Pressure is increasing on Apple to remove their online store from the “Christian Values Network” (CVN), after several other corporations have removed their stores this week. More than 3,000 people have signed Western Washington University student Ben Crowther’s Change.org petition to Apple. CVN is used as a fundraising tool by several anti-gay, anti-women organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.
Late Thursday, the Wells Fargo and Delta Airlines online stores were removed from CVN. Prior to removing their store, Wells Fargo was offering up to $300 to the religious charity of the shopper’s choice, money that could be donated to “Focus on the Family” or the Family Research Council.
On Wednesday, BBC pulled the BBC America Shop from CVN.
“BBC America Shop was not aware of CVN.org’s current donation policies,” April Mulcair, BBC’s VP of Publicity, told UK Gay News in a statement. “We have ended our relationship with this affiliate effective immediately."
On July 7, Microsoft pulled their online store from the Christian Values Network after a Change.org petition started by Seattle resident and Microsoft customer Stuart Wilber highlighted several anti-gay groups raising money through the Christian Values Network.
Last weekend, CVN beneficiary Focus on the Family came under fire after TOMS shoes expressed “regret” in a statement sent to to Change.org for a Focus on the Family speaking engagement by founder Blake Mycoskie after learning about Focus on the Family’s anti-gay and anti-women views. Ms. Magazine had started a petition on Change.org asking TOMS to cut ties with the group.
“Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event,” Mycoskie said. “It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret.”
“I wonder if Apple is even aware they are being used to raise money for these homophobic groups,” said Ben Crowther, the Apple customer who started the petition on Change.org. “It is so out of character for Apple to be associated with groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. I hope Apple acts quickly to remove their store from the Christian Values Network.”
While Focus on the Family has yet to respond to Microsoft, Delta, and Wells Fargo’s decisions to drop their stores from Christian Values Network, Focus on the Family responded to TOMS Shoes’ statement by defending their position against marriage equality.
“This is an unfortunate statement about the culture we live in, when an organization like ours is deemed unfit to help children in need simply because we hold to biblical beliefs about marriage and family," said Focus President Jim Daly.
However, Focus on the Family doesn’t just oppose the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians. Focus on the Family lobbied against several pieces of Federal legislation that would add protections for gays and lesbians under the law. They lobbied to repeal the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill designed to protect people from violent hate crimes based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Focus on the Family also lobbied to stop the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in an effort to prevent gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexual orientation in the military. They also supported several bills that would make access to health care more difficult for women.
Dozens of major companies like Netflix, Target, Best Buy, USA Today, Walgreens, REI, and even Sesame Street participate in CVN’s service. When customers make purchases through CVN, a donation is made to the religious charity of the customer’s choice. For example, USA Today will donate $5.25 per subscription, and 2.5% of the purchase price for products bought through Apple iTunes store can be donated to groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.
The Family Research Council, formerly a part of Focus on the Family, has been identified as a known “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC). Peter Sprigg, a chief researcher for the Family Research Council, advocated for the deportation and imprisonment of gays and lesbians, according to the SPLC.
Celebrities Stephen Baldwin and Michael Lohan helped launch the Christian Values Network, an online service that raises money for various religious groups from the purchase of goods and services. More than 700 companies are listed at www.cvn.org, the Christian Value Network’s domain hosting links to various corporate online stores.
Both Baldwin and Lohan are outspoken about their anti-gay views. Stephen Baldwin told the Guardian in 2010 that he supports so called “ex-gay” therapy, a harmful practice that falsely claims to “cure” people of their sexual orientation. Michael Lohan told reporters in 2008 he would not walk his daughter, Lindsay Lohan, down the aisle if she chose to marry her same-sex partner.
“I don’t think she’d ask me to walk her down the aisle,” says Michael. “She knows about my (Christian) faith … she just wouldn’t ask.”
Former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is a Christian Values Network advisor and spokesperson who has posted videos on YouTube supporting the company. In the past, Huckabee has equated being gay with bestiality, necrophilia, and pedophilia.
Ben Crowther’s Change.org petition asking Apple to remove their store from CVN:
List of more than 700 corporate online stores helping the Christian Values Network raise money:
Microsoft removes store from CVN following Stuart Wilber’s Change.org petition:
Statement from TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie about his “regret” for speaking at a Focus on the Family event:
Southern Poverty Law Center on Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council:
Focus on the Family and Family Research Council videos introducing the CVN’s Connection Plus Toobar:
Videos featuring Stephen Baldwin and former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on behalf of CVN: