Members of the online gay geo-spatial app Grindr are amongst the latest angry customers to demand that Gloria Jean’s clean up its politics and are boycotting its percolation. This is one of many reactions to Gloria Jean’s Coffee’s $30,000 donation to the Australian Christian Lobby. The social media furore went into overdrive recently causing reactions from many individuals.
ACL was recently described in The Brisbane Times as giving disproportionate amounts of interest to opposing euthanasia, LGBT rights, and the rights of women to have abortions. Richard Tutin from Queensland Churches Together, an ecumenical forum, describes ACL as, “totally [having] an agenda” and “interested in upholding a very, very traditional view of marriage [which is] derived in their eyes from scripture and societal practice”.
This has lead many, particularly womens’ and LGBT rights activists to deem ACL to be a reactionary lobby against the accomplishments and ideas of the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Gloria Jean’s claims the money was to fund the Make It Count event, however, the donation was made five months after the event. It was entirely run by ACL and featured a forum of ACL delegates questioning Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd two days before Julia Gillard became Prime Minister. The purpose of the event seemed to be for Abbott and Rudd to win evangelical votes. ACL lobbied for both Rudd and Abbott to not allow either of their parties to have a conscience vote on marriage equality. Abbott agreed.
The ACL has a clear ability to adjust the positions of major Australian political parties to its own auspices.As a result, Gloria Jean’s has run into a bit of a pickle. Customers now know they actively support, as a corporate entity, a fringe political lobby group. Many are furious and livid at the idea that their morning coffee has been fuelling what most people would deem the bigotry that ACL is engaged in.
Social media understandably has been viral, spewing indignation. The corporate beast has been stunned by the revelation. Gloria Jean’s rushed to assert that they had no connection to the evangelical happy clappers at Hillsong Church in Sydney’s North West.
When anyone googles the terms ‘Hillsong’ and ‘Gloria Jean’s’ a raft of pre-2010 article on things such as Mercy Ministries appear. What is Mercy Ministries and what connection to Hillsong and Gloria Jean’s does the wise Google inform us of?
Mercy Ministries, a now defunct Christian organisation thanks to those secular bigots, the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC); provided the much needed services of lesbian curing and their speciality, highly sought after exorcisms to extract the ‘gay’ from patients as they compulsory took their Centrelink payments.
Some have felt uncomfortable with this to say the least. In 2008 and 2009 board members of Gloria Jean’s were also on the board of Mercy Ministries and were funnelling Gloria Jean’s monies to the organisation for over a decade. This was a contentious point that stuck like mud to Gloria Jean’s as it was a contractual obligation for all stores to have a donation box for Mercy Ministries. It comes as no surprise then that amongst ‘Grindrs’, and thousands of other coffee lovers, there has been outrage at the $30000 endowment for this fringe political organisation.
In a statement Gloria Jean’s Coffee has attempted to distance itself from the ACL saying the $30,000 was a “once off donation during the time of the election”. The usual damage control stuff. “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,” the statement said. “We are not homophobic” it repeated.
This statement has not satisfied critics who saw the five month gap between the event Gloria Jean’s claimed to have paid for in June 2010 and the donation being made in November 2010 as evidence to the contrary. The social media response has centred upon a Facebook page, Boycott Gloria Jeans for funding Homophobia. In three weeks it has amassed over 7700 members. Recently the page leaked two internal documents from Gloria Jean’s. The first stated: “In light of the recent activity on our Facebook page, we will take this opportunity to temporarily postpone [our] campaign launch.” The intensity of concerned LGBT community comments about its activities shows no sign of abating and has stymied Gloria Jean’s marketing strategy. With these internal documents going public, stymied is an understatement.
It was evidently not the wisest move for Gloria Jean’s to donate to the ACL. Important stakeholders get annoyed: customers, who feel outraged that they’re funding lesbian abortions or ACL calling the LGBT rights activists Nazis on Seven’s Sunrise, and franchisees, who have been put in harm’s way with a potential loss of customers because of the head office’s irresponsible actions
Luke Mansillo is a third year political science student. He started the Facebook page, Boycott Gloria Jeans for Funding Homophobia, along with Meaghan Grace.