God’s Own Party? the blog has fallen silent for the past two months – albeit the GOP itself has been on quite the rip. I have a very good reason for my absence that was revealed last month in a lengthy written interview by Sarah Jones at PoliticusUSA on August 15th in which I explain how and why my project, Leah’s List™ was conceived.
Unfortunately, that article received very little attention as it was published right after we heard about the gunman who entered the Family Research Council office in Washington, D.C. and opened fire, reportedly hitting a security guard in arm. Timing is everything, but unlike the release of a book, introducing this web site is an ongoing project so you will be seeing more about it as time goes on.
This is one of two projects that I have developed after years of work in the field of Christian Dominionism in American politics. Following the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments about running his business on biblical business principals hastened my launch date. His interview in the Baptist Press described perfectly how their mission include profits and converts, and how this translates into funding efforts that deprive certain Americans equality in America. An article in the Baptist Press reported:
CARY, N.C. (BP) — Dan Cathy oversees one of the country’s most successful businesses. As president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Cathy leads a business with 1,608 restaurants that had sales of more than $4 billion dollars last year. They sell chicken and train employees to focus on values rooted in the Bible.
Dan Cathy’s success has not erased the biblical values he learned as a child in a Baptist church. He is a warm, common man who is deeply committed to being a faithful Christian witness. [...] Based on Matthew 5:41, Cathy is on a mission to provide customers with “second-mile” service — exceeding even the highest expectations of a typical fast-food restaurant.
Leah’s List™ has a life all its own and sadly due to the shear numbers of adherents in the ReBiblican Marketplace it will never be “finished”. My staff and I have been accumulating information for years that constitute the database we use to build Leah’s List™ and with more than 3,500 listings entered we have barely scratched the surface. Right now we have more than 200,000 businesses, services, politicians and organizations that fit the minimum criteria for making Leah’s List™ that span the country and with boots on the ground across America that database grows constantly.
They decide for us. Overwhelmingly, these folks have signed “Statements of Faith” (which vary in length) and have sworn to primarily patronize businesses run on sound biblically-based business principles in order to achieve what they refer to as “Keeping Kingdom dollars in the Kingdom”. By doing so they have successfully built a parallel economy that is unnoticed by mainstream America. And while they admonish their followers for not adhering to the loyalty of these businesses and services – they have zero compunction about taking your money off your hands and adding it to their coffers.
We have no qualms with success. Quite the opposite. In fact, one of the primary aims of Leah’s List™ is to boost the secular economy by diverting money spent on goods and services away from these Kingdom Builders. These very people who preach damnation of the “wrong kind of Christian” clearly have no problems padding their accounts with secular dollars.
This has real-world consequences on businesses, services and politics outside of their Kingdom. Money has been diverted and it is taking its toll – especially on small businesses. Many of these Kingdom Builders are mega-giants like Walmart, Coors, Exxon and franchises such as Chick-fil-A, 7-Eleven, Mary Kay, Coldstone Ice Cream, American Family Insurance and thousands and thousands more who have siphoned business away from Main Street America and into malls and superstores leaving virtual ghost towns in their wake.
Is This a Call to Boycott?
Absolutely not. Leah’s List™ is about exposing who these participants in the ReBiblican Marketplace are so we can make informed decisions about where we spend our hard-earned dollars. Even though many will continue to patronize those on Leah’s List™, a growing number will choose to shop in a secular marketplace and divert the power of their spending elsewhere.
This is about giving consumers a voice through choice. We are all for freedoms and success, but also believe that profits should not be made by tricking customers who would never support their businesses if they knew the agenda behind the facade. These Kingdom Builders know that if they were out in the open about where their money is spent they would lose money from the very same customers whose lives are adversely impacted by the faith and politics of the financial power wielded by these entities.
What we are adamantly opposed to is the building of financial wealth that in turn is used to elevate the power and authority of a single religion in our secular Nation. These Kingdom Builders seek precisely that – a Christian Nation with a theocratic government.
What Prompted the Need for a List Like This?
There are many ways to land on this list but first let’s look at why this list evolved in the first place. I built this list after seeing for myself through research spanning over many years how a parallel Christian economy has become more than an innocent club for like-minded religious business members and politicians.
It has grown into an enormous Movement that is not only shutting down secular businesses – but they are shuttering mainstream churches through the practice of steeplejacking and blocking elections of politicians that do not support the marriage of church and state.
This parallel Christian marketplace has been going on for many years and taking on new life since the early 1990s when it took on a much larger role of combining religion, politics and wealth – leading to consequential effects on the secular marketplace that are being felt nationwide.
The Baptist Press article goes on to reveal this about Chick-fil-A’s biblical business promotions and intent – how they openly pride themselves in using their for profit business to build missions and proselytize:
“Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
No one is denying Cathy’s need to combine his beliefs with his business, but the reaction by customers who unknowingly patronized his restaurants revealed precisely why Leah’s List is needed. People were justifiably outraged when they found out, through Cathy’s own words, that they use customer dollars to fund theocratic politics – including having contributed $1.8 million dollars to promote the Defense of Marriage Act which is solely the creation of Christian Dominionists as well as various other contributions – including the Family Research Council whose anti-homosexual sentiments and acts are so hateful that they are recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Why Do I Have to Pay to be a Member on Leah’s List™?
I put a lot of thought into picking a fair price for Leah’s List™ membership and part of my struggle was to keep it as reasonably priced as possible. The result of much debate is an annual fee of $9.99. I have received a smattering of criticisms already about the membership dues, telling me that I should make this information free to the public and here is how I explain why this is membership-driven.
1) Research and Development is not free and my time and the time of my staff has value as we take on the daunting task that makes Leah’s List™ a reality;
2) The costs associated with development, programming, support and web hosting alone is in the thousands;
3) Advertising and Promotion takes investment;
4) Leah’s List™ is not “done” and given the ongoing growth of the ReBiblican Marketplace, we never will be finished with this project creating a constant need for additional staff which also requires financial resources.
These are just some of the realities of running an online business and I know that most of you appreciate that these projects don’t just come to fruition out of thin air and overnight.
But for those of you who are upset about paying a membership fee, this information is as free to you as it has been to me for years. You will find that the challenge you will run into is the years of research that it will take you to accumulate a fraction of this list.
I have dedicated much of my life to researching, educating and writing about the dangers of our own homegrown religious extremists known as Dominionists. I struggled to create ways to get this message out to the broadest audience possible and no matter what I tried, barriers got in the way, which is to be expected unless one is nationally recognized.
I offered a webinar series. I have traveled at my own expense to appear in different venues as a speaker on the dangers of Dominionism in America. I wrote not one, but two books that made some in the publishing and advertising industry richer as my savings disappeared.
All of those endeavors have certainly had some impact, but as I watch the pundits struggle with understanding the take-over of conservative politics by those who devoutly believe that we are – and have always been – a Christian Nation and who swear to “take the country back” I grow increasingly anxious about how to expose these extremists. I can yell at the TV all I want and they are not going to hear me, so new ideas ruminated below the surface which led to Leah’s List™ and the second project that will be announced soon called “The Secular Marketplace™”.
The Secular Marketplace™ will be a traditional directory of businesses, services, politicians and organizations who pay to advertise as an alternative to the Rebiblican Marketplace, demonstrating their support of separation of church and state. This will be free to everyone in the same way as the Yellow Pages are.
The Mountain of Dominionism
I have watched great books on this topic never reach an audience beyond “the choir”. People are turning to the Internet more and more for news and information. Along with that is an appetite for short, succinct (unlike this post) snippets of information. It is joked that to write a book in today’s world each paragraph cannot exceed 140 characters. Out of this the idea for Leah’s List™ came to be as I sat on this mountain of information that I had worked for years to disseminate through other methods.
Then, suddenly…either I was just noticing it more or Angie’s List was pouring massive amounts of money into a new advertising campaign that was plastering media from radio to television to the internet. Everywhere I turned I heard “Angie’s List” and the light went on. I was encouraged… after all…look at how successful this woman has been in growing her business in her effort to help people be better informed about who they were doing business with – becoming synonymous with “buyer beware”!
Surely (I thought) people will be equally as interested in finding out who is and is not using their hard-earned dollars to fund an agenda to turn our democratic republic into a plutocratic theocracy! Of course they will!
And now we shall see. I will continue to do my part and I am hoping to see you do yours. By supporting Leah’s List™ you are exercising one of two incredibly powerful tools available to you in this very real fight against extremism in America -
1) your vote
2) your wallet!
Used wisely we can all make a difference and stem this tide of extremism.
Would I love to be a wealthy philanthropist, or a multi-million dollar lottery winner, or a trustfund baby so that I could afford to shoulder these costs and pay my employees so that I could offer this service for free?
You bet I would! But I am not. What I am is a determined 54 year-old former social justice lobbyist and activist who is a mother and grandmother – who sees the massive successes of Christian Dominionists - and who will continue to fight every moment of every day doing whatever I can to prevent an America where my girls grow up and live in a plutocratic theocracy.
Will you join me?