man, or the church he represents, the title of “too polarizing” if one does not also wish to justify the characterization of “too polarizing” with the message behind it. I would add that many consumers find the offensive refusal of service, itself, to be a curiously “polarizing” and particularly “non-neutral” way to conduct business. I certainly do.
To be clear, my church blog instructing on a lesson from Acts Chapter 19 didn’t cause this problem; rather, it was the way their representatives chose to respond to my wife when she attempted to support a worthy cause by purchasing a product. At no time did I ever approach the media and ask for coverage. I posted my blog and the media called me. If my congregation is denied a product, my congregation needs to know about it. If it was a shelf-life issue, why not say so in the first, second, or third conversations?
As I’ve said from the beginning, Jumpy Monkey Coffee has a right to refuse service to my church, even in an unnecessarily punitive or unkind way. I believe in a free market where sellers and property owners have the liberty to practice bad policies if they so choose, so long as the customers on the other end of the weird experience are also free to warn other buyers about their treatment.
- Christian bakery owners should not be forced by a tyrannical court to bake cakes for a gay wedding, or else!
- A homosexual-owned print-shop should not be forced by a tyrannical court to create new signs for the unkind, epithet-waving Westboro Baptist Church!
- An African-American photographer should not be forced by a tyrannical court to photograph an upcoming KKK rally.
- None of this should happen any more than Opportunities Unlimited should be forced in a court of law to sell me coffee – coffee that I no longer wish to drink for what should be obvious reasons.
I wish the radical homosexual lobby would respond to their own alleged marketplace mistreatments with as much respect for other people’s liberties.
Out of respect for Opportunities Unlimited and Jumpy Monkey Coffee’s clear message to all “polarizing” Christians everywhere, we will refrain from offending their patrons and employees by offering to purchase their coffee beans. It’s too bad the CEO chose to respond to my accurate and truthful retelling of our sad experience by slinging arrows against my integrity and muddling the valid issues I addressed to the shoppers of the free market.
We believe she should have simply apologized for the remarks made in poor taste by her company representative, explained the policy published only yesterday (that no one in my home knew existed until we read the Journal), and assured customers that they appreciated the good and noble work of Christian ministries everywhere.
Instead, Stephanie Brown used her free speech as she saw fit to express it, by demanding that I either remain silent or be sued in a court of law for telling my story. I have no plans to sue her for her remarks and do not demand that she recant her statements. I think she should be proud of her stand against my stands, and let the chips fall where they may. I’m proud of my church, my congregation, and my public “polarity” against the evils of abortion and the assaults against Biblical marriage and our precious First Amendment rights passed down from a nobler era.
Thankfully, in the end, it’s the consumers that still have freedom…at least for now.