PurseI believe it’s a good thing for people to have different opinions. I also believe it’s a good thing for people to be able to express those opinions by boycotting things they don’t like.

So far as I can tell, what led Mozilla to get rid of CEO Brendan Eich is that some of its customers decided to stop doing business with a company headed by someone who opposes same-sex marriage. So far as I can also tell, what led World Vision to reverse its decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages is that some of its contributors decided to stop donating money to a philanthropy that is willing to employ people in same-sex marriages.

Had Mozilla and World Vision not been faced with these boycotts, they presumably would have stuck to their guns. Had they stuck to their guns regardless, I would have admired them. But the power of the purse proved more powerful than all other considerations.

For those who don’t like the cause for which that power is wielded, it’s called bullying. For those who do, it’s called principled behavior. Is there anything I’m missing?

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Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.

6 Comments

  1. Good observations. Perhaps several factors are missing: One, World Vision is a professed evangelical organization whose tradition consistently opposes gay marriage. World vision was attempting to make an official corporate policy that would be a change from its past, one that would obviously alienate the beliefs of its constituents. Second, Mozilla was not making any organizational changes. One of it’s employees/leaders had a personal conviction that was completely distinct from the companies policies. If some employees of World Vision had written blogs or donated money to pro-gay marriage organizations there wouldn’t be a story.

  2. One oft-missed but important point is that behavior, not belief, cost Eich his job. He didn’t just believe in his heart that marriage is only between a man and a woman. He donated money to a successful effort to legally strip same-sex couples of their already existing right to marry, and he expressed no regret for doing so.

  3. Lynne Newington

    For those who don’t like the cause for which that power is wielded and the power of the purse more powerful than consideration, brings me to think at least, nothing affects the mafia and it’s financial connection with the Vatican.
    How can ill gotten gain be made clean by giving it to charity as I’ve been told the institutional church views it.

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