Wells Fargo, Ford and the "radical homosexual agenda"

The religious right targets a bank, an automaker and just about everyone else.

By Tim Grieve

Published December 5, 2005 11:13PM (EST)

"You're either with us or against us" hasn't been working out so well as a guiding principle in the war on terror, but the religious right sure seems committed to it in the culture war back home.

Last week, the Christianists at Focus on the Family announced that they were ending their banking relationship with Wells Fargo to protest that bank's "ongoing efforts to advance the radical homosexual agenda." The bank's sins? As part of its regular corporate charity program, it offered to match contributions to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and gave money to the Human Rights Campaign. Oh, and a gay festival of some sort was held in the empty parking lot of a Wells Fargo branch in San Francisco.

Focus on the Family is moving its money to the First National Bank of Omaha, which it describes as a "family-friendly institution." That's apparently hard to find these days: Focus on the Family's James Dobson tells the Rocky Mountain News that "gay and lesbian activist groups have picked off all the big companies in the United States."

Well, not all of them. As Focus on the Family was pulling out of Wells Fargo last week, their fellow travelers at the American Family Association were calling off plans to boycott Ford Motor Co. after the automaker was said to have informed gay media outlets that it would no longer place advertising for its Jaguar and Land Rover lines in their pages. AFA president Donald Wildmon took credit for turning Ford around -- "They've heard our concerns; they are acting on our concerns," he said -- but a spokesman for the company said that pulling the ads was simply a "business decision."

Although AFA may not be known as widely as Focus on the Family, it is claiming an impressive string of victories for itself. After AFA raised a stink last month, the Lowe's chain of home improvement stores agreed to take down some banners that referred to certain tall green things as "holiday trees." Now the group is calling for a boycott of Target to punish it for an effort to "ban Christmas." Meanwhile, over at AMERICAblog, John Aravosis is firing up a counter-action in the hopes of getting Ford to change course, just as Microsoft did in its own flip-flop-flip on gay issues earlier this year.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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