Oh dearie dear, the PR’s just getting worser and worser for Gloria Jean’s!
Here’s a tip. If you’re going to plough money into causes which deny equality to your fellow Australians then you’d better:
a) be prepared to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of the public outrage and economic fallout; or
b) find a really, really good PR company.
Unfortunately, GJ’s has pursued neither of these options.
My dear friend, Dave the Happy Singer from Dave the Happy Singer dot com has been cogitating on the Gloria Jean’s dilemma. He’s a great cogitator, my friend Dave. And, during his cogitational revery, he kept thinking about a particular image that just didn’t seem to gel with Gloria Jean’s’ insistence that their $30,000 donation to the Australian Christian Lobby was purely for advertising and that:
“This was a once off donation during the time of the election… in support of the prime ministerial debate only. What’s more, it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong.
By the same token, nor do we discriminate against others based on their beliefs or preferences. We are proud of our culture of equality and embrace diversity across our entire business.
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.”
As tens of thousands of outraged coffee-drinkers joined the boycott of Gloria Jean’s (this little blog, alone, had almost 30,000 unique views of the Gloria Jean’s material this week), the increasingly desperate company issued this statement on their Facebook page:
“To the community,
Over the last few days there has been a lot of discussion about our company and we would like to take the opportunity to clear the air.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees has a strong culture and belief in respect, equality and diversity. As a brand we comprise of many individuals including our Support Office team, hundreds of Franchise Partners and thousands of coffee house team members, each with the right to hold their own beliefs.
As a company we hold no position on marriage law, and in line with our values support people’s freedom to choose who they love. We are not homophobic and are proud that our team members come from all walks of life and sexual orientations, and we respect everyone’s opinion and the right to freedom of choice – political, religious, marriage or otherwise.
Again we would like to apologise for any hurt or offence which may have been caused by the paid advertising we undertook for the 2010 prime ministerial debate event, hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
The paid advertising was undertaken on a commercial basis only, and it appears that there is now a perception that we endorse the views and values of the ACL. This is not the case. Gloria Jean’s Coffees does not support the independent views and values of the ACL.
There is also still confusion about our relationship with Hillsong Church. Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a privately owned business and not owned by the Hillsong Church.
This misunderstanding often arises because our founders are active parishioners of their local Hillsong Church.
We are not affiliated with Hillsong, however we do support a wide range of charities and churches in the communities in which our coffees houses operate including Hillsong.
We are proud of our contribution to the community so please follow this link to our website where you can see the range of causes that we support.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees Senior Management Team: Nabi Saleh, Angela Saleh, Keith Brown, Gareth Pike, Rudi Selles, Nicole Saleh and Matthew Button
But, despite the spin, it just wasn’t ringing true. No religious affiliation? How do you explain this little gem, provided by one of Dave’s trusty readers, ‘Shaz’:
Or this, which washed up on Facebook today:
As my dear friend, Bruce Llama reveals in Jesus Jean the Coffee is Off, Andrew Fisher, the owner of this car probably put his foot in it when he said that sponsorship from ‘mainstream secular companies’ would ‘confuse’ the Christian message of his enterprise too much. Indeed! Thanks Bruce – love your work!
But wait! There’s more! Following a lead from one of my very astute readers, Kas Grigonis (see Kas’ comment here), Dave did some more digging on Gloria Jean’s parent company, Jireh International Pty Ltd. Cleverly, Dave thought, “If $30,000 was donated to the Australian Christian Lobby under the name of “Gloria Jean’s Coffees”, what donations might have been made under the parent company’s name, “Jireh International Pty Ltd”. And what do you know? Bingo!
As Dave explains at Dave the Happy Singer dot com:
“In 2004, Gloria Jean’s holding company donated to the NSW Liberals and an entity called Families Australia. Pulling up the return [PDF] for Families Australia, we see that it received $105,000 in three donations, promptly donating that same sum on to…
And whose name do we find next to one of those donations? $10,000 came from:
See Dave’s blog post: Did Gloria Jeans donate to Family First, too? for all the tawdry information.
Oh, happy day! Gloria Jean’s – the ‘non-religiously affiliated company’ slipping 10,000 bucks to Assemblies-of-God-linked Family First? Who’d a thunk it? Was this another one of those ‘one offs’, Gloria Jean’s?
And why does Assemblies of God ring a bell? Oh, yes! It’s because Nabi Saleh – one of the co-signatories to the protestation of innocence above – is the director of Alphacrucis (formerly the Southern Cross College of the Assemblies of God). What an incredible coincidence!
Following the bouncing ball with this lot is so much fun. Guess who one of the Family First’s senate candidates was? Yes! A gold star for those of you who got it right: @WendyJoyFrancis – now Queensland director of … the Australian Christian Lobby.
Come on! You remember Wendy. She’s the one whose twitter feed read:
“Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.”
But let me stress, Wendy didn’t tweet this herself! It was some unnamed person, tweeting under Wendy’s name. Someone who just happened to have her twitter password. And believe me, those are NOT Wendy Francis’ views and the person who tweeted them HAS BEEN COUNSELED! Let me restate that, they HAVE BEEN COUNSELED!
In a ham-fisted effort to dig herself out a rapidly deepening hole, Ms Francis told AAP that children used in the “social experiment” of same-sex parenting were open to emotional abuse, like those of the stolen generations.
Wendy, of course, IS NOT HOMOPHOBIC; although, mysteriously, having failed to gain a Senate seat, she is now a senior manager in an organisation which spends the majority of its time telling us that allowing same-sex couples to marry is not in the best interests of children and that that child rape by clergy is primarily attributable to homosexuals infiltrating churches.
In 2010, Family First disendorsed David Barrow, a Victorian candidate for the Federal Seat of La Trobe, because it was discovered that Barrow “supports the marriage of any committed partnership and says same-sex couples should have the right to adopt”.
Family First chairman, Peter Lake, said:
“It came to our attention that he had posted some information on his website and blogs which was inconsistent with the stated position that he had given us as a candidate when we had endorsed him and the views were different to the values that Family First espouses” (emphasis added).
This is the party to which the NON-RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED Gloria Jean’s decided to donate 10,o00 smackeroonies.
Geez GJ’s! I’m a little short of cash this week. If I strap on a sandwich board that reads “God Hates Fags” and walk up and down the Queen Street Mall at lunch time will you throw me a lazy ‘thou’ or ten – in the most unreligiously, unhomophobic way of course!
The thing is, Gloria Jean’s, you are neck deep in the manure of Balaam’s talking donkey. Your company has enthusiastically sponsored a variety of homophobic organisations and now it’s beginning to have negative financial consequences you’re trying to backpedal as fast as Nabi Saleh can mumble in tongues.
I was asked by a Christian this week why I was ‘so angry’ about this. Well, you know, the social environment created by organisations which deny the scientific consensus on homosexuality causes gay teens to attempt suicide at a rate significantly higher than their heterosexual peers. That tends to get me riled. I guess I’m just funny that way.
The facts are that:
- homosexuality is entirely natural in terms of the spectrum of human sexuality
- it is neither chosen nor changeable
- children do equally as well with homosexual parents as they do with heterosexual parents
- homosexuality and pedophilia are not linked – the use of the term ‘homosexual molestation’ does not and should not be taken to imply that the adult molesting the child is a homosexual, only that the molestation was performed by a man upon a male child or teenager.
As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake … HUGE!”
It’s too late now to take a ‘neutral position’ on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Gloria Jean’s. You guys are going to have to pick a side.
May I make some suggestions?
a) Admit that, under the influence of Saleh (and others?) your organisation has unwisely invested in organisations that have caused great pain and suffering, not only to homosexuals, but to other vulnerable groups.
b) Admit this has been contrary to the interests (both personal and financial) of your franchisees and their staff.
c) Announce that you are now prepeared to put the past behind you; that neither Gloria Jean’s – nor any companies even remotely associated with it – will contribute either financially or in kind towards organisations which view homosexuality, the sexual expression of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as ‘abnormal’ or ‘sinful’.
c) Pledge to compensate for your company’s betrayal of your LGBTIQ customers and employees by contributing the sum of $30,000 plus $10,000 to Australian Marriage Equality. After all, it’s the least you can do.
Simply come clean and say, “Yes, we contributed that money to organisations which think homosexuality is sinful and abnormal because our company is based on fundamentalist Christian values and as a corporate entity, we endorse those views. Further, as this is our fervently held position, we are prepared to accept (on behalf of our franchisees) any backlash that might occur because of this principled stance.”
At least that would be honest.
PS: Oh, and Gloria Jean’s? We know you had the logo promoting your company as a ‘partner’ in the Hillsong Conference removed from the conference website. Can you confirm if you’re still sponsoring the conference?
Update: Dave Singer tells me that the Gloria Jean’s logo has since reappeared on the Hillsong Conference sponsors list. Despite having ‘no affiliation’ with Hillsong they are listed as a “MAJOR PARTNER”.
Dave shares this photo of a Gloria Jeans Coffee cart. Note the t-shirt on the barrista and the logo on the coffee cup?