Christian activist groups are pushing for support outside the worldwide McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., to bring attention to a boycott against what they said was the chain's record of continued support and endorsement of homosexuality.
"It's a shame that McDonald's would tarnish their family-friendly image," said American Family Association Chairman Don Wildmon in a statement.
In late March, the fast-food chain drew a stream of controversy after the company's vice president of communications joined the board of directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce – an organization "dedicated to expanding the economic opportunities and advancements of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual (LGBT) business community."
The American Family Association says that the recent move, combined with a $20,000 donation McDonald's handed over to the NGLCC and the fast-food chain's frequent and boastful support in sponsoring gay pride parades, has been detrimental to pro-family causes and the sanctity of marriage.
"[T]he company has ramped up its support of the gay agenda and it leaves us no option but to call for a boycott," Wildmon said.
Wildmon explained that pro-family organizations would continue to boycott McDonald's until the fast-food chain ends its role as an advocate for homosexual causes.
"To put it politely, the company thumbed its nose at the Christian community," Wildmon said. The AFA president says almost 200,000 people have signed an online pledge to boycott McDonald's.
McDonald's, however, has been unapologetic about its pro-gay stance, asserting that organizers of the boycott are motivated by a hateful agenda against homosexuals.
"Hatred has no place in our culture," McDonald's USA spokesman Bill Whitman told The Washington Post.
"That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment," he explained.
But the AFA is arguing that its boycott is about the record of McDonald's and its duty to be a responsible and neutral corporation.
"This boycott is not about hiring homosexuals, or homosexuals eating at McDonald's, or how homosexual employees are treated," the AFA said.
"It is about McDonald's, as a corporation, choosing to put the full weight of their corporation behind promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage," the group explained.
In an e-mail to boycott supporters, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, which organized a press conference outside McDonald's headquarters Wednesday, said that the accusations of "hate" and prejudice from McDonald's were a reflection of the food chain's own deeply embedded anti-Christian views.
"When we've reached the point where belief in the Bible and traditional morality is routinely equated with hatred, America has become hostile territory for people of faith," he said.
"Sadly, 'diversity' is becoming a corporate code-word for anti-Christian bigotry – forcing people of faith to imbibe politically correct ideologies that violate their beliefs," he added.
According to a press release, boycott organizers "are encouraging families to do two things: sign, print and distribute a Boycott McDonald's petition at www.boycottmcdonalds.com; and call the local McDonald's to politely tell the manager they are boycotting the chain until it stops promoting the gay agenda."