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Did Starbucks CEO Really Say, 'We Don't Want Your Business'?

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By Marty Duren , CP Op-Ed Contributor
March 25, 2013|1:06 pm

In response to a question at the recent Starbucks corporation shareholders meeting, CEO Howard Schultz reiterated his and the company's support for workplace diversity. This includes support for same-sex marriage.

  • Marty Duren
    Marty Duren is a Christ follower, writer and author of the blog, Kingdom in the Midst.

As sure as night follows day a blatantly false meme began circulating on Facebook. The primary one is from Joe Miller's Liberty Watch. His opening sentence reads:

"At the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message to anyone who supports traditional marriage over gay marriage: we don't want your business."

Not to put too fine a point on it, that information is a complete fabrication.

Miller sourced his story through Examiner.com's also deceptively entitled article, Starbucks CEO: No tolerance for traditional marriage supporters. The author, Victor Medina, opens with this:

"At the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message to anyone who supports traditional marriage over gay marriage: we don't want your business."

Look familiar?

This article points to yet another article, this one from Forbes. Finally arriving at the truth, we see Schultz was never speaking to customers of Starbucks, but in response to a shareholder's question. The article, "Howard Schultz to Anti-Gay-Marriage Starbucks Shareholder: 'You Can Sell Your Shares," accurately reflects the context and statement.

In response to a shareholder's question, Starbucks' CEO responded:

"If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it's a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."

This was the statement, and the only statement. Schultz never said or implied people who support traditional marriage should take their business elsewhere.

The fact is Starbucks and Schultz are unsurprisingly, supporting of same-sex marriage. It is also a fact that you can boycott, or get your caffeine fix elsewhere as many have chosen to do. You can also oppose same-sex marriage and continue to buy coffee from Starbucks...I do.

To be fair, each of the first two articles includes the shareholder further into the story, but the erroneous early statements are more than enough to mislead the average reader.
What Christians should avoid, however, is sloppiness. Disagreement is fine. Strong disagreement is fine. But, at least, let us strive for accuracy.

C'mon, followers of Jesus. We can do better.

Marty Duren is a former pastor, Christ follower, husband, father, writer, social media strategist and general provocateur who lives in Hermitage, TN. His blog, Kingdom in the Midst can be found at www.martyduren.com.
 

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