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Hidden Politics and Religion in Businesses

"Paying" Politics: Check Out What's Behind Your Purchases


I've been hoarding examples of this phenomenon forever — and I got to thinking about them last week when foxie reminded me that Wal-Mart has been named one of the lowest carbon, greening businesses — admirable, even though many still find faults with their business practices and treatment of their employees.

My mind wandered to this question: when you make a purchase, are you funding more than just a business? Are you tithing toward the bigger philosophy of the company? I will now present my examples to you in the grand tradition of the "trend story" — the secret political and religious lives of your bucks, once you've spent them on burgers and beer.

  • Forever 21: Ever upended one of their bright yellow bags? Behind that bargain (and probably hot) shirt, is a little religious message. John 3:16. Though they might sell itty-bitty ripoffs, the couple who owns the store Do Won "Don" Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, are a private, deeply Christian couple who've built the company for 24 years with revenue topping $1 billion in 2006. For those who don't know, John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Eternal life and cheap shirts? Sweet.

There's so much more! Burgers and beer, just read more!

  • Coors Brewing Company: Thirsty? Though the company's practices toward employees appear progressive, if you follow the real money earned by the company, you'll find it leads right to a six-pack of super right-wing causes. The entire Coors family has been active in conservative philanthropy, among other things, founding the Council for National Policy. This is a hush-hush group where influential conservatives discuss the future of conservatism in the United States, attending meetings with conservative big-wigs like the late Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly. Joseph Coors also donated an airplane worth $65,000 to the Nicaraguan Contras.
  • In-N-Out Burger: Want a Double-Double Monster-style? Prepare to get a helping of the holy spirit along side. The wrapping you'll get with your sandwich features a pointer toward Nahum 1:7, "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." The Snyder family is deeply religious and still privately owns the chain of restaurants. Oh, if you want a little dessert, you'll get a dose of Proverbs 3:5 along with your milkshake. Now if they could only replace the wine with an In-N-Out milkshake at communion. . . .

Does the bigger picture of what a company stands for (and I'll include Wal-Mart in this group) affect your decision to spend? Have you ever passed on a purchase because your philosophies don't jive? How badly do you want a Double-Double right now?

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