There’s something about Gloria Jeans Coffee that leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth – and it’s not just the overheated, tastes-like-dishwater brew in the cheap paper cup.
Whether its franchisees, staff or customers know it or not, profits from this franchise are put to some pretty objectionable uses.
$30,000 donation to Australian Christian Lobby
Recently, thanks to the investigative efforts of Doug Pollard from community radio Joy 94.9FM, it’s been revealed that Gloria Jeans contributed $30,000 to the Australian Christian Lobby in 2010. That figure is only public because it is classified as ‘for political expenditure’ and exceeds $11,500. We simply don’t know how much Gloria Jeans may have contributed financially to the ACL under other headings.
Why is this important? Because the Australian Christian Lobby is Australia’s leading anti-gay lobby. Don’t be fooled by the moniker ‘Christian’. They spend very little time feeding the poor, housing the homeless or arguing for a more fair and just society. In fact, another JoyFM volunteer, Jacob Holman, recently took stock of the ACL’s activities and found their obsession with homosexuality and same-sex marriage sticks out like – well – like an enormously large erect penis. Just check out the graph! It’s easy to see what gets those good ol’ boys at the ACL excited!
That should concern every Australian who is gay, or who has gay friends or relatives. In fact, it should concern all Australians who believe this is a country in which every citizen should be treated equally.
The Australian Christian Lobby does not support equality. It supports an ‘us’ and ‘them’ policy when it comes to our gay population. In fact, it even supports discrimination against gay teens.
ACL endorses expelling gay teens
In 2011, Jim Wallace, the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby endorsed a NSW law that allows private schools to expel gay students simply for being gay.
To be fair, Wallace said clarified his endorsement by saying:
“But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do [expel the gay child] that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects.”
Hmmm, I wonder how you say lovingly: “Well, Jason, you’re gay and you refuse to hide it, so, kiddo, you’re out on your ear – we don’t want ‘your sort’ around here contaminating all the nice, heterosexual kiddies.”
I wonder how you deliver that message without ‘absolutely any negative effects’.
The thing is you can’t. Which is why that kind of message, endorsed by the Australian Christian Lobby, prompts gay teens to commit suicide in far greater numbers than their heterosexual peers.* Support the Australian Christian Lobby in any way and you are inadvertently supporting the social climate that leads to gay teen suicides.
And these are the views being financed by Gloria Jeans Coffee.
Sexual abuse by clergy? Gays are to blame, says Wallace
When it comes to the sexual abuse of children by clergy, Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby is quick to assign blame. Only he doesn’t blame the churches which have enabled abuse, covered it up, and done their darndest not to take responsibility. No. Jim blames homosexuals for infiltrating churches in order to prey on vulnerable children. Completely ignoring all the academic studies which show there is no link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of children, Wallace continues to disseminate that vile lie and paint the church as the ‘victim’. *
Offending Muslims, homosexuals and diggers
But Wallace doesn’t stop at offending homosexuals. On ANZAC day 2011, he tweeted with an appalling lack of sensitivity for either his targets or Australian diggers:
“Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”
This week, while debating a gay, Jewish woman (Dr Kerryn Phelps) in front of a man with a Jewish surname (Sunrise on Seven host, David Koch), Wallace accused Seven, Sunrise and the ‘homosexual lobby’ of acting like Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist renowned for ‘creating an atmosphere in Germany that made it possible for the Nazis to commit terrible atrocities against Jews, homosexuals and other minorities.’
The slur was astounding in its insensitivity, casting Jewish Phelps in the role of ‘Nazi’ and Wallace in the role of ‘victim’.
LGBT Jewish group, Aleph, responded with incredible dignity and restraint:
“Tens of thousands of homosexual men were murdered under the hand of Joseph Goebbels, alongside many millions of Jews and people from a variety of national identities and religious beliefs. To be compared to this person, in the pursuit of equality and human rights is unconscionable. It beggars belief that an individual with a respected career in the Australian Defence Force is incapable of comprehending the gravity and insensitivity of the words he uttered on national television.”
Please consider, if you’re Muslim, Jewish, gay or a member of (or descended from a member of) the Australian military who fought to defend equality in this country, drinking your coffee at Gloria Jeans may well mean you are financially supporting the Australian Christian Lobby.
Financial support to Salvation Army
If your particular concern is not to finance homophobic organisations, there’s another good reason to steer clear of Gloria Jeans. Apparently they also donate to the Salvation Army. Now, while the Sallys, at least, do some useful, practical work in the community, their attitude towards homosexuality is not good as my friend Michael Barnett explains. According to the Salvation Army’s Australian positional statement on homosexuality:
“Homosexual practice … is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the Army. However, practising homosexuals are welcome to worship with, and join in the fellowship of The Salvation Army.”
How very kind of them!
How badly do you really want that coffee now? How much effort is it to just walk on to the next coffee shop?
And, sadly, when it comes to Gloria Jeans that’s not all.
Gloria Jeans’ owners
Gloria Jeans was founded by Nabi Saleh (an elder and board member of Hillsong Church, director of Alphacrucis – formerly the Southern Cross College of the Assemblies of God – and director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries Eagle Mountain International Church) and Peter Irvine (a member of Hillsong Church and formerly a director of the notorious Mercy Ministries) .
Kenneth Copeland Ministries
Let’s look at Saleh’s connections first. In 2010, Kenneth Copeland Ministries ‘Believers’ Voice of Victory Show’ was canned by Australia’s Channel 10 after complaints the program breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice by vilifying gays.
Copeland likes to whip up hatred for gays by telling his followers Jesus was gang raped by homosexual Roman soldiers ‘in every way possible’.
“Listen to me very carefully. The Bible’s very careful about the way it says these things. But down there in that dungeon, Romans, ungodly men, ungodly men, put Him (Jesus) to every kind of abuse that you can think of. There is no sin that Jesus didn’t bear. There is no thing, there is no such thing as a sexual abuse on somebody that Jesus doesn’t know firsthand what it’s all about.” – Copeland, The Resurrection Truth
Like Brian Houston from Hillsong, Copeland preaches the ‘prosperity gospel’ – code for the congregation tithes and the pastor gets obscenely rich. Copeland has done well out of it. The televangelist is reportedly worth $769 million. A US Senate investigation into Copeland revealed that:
“… the Copelands’ church provides the Copelands with an 18,000 square-foot mansion that was valued at over $6 million in 2008. It has two three-car garages and three boat slips. Its doors, Gloria Copeland brags, come from a castle. John Copeland confirmed the value of the house and added that their parsonage is also used for housing guest ministers, television taping, rest and relaxation, and includes offices for Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.”
As the owner of Gloria Jeans is a director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Australia, one has to wonder how much money from Gloria Jeans is being filtered through to KCM to prop up the Copelands’ extravagant lifestyle and homophobic propaganda.
Gloria Jean’s co-founder, Peter Irvine, was a director of Hillsong-backed Mercy Ministries. Gloria Jeans Coffee was a sponsor. Mercy Ministries offered treatment to young women suffering from depression, mental illness and eating disorders. Ostensibly ‘free’, once inducted into the program, the women were told to sign over their Centrelink payments. The professional medical help they were promised came in the form of exorcisms by Bible college students.
In December 2009, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Irvine and other former directors of Mercy Ministries had engaged in false and misleading conduct and ordered to pay $1,050 to each of the 110 young women who took part in their programs. Pragmatically, both Hillsong and Gloria Jeans severed their association with Mercy Ministries in 2009.
Unpaid commissions to join venture partner
But Saleh’s and Irvine’s dirty dealings aren’t just confined to their religious delusions. In an ongoing battle, Gloria Jeans’ parent company has been found guilty of screwing over their joint venture partner, Western Export Services, for millions of dollars in unpaid commissions.
David Cisneros, a director of Western Export Services says:
”[Mr Saleh and Mr Irvine] had an external accountant who kept giving us numbers that we couldn’t trust .. For us this has been 16 years and this lawsuit has been running for six years. It represented 40 to 50 per cent of our business – we were a small company and we could not just walk away from it.”
On 11 June last year, Gloria Jeans’ parent company was ordered to pay Western over $12 million in commissions plus interest and court costs after the court found Jireh (read Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine) had breached their joint venture agreement. According to Western, Jireh may not have the funds to make the payment and, at this stage, a stay order has been granted by the court.
Tantalisingly, Ross Koffell, lawyer for Western added, “A lot of information people have been trying to find out for so long about this business may finally be revealed in this case.”
So much for the Saleh’s ‘strong business acumen and Godly wisdom‘ touted on Hillsong’s website! Is it considered astute financial management, godly or wise to cheat your joint venture partner partner out of 12 million bucks and not be able to pay them back?
While Gloria Jeans and Hillsong have no formal financial ties, Nabi Saleh is an elder and board member of Hillsong and appears to be heavily involved in managing their financial affairs. Peter Irvine is a member of the church. Gloria Jeans ‘assists’ Hillsong with fundraising by supplying mobile coffee carts and coffee supplies.
Hillsong teaches that homosexuality is unnatural. For many years, Hillsong ran an ex-gay program called Exit International and, after its closure, referred homosexuals to other programs such as Exodus and Living Waters until the mid 2000s. Apparently, Hillsong’s current policy is not to refer homosexuals to ex-gay programs, but the church does not appear to be a safe or welcoming place for LGBTI people. As one gay former member of the church says:
“… every week I get another email, facebook message or someone else from church speaks to me, telling me they are being bullied at church or that they are depressed and just can’t break free from self hatred. Sadly, the most common story I hear is of a closeted gay or lesbian person at Hillsong who tells me that they are too scared to come out because they feel like if they did, people in church wouldn’t treat them the same.”
Hillsong has also had some very questionable business dealings. In 2006, for example, the church’s charitable arm, Hillsong Emerge was stripped of a sizeable federal grant for fraudulently suggesting its proposed program had the support of a local indigenous community. The Federal parliament was told, “”Hillsong Emerge has misused the Riverstone Aboriginal community to get taxpayers’ money for its own purposes.”
Making matters worse, when the fraud became apparent to the Riverstone Aboriginal Community and they threatened to take the matter to the media, Hillsong Emerge offered them a bribe of $280,000 to keep it quiet and fudge their support; an offer that was tartly refused.
If you’re indigenous, or have friends who are, you may wish to think twice before sharing your money with Gloria Jeans, a company with such close ties to Hillsong church.
Why I boycott Gloria Jeans Coffee – and you should too
So, just to recap: the Australian Christian Lobby, Hillsong Church, the Salvation Army and possibly Kenneth Copeland Ministries are four organisations you may inadvertently be supporting when you buy coffee from Gloria Jeans.
There is also, of course, the matter of their past involvement with the abusive Mercy Ministries, the deceptive practices of director, Peter Irvine, and the company allegedly ripping off a small joint-venture partner for millions of dollars. It’s not a business I’d care to have anything to do with – either as a franchisee, a staff member or a customer.
I’ve boycotted Gloria Jeans since my friend, Sean Wright (aka Sean the Blogonaut) alerted me to Gloria Jeans’ connection with Mercy Ministries and Hillsong. Reading Tanya Levin’s People in Glasshouses: an Insider’s Story of Life In and Out of Hillsong strengthened my resolve never to darken their doorstop. Admittedly, the fact that their coffee is over-cooked and tastes like dishwater made the decision considerably easier.
While there is something clearly rotten at the head of this company, I do understand that the franchisees, management and staff are not necessarily guilty of Irvine’s and Saleh’s bigotry, bastardry and poor judgement. So while I am calling for a boycott of Gloria Jeans, I am also calling for the people who actually run the stores to take a stand. Reclaim some decency for this company and demand that no more money be spent on religious ventures like Hillsong, Mercy Ministries, the Salvation Army or the Australian Christian Lobby.
If Irvine and Saleh want to make donations from their own personal wealth, that is their business. But while their company, Gloria Jeans Coffee is supporting homophobia, it reflects on everyone who works in that business.
* Please read this term inclusively as meaning, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, gay, intersex and queer.
*According to Suicide Prevention Australia, “38% of gay people have experienced discrimination. 50% have experienced verbal abuse. And shockingly, 74% of this abuse happened at school. Around 30% of Australian gay teenagers will attempt suicide. In Australia, on average over 200 young people will suicide this year. Around 30% of Australia’s gay teenagers will attempt suicide. Gay teens are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.” If that doesn’t make Gloria Jeans coffee taste undrinkable, I don’t know what will.
*The truth, according to reputable academic data (see, for example, Jenny, C et al in Pediatrics, 1994), is that homosexual men (men who have sex with men) are less likely than heterosexual men to sexually abuse children. Sexual abuse by lesbians is almost unheard of. Men who have sex with boys may be heterosexual (and the abuse of boys opportunistic rather than signifying a sexual ‘preference’) or, often, they are sexually immature ‘hebephiles’ who are not sexually attracted to either adult males or women – only to children. The abuse of a boy by an adult male may be described as ‘homosexual molestation’ in some church reports, but, as experts at the University of California Davis attest, this does not mean that the adult involved was a homosexual. The distinction is important and accepted by all but fundamentalists with a bigoted barrow to push. As Father Edward L Beck, a Catholic priest notes:
“To link homosexuality and pedophilia (or ephebophilia) is obviously erroneous, uninformed and irresponsible. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. Pedophilia and ephebophilia are sexual disorders that afflict both heterosexuals and homosexuals, and mostly heterosexuals.”
Want to do more than just boycott?
Join the Boycott Gloria Jeans Facebook group
Ask your local Gloria Jeans franchiser if they are aware that profits from the company support a homophobic agenda (but do be polite, please!). There’s a Store Locator on the Gloria Jeans website.
Let your friends and social networking contacts know that Gloria Jeans supports homophobic organisations and suggest they may want to purchase their coffee elsewhere.
Do you own a coffee shop or a coffee franchise? Why not seize a great marketing opportunity, donate to Australian Marriage Equality and advertise yourself as a supporter. Consider this – when the Australian Christian Lobby started complaining about Sunrise on Seven’s support for the “I Do” same-sex marriage campaign, GetUp called for signatures from those who thought it was a great initiative. The initial target was 5,000 signatures. So far, over 41,000 people have signed.
Gloria Jeans responds to boycott
Gloria Jeans has, today, responded to the boycott of their organisation, going viral on the internet. You can read it here on Same Same.
Gloria Jeans Coffees now confirms that in the 2010-2011 tax year it donated $30,000 to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“This was a once off donation during the time of the election… in support of the prime ministerial debate only,” says a spokesperson for the coffee chain today.
“What’s more, it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong,” Gloria Jeans adds.
From the comments so far, it appears the gay community isn’t buying it, and nor am I. I do accept without question that the franchisees, management and staff of Gloria Jeans may well ’embrace diversity’ but the fact remains that a considerable sum of money from the organisation has gone to the Australian Christian Lobby – the leading anti-gay group in the country. Further, this is not just a ‘one off’. Gloria Jeans does supply fund-raising support to Hillsong and, in the past, its stores enthusiastically promoted and fund-raised for an organisation responsible for the religious abuse of vulnerable girls.
It will take a great deal more from Gloria Jeans for me to change my view. I would expect an undertaking that the organisation will, in future, refrain from any kind of support (financial or in kind) of any religiously linked organisation and, as a token of their commitment to equality and diversity, a contribution of $30,000 to Australian Marriage Equality or a similar LGBT organisation.
You can see my considered response here: An Open Letter to Gloria Jeans – not buying the ‘spin’ guys
And follow-up post with more ‘hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar’ revelations here: Oh, Gloria Jeans! You’ve done it again!