So, you have probably heard, TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie spoke at a Focus on the Family event last month to much disgust of the LGBT and other “equal rights” groups. Comments on Blake’s Blog, Start Something that Matters, quadrupled over the event and took a tone of cause slashing anger, even when he apologized for the association with what some call a “hate-group.”
The cause of all the stirring? A Christianity Today article about Focus on the Family. Its seven-page write-up includes one quote from a FotF representative that includes the One-for-One shoe empire:
As this issue of Christianity Today goes to press, the ministry is scheduled to highlight the work of Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, a company that donates shoes to an impoverished child for every pair sold.
“A year ago, they were like, ‘Who’s that?’,” Fleece laughs. Now the company is working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa. “We’re making slow strides here.”
Who knew shoes could cause such an enormous crack in the giving community?
TOMs, until this point it seems, has managed to avoid blow-up controversy. An occasional question about their model’s effectiveness is often met with three times as many supporters. Walk around any college campus and the canvas flats are a normal fashion choice.
Last week I, too, was surprised when I heard Mycoskie would speak at FotF. I am from the same town as the headquarters, I know their disapproval rating. Today, as I read through the apology post comments, I was met with a level of rage that I didn’t know one could harbor for someone who gives kids a chance to go to school, to be free from disease, to walk along gravel roads with their first pair of shoes.
Associating a business with an organization that harbors un-agreed upon values is, apparently, the unforgivable sin. But we have missed a huge point here – FotF associated THEMSELVES with TOMS, not the other way around.
Blake’s response in his apology makes it clear:
Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.
If I was given a chance to speak at Hershey’s (aka, slave-using chocolate manufacturer) I would take it, not in support, but in hopes that some light would be shed and they would change their ways. In hopes that their patrons would learn to use their freedom of purchase in a new way by hearing my voice and my cause.
Could Blake have been hoping to inspire the millions of FotF supporters to support something greater, something wonderful, like global development?
The anti-gay platform that FotF has put itself on is a shame of its own sort. Placing people on it when they have never claimed its values is another kind of shame, one that assumes and writes-off an individual (in this case, one doing great work) without rhyme or reason.
I support TOMSshoes. I support Blake for his attempt to get more people involved in changing the world. I am glad he had an audience at FotF, maybe they will listen to what matters, like supporting people, loving them out of poverty, giving whenever we can and moving towards a real world we can be proud of.
And, with that, I am willing to say that I do not support the Focus on the Family agenda to fight gay-marriage. I do not support their political leanings that exclude people from being able to live the best life possible with those they love.
Funny, how I can do both at the same time….I think Blake can, too.