Focus on the Family still hopes to broadcast an interview with TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie after the entrepreneur distanced himself from the organization yesterday. In an apology to some upset that he would partner over an "anti-gay, anti-choice" group, he said, "TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all."
Focus President Jim Daly recorded an interview with Mycoskie in front of about 1,500 people on June 30 in Orange County, California at a "Style Your Sole" event.
Daly said he hopes to still be able to broadcast the interview. "By contract, TOMS has the right to block broadcast of the program," Daly said in a statement sent to CT. "We hope they won't do that, but we have yet to hear directly from Blake or anyone at TOMS about this situation.” As CT reported in its July cover story, Focus was applying in May to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa. (Update: A spokesman told CT by mutual agreement, Focus set aside the idea of becoming a distributor before the California event because it did not have the capacity to meet the volume requirements for TOMS distributors.)
After groups that disagree with the ministry over same-sex marriage and abortion criticized Mycoskie for appearing at the event, he apologized, saying, "Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event." Mycoskie was not specific in what policies he disagrees with Focus on.
Focus's daily broadcast reaches about 2 million listeners in the U.S, according to the organization. “We interviewed Blake because we thought his story would inspire other Christians to act on their faith like he has and to help others in need,” Daly said.
Mycoskie attends Los Angeles-based Mosaic Church, led by Erwin McManus, according to a recent report. He has partnered with other Christian organizations like Willow Creek and will speak at Catalyst this October.
TOMS held a "Style Your Sole" event at Texas-based Abilene Christian University (ACU) last year. ACU was featured in a New York Times feature in April headlined “Even on Religious Campuses, Students Fight for Gay Identity." The university had declined to allow formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance.
In 2009, Mycoskie visited the White House to meet with President Obama's administration and other business leaders on U.S. economic policy. The for-profit company donates shoes to children for each lightweight pair sold, reaching its millionth pair donated milestone last year.
Focus has kept its stance on same-sex marriage while shifting its emphasizing to more of an advice and counseling ministry on family, parenting, and marriage. For instance, its recent broadcasts include "Keeping the Romance Sizzling" and "Nurturing God's Gifts in Your Child."
“Yes, we believe marriage is a sacred, lifetime union between one man and one woman. Yes, we advocate in the public policy arena for laws that uphold that truth,” Daly said in the statement. “But the same Bible that tells us God's design and intent for marriage tells us all people are created in His image and are worthy of dignity and respect."
The organization's tone has shifted since its founder James Dobson left in 2010 and set up his own radio program Family Talk with his son, Ryan. Dobson continues to warn his listeners of the political climate.
"At stake are policies that should concern millions of Americans, including federal funding for abortions, amnesty for illegal aliens, open homosexuality in the military, further assaults on religious liberty, and universal health care legislation amounting to rationing and the denial of medical services for older Americans," Dobson wrote in a newsletter last year. "The possibility of 'death panels' looms before us."