- REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Robert Breaud, a Wisconsin evangelist who lived a homosexual lifestyle until 1994, says he will no longer purchase Starbucks products following controversial comments by the company's CEO.
Breaud told Christian News Network that for the last half decade or so he drank Starbucks beverages as much as two to three times each day, but all that changed when he learned how Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz responded to a shareholder who expressed concerns over the company's support of gay marriage at an annual meeting.
The shareholder, Tom Strobhar of the Corporate Morality Action Center, complained that the company's support of gay marriage led to a boycott that adversely affected earnings last year, Forbes reports.
"Not every decision is an economic decision … The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity. Of all kinds," Schultz said in response.
He added, "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."
Breaud said he knew of the company's stance on gay marriage before reading Schultz's comments, but didn't cease buying its products until afterward. He decided to boycott the company when, in response to the issue, his pastor posed the question, "Who do you love more, Christ or your coffee?"
"There's really no good reason not to join the boycott," the evangelist told Christian News. "There's only excuses."
Breaud, who was born in New Orleans, said he lived a homosexual lifestyle until his 30s, and before his conversion to Christianity he struggled with alcoholism and even occasionally enlisted the services of male prostitutes in the city's French Quarter.
He surrendered his life to Christ in 1994, however, and left his old way of living behind. Later, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Breaud began sharing his testimony and the Gospel message in public forums.
Given the opportunity, Breaud said he would warn Schultz of the long-term effects of supporting gay marriage.
"[I would tell him,] if you want God to bless your business, run it in accordance with His law … with His revealed will in Scripture," said Breaud. "You're promoting sin. You're helping to destroy young people's lives. … God will not bless your business in the long run if you consistently thumb your nose at Him and support things He calls sinful."
In 2012, the National Organization for Marriage started the Dump Starbucks campaign after the company's leaders declared their stance in favor of allowing same-sex marriages. Nearly 59,000 people have pledged through the campaign's website to stop purchasing Starbucks products until the company changes its position on the issue, though not everyone agrees with this approach.
Russel Moore, who was recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote a column suggesting a different approach for how Christians should handle the situation.
"It's not that I'm saying a boycott in and of itself is always evil or wrong," wrote Moore. "It's just that, in this case (and in many like it) a boycott exposes us to all of our worst tendencies. Christians are tempted, again and again, to fight like the devil to please the Lord."
Instead of trying to protect traditional marriage by "bringing corporations to the ground in surrender" through boycotting and similar methods, he argues, Christians should instead seek to win others over by living out the Gospel, by having lasting marriages, by serving others and by explaining the traditional view of marriage in light of Christ's marriage to his bride, the Church.