« TOMS Shoes Founder Distances Himself from Focus on the Family | Main | Conservatives Push 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' Pledge: What Would it Do? »

July 10, 2011

Exclusive: Focus on the Family Responds to TOMS's Founder Apology

Blake Mycoskie distanced himself from the organization yesterday.

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.

0710focustoms.jpg

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."

Daly's response in this case illustrates that shift in tone.

“While we may disagree with those who spearheaded this effort to get TOMS to distance themselves from us, our desire is not so much to defeat them at the ballot box as it is to bring them closer to the heart of Jesus Christ -- the only hope any of us have for the forgiveness and overcoming of our sins,” Daly said.

This statement contrasts some of the reactions to President Obama's election. Just before the 2008 election, its policy arm published an article suggesting terrorists would strike four American cities, a nuclear bomb would hit Israel, and gay marriage would be legal in every state.

Daly said Mycoskie's apology was an "unfortunate statement about the culture we live in, when an organization like ours is deemed unfit" over beliefs about marriage. “It's also a chilling statement about the future of the culture we live in," he said.

Other Christian organizations have run into recent roadblocks over their positions on homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage. Apple pulled apps for Exodus International and the Manhattan Declaration after petitions from Change.org, and Equality Matters targeted Chick-Fil-A for being connected to "anti-gay" ministries.

Image: TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie (far left) appears at Focus on the Family's "Style Your Sole" event with Esther Fleece (fourth to the right), head of millennial relations at Focus. Used with permission from Focus.

Comments

It doesn't sound like a charity organization I would want to support. There are many other charity organizations that are biblical that help other countries and our own. TOMS attitude disappoints me as does the others you mentioned. I've always liked focus on the Family and they have always showed love to those they don't agree with while firmly staying with the truth.

I'm not a TOMS shoes fan. I've only seen the selection in the Columbus Wholde Foods store.
I'd rather give money directly to a cause, than donate sideways by buying shoes I don't need.

Having said that, I think the stand the man has taken is less than courageous. Sometimes we work with people we have disagreements with to accomplish a goal we share.

The fact that his mother and girlfriend shop at Nordstrom's is interesting.

Julana

While I don't disagree with TOM's position nor their corporate right to embrace whatever values and partner with whomever they choose, it seems there's a bit of hypocrisy here in that they WILL partner with (accept funds, joint projects, joint marketing) with other ANTI-CHOICE, ANTI-GAY organizations. Just look at the groups they LIKE on their Facebook page. I'm inclined not to name names here because I want kids to get shoes. But I also want the Gospel to be preached and SADLY some Christian humanitarian agencies gave up on that a long time ago.

First of all, TOMS doesn't donate anything to anybody. Its customers simply pay more money than they normally would for a pair of shoes and a portion of that extra money covers the cost of the second pair of shoes.

Second, this is just another example of hapless hipster Christians (TOMS) unable to stomach all of what Jesus stands for.

Third, good for Focus. Isn't it interesting that the organization so many people think are narrow minded are willing to do things with people like TOMS - and TOMS, whom everyone thinks is so broad minded, is afraid to do things w/Focus.

TOMS leadership are gutless cowards.

Kudos to the man for using his talents to help the needy, regardless of his shortsightedness. I've been young, too. :-)

TOMS shoes are primarily worn by liberal young adults who want the products that they use to reflect their personal views. I see nothing wrong with TOMS backing out however, I think he should be more careful in choosing the appearances that he makes in the first place. Call it gutless, but he's sticking to his beliefs. "TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all." Should I call you gutless for sticking to yours and not bending? Would you work with a corporation that was pro-choice if you were not? And if you accidentally did, would you not issue an apology?

Focus on the Family is attempting to use TOMS to rehabilitate the image they have in the public eye as an anti-choice, anti-gay rightwing group of Christian fundamentalists. Daly tries to camoflage this fact under sugary language, but the fact is they are no different than they were under Dobson -- they are still a political organization actively attempting to deny a group of American citizens equal rights under the law. That is shameful and TOMS is right to distance its brand from the ugly truth of Focus on the Family.

Mycoskie is a puppet to the moral contradictions mushy thinking these days treats as progressive: "equal human and civil rights for all"? The man compassionate for shoeless children favors a right to kill unborn children and to deny those who survive the holocaust in the womb the natural right to grow up in a home with their father and mother. Where's the progress here?

Oh, Kathleen: You've got it all wrong. When you recognize the right of the unborn child to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," including the natural right to be born to and raised by a mother and father united by marriage--for the child's best--, then I'll believe you are genuinely committed to 'equal rights under the law.' it is your passion only for special rights of a childish, selfish, tiny percentage of our population that blinds you to the natural, eternal rights of all children.

It was a big mistake that TOMS Shoes even considered a public relationship of any kind with Focus on the Family. Yes, the mission of TOMS appeals to the humanitarian tone of God's word, but from a business standpoint a relationship with Focus is toxic to the mainstream consumer's perception of TOMS.

It would make sense that Focus is looking for ways to appeal to the younger, "cooler," more mainstream demographic by pushing a relationship with TOMS. I don't blame Focus for this, because the general public sees Focus as a fanatical, stiff, old-fashioned organization, which is not entirely untrue.

Likewise, TOMS would be oblivious indeed to not realize the potential in tapping the broad and deep roots Focus has with the Christian community. In fact, Blake Mycoskie has attended gatherings with Christian influencers many times, and maintains relationships with highly placed people in the Christian community. Speaking at a Focus on the Family event is hardly the first time TOMS has rubbed elbows with the Christian mega-power.

As a physician, I am for life, liberty (not license),and the persuit of servanthood. I'm for children. Unborn children are a particular group of needy patients that I particularly want to help. Small children, also, with a mommie and daddy that love and care for them. The Bible more than any other book, textbook, mentor, teacher, or communication of any description has helped me since I was five, a little more each year. I retired from surgery a few years ago and thousands of textbooks are no longer any use to me, while the Bible is infinitely more helpful in my persuit of servanthood. Perhaps I can save more lives loving a young mother, providing her with the means to deliver her child. Calling Blake gutless won't help but to call him Bibleless might. Before any of us do so, let us treasure our Bibles with time and effort.

Hate to say it Homer, but you don't speak for the majority of young Christians. Young Christians stand firm with God and the Bible, and won't cave in to the homosexual agenda. Homosexuality is called an abomination by God. And already, homosexuals in California are having the "history of gays and lesbians" taught from textbooks. Don't be surprised when our country continues to receive God's judgment as a result. Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"
Don't count on support from Bible believing Christians of any age.

You guys just don't get it, do you.

This organization stands for the degradation and dehumanization of human being's lives.

Decent people do not want to be affiliated with a group of people who claim to follow Jesus Christ, then turn around and publicly abuse, degrade and dehumanize law-abiding citizens.

Jesus Christ would NEVER treat gay citizens the way this group does.

NEVER.

And you all know that.

The times, they are changing. And the open abuse and hostility once acceptable towards gay citizens is coming to a close.

The world spins in one direction, folks, and that is FORWARD. And it has absolutely no qualms about passing you by.

Might I suggest that if your religion requires you to view certain people as less than full human beings with an inherent right to live their lives as they choose, you have chosen rather poorly?

While affirming his belief in equal rights Mycoskie throws cold water on the free speech rights of Focus On The Family (FOF). If he has some specific disagreement with FOF then why doesn't he so state? That way a dialogue can follow. But he doesn't want to get bogged down in facts, he just wants this to be over with. The truth is Mycoskie doesn't want gay activists against him because, though small in number, they are very large in activism. He fears they might fabricate a controversy that could hurt his company (and profits).

Hard to believe anyone doesn't know Focus' core beliefs and stance on social issues.

"Really? When did McDonald's start serving beef? I never knew."

Depth of conviction appears that of a parking lot puddle. Political correctness might impact income, evidently more important than prividing shoes to the needy!

I am pro-life but I also know that most people who rant about it would never dare to dream to personally take care of these same people in your home nor want to spend their own money to raise thier childern to adulthood. I think this is what irrating about focus on the family, it gives very nice rants about the topic but very few of their listeners would actually get into the trenches of these women's lives. They like to give a few dollars to the political campaigns. This is the same with homosexuality too.Its so easy to rant about how its destroying america, but to actually spend time to directly try to share the gosple with these people is another story. These people are sinful as I am and you are, and in most cases need the love of jesus more than anyone else. So no point in calling them degenerate parts of society, when we are selves are just as denegerated as them but it was Jesus did for for us that covers that. So call sin, sin, but they aren't any more of a unique sin! cause we would deserve just as much death as they do without the gospel. And if they reject the gospel, then let them be and do what they want! they aren't part of the church. And what they do will not stop the building of kingdom of heave on earth. So let sort out our own house, which is always returning to the gospel (which is jesus fulfils god's redemptive plan for bring shalom to the world!) Just as much has we can't delete from it, we can't add too it. So Tom's shoe is a nice charity, but all fairness their goal is not to preach the Gospel message so it isn't something worth fighting/bickering over among christians. So let them continue to do it.. but know that they aren't christian because their main goal is not preaching the gospel (its leader is christian, but he is not in the same standing as a spiritual leader) So this whole thing with Focus is dumb to me and not worth family members fight over. In fact christians should be wary of Focus because they like to talk more on "christian moralism" and doesn't continue to point people to the cross. They focus on the behavior of people and not the sourse of salvation.

Blake Mycoskie is quoted as saying he's for human rights for all people. But what he really seems to be indicating is, it only applies to those people designated by certain groups. What am I missing in "human rights for all people?" I would have been much more pleased if Blake had responded with something like, "Kids in poverty need shoes. Let's make that what this is about." I guess it isn't about that after all. I'm disappointed.

Please review CT's Terms of Use which includes the General Use Rules. Comments are to remain on topic according to the particular article posted. Comments are removed if they violate our terms of use and are in any way
defamatory or disparaging of, or insulting to, any person or entity; abusive or hateful; obscene, lewd, or vulgar;
or contrary to, or inconsistent with, the principles, tenets, and Mission Statement of Our Organization.

I am young. I believe the Bible is the word of God. I also believe that some of the commentators on here know little of Jesus and how he dealt with people. Jesus brought the good news of salvation to all sinners, and never found a human alive who wasn't a sinner. How then can you call yourself a follower of Jesus, while at the same time calling his children names.

No TOMS for me, thanks.

I agree with Focus on the Family's stance in this matter. Homosexuality is a sin and it destroys families. It is not in accordance with word of God, any claiming to be a Christian must remember this. We are called to love the sinner but not accept the sin. Christians need to stand up now for what we believe and tell the government that we are tired of being run over because someone doesn't like us. The U.S.A. was founded on Christian principles, education was founded on Christian principles. The U.S. has so many problems, you have to wonder why that is. I personally believe that this is wake up call and we need to heed it

It's hard to believe that Blake/TOMS didn't know how toxic an association with Focus on the Family would be. Either the TOMS people are amateur or remarkably ignorant, but they should have understood that their largely progressive young socially-minded customers would have no tolerance for Focus-style bigotries.

Furthermore, Jim Daly is dishonest to claim that this is over his organization's BELIEFS. He knows very well that the firestorm is over his organization's aggressive ACTIONS to deny gay and lesbian Americans equal treatment under the law. His organization has been instrumental in attacking GLBT citizens and stripping them of legal rights and protections, like Prop 8 in California. These attacks affect real people in their daily lives. His attempt to play victim here and to compare his vicious organization to Jesus -- that's not just absurd, it's downright shameful.

Blake,

I am so grieved that you are choosing politics over getting shoes to more needy people around the world. I don't always agree 100% with Focus on the Family either, but they have an amazing capacity to mobilize people.

For someone who started out wanting to change the world, it seems like you are being pressured by a vocal group. Unfortunately, the people who will not be heard are barefoot children in the third world caught in the crossfire of American politics.

Please don't be bullied. It doesn't matter if it is Focus on the Family or Planned Parenthood who want to partner with you. People who want to embrace your vision and help kids around the world should not be thwarted.

Sincerely,

Kourtney Street

Big mistake for Daly to try so hard to appeal to the pro-homosexual crowd. Christians are running into increasing opposition and even occasional persecution for sticking to the normal, common sense idea that children should be raised with a mother and a father. Dear Brother Daly, just speak the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

Mycoskie has chosen profit over biblical principles.

This is a prime example of what happens when Christians are ignorant of a Christian worldview and/or do not hold fast to a biblical worldview.

Many are enticed by the values of this world (money, fame, power, influence, pride.)

Homosexuality is shameful.

Homosexuality is sinful.

Homosexuality is morally wrong.

Homosexuality brings hurt to people.

Such realities son't sit well for those caught up in this lifesytle choice.

The conscience speaks to these realities.

If it does not, the conscience is seared and hardened to the point of lost sensitivity.

That is eternally and spiritually dangerous.

Christianity is shameful.

Christianity is sinful.

Christianity is morally wrong.

Christianity brings hurt to people.

Such realities son't sit well for those caught up in this lifesytle choice.

The conscience speaks to these realities.

If it does not, the conscience is seared and hardened to the point of lost sensitivity.

That is eternally and spiritually dangerous.

Focus on the Family has helped me so much with my family over the yrs when my children were young... I received great wisdom from Dr Dobson while he was there also!! I love Focus on the Family... they do great things...so disappointed in TOMS...

Letter to Toms

Your intolerance of Christians, and bowing (pardon the pun) to a bunch of narcissist sodomites will certainly deprive many children(your company says it cares for)
of Your shoes.
* “We partner with humanitarian and health organizations around the world. They can help us give shoes year after year, providing shoes to the same children as they grow.
* unless they disagree with sodomites*
Patrick Fitzmichael has put it well:
“If only I loved poor children as much as I hate Christians...”

“Thanks to all of you who signed the petition. TOMS shoes really heard us loud and clear! As I’ve said before, we have corporate America in our pocket. We say ‘jump’, and they say ‘how high?’ Just remember–eternal vigilance is the price of guilt-free sodomy!”
Think about it, you are bowing to a group of people who’s lifestyle leads to disease and early death, not only for their narcissist self’s (who choose this life-style) but to the innocent who are adversely affected.
Millions of children have been infected with HIV due to the homosexuals you are bowing to. Christian organizations’ help those children while your sodomites selfishly increase suffering and are a drain financially to medical research, while also increasing insurance costs.
You should look at these and re-think your position:
http://home60515.com/4.html
http://twogaybullies.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/if-only-i-loved-poor-children-as-much-as-i-hate-christians/

Please, commenters who are Christians, follow the law of love in how you talk about people created in God's image. He longs to be in relationship with every person who is gay . . . and I'm sure it grieves His heart to hear you talk about those he lovingly created with hatred. We can still follow the Bible while treating every person with love and dignity -- just as Jesus did with the woman at the well.

Why are you comparing homosexuals to the woman at the well? That's like comparing apples and oranges. Jesus was loving towards the woman who was looked down upon by society, however, she was not committing any sin. Jesus told sinners to repent and to "go and sin no more". That's what he'd say to homosexuals who continue in their sin, since the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination to God. Jesus is God, never forget that. God never condones sin. Jesus died for our sins, but the Bible says that if we love Him, we don't want to sin. Practicing homosexuals cannot know and love God, that's what the Bible says, not my words, but Gods. Believe me, I pray that homosexuals will come to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and that they will repent. I'm sure no Christians posting here wants anyone else to go to hell, but at least some of us believe God's Word, which is clear about homosexuality and sodomy. They are an abomination to God. Jesus will be judging them, as it says in Revelation. Jesus told sinners to repent, He did not say it's ok, it's an abomination to Him.

From 1John 2:3-6 "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."

Jesus did not consider it "unloving" to mention hell or eternal condemnation or the road to destruction. He mentioned them a lot. Paul did also. Jonathan Edwards, who was prominent in the Great Revival, mentioned hell a lot also, as the penalty for not believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior. His most famous sermon is "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." If it was unloving, God would not mention it throughout His Word. Revelation talks about the wrath to come: Rev 3:10 "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.". Then the following chapters no longer mention the church (as believers will be raptured) and they talk about the tribulation, in which God's wrath will be poured out. If you read about the wrath, it's obvious it's something that hasn't happened yet, as nothing of that magnitde has happened upon the whole world. If you TRULY care about homosexuals, you wouldn't want them to have to go through the horrible things described in the following chapters.

Just pretending that a sinning lifestyle is fine with God is hurting the person and probably stopping any hope of them seeing their actions as a sin and having them repent. I'm sure many of you would have scolded Jesus for overturning the tables of the money changers, you would have told Him to talk to them "lovingly". Maybe some of you need to read or re-read Galatians chapter 1: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."

So Paul, using very strong words is saying let you be eternally damned if you preach a false Gospel. I don't think his words would be any lighter for people who want to tell homosexuals that they are not sinning, and it's all fine with God, etc, because they are commmitting a sin that is called an abomination to God in several places in the Bible. Some are so afraid of being the tiniest bit offensive that they would rather the person continue to live in sin, and that is not showing love, when their eternal life is at stake. To say it is not, is not being true to God's Word.

Barbara,

You ask, "Why are you comparing homosexuals to the woman at the well? That's like comparing apples and oranges. Jesus was loving towards the woman who was looked down upon by society, however, she was not committing any sin."

I think maybe a refresher course would be appropriate here. While many people focus on the fact that she was a woman, there is more to the story:

The woman was a Samaritan. That is she was ceremonially unclean, and Jews could not touch them. Samaritans were heretics in the Jews' eyes.

She was also divorced five times, and was living with a man who was not her husband. So when you say she "was not committing any sin," you are quite wrong. In Matthew 19, Jesus says marrying after divorce is adultery, and she was also "living in sin" at the time.

So here is a woman who was living in sexual sin according to the existing laws, and Jesus blessed her and didn't send her on her way with a "go and sin no more."

Steven, you're right, there is more to the story. However, there is more than what you added. Jesus used the water as a metaphor to teach this woman. He spoke about the living water, which gives divine grace and eternal life. The woman craved this type of water, because she wanted to have eternal life. But first Jesus had a lengthy but candid dialogue with her. When she left, she understood the need to confess her sins and change her life before she could partake of the life-giving water, which is grace. Jesus clearly pointed out her sin to her, and she went away knowing that He was the Messiah. She went on her way to lead to many other conversions in her zeal and love for the Lord. Her heart clearly changed when she believed He was the Messiah. John 6:39-42 So those who profess to be believers yet continue to lead a life of sin, are liars, like it says in 1John. Everyone who is a believer knows that they are continually being worked on by the Holy Spirit, and we become more and more Christ-like (Col 3).
People who say they are believers but show no change in their life, no change in their actions, have a dead faith.


I give credit to Focus on the Family for (1) never backing down from what the the Bible says and (2) reaching out to all sinners. Jesus did the same.

Hey "Truth"

Judging from your reaction, the Truth does hit home.

"Red-Hot monogamy" brings out more love, joy and pleasure than any chosen fly-by-night homosexual lifestle.

I pray that Mr. Mycoskie will come to know God as Father and then he will do His work. I pray for the homosexals that they will have their eyes opened to the fact that christian do not hate them but want to point them to Jesus the Savior so they can have that
peace that passes all understanding.

This isn't about homosexuality or worldviews. It's about TOMS Shoes, an organization with little accountability, and it's decision to align itself with a certain worldview that will allow for as much financial support as possible. Blake Mycoskie is no better or worse than any political figure...or CEO. He may look hip and young, but he's just as vulnerable to the seduction of media and money as the rest of us. Fortunately, some of us have the Bible and a God who guides us to help keep us in check.

The comment by a writer that FOTF does not care for the practical needs of women in unplanned pregnancies is totally mis-informed. FOTF has been one of the longest serviong ministries in supporting crisis pregnancy centres since the mid-70's. They are'nt just theoretical but practical, given the resources they have provided to CPC's and encouraged millions to financially support their local crisis pregnancy centre. Given the recent controversy, I'm reminded that I need to write a bigger cheque to the FOTF folks and to my local CPC. It's not my opinion on moral matters that count. The bible is pretty clear (and counter-cultural lately) on these matters.

Last I heard, the United States of America was a free country and that includes a businessman being able to choose with whom he does business. Perhaps FotF could find another charity on which to coattail?

And it is noted that those who loudly and aggressively pay lip service against pro-choice/a woman's right to abort, are the same people who DO NOTHING towards giving homes and LOVE towards adopting and raising the millions of children without parents that are in desperate need of love and care.

There were many good points as I read most of the comments.

While I don't agree with the statement that Blake Mycoskie made with FOTF, I would rather spend a couple of minutes praying for the man rather than pointing fingers at his error.

Join me. :)