TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie may not want his company to be associated with Focus on the Family, but the pro-family group doesn’t feel the same way.
FOTF President Jim Daly responded to Mycoskie’s apology for speaking at a FOTF event called “Feet on the Ground” in Orange County, Calif. Daly had interviewed Mycoskie during the June 30 event in front of some 1,500 people.
"This is an unfortunate statement about the culture we live in,” Daly said in a statement Sunday, “when an organization like ours is deemed unfit to help children in need simply because we hold to biblical beliefs about marriage and family.”
TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair sold as a part of its one-for-one movement.
Christianity Today first reported that FOTF was considering to be a TOMS distribution partner in Africa.
In response to the controversy, Daly said he was “a little saddened” by how harsh some people were in trying to get Mycoskie to distance himself from FOTF.
“We interviewed Blake because we thought his story would inspire other Christians to act on their faith like he has and to help others in need," the FOTF president explained, without lashing back. "We want to tell our friends about the great work TOMS does and how they can be a part of putting shoes on the feet of impoverished kids."
Whether or not Daly will be able to share that story is still up in the air because TOMS has the right to block the broadcast of the conversation that would reach more than 2 million listeners nationwide via the radio. TOMS has not said whether they will block the broadcast as of the time of this article.
On Saturday, Mycoskie, founder of the business-charity TOMS, apologized to gay rights advocates for speaking at an FOTF event. In a blog post, Mycoskie said he did not know “the full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs” at the time he agreed to speak at the event. And he called his acceptance to speak at the event an “oversight” and “one we chose poorly.”
Gay rights advocates voiced their anger through social networking sites and an online petition over the potential partnership between TOMS and FOTF, which they deem an anti-gay and fundamentalist Christian group.
The Ms. Magazine petition on Change.org pressing TOMS to end its relationship with FOTF garnered 566 signatures.
In response to the public outrage over the TOMS-FOTF link, Daly observed that the test of faithfulness amid adversity isn't something new for Christians.
“Fortunately, as Christians we have the greatest example of all to follow in situations like this – Jesus,” Daly said. “The things He stood for were not always popular, either. He was ostracized and much worse for doing the work of His Father. And through it all, He loved those who did not love Him and never stopped hoping they would come to know the Truth.”
FOTF will continue to stick to its principles but hopes for the best for those who spoke out against it.
"While we may disagree with those who spearheaded this effort to get TOMS to distance themselves from us,” Daly said, “our desire is not so much to defeat them at the ballot box as it is to bring them closer to the heart of Jesus Christ – the only hope any of us have for the forgiveness and overcoming of our sins."
TOMS could not be reached for additional comments on this issue.