Would you buy insurance from the KKK, or cleaning products from ISIS? Probably not — even if they offered the best rates, or gave your floors a miraculous shine.
You wouldn’t purchase goods or services from such organizations, because your patronage would make you complicit in their activities. For the conscientious consumer, considerations other than value-for-money must enter the equation.
But what if the company in question isn’t itself a direct purveyor of death and destruction, but merely contributes to a third party that is? Say, your insurer makes donations to the KKK, or the manufacturer of your household cleaning supplies is an ISIS corporate sponsor? Is that degree of separation enough to ease your conscience?
I recently discovered that my bank, and several other companies I patronize, make regular donations to an organization that profits from trafficking in fetal corpses — the bodies and body parts of unborn babies it ‘terminates,’ as the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Since that discovery, my conscience has been at war with my comfortable pragmatism, and conscience appears to be winning.
As a priest and father, and lover of God’s creation, I already make every effort to patronize companies that respect human rights, and the environment. This is my personal offering, and I don’t force it on anyone else, but it’s important to me.
For the past few years, my family has belonged to a co-op that specializes in organic, sustainably produced, fair-trade, non-GMO (etc., etc.,) foods. I feel good going to a grocer where I know everything on the shelves has gotten there with a minimum of harm to workers or the planet. Sometimes, prices are a little higher. But the quality (not to mention my clearer conscience) compensates for that extra cost.
I feel passionate about responsible shopping, and am willing to put my money where my mouth is. So when I recently saw that list of Planned Parenthood’s corporate sponsors — companies that either make donations to the organization, or match their employees’ contributes to it — I couldn’t look away and forget.
Of the 41 companies listed, a handful have stated they no longer have such a relationship with Planned Parenthood. The remaining 36 range from a purveyor of popular ice-cream, to beverage makers, to a giant of computer software. The one that hit closest to home, however, is the bank I’ve patronized for a decade, and which holds my home mortgage.
I considered dumping them for their tarnished role in the sub-prime scandal a few years back, but this scandal is far worse. Am I willing to allow even a penny of their earnings from me to go to an organization that “terminates” the unborn and sells their bodies for profit?
You’re responsible for what you know. So until I terminate my relationships with Planned Parenthood I can only ask with Lady Macbeth, “Will these hands ne’er be clean?”
The Rev. Barnabas Powell also is a freelance writer who began his career at The Chieftain while pastor of Pueblo’s St. Michael’s Orthodox Church. He now lives in Washington state, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.