Members of North Texas’ LGBT community urged inclusion after evangelist Franklin Graham grabbed national headlines with a call for Christians to stop doing business with companies friendly to gays and lesbians.
“This is one way we as Christians can speak out — we have the power of choice,” Graham posted on Facebook on Friday. On Twitter, he urged followers to find out more.
Graham’s push for a boycott follows his criticism of a Wells Fargo commercial featuring a lesbian couple planning to adopt a hearing-impaired child. He said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is moving its accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank.
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“Everyone is entitled to vote with their pocketbook. I do,” said David Mack Henderson, president of Fairness Fort Worth, an advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “But smart money supports cities like Fort Worth and companies we attract today that value and embrace people rather than demean and displace them.”
Henderson, whose organization’s Facebook page has support from about 1,000 people, said the boycott is a “desperate attempt by some people to not practice what they preach.” He said most Christians believe in embracing others instead of being intolerant.
Graham’s comments brought mixed reactions from local ministers.
Brent Beasley, senior pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said he is not participating in the boycott.
“I can’t think of Jesus ever boycotting outsiders or people the religious people thought were sinners. In fact, he always reached out to those people,” Beasley said.
Beasley said both Jesus and Graham’s father, Billy Graham, were known for reaching out to outsiders.
The Rev. Wendel “Buck” Cass, a resident minister at Morning Chapel CME in Fort Worth, said he supports the idea of boycotting business that are LGBT-friendly. And he doesn’t support Wells Fargo’s efforts to appeal to same-sex couples.
“These folks have lost their cotton-picking minds,” he said, adding: “That’s like I’m putting my money in the devil’s bank.”
Cass said he opposes same-sex marriage.
“It’s not biblical,” Cass said. “It wasn’t Adam and Steve. It was Adam and Eve.”
Tony Vedda, CEO and president of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, said businesses that reach out to gays and lesbians are saying, “We support everybody.”
Vedda said this inclusiveness is good for all businesses. The Wells Fargo commercial reflects real families in society, he said.
“It’s promoting adoption,” Vedda said. “It is promoting love. There are same-sex couples out there who want to be good parents and adopt children.”
Becki Clesse, president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at the University of Texas at Arlington, said she was touched by the commercial when she saw it several weeks ago.
“When I saw the ad, honestly, I cried,” Clesse said. “You go, Wells Fargo.”
Clesse said Wells Fargo’s support of the LGBT community has been well-known since before the commercial aired. Members of the community are also well aware of companies that support them, she said.
“We just all want to be happy and have the same rights others are privileged to have,” said Clesse, a 23-year-old senior at UTA.
Wells Fargo stands by its ad.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “Our advertising content reflects our company’s values, and represents the diversity of the communities we serve.”
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675