Focus On The Family has responded to TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie's weekend retreat from their collaboration, after we raised questions about it late last week. Let's just say the group is playing this better than TOMS has.
From president Jim Daly:
"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 to biblical beliefs about marriage and family. It's also a chilling statement about the future of the culture we live in. We have to wonder: What will someone decide we're unfit to do next?
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. But the same Bible that tells us God's design and intent for marriage also tells us all people are created in His image and are worthy of dignity and respect.
..."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."
He added that "By contract, TOMS has the right to block broadcast of the program. We hope they won't do that, but we have yet to hear directly from Blake or anyone at TOMS about this situation."
Mycoskie had appeared at an event with Focus On The Family's Jim Daly, during which a radio show interview was also taped. A story in Christianity Today about Focus moderating its message, if not its stances had also said that it was "working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa." TOMS' model is to distribute a pair of shoes to children in the developing world for each pair sold here.
After widespread outrage at the partnership, Mycoskie responded Saturday, 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. It was an oversight on my part and the company's part and one we regret." He didn't specify which beliefs, but did say that "both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all."
It was an unsteady response, to say the least. Mycoskie is a committed Christian; if Focus On The Family's beliefs differ much from his own, either in substance or emphasis, it's likely he would have known. Otherwise, wouldn't someone within a high-profile organization have done their homework? The group can partner with whoever it wants — and consumers can make up their own mind based on that information — but the lack of transparency and Mycoskie's initial refusal to discuss or explain the connection were either amateurish or disingenuous.
Meanwhile, Focus On The Family looks like a martyr. All they were trying to do was put shoes on the feet of children in Africa. They forgive you. Even if they're still fighting to curtail your rights at every interval.
Focus On The Family Still Wants To Help Kids Get Shoes Through TOMS [Focus On The Family]
Earlier: TOMS Distances Itself From Focus On The Family
Why Is TOMS Partnering With An Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Group?