Will You Still Buy Toms?

The charity shoe founder spoke at an anti-gay Focus on the Family event recently

Blogs were the first publications that criticized the founder of Toms, a charity shoe company, for taking part in a Focus on the Family event on June 30.

The event, “Feet on the Ground,” was a faith conference that took place in Irvine, Calif., organized by the conservation organization that has regularly spoken out against gay rights. The group had first launched the “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference up until 2009 when Exodus International – another conservative Christian organization – took over in hopes of turning gays straight.

Turns out Focus on the Family would like to distribute Toms shoes to kids in Africa. And while that seems wholesome enough, we can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to be associated with a group that’s anti-feminist, anti-gay and anti-evolution.

After the upset – the blog Jezebel had plenty to say on the issue – and Toms founder Blake Mycoskie promptly apologized this weekend for participating.

“Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs,” he writes, “I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret.” He went on to say that during the last 18 months, he and Toms have presented at more than 70 different events.

“On this one we chose poorly,” he says. “Let me clearly state that both Toms, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all.”

We appreciate Mycoskie’s apology, but have a hard time understanding how he or anyone at Toms could have been confused about Focus on the Family’s mission. The organization clearly states its mission on its website – including cues about marriage being between a man and a woman. And the organization’s founder’s been among the most militant voices for the Federal Marriage Amendment. The group also seeks to ban abortion and pornography and regularly makes statements on everything from gay marriage laws and the Obama administration’s postition on DOMA.

If Mycoskie didn’t apologize, we might still be wondering if he perhaps really believed in this stuff, too. But worse is that comments seemed to pour onto Mycoskie’s blog even before he appeared at the event – mostly from people who were concerned about the burgeoning – if not downright confusing – Toms and Focus on the Family relationship.

One woman wrote: “I was very surprised to hear that Blake has chosen to associate himself with a group called Focus on the Family. FotF is a right-wing fundamentalist hate group which routinely lobbies against women’s rights, and against unions.”

Another wrote: “I just discovered Toms and am eager to try a pair (it’s in my shopping cart!) but cannot, in good conscience, do business with an organization that is aligned with a hate group such as FoF.”

No one from Toms responded to any of the Focus on Family responses on Mycoskie’s website, though Mycoskie did reach out to other users with positive messages to say about the brand within the same comment box.

Focus on the Family released a press statement saying it hopes to broadcast Mycoskie’s presentation after the Toms founder was interviewed by Jim Daly before an audience of 1,500 people. Daly says he is “a little saddened” by the negative response about Toms’ involvement at the event.

“This is an unfortunate statement about the culture we live in, when an organization like ours is deemed unfit to help children in need simply because we hold biblical beliefs about marriage and family,” Daly says in a statement. “It’s also a chilling statement about the future of the culture we live in.”

We’d argue that it’s a good day for LGBT rights in a way when a company like Toms is worried about being linked to any organization that believes gay and lesbian people are somehow less human and deserve less rights.

But will you be buying a pair of Toms shoes anytime soon?

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  • Thom Watson

    My concern is that this is not the first time Mycoskie has spoken in front of other conservative evangelical anti-gay organizations see http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/07/toms_focus_on_the_family.php ), and it’s very disingenuous in this day and age for him to suggest that neither he nor anyone in his company knew anything about Focus on the Family and their significant anti-gay activities over the past several decades. He now issues a mild statement that he and the company are fully in support of civil liberty, while not even using the words “gay” or “lesbian” and discloses no information about what in fact his company has done to support LGBT equality. I remain suspicious about Mycoskie’s and his companies true feelings about full equality, including civil marriage equality, for LGBT citizens and LGBT purchasers of his company’s products.

  • Michael M

    Focus on the Family was using the TOMS brand in an attempt to clean up its terrible image. And Focus’s Jim Daly is as stupid as he is dishonest if he thinks anyone buys his ‘we just love Jesus’ crap. His organization is actively and agressively engaged — every day of the week — in lobbying against every attempt to provide gay and lesbian American with equal and fair treatment under the law. These sumbitches even opposed anti-bullying programs in schools becuase they might have helped a gay kid somewhere. They are truly disgusting and Mycoskie is rightly getting skewered for associating with them.

  • Maria

    Michael M – the facts. FOTF is a christian organization. As we all know christian organizations live by what the bible states. Your issue is not with FOTF, your issue is with what the bible states and what God intends for mankind. For FOTF to say they are for same sex marriage, abortion, etc or would be dishonest. FOTF DOES believe that all men and women are created equal. They also believe that all men and women are loved fully by God. They believe God does not have favorites he loves us all the same. They also believe that every man and women can choose the path for their life in way they see fit. This is not saying they are being charitable in this, but that this is God’s will for all.

  • Trish

    @Maria

    You can believe whatever you want, but I am so sick of this “christian organizations live by what the bible states” nonsense. Let’s be clear: This is *your* twisted interpretation of what the Christian Bible states. Unless you’re a biblical scholar, don’t presume to claim you know what the intentions of the original biblical scribes were. And your outrageous assertions that you speak for what “God intends for mankind” and “God’s will for all” are as heretical as your theology is amateur.

    I love how all these “born agains” think because they read the Bible every day they suddenly can speak for “God.”

  • http://www.BambooGivesBack.com Seth Gold

    Hello,

    what happened is extremely unfortunate…I think Blake made a big mistake and should have researched who he was speaking for better. That being said…what Blake is doing and has done is revolutionary…The cause is still great and should be supported. On top of that he has also inspired many. I am a college student and just last year started my own company inspired by Blake and TOMS…I thought why should more companies not be started like this so everyday consumerism can also benefit those in need. I started Bamboo Apparel…Same concept of TOMS One for One but we make clothing and have Two Shirts right now. The only other thing is we are trying to be more eco-friendly and have a greener tomorrow. That is why we use sustainable pesticide free raw materials to make our clothing mainly Bamboo! Please check us out I would love to hear your thoughts!

    BambooGivesBack.com

    Thanks,
    Seth

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