An Open Letter to Gloria Jeans Coffee – not buying the ‘spin’ guys

Dear Gloria Jeans

Following the revelation that Gloria Jeans donated $30,000 to Australia’s pre-eminent anti-gay organisation, the Australian Christian Lobby, I (along with many others), have called for a national boycott of your stores. I realise this is harsh on franchisees who may not share your founders’ extremist, homophobic views. But it seems only a boycott will motivate store owners to put pressure on your company to change its historic, and on-going support for anti-gay organisations.

Yesterday, Gloria Jeans issued a statement which said in part:  “ it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong … We are proud of our culture of equality and embrace diversity across our entire business.”

I think you might have been fudging – just a little.

You see, I looked into Gloria Jeans “With Heart” charitable foundation and noticed that the two major recipients of your philanthropy – Compassion Australia and Opportunity International – are both Christian evangelical organisations. Surely that is not just coincidence?

Compassion Australia is part of the Compassion International Global network. Compassion uses the ‘child sponsorship’ model to work with children in poverty throughout the world. Very admirable at first glance but let’s look closer.

I’d like to begin our exploration of Compassion Australia and its global partner by introducing you to my friend Rodney Chiang Cruise and his family.  Rodney is a patent attorney from Melbourne;  his husband, Jeff, is a library technician. They are your average young, professional family with three beautiful young children.

I don’t know about you, Gloria Jeans, but when I look at this photo, the words that spring to my mind are ‘normal’, ‘wholesome’ and ‘happy’.  The Chiang Cruises are the epitomy of a solid, middle-class, respectable Australian family – just the sort who are likely to patronise Gloria Jeans Coffee.

And yet, if my friends Rodney (left)  and Jeff  (right) wanted to sponsor a child through Compassion Australia – the charity your company supports through your “With Heart” program – they would be faced with some rather major obstacles.

Having agreed to sponsor a child, the Chiang Cruises would receive an instruction kit with instructions on how ‘to write to her, encourage her and develop a relationship with her’. But, the Compassion guidebook would warn that their correspondence will be censored and that “materials that condone lifestyle choices inconsistent with our beliefs, such as those: condoning sexual relationships outside the heterosexual marriage covenant or advocating the living out of a homosexual lifestyle” will not be forwarded.

Rodney and Jeff may be able to sponsor a child through Compassion Australia, but they would not be able to send photos of their happy family or describe their every day family life. To add insult to injury, just as Gloria Jeans refers to homosexuality as a ‘preference’, Compassion describes it pejoratively as a ‘lifestyle’.

Just to be sure the message has got through, a warning on the form provided to write a message to your sponsored child reads:

“Please do not send communications … or comments condoning sexual relationships outside the heterosexual marriage covenant.”

Now, of course no one in their right mind is going to write to a sponsored child about the wild night of gay sex they had last night; of course that would be inappropriate, just as it would be inappropriate to write to a child about your heterosexual sex life. But, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a normal family with two dads (or two mums) simply sending a child family photos like the beautiful photo above. That would not be acceptable to Compassion.

I imagine that if I sponsored a child through Compassion and wanted to write about spending time with my friends Rodney and Jeff and their three children, that would be censored too. Compassion children are not allowed to know that homosexuals can marry, have children and happy, healthy, thriving families. It might suggest that homosexuality is ‘normal’. It might lead to tolerance for homosexuality in countries where homosexuals face persecution and, often murder. That would never do.

Given your founders’ close connection with Hillsong Church, I was not surprised to find that Compassion Australia also has a very close association with Hillsong.  Hillsong boasts that it is the largest single sponsor of Compassion International children. As you’re probably aware (but didn’t mention when you were busy distancing yourself from Hillsong yesterday) Compassion Australia is a major supporter of Sydney’s annual Hillsong conference and Colour Your World women’s conference.  It’s all very cosy.

Of course, helping poverty stricken children and families is to be applauded – but this is help with an agenda. Compassion is an evangelical ministry. Children are not just housed, fed and clothed – they are brainwashed into fundamentalism; a fundamentalism which condemns homosexuality as sinful.

To carry out its work, Compassion partners with churches in the countries in which it works. But they are highly selective. Partner churches must be ‘part of an evangelical denomination’ – none of those wussy liberal churches allowed. Even in Brazil, where 70 per cent of the population is Catholic, Compassion do not, apparently, partner with Catholic churches.

The aim, you see, is not primarily to feed the poor, but to spread the faith – a very particular brand of the faith with very particular fundamentalist, literalist views. The kind of faith promulgated by, let’s say, Hillsong Church and the Australian Christian Lobby,

In countries where Compassion is dealing with HIV/AIDS their attitude towards homosexuality raises serious concerns. As one sponsor wrote:

“My family recently (last weekend!) sponsored a young boy in Rwanda through Compassion. I’m concerned about the comments here regarding the organization’s stance on homosexuality. We sponsored this young boy in large part because of his living in an area with a horrifically high incidence of AIDS. We wondered why this young boy had been on the waiting list for over 6 months- now, perhaps it’s a little clearer. I hope to discover the people working through this organization are teaching these vulnerable people ALL the ways in which AIDS is spread … ours is not to judge the soul into which the person is born, ours is to promote safe practices and the knowledge that we are ALL God’s children.

I would hate to think our young man – already feeling marginalized by a world around him – would be any less educated about the risks involved in ANY unprotected physical relationship. Given what we know in 2009, we cannot afford to support the naive notion that telling someone who they are, is wrong- and will change who God made them to be-dangerous territory, if you ask me.”

So, what does Compassion teach about HIV/AIDS prevention? The answer will send shivers down the spines of my friends who are experts in this area and familiar with ‘world’s best practice’.

According to Compassion International:

Our goal is to reduce the incidence of new HIV infections among Compassion-assistedchildren through a focus on purity in sexual behaviors (abstinence and faithfulness) and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

…  grassroots, local churches are well positioned to present the positive, life-giving message of “sex within marriage” that African youth need to hear — and to which they do respond. Uganda, for example, has witnessed a decline in HIV prevalence from roughly 12 to 4.1 percent over the past decade and that decline is largely attributed to successful prevention strategies encouraging abstinence and faithfulness.*

Compassion funds will not be used to purchase or promote the distribution of condoms. The message of “safe sex” to youth is contradictory to the Biblical message of sexual purity.”

The CEO of Compassion Australia is Tim Hanna – formerly CEO of Willow Creek Australia. Willow Creek is part of an international evangelical ministry founded and still largely directed by Bill Hybels.

For many years Willow Creek (in the USA – I don’t know about Australia) had a close relationship with Exodus International – the notorious ex-gay ministry – although that relationship has since ended. While coming to the acceptance that homosexuality cannot be ‘changed’ Hybels (and presumably his church) are a long way from accepting homosexuals. “We challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in Scriptures, which encourage sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage,” says Hybels. Hybels adds that the Bible prescribes “sexual abstinence and purity for everyone else.”

This seems to echo Compassion’s commitment to the ‘Biblical message on sexual purity’.

So, let’s get this straight, Gloria Jeans. Yesterday, you denied your company had any ‘religious affiliations’. You declared that Gloria Jeans ’embraced diversity’  and does not  ‘discriminate against others based on their beliefs or preferences’.  (I wonder if you realise how revealing the phrasing of that last sentence is: Homosexuality is no more a ‘preference’ than heterosexuality;  and should not be referred to as such.)

In your statement, you note that: “The religious affiliation and preferences of some our management, Franchise Partners or Team Members, is their personal choice and bears no relevance to the way that our business runs day to day.”

Then how do you explain the fact that one of the major recipients of your philanthropy just happens to be an evangelical Christian organisation with close links to Hillsong Church? Did you think no-one would notice? Given your company’s propensity for making corporate contributions to anti-gay organisations such as Mercy Ministries, Hillsong and the Salvation Army, how do you explain that even a little investigation found similar anti-gay sentiments within Compassion Australia?

It is disingenous to believe that a non-discriminatory policy in your stores excuses you financing anti-gay groups at a corporate level.

Why, given Gloria Jeans salutory experience with Mercy Ministries did you decide to throw your weight behind another fundamentalist, evangelical organisation with close links to Hillsong?

I’m sorry, Gloria Jeans. I’m not buying your lame attempt at PR spin. Gloria Jeans corporate contributions – both past and present – align with the homophobic views of founders Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine. As long as that continues, I will continue to boycott your company and I expect that the tens of thousands of people who have joined the boycott will be similarly unmoved.

Chrys Stevenson

*In fact, the drop in HIV prevalence in Uganda is attributed to the Ugandan government’s ABC campaign:  Abstinence, be faithful, use a condom if A and B fail. One of the most recent studies, showed that while abstinence and fidelity rates were declining, HIV/AIDS rates were not rising. This suggests condoms are playing an important role in HIV/AIDS prevention in Uganda. Sadly, another reason for the decline in prevalence was the high rate of premature deaths of those who had contracted it.

Doug Pollard writes the perfect accompaniment to this article:  An Open Letter to Starbucks

And I write a follow-up post with more ‘hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar’ revelations here:  Oh, Gloria Jeans! You’ve done it again!

44 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Gloria Jeans Coffee – not buying the ‘spin’ guys

  1. Pingback: Why I boycott Gloria Jeans Coffee – and you should too « Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

  2. David Fisher

    Dear Chrys,

    My wife was impressed by your articles on Gloria Jean’s. She wanted to print them out and distribute them so other people would know of the connections of that business. However, the articles were too long for that to be practical. If there had been a short summary or a shorter article she would have done so. Your articles seem well researched and well-written. However, summaries and shorter articles containing the main points which could be easily passed on or printed and distributed would be useful.

    1. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a

      david may I suggest a brief synopsis and link to the article in full so interested people can get the whole story ?

  3. traffman

    Have boycotted GJs for years and will continue to do so; your article has inspired me to actively encourage others to do the same

  4. Pingback: Boycott Gloria, but put the pressure on Julia « The Conscience Vote

  5. Louella

    More great research translated into very readable info.

    On a sideline, I’ve been astounded at the number of people who’ve said the coffee is woeful! It’s a wonder they’re still in business. (I don’t drink coffee so my boycott consists of not going there to eat, and discouraging my children from going there.)

  6. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a

    For what it is worth I have emailed GJ and suggested they not only donate to a LGBT based charity but make a public statement by selling charity fundraising LGBT rainbow flags and merchandize in their outlets so people know where they stand on this issue.

    I have said as soon as I see them publicly supporting LGBT concerns I will buy their coffee.

  7. Pingback: Starbucks Support Marriage Equality « Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

  8. Angus M

    What a load of dribble. Worked in the head office for 2 years and there are plenty of openly gay staff members at all levels including in senior prominent roles. Plenty of people from different cultures, religions, non-religious etc etc. Personally knowing the people who run it and their values, very proud to say I worked there. Great business genuinely trying to do good things in the community. How are you positively contributing ?

    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      The fact that GJ’s might employ gay staff in no way excuses their funding anti-gay groups – especially the Australian Christian Lobby.

      It is wonderful that, today, Starbucks has come out in support of marriage equality. When Gloria Jeans does the same, I will happily delete this post.

      Oh, and I think the word you were searching for is ‘drivel’ not ‘dribble’.

      1. shelly

        stop discriminating against Christians. Can’t you see this is discrimination. They are entitled to there opinion. There are bigger issues than gay marriage. The next thing you know they will try to legalise marriage to animals.

        Shut up with it all. I sharing my belief. Marriage is meant for a man and woman

    2. Simon Hunt

      Shelly, the only thing that you have to fear is that after the revolution people like you are goingto be sent to grammar and spelling camps.

  9. Christopher Banks

    Oh yes, let’s save the children – in a very specific way, which might involve them getting AIDS and dying. In which case, it’s their fault. The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for this post, and the exposure of the lies. Violation of the 8th commandment, if I’m not mistaken.

  10. Paolo-Andrea

    An excellent article enjoyed reading it. Now where does MacDoanld stand on gay rights and issues?

    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      Paolo-Andrea, I don’t think anyone ‘expects’ companies to take a stand on gay rights issues – although it’s obviously welcome when they do. The objection is to companies actively taking an anti-gay position by funding homophobic groups. It is particularly egregious in the case of Gloria Jeans providing a considerable donation to the Australian Christian Lobby, because the ACL actively campaigns for legislation that will restrict the rights of LGBT Australians. If companies which to remain neutral on the issue and fund neither side, I am absolutely happy with that.

  11. TM

    I think this article does a disservice to your cause.

    Firstly, let me say I am not homophobic and that people are entitled to live whatever life they choose as long as it doesn’t hurt other people. I also boycott GJ for their affiliation with Hillsong and I am led to believe they are owned by Hillsong. Who knows, don’t care enough to research it as affiliation is enough for me.

    I’d like to see links to some of the information you’ve quoted. I don’t doubt it’s validity but it’s one thing to say something is true it’s another to prove it. Would providing links/sources strengthen or weaken your argument? You are free to choose where you spend your money and what causes you support and so are others as this is an endeavour to educate people information is power the more your provide the more solid your case becomes. Despite the information you have quoted it comes across as a bitter opinion without sources.

    To characterise the Chiang Cruises as ‘average’ is false. Statistically the average is the number of a group which most typifies the group. I would disagree that a same sex partnership typifies the Australian family. Obviously my evidence is only anecdotal, once gain I can’t be bothered researching the ABS, which may undermine my first point, oh well. I can’t argue they’re not normal but to characterise them as ‘average’ is indulging in the same spin you are condemning GJ for carrying out.

    At the end of the day this is a first world problem, I know it is important to you and to many other people but so is the life of the african girl being saved by their money and work. It is naive to think that every organisation is without an agenda or even to think there might be an organisation without an agenda. We all have our own agendas, that’s fine. Our agendas will no doubt clash with other peoples. At the end of the day if their money saves the life of one child where the money came from is minor issue, especially to that child.

    If you want to make change in this world you have to lead not be anti-whatever. It’s the very thing that disgusts you in others. Be pro-something. If you dissuade someone from donating with Compassion Australia and they never follow through by donating through another organisation and a child loses their life, is that the end state you seek? I have no doubt this is not your intention so perhaps providing other more agreeable charities (to you) for the same purpose. You just come across as being anti-christian not pro-freedom.

    Just my two cents, you can see the anger coming through in your post and it just stirs anger in others. Anger is the cause of the world’s problems not the solution.

    1. M.F.

      Are you serious? Be pro-something, not anti-something? If you’re pro equal rights then you are, by definition, anti oppression. What a weak stance it would be to ‘ignore’ the bigotry and hate of others by choosing instead to only speak about the good things you want to achieve. Women are being stoned to death in Muslim countries? Yes, well, let’s not use that as a rallying cry for action, that would be anti-stoning – what a horrid disgusting thing (the ‘anti’ bit, that is) – let’s be pro women’s rights, hoorah! What a ridiculous stance to take. Then, to top it off, you grasp at straws at the use of the word ‘average’ in the article. I hardly think that was a ‘spin’ – I use the word ‘average’ every day without intending it to be taken by its mathematical definition: “how are you feeling”… “pretty average”… Doesn’t mean I was feeling the exact statistical middle ground of my emotional range. I meant unremarkable, not abnormal etc. Unless English is your second language you must know ‘average’ is commonly used in this context and your response seems all the more desperate for that little dig. I fully support gay marriage and don’t think it’s ‘disgusting’ of me at all to highlight the bigotry and ignorance of others to support the argument for equality. And speaking of sources, I would love for you to show one which supports your hypothesis that a person who decides not to donate to one charity for its repugnant moral stance will then choose to keep that donation instead of simply choosing to support a charity without a hateful agenda?

      1. Mikey Bear

        I’d have to agree. For parents who care deeply about their kids and want to give them the absolute best opportunities possible, Rodney and Jeff are about as average as it comes. That’s pretty good in my estimation.

      2. TM

        Being anti something does not automatically mean being pro it’s opposite the world is more complex than that. Does being anti-christian automatically make someone pro-mulsim, pro-judaism or pro-equal rights? My point is there is plenty of negativity in the world if you want to lead, people need direction not restriction. For instance, don;t be s angry, lighten up it’s just a website. 🙂

        So when you read ‘average’ you assumed the Chiang Cruises were “unremarkable”? The context used was to characterise the Chiang Cruises as typifying the normal/common Australian family. Which they are not right or wrong it’s a fact. Even the fact they have 3 children would make them not the average as I believe that is 2.3 but who knows. My point was that if you’re going to pick up people on their use of language then you should ensure you cannot come under attack for the same thing. As for Mikey’s point below and possibly the reason you’ve taken offence (correct me if I’m wrong) I’m not arguing they are bad parents or that they are not ‘normal’ ‘wholesome’ or ‘happy’ just that to characterise them as average is false as most families in Australia do not have two gay parents of the same sex. The fact they are gay is the whole point they were used in the example so don’t accuse me of bigotry or homophobia for pointing out the elephant in the room. The point is made stronger by using healthy functioning same sex parents and their contribution to the charity not by characterising them as average.

        As for ‘disgusting’ what I was referring to is not bigotry but the relentless hate and anger towards our fellow man. If you want to be hateful and angry back at them for being hateful and angry then you’re adding to the problem. Why not kill them all before they have a chance to kill you. Exaggeration, perhaps but to say I hate those hateful fuckers for hating gay people is ludicrous.

        There are no sources needed as it wasn’t a hypothesis it was an example. I made no correlation to people reading this article and people not donating to a more noble charity. As with the first point give people a choice to choose not a choice not to choose. If you don;t want people to donate to Compassion Australia say ‘here’s what’s wrong with them you should send your money to (whoever else) as they are better).

        Your turn.

      1. Mikey Bear

        I have to agree, the hyperlinks are a little difficult to see on this screen I’m currently at. Other screens may render them more clearly. But as always, you’re impeccably thorough.

    2. nicole

      Thanks for such a well written reply. You voiced my thoughts exactly, although I don’t have the skills to word them so eloquently.

    3. JM

      My studies in social work and sociology have lead me I believe that in Australia it is no longer seen that the ‘nuclear family’ is seen as ‘ average’ or ‘normal’. In more modern times we are seeing a diversity in the family structure. Who is to say what a ‘family’ is or is not?

      Once upon a time single parents who looked after their child full time was not seen or viewed as a ‘family’ as it defied the definition of a nuclear family. Nor was a couple who adopted a child from either Australia or another country regarded as a family because the child was not ‘biologically’ related to them. What a joke.

      However as time has gone by the growth of non nuclear families if you like, such as same-sex families, single parents, Adoptive families, Forster families, etc has meant that it is no longer suitable to discriminate against certain groups by taking away their right of being called a ‘family’.

      To me, the dedinition of family is any grouo of people that love, care an look after one another. Even within your typical ‘nuclear family’ ( this angers me just using the words) there are horrendous amounts of violence which would indicate that there is a lack love and caring yet this is still your ‘family’? Ridiculous!

      Before you start jumping at someone’s statement of their usage of the word ‘average’ as yourself what you define a ‘family’ as being. If they are loving, caring and affectionate towards eachother, do not harm one another in anyway. Provide or their children in education, food shelter etc. then yes I would classify them as ‘average’ as well. The ‘nucler’ family is no longer used.

  12. Pingback: Gloria Jeans and Hillsong suffer bizarre coincidental website glitch – Dave The Happy Singer

  13. Pingback: Whatever happened to Gloria Jean? « Wolfies World – Wolfie Rankin

  14. Pingback: Oh, Gloria Jeans! You’ve done it again! « Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

  15. lissy

    I’d boycott, but there’s no Gloria Jean’s in Mount Isa and I don’t drink coffee anyway; so I’ll just share the link around and say good job – I do enjoy well written and thoroughly referenced pieces 🙂

  16. Pingback: Gloria Jeans In a Latte Trouble | mophosophical

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