Rev. Franklin Graham is calling for a boycott of gay-friendly businesses, beginning by pulling his ministry's accounts from Wells Fargo after the bank ran an ad featuring a gay couple.
Graham, son of the famed evangelical pastor Billy Graham, runs the church his father started, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which had net assets of $295 million in 2014, according to the most recent data available on the ministry’s website.
The boycott will “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community,” Graham argued in a Facebook post. The Wells Fargo ad features two women learning sign language; in the final scene, they meet a young, deaf girl, signing to her “we’re going to be your new mommies.” A voiceover says that Wells Fargo can help “for when two becomes three.”
Advertisers have been courting gay consumers more frequently in recent years – Kindle, Marriot, Chevrolet, Target, and Cheerios all ran ads last year – as same-sex marriage becomes more widely accepted and legal. A Pew Research Center survey released Monday found that 57% of Americans favor allowing gay marriage; it's already legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision on gay marriage that could settle the issue for good.
At the same time, evangelicals are increasingly becoming more vocal in their opposition and advocating for laws that protect their decision to do so, promoting a slew of controversial "religious freedom" laws across the country.
In Indiana and Arkansas, signed laws prompted a backlash so widespread that consumers nationally called for their own boycotts. States like Connecticut and Washington banned state funded travel to the state, consumers vowed to avoid the state, and performers cancelled events. Angie's List cancelled plans for a job-creating expansion in Indiana and Apple CEO Tim Cook -- who is openly gay -- wrote an op-ed protesting the law. In North Carolina, a bill to allow city employees to bow out of handling the paperwork for gay weddings, likely creating significant delays for couples in more rural parts of the state.
In response to the outrage, Arkansas and Indiana pushed through legislative fixes to Indiana and Arkansas' religious freedom laws, mandating that gay people couldn't be discriminated against.
Now, evangelicals -- outraged over earlier changes to the religious freedom laws -- are jumping on board for a boycott of their own.
“It has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them,” Graham wrote in his Facebook post. “At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank. And guess what—we don’t have to shop at Tiffany & Co., there are plenty of other jewelry stores. This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice.”
Graham called on those who agree with the call to boycott to share the post on Facebook; so far, more than 42,000 useres have done so, and more than 94,000 users have “liked” it.
The bank has maintained that their support for the gay community remains steadfast and indicative of their consumers.
“Wells Fargo’s support for the LGBT community aligns with our broader commitment to diversity—to serve diverse customers, to hire, develop and retain diverse team members and to encourage team members to value and respect each other for their differences,” a spokesman for the bank wrote in a statement sent to msnbc. “Our advertising content reflects our company’s values, and represents the diversity of the communities we serve.”