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The Pride Charade

Big Brands Playing Chicken with Customers, Financiers

The month of June is celebrated as pride month for the LGBTQ+ community. Corporations roll out the red carpet. Cities throw parades. But events in recent months reveal more pain than pride.

On March 27, 2023, transgender Audrey Hale killed six innocent people at a Nashville-area Christian school. The following Sunday, a transgender “pastor” in North Dakota tried to draw parallels between Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion with Audrey Hale’s transgenderism. 

About a week later, while speaking at San Francisco State University, Riley Gaines Barker was punched in the face by two men, then barricaded in a room until the protestors calmed down. Riley is a swimmer, formerly on the University of Kentucky swim team. She tied with transgender swimmer Leah (Will) Thomas in an NCAA women’s swimming championship event. Thomas got the fifth-place trophy, while Riley was given the sixth-place award. Since then, she has been outspoken against allowing trans males to compete against women in sporting events. Soon after the violent episode, SFSU released a statement claiming the protest against Riley was “peaceful.” Hardly.

Some people consider these to be isolated incidents from the fringes of society. That’s not true. Just get on social media to see how many people are engaging in this debate. I’ll make it even easier for you. Just visit any retailer during June and you will see pride on display.

Some of those businesses became battlegrounds as controversial pride merchandise hit shelves. Bud Light faced tremendous backlash when it partnered with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. Since then, Bud Light has lost an estimated $15 billion in revenue. 

Target also became a battleground when it launched its 2023 pride merchandise line. The retail giant introduced pride products including children’s books. Images of their transgender swimsuit for males went viral. 

Target also introduced products from the Abprallen brand that included a sweater that said, “Cure transphobia, not trans people.” This same brand sells blasphemous merchandise praising Satan. While Target did not carry these satanic products, its association with this brand speaks volumes. One such product is an enamel pin that includes the satanic goat-headed idol Baphomet along with the inscription “Satan respects pronouns.” Target pulled this brand along with some other pride products after backlash from consumers. 

It is estimated that Target lost $10-15 billion in 10 days. 

Target isn’t the only retailer rolling out the red, or should we say rainbow, carpet. Kohl’s is selling pride clothing for babies. North Face proudly launched its second annual Summer of Pride series of products and ads, including some since-removed products for children. 

Even Chick-fil-A is moving in this direction. I’ll share more about them later, but the real question is, “Why?” Why do retailers feel the need to promote pride products so heavily? Why do we see these polarizing products escalate in volume and outrageousness each year? Follow the money.

What stands behind retailers’ financial motivations in making these decisions? Instead of looking at profits, retailers are more concerned with their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores. Why? Because investment groups like BlackRock want the businesses they invest in to support their efforts in agendas such as climate change and sexual identity. The higher the ESG score, the more financial backing a business can receive. 

One of the key factors certain investors look for is a high score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. The campaign’s website says this index is “the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices, and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees.” 

Out of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies, 15 scored a perfect 100 on this index including Walmart, Amazon, Apple, CVS Health, Google, AT&T, and Verizon.

To get a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s index, companies must offer inclusive workforce protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. They must also offer inclusive benefits to fund items like transgender-inclusive health insurance. Further, the companies must actively engage and support the LGBTQ+ community through philanthropic giving. 

But if you want to get a perfect 100 score, you must go a step further. Corporations could be tempted to play both sides with their charitable donations, so the Human Rights Campaign will not give a perfect 100 score to any company that donates to a non-religious organization with a written policy in opposition to the LGBTQ+ cause. 

This explains why these companies cannot remain neutral. If they do not actively support these causes, their ESG score will be impacted and investors will switch alliances to the competition. Companies are no longer making their decisions based on profits. Now they must make decisions based on the social values that will increase their ESG scores. As long as they get a high ESG score, they know investors will be there to help them succeed in the marketplace. 

That brings us back to Chick-fil-A. In 2012, they stopped supporting a plethora of Christian organizations. In 2019, they dropped their support of the two faith-based groups that survived their 2012 cuts—the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They began giving donations to pro-LGBTQ+ groups. In 2021, they hired a vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. While Chick-fil-A is not listed on the Human Rights Campaign Index, its corporate actions seem like they are actively seeking a higher ESG score. 

There is tremendous social pressure to conform. The Los Angeles Dodgers experienced this recently. As they geared up for their 10th annual Pride Night at Dodger Stadium, they invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to participate. The Sisters are drag queens who mockingly dress as nuns and whose official motto is “Go forth and sin some more.” The president of the organization CatholicVote responded to this invitation by saying the Sisters are a “blatantly perverted, sexual and disgusting anti-Catholic hate group.” Thus, the Dodgers uninvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence amid the strong backlash. 

You can probably guess what happened next. Other LGBTQ+ groups threatened to withdraw support of the Dodgers’ Pride Night if the team did not reinstate the Sisters. So, the Dodgers reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and issued a public apology for withdrawing the invitation.

The recent rise in vitriol and violence is alarming. Corporations are caving. Tensions are escalating. People are getting physically assaulted and, as we saw in Nashville, killed. We are in a war. However, the LGBTQ+ person is not the enemy. The Bible is clear in Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

We are in a spiritual battle against the devil and his emissaries. One of Satan’s all-time favorite tools is to get people to worship themselves instead of God. He’s done a marvelous job of that in America. We pursue what we want and abandon God in the process. We try to identify ourselves without God in the picture. When we make that choice, it’s like choosing to be lost in the woods without a flashlight. We grope in the dark to find our way out, but we fall into the devil’s trap. We cannot know our true selves until we first know God.   

Only the marvelous light of Jesus Christ can guide us to true freedom from Satan’s snare. He rescues and transforms us into the beautiful person He created us to be. There is no greater feeling in all the world than the freedom found in Jesus Christ! 

There is great joy and peace in knowing God didn’t mess up when He created me. I wasn’t born in the wrong body, to the wrong parents, in the wrong place, or at the wrong time—and neither was anyone else in all of human history. 

The escalating corporate actions, social tensions, and acts of violence will worsen if we refuse to step out of the darkness into the light of Jesus Christ. 

I pray that God will open the spiritual eyes of those who are taken captive by Satan and sin and that His followers would shine the light of Jesus into the darkness around us with a Christ-honoring attitude as we rescue the spiritual captives.

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Josh Davis

SWRC Staff Evangelist Josh Davis accepted Jesus Christ as Savior at a young age and grew up in a preacher’s home. While preparing for a career in pharmacy, God redirected Josh’s heart, mind, and future to prepare for ministry. He earned a Master of Divinity from Southern Evangelical Seminary near Charlotte, NC. He has served his home church in pastoral ministry since 2007. God has blessed Josh with a lovely wife and two wonderful kids.

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