A charity-based online marketer has been facing increased attacks over its alleged "anti-gay" stance, with critics pressuring its partners, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Wal-Mart, to cease doing business with the group. Focus on the Family, which uses the charity service, insists the pro-gay campaign is based on misinformation spread by those who oppose a traditional view of marriage.
One of the main gay activists fighting the big companies related to alleged pro-Christian, anti-gay organizations, Roy Steele, said he has personally convinced over 160 stores to drop their relationship with online marketer Charity Giveback Group (CGBG).
"I'm a Christian and I object to the views of these organizations," Steele told The Christian Post Monday. "I have a problem with people who wrap themselves in Scripture in order to justify hateful speech. That’s not the same Scripture I know."
The issue emerged in July after it was discovered that big e-commerce companies, as well as other corporations like Target, Sears, Home Depot, Dell Computer, Lord & Taylor and PC Express, were using CGBG's services.
CGBG offers to attract customers to the big online stores in exchange for a commission. Users are allowed to send half of that commission to any charity listed on CGBG's website.
Critics claim nonprofit organizations such as the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family, which are among the listed charities on CGBG's website, are anti-gay, which also makes the corporations anti-gay.
The stores faced scrutiny from gay rights advocates immediately after the issue emerged.
Steele, a Christian gay activist, called for a boycott on his blog on Aug. 1.
"As a gay Christian man, it offends me that these retail stores are donating money to organizations that promote hatred toward the LGBT community," he wrote in a statement at the time.
"There are these organizations that call themselves Christian, but they have nothing to do with Christianity," he later told CP. "Their behavior is, I believe, very un-Christian."
After Steele launched his campaign, the FRC launched a counter-boycott, which the council calls "Christians/Consumers Against Retail Discrimination."
"In recent weeks, online political activists have engaged in a misinformation campaign that bullies retailers into discriminating against customers and charities based on their religious beliefs," reads FRC's statement, "specifically the traditional and biblical view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
The organization accused the activists of targeting CGBG, "a charity support group with a mission and partner network that includes more than 170,000 charities representing a range of religious, non-religious, educational and other groups," which helps users support their favorite charities by shopping on the Web.
FRC added that online activists have opposed a traditional and biblical view of marriage and are pressuring retailers to end their participation with CGBG.
Some observers have claimed the conflict between CGBG and pro-gay groups is the beginning of a "culture war."
The New York Times has compared the issue to a cultural crash with "angry gay-rights advocates and bloggers, wielding the club of the gay community's purchasing power," on the one side and "conservative Christian groups that say they are being attacked for their legitimate biblical views of sex and marriage" on the other.
The petition launched in July not only prompted Apple to cut ties with CBGB, but several other companies, including Macy's and Microsoft, to do the same.
Correction: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011:
An article on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, misquoted Roy Steele concerning his remarks on Scripture and hateful speech. A correction has been made .