Religious right to target Starbucks in Middle East over gay marriage (bizarre)

In a scheme so misdirected, so unlikely to succeed, it could have been crafted by Karl Rove, the lead religious right group fighting marriage equality for gays says it will take its war to Starbucks’ effort to spread into the Middle East.

The National Organization for Marriage, NOM, says that its strategy is to run online ads in Middle Eastern countries to inform them that Starbucks has supported marriage equality in Washington State. I wonder if those same countries are aware of the religious right’s views on Islam?  Let’s inform them.

First, here’s an excerpt from the Colorado Independent, then my analysis:

During the call, one participant cited Starbucks, which endorsed gay marriage legalization in Washington, and General Mills, which spoke out against the proposed gay marriage ban in Minnesota. The participant asked what could be done “to stop the wave of corporate sponsorship of gay marriage.”

NOM President Brian Brown responded by saying that NOM was targeting the international business of companies that support same-sex marriage such as Starbucks, which NOM also hit with a national boycott effort this year. Brown said the aim is to make these companies’ political stances known in countries in the Middle East and elsewhere that generally do not support same-sex marriage, or homosexuality in general.

“Their international outreach is where we can have the most effect,” Brown said. “So for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we’ve begun working to make sure that there’s some price to be paid for this. These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage. And this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this; we’ve got to do a lot more.”

Oh where to begin?

StarbucksI do get a kick out of the religious right when they say they’re going to boycott products that the left adores and that religious right rednecks probably wouldn’t touch in a million years. I mean, seriously, Starbucks is worried about losing some speaking-in-tongues couple in the deep south who don’t even know what Starbucks even is?

As for these online ads in the Middle East, who exactly does NOM think is going to see these ads? I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’d suspect that the ruling class is dying to have Starbucks move in, and they’ve probably already figured out how to reconcile a love for all things western with traditional Islam. Starbucks will simply be another contradiction met with a shrug, regardless of their position on legislation in a single American state.

Of course, what’s even funnier is that NOM, and the American religious right, thinks they’re going to be the messenger of truth to the Muslim word when the conventional wisdom in the religious right is that all Arabs are terrorists, that Islam is a religion of violence and evil, and that Mohammad is a pedophile. The religious right’s active hatred of Islam, Muslims and Mohammad trump any “evil” Starbucks has done in one small American state.

Let me walk you through what America’s religious right thinks of Middle Eastern countries and Islam more generally. From Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast, who went to the big religious conference of the year:

If there was one dominant theme at this year’s Values Voter Summit, the right-wing confab organized by the Family Research Council, it was that President Obama is endangering the United States by coddling radical Islamists. “[W]hat we’re watching develop before our eyes today are the direct consequences of this administration’s policy of apology and appeasement across the globe,” Michele Bachmann said of the attacks on American embassies and consulates in the Middle East.

Last year, you might remember, some American counterterrorism trainers were found to be using material so virulently anti-Muslim that senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins wrote an outraged letter to the Department of Homeland Security. Bachmann described the resulting changes in counterterrorism curricula this way: “That’s enforced Islamic speech codes here in the United States, and all done with the help of our president and secretary of state.”

There is a grotesque irony in the way speakers at the Values Voter Summit kept invoking the deaths of the four American officials in Libya to argue that the United States needs to adopt a more belligerent stance toward Muslims. Describing what’s at stake in the election, Ryan said, “We’ve all seen the images of our flag being burned and our embassies under attack by vicious mobs. The worst of it is the loss of four good men, including our ambassador to Libya.” From these speeches, one would never know that at least two of the dead were deeply devoted to fighting the sort of politics that the Values Voter Summit represents.

Then there’s the American religious right coterie who produced the anti-Islam film that may have been behind some of the recent rioting in the Middle East.  I’m sure Muslims will love them.  And the religious right leaders who got upset when President Obama tried to dampen down some of the Arab anger of the anti-Mohammad film.

PFAW has extensive resources on how religious right American try to dehumanize Muslims in our country and abroad – here are some of the titles of the various writings over at PFAW:

Good luck with that.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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41 Responses to “Religious right to target Starbucks in Middle East over gay marriage (bizarre)”

  1. Vijai Kumar says:

    well, i’d love to see ‘starbucks’ here in india. with this piece of info (starbucks supports equality) i’d be there ‘customer-forever’.

  2. Monocerophagos says:

    I think you mean the Sacred Band of Thebes. The helots were slaves of the Spartans – second class citizens who did all the real work in Sparta while the Spartan boys and men were busy training in the arts of war. Wiki “helot”. The Theban Band was a group of 150 pairs of homosexual lovers who were reputedly unbreakable because the fought alongside their lovers and therefore a. would not abandon them to their death b. would not want to be seen by their lover to flee and thus be known as a coward. It is believed to have been created in 378/9 BCE and was annihilated by Phillip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) in 324 at the Battle of Chaeronea. Try using Wikipedia or Google for 2 minutes before posting. Search terms I used “helot” and “theban band”.

    However, though gay, the Sacred Band did not slaughter in the name of religion, but were a part of the forces of Thebes. Similarly, though the Spartans may have had traditions such as pederasty they did not kill people in the name of religion, but rather to further and expand the influence of Sparta. Religious zealots kill in the name of religion, so if you are looking for gay people who kill in the name of religion, my best bet would be on the priests who accompanied the Crusades, Inquisitors of both the Holy and Spanish Inquisitions and priests in general. People kill people over religion. But you don’t get groups of gay people killing other people because they are straight. You get straight people killing gay people because their religious values tell them that homosexuality is an abomination. You don’t get gay people killing straights because their religion says heterosexuality is an abomination. So, to sum up, shut the fuck up you fucking bigoted idiot.

  3. Naja pallida says:

    No, I don’t mean an imaginary definition of the word. I mean the actual dictionary definition: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

  4. FLL says:

    Dear Shaking Your Head,

    Sounds like someone has a case of early dementia. Islamic fundamentalists delight in targeting Americans—at the World Trade Center and elsewhere. And what do fundamentalist Christians like you do? They stick up for them because they cater to your twisted sexual resentment toward gay and bisexual men. What’s the matter? Did you have a spouse who went astray? Come on, share with the rest of the class.

  5. FLL says:

    Dear Shaking Your Head,

    You’re shaking your head because there’s so little inside it. If you had any brains you would be able to read the article before you comment. I believe the blogger is pointing out how stupid fundamentalist Christians like you are when they admire Islamic fundamentalists who would like to destroy America. Not to mention that the Christians that John Aravosis is talking about sound unpatriotic as hell by admiring anti-American Islamic fundamentalists. Do you realize that you’re pissing off the vast majority of your fellow Americans? It will be entertaining when your chickens come home to roost and your fellow Americans have had enough of you.

  6. FLL says:

    Dear conservative mom 12,

    Go to Home Depot, buy a couple of long two-by-fours and some large nails, and then go crucify yourself. Oh, I’m sorry, I should credit my source; otherwise it’s plagiarism. That was from a Mel Gibson movie that you might have seen several times. Best regards.

  7. conservativemom12 says:

    If you mean by the literal term “bigot”, as one standing firm in their convictions and beliefs, then yes I am a bigot. Proudly! :) Though darkness fills the night, it cannot fill the light~

  8. conservativemom12 says:

    I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side. The One who reigns forever. He is a friend of mine. You hold the whole world in Your hands. Your creation of marriage is definite and final. Find true freedom in Jesus Christ.

  9. KingCranky says:

    What’s lol-worthy is the claim that anyone who bashes the far-right theological thugs of one religion completely supports them in another religion.

    Then again, logical consistency isn’t a positive quality among those whose common hatreds-of gays, women, contraception-binds them across competing theologies.

    Glad to clear that up, no thanks necessary.

  10. Don Chandler says:

    Not sure which is worse, Islamic religious police hunting down gays and murdering them or hunting down ‘subversive threats’ and claiming they are gay and then murdering them. I see how genocide isn’t quite the right word for several reasons. First, you don’t destroy gays by killing them since gays ‘mostly’ don’t procreate. If what you say is true, then it’s not genocide but some sort of warning to subversives that they will be treated as the worst of the worst [gay???] On the other hand, I can do a quick search of +Sadr and +murder and +gay:

    “In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said”. –From a Timothy Williams article in the NYTs.

    It’s not a new issue. Sadr was said to be trying to stop this kind of murder squad but he failed from things I read. So you say it is perhaps a control method but only perhaps…. But instead of murder or genocide, maybe it’s the old tactic: “the threat is greater than the execution.” In which case it amounts to shut up homos and don’t be caught or you will be made an example through murder…an existential threat…frightening really.

    Then again, maybe it’s just murder of gays. Iraq is not a good place for gays. The Middle East is bad overall for gays. And Brian Brown sending money to thwart a coffee shop chain because they supported marriage equality is truly bizarre. I can imagine his discussion with those folks seeking money: “If Starbucks supports marriage equality in America, they’ll support decriminalization of homosexuality in the Middle East…Watch Out!” If it’s a misconstrual of Brian Brown’s intention, forgive me. I don’t know how else to read into it.

    Basically, it’s either the religious right being evil or political suicide for Brian Brown to support the continued oppression of gays in the middle east. All I can say is, damn, hope Starbucks unwittingly succeeds and by association instills calm reason into the middle east culture…I’m sure Starbucks is confused by Brian Brown logic.

  11. ShakingMyHead says:

    Hopefully you recognize that the Muslim faith which you seem to want to defend simply because it’s not Christian would castrate all gay men if they could. It will be entertaining when the left finally meets the Eastern extremists and sees how much they are respected…lol

  12. ShakingMyHead says:

    This is some of the most hateful writing I’ve read on the internet…sounds like someone has a case of the hypocrisy.

  13. Stev84 says:

    It’s really a wonder a fundamentalist Christians aren’t putting their women in burkas. Because they have the exact same attitudes about women showing their body as the Taliban. They sexualize every body part and action. Showing some armor, shoulder or leg is considered immodest and will cause the poor sex-obsessed boys to “stumble”. Little kids are taught that even before puberty and when they get old it is constantly reinforced. At the same time they deny that women have any sexuality and sex drive at all.

  14. rmthunter says:

    “NOM and Brown could find themselves with blood on their hands.”

    What makes you think they care? After all, if these people had any shreds of decency left, they wouldn’t be part of NOM.

  15. BeccaM says:


  16. Thom Watson says:

    What’s deeply disturbing is that Brian Brown obviously knows that in some countries in the Middle East, the “price” one might pay for being thought supportive of gay people is one’s life. By being so cavalier about promoting Starbuck’s corporate position in countries where homosexuality itself is a crime punishable by death, NOM and Brown could find themselves with blood on their hands. It’s clear that they hope that Starbucks will back off of their support for LGBT equality and marriage equality and commitment to civil rights rather than put their employees at risk, but it’s actually NOM and Brown that are cruelly and cavalierly willing to risk people’s lives in another country to what… stop marriage equality in the US? They know that’s not going to happen, so they’re just helping create a climate that could lead to murder for nothing other than their own spite, hate and lack of anything remotely understood to be Christian love or charity.

    And I think we need to start hammering harder on the anti-business aspects of NOM’s actions. Drive a wedge between them and the part of the right that finds any interference with American business to be economic terrorism. They’re admitting, after all, that they want an American business TO FAIL in its attempts to expand overseas. How anti-conservative, anti-economic freedom and anti-American can they be?

  17. lisa says:

    NOM is going to end up getting innocent people killed.

  18. Naja pallida says:

    The religious right is the Taliban. Just with a different dress code.

  19. Naja pallida says:

    The definition of marriage has changed drastically from the Bible. From polygamy, slave marriage, incestuous marriage, and even child marriage. By the Bible itself, Mary would have been about 12 when the betrothal to Joseph was made, and around 13 or 14 when Jesus was born. Joseph, though there isn’t much to draw his actual age from, is pretty obvious was much, much older. And it seems likely that he may have even had a first wife, and grown children from that marriage.

    None of the religious right’s arguments against gay marriage have anything to do with the Bible, no matter how much they want to claim it so. It is merely plain and simple bigotry. It’s no longer acceptable to wear white hoods, so they wrap themselves in dubious scripture instead.

  20. BeccaM says:

    They can’t get gay people executed or thrown into prison here in America, so groups like NOM and AFA perfectly happy to urge other countries to go ahead and do it.

    And yes, as Nicho notes below, this is doubly ironic because some of the countries NOM is targeting already violate NOM’s frequently bleated complaint about the slippery slope of marriage equality in that they’ve had polygamous marriage for centuries. (Except it so happens that polygamy, while extremely misogynistic as practices go as it’s been practiced, is nevertheless one of the most ‘traditional’ forms of marriage in existence — including in their own Bible.)

  21. BeccaM says:

    They’re the Facebook of online petitions, taking the email addresses and recorded preferences of people and selling them to online marketers. They’re a for-profit company.

    Also, they don’t care who puts up petitions.

  22. For crying out loud. Cobra Commander had more logically sound plans than this.

  23. georgeolds says:

    What makes you say that?

  24. georgeolds says:

    Um, isn’t ‘targetting’ businesses in the Middle East because three states in America became more just sort of like “God punishing New Jersey with a hurricane” – when the New Joisey ‘governor’ VETOED it???
    The anti-equality squad’s ‘aim’ is a bit ‘off’, don’t you think?

  25. Monoceros says:

    Tell that to the Spartan helots.

  26. citizen_spot says: is not your friend, just sayin’.

  27. Badgerite says:

    Hmmm. Does this not sound like they want to appeal to (wait for it) SHARIA LAW !!!!!!! Cue screams in the background. These people are nuts and they want to spread more nuttiness around the world as if that commodity were in short supply or something.

  28. Tedlick Badkey says:

    NOM is putting lives at risk here. I hope Brown will be held accountable the first time someone is murdered in the middle east for his nonsense.

  29. I’m off to Starbucks for my coffee! I wasn’t going to go, but now I am!! Freedom and Justice never tasted so good!

  30. MyrddinWilt says:

    Actually it is more like, the religious police decide they want to murder someone so they accuse them of being gay, beat out a confession then kill them. It isn’t even about being gay.

    The type of bigotry that the GOP has been beating the drum for in the US these past twenty years or so is really a transitional phenomena. It is the sort of response that occurs when people know they are losing the culture war. A hundred years ago sodomy was illegal in the West but prosecutions were very very rare.

    The big tipping point came in WWII when gays serving in the military invented the leather culture and on returning home decided that having risked their lives for their country, they didn’t see any reason to hide who they were.

    The Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, GOP brand of bigotry started to rise in the wake of the civil rights movement. Since it was no longer OK to hate black people, what is next to hate? Now that gay bashing is no longer so OK the GOP is going into Latino bashing.

    Bottom line is that the sort of hate the GOP and the religious reich practices is not innate in human societies, it has to be invented, it has to be cultivated. The culture war was started by the right and now they have lost it in the US so they are trying to export it to other countries they consider more fertile ground for their hate.

  31. Every religion in the world has been the creation of PEOPLE – not any “god” – for the sole purpose of absolute control over its believers. Over the many millennia, how many people have been slaughtered in the name of some religion? Billions. How many gay people have slaughtered other masses in the name of religion? Hardly any.

  32. scottrose says:


  33. scottrose says:

    To get more specific: NOM’s founder and mastermind Princeton Professor Robert George is on the board of directors of The Bradley Foundation, which funds all of the most outrageous anti-Muslim hate-mongerers in the United States (and beyond). NOM’s Maggie Gallagher communicates to her “Christian” readership without ever referring to our president as the president, but always being sure to use his middle name, Hussein — an obvious anti-Muslim dog whistle.

  34. Don Chandler says:

    Well, tNOM didn’t get any return on their investment in the US this election. So NOM is basically sending money to a place where homosexuality is treated …with prison terms if not ‘stoning’. The intentions of NOM are not surprisingly revealed as hate–they want to maintain a status quo that is basically genocide–Iraq has covert death squads eliminating anyone that is said to be gay. So why isn’t NOM on the hate list? They can’t make life more miserable for gays here in the states but through some foolishness they can create the dubious image of supporting a very great evil abroad…and they do it vindictively….

  35. nicho says:

    Also, the countries they’re targeting believe in polygamy.

  36. nicho says:

    Well, evangelicals, Catholics, and the Mormon cult were able to put aside their hatred for one another to attack gay marriage in California. And really, what are these groups but Taliban in disguise. They would behead people, if they thought they could get away with it.

  37. Hue-Man says:

    Sounds like a joint venture between the American Taliban and the mormon religious sect. BTW, has anybody mentioned to NOM that it’s hot as H-E-double hockey sticks as Willard would say? Today’s forecast for Qatar: High 91F Low 79F and it’s not even summer-time.

  38. JefferyK says:

    I love this: The Religious Right is colluding with the Taliban. Hating gays brings them together. How warm and fuzzy. Um, NOM better be careful — the general public is wising up to its hateful ways, and joining forces with terrorists won’t help them.

  39. RepubAnon says:

    So the Religious Right is seeking to impose Sharia Law on the US? That’s the problem with the right in general: they have no fixed sense of morality – the morality of a given action is determined by their feelings at the time, without regard as to whether the action the right seeks to take is moral or immoral. Moral relativism, thy name is Republican.

  40. MyrddinWilt says:

    Umm, how exactly do they expect to get a conversation about gay marriage in the societies they are targeting? As far as the religious authorities are concerned gays don’t exist.

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