Businesses with different religious or political backgrounds shouldn’t be Boycotted

The right to complain about businesses comes with living in a free nation. Whether a store sets higher prices for basic shopping items or a manager fails to use the right tone with customers, anything even slightly problematic could be turned into a five-minute rant. 

I’m bothered by how expensive clothes are, but the question at hand is a bit more serious. Should businesses with different religious or political backgrounds be boycotted?

The Christian in me wants to jump out of my seat and say, “Of course. If it’s not Christian, it’s not right.” 

While this would be a comforting reality, this is not the reality I’m living in. This desire also falls short because there are plenty of businesses owned by Muslims, Catholics or Mormons that are genuinely great. 

I do not believe businesses with different religious or political backgrounds should be boycotted. While a business should face consequences if it treats an individual unfairly because of ethnicity or social class, they should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs to accommodate a customer over an issue such as
sexual identity. 

The Jack Phillips case in 2012 is a perfect example. A married gay couple wanted a custom cake to celebrate their wedding and went to Masterpiece Cakeshop owned by Jack Phillips. 

Phillips offered them predesigned cakes but refused to bake and design a custom cake for their wedding, explaining that it would violate his religious beliefs. He reasoned that he would indirectly be supporting gay marriage as a Christian. The couple sued, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled Jack Phillips to be within his rights.

This court case serves as a decent foundation for the conversation. Phillips refused direct service to the couple while offering other options – he never aggressively kicked them out of the building. He was exercising his religious beliefs, which should be his right, but the couple went straight to a lawsuit against his business.

Everyone has a right to own a business. If the business or product is disliked, nothing will be sold and the business will shut down. This is the beauty of free enterprise we have in America. 

Throughout history, boycotting has proven to be an effective tool that consumers have. The importance of boycotting cannot be overstated, considering that it is almost always a public statement of disapproval. A business will always be affected through a boycott. 

John Berger, a well-known art critic, observed, “As Nelson Mandela has pointed out, boycott is not a principle, it is a tactic depending upon circumstances. A tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected but often craven governments, to apply a certain pressure on those wielding power in what they, the boycotters, consider to be an unjust or immoral way.”

Boycotting carries power through the public display. Whether a group of people disagree with the government or a storefront, change, both good and bad, can always take place as a result of a boycott. 

If a group of people want to shut a restaurant down because the owner refuses to serve a minority, a boycott would be a good choice of action and could yield a
positive result. 

However, if a business is disliked simply because of the owner’s stance on abortion or gay rights, a boycott is not a fruitful option. No good will result for the business. Problems will result for the individual owner, and the community will lose a solid business.

DuVall is an opinion writer.

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