Responding to Christians Who Oppose the Target Boycott

Boycotts must be strategic, and there are certain times that a message must be sent when a line is crossed. This is one of those times.

By Michael Brown Published on April 27, 2016

As the call to boycott Target continues to gain momentum, with almost one million people signing the boycott pledge on the American Family Association’s website in barely a week, other Christian voices are counseling against the boycott.

Carmen Fowler Laberge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and an op-ed contributor on The Christian Post, has encouraged Christians not to boycott, offering three reasons why we should “tamp down the hair-on-fire call to boycott Target.”

She argues first, “While it is true that sexual predators exploit the freedom and trust in our society, predatory behavior remains illegal at all times in all places. Target is on notice that there is concern and fear that their policy invites predation. They should be given the opportunity to prove to be a good corporate citizen by announcing specific plans to insure the safety of all people while in their stores.”

With all respect, this is foolhardy and potentially dangerous counsel. Should we grant predators potential access to our kids while we give Target some time to prove their goodwill by coming up with an adequate policy to keep those predators out? And how many horror stories do we need to hear before we decide that Target is not the place for us? Before this new policy was announced, if a father saw a grown man follow his daughter into the bathroom, he could easily stop him or ask Target management to intervene. Today at Target, that father could do nothing, and since there’s no way to distinguish between the transgender male-to-female and the heterosexual predator, Target could be complicit in that child’s harm. Again I ask: How much time do we give them to work this out? And how will they be able to identify the voyeur or violent predator?

Several men have now videotaped their conversations with Target managers, asking them if they could use the ladies’ bathroom if they simply identified as women — without even wearing women’s clothes — and they were told they could. One man was even informed that if the women had a problem with his presence there, they — not he! — would be spoken to.

When Target was confronted with this madness, they replied, “We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop — we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Target to design an effective policy that will let the trans-identified women in and keep the predators out. And what of the women and girls who are not comfortable with a biological male in their bathrooms and dressing rooms? Why on earth would they not boycott, starting today?

Second, Laberge suggests, “We need to step back and acknowledge what’s actually happening on a larger scale and deeper level. The culture has shifted and nonsense has replaced common sense in many sectors” — which is all the more reason we should make our voices heard today and send a message to corporate America before the entire society loses its mind.

She writes, “This is complicated and culturally contentious but raising the alert level to full-scale-screaming does not help. There is a clear contest underway in our culture: is gender a God-designed binary reality or is it a mutable fluid of the individual?” But how is it “full-scale-screaming” to say, “In good conscience, I can’t give you my business”?

Read the Facebook post of Izzy Abraham, who went to Target with his young daughter Tirzah to discuss their policy. After talking with them and concluding that he could no longer shop there, he shared his experience on Facebook, encouraging others to follow his example, before ending with, “I’m not angry. I don’t hate. I’m just a dad who love[s].” That doesn’t sound like “full-scale-screaming” to me.

Of course, Laberge is right that “if Christians start boycotting every corporation that operates out of progressivism’s politically-correct profit-motives, our choices are going to be very narrow, our voice further sidelined and our influence further diminished.” But once again, she misses the point. Boycotts must be strategic, and there are certain times that a message must be sent when a line is crossed, and this is one of those times.

Finally, she argues, “The boycott war is neither persuasive nor effective,” and, “The current boycott war is only driving us further apart from those with whom we disagree and those whose challenges we don’t understand.”

Once again, I beg to differ. First, while it is far too early to assess what impact this boycott will have, it is already very effective in waking Christians up to what is happening in our society and sending a message to other companies that there are economic consequences to embracing radical LGBT activism.

Second, we can protect our families, stand up for public safety, and refuse to give our business to companies that scorn our values (and even scorn common sense) while at the same time seeking to better our understanding of those who identify as transgender.

In virtually every article I write on the subject, I urge compassion for those who struggle, and I call for professionals to work together to find a way to help those who identify as transgender find wholeness from the inside out. As followers of Jesus, we can stand for righteousness while we reach out to the hurting and the confused.

Laberge closes her article by writing, “Instead of boycotting, why not call on Target to insure the safety of women and girls while they are also providing reasonable accommodation to transgender individuals? Instead of widening the chasm why not find the common concern of privacy and safety which stands at the center of concern for both groups?”

But here too she is making a strategic error, one that buys into today’s cultural madness. In brief: 1) as previously stated, many women and girls are uncomfortable with the presence of an obviously biological male in their dressing rooms and bathrooms, understandably so; 2) Target has already declared war on gender (as per their toy policy implemented last year); 3) by speaking of “both groups” as equal players, she forgets that, for every 1,000 people, less than 5 identify as transgender. Why turn the world upside down for so few?

I certainly appreciate Laberge’s call for calmness and for maintaining a Christian spirit, but right now, a calm, Christian spirit calls for a boycott of Target. There is a right time to draw a line in the sand, and that time is now.

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