In 2016, after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed the highly contested “bathroom bill” known as House Bill 2, the muscular force of corporate America came down on state leaders in various forms: the threat of boycotts, cancellations of conventions and talk of scuttling plans for business expansion in the state.
Small business and tourism interests, chambers of commerce, even influential sports organizations such as the NBA and the NCAA, quickly noticed and followed suit. The NBA moved its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte. The NCAA threatened to cancel or withhold any of its college basketball tournaments in the state until legislators repealed HB2.
The clear message was that any state or city that bucks the demands of the LGBTQ agenda will be publicly shamed and have its economic vitality threatened. And the chief enforcers of this hardball approach? Big corporations—using stigma and the almighty dollar as weapons.
Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research and a member of the Christian Legal Society, is one of the few people trying earnestly to stop the Left’s advance on corporate America.
His group owns modest shares in dozens of large companies, and Danhof attends shareholder meetings, pleading the case that corporations should be in the business of ethically maximizing profits for shareholders instead of giving millions to the abortion lobby, gay rights groups and radical environmental groups. In fact, he has a dire prediction that Christians and sympathetic conservatives should hear.
“The bottom line is, what the Left is doing to corporate America is what they’ve already done to the college campuses,” Danhof says. “It’s the same tack. I tell people that in my best estimation, we’ve got about a decade to stop this before corporate America—and we’re speaking in this instance of large, publicly traded companies—becomes [like] the college campus.”
Just like on college campuses, “the progressive crowd is the most vocal,” Danhof says. “Many conservatives keep their mouths shut because they want to get a good grade and the professor’s liberal and everything else. So, it’s the same squelching of voices. Conservatives aren’t the ones going to HR and demanding that for every dollar that funds Planned Parenthood, you fund a crisis pregnancy center. If you believe in traditional marriage, I don’t care if you work at Facebook or Pepsi or United Airlines, most people are not going to say that in the corporate world these days.”
Danhof says the co-opting of corporations by the social Left is a “tri-part problem”: A new breed of progressive CEOs and corporate directors from liberal elite colleges; small but vocal employee groups that lobby internally for progressive social policies; and outside forces pressuring companies to fall in line in order to be validated as socially responsible.
Of late, there have been notable public examples of how the Left moves corporations to follow their lead. And once corporations learn to comply, they are then rewarded for advancing the cause before the public—or punished for not doing so.
In December, after the typically wholesome Hallmark Channel featured commercials for Zola, a wedding planning and registry business, that included two brides kissing, the conservative group One Million Moms launched a petition asking Hallmark to drop the ads. Hallmark indeed agreed to drop the ads. But conservatives’ victory was short-lived.
After gay activists loudly criticized Hallmark’s decision, the company quickly apologized for its move and announced the TV spots would run as originally planned.
Danhof says the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most powerful gay lobbying group, has corporate leaders cowering with its annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies on “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equality.”
A 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s index is cause for CEO bragging rights in many quarters, while a scolding is seen as a reputation killer.
Just ask Bank of America. The Charlotte-based corporation had proudly touted its perfect “100” score from the Corporate Equality Index for 10 years running. Then in 2017, the Human Rights Campaign went after Bank of America when it helped broker a compromise with conservative lawmakers and the new Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, to only partially repeal the state’s new “bathroom bill,” HB2. The Human Rights Campaign docked the bank 25 points on its index score in 2017 as retribution.
Bank of America apologized for their misdeed and even offered the Human Rights Campaign an additional $325,000 in donations—which the group refused.
David Black, a doctor of medical forensics and the husband of former Tennessee Republican Congresswoman Diane Black, sees many of the same patterns Danhof mentions. In 2012, Black founded a nonprofit called 2ndVote, using his forensics background and a small team of tech experts to scour the charitable giving of large corporations. 2ndVote has researched nearly 900 companies and found an alarming percentage that supports causes directly opposing Judeo-Christian values. A 2ndVote app is available that helps consumers make informed decisions.
There are some bright lights, too. Black says Hobby Lobby is perhaps most notable, but other good companies—meaning those that support conservative causes or which are neutral on social and political issues—include In-N-Out Burger, Dillard’s, Forever 21 and Overstock.com. Some of the worst ratings are among financial institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and American Express are among a long list of what Black describes as “bad actors.”
And beyond the CEOs and their virtue signaling, there are outside activists, like George Soros, with a disdain for Christian values, pulling at the levers of power.
“They’re looking to create chaos,” Black says. “Chaos leads to tyranny. You have this attack going on all through Western society. And I hope you would agree with me that without Jesus Christ, there is no real Western society as we know it. The entire Western civilization is built upon Biblical principles.”
Black sees a David vs. Goliath scenario. “We are being outspent tremendously.”
But the truth of Galatians 6:9—“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”—has borne fruit nonetheless.
Two Christmases ago, Macy’s contacted 2ndVote with a request to change their scoring on the sanctity of life issue. They were tired of receiving complaints and would no longer be funding Planned Parenthood. In fact, six Fortune 500 companies have since stopped funding Planned Parenthood because of 2ndVote’s efforts.
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.