“Ask a Priest: Do We Have to Boycott Firms That Support Bad Causes?”

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Q: Do we have a moral obligation to boycott companies that pay abortion costs to employees or support homosexual marriages etc.? I’ve heard some arguments like material cooperation is all around us, we don’t really do any significant damage to the companies, and just morally we don’t have an obligation. What do you think? – Ivan

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: There isn’t an outright obligation to boycott these companies. The word boycott doesn’t appear in the Catechism or in the Code of Canon Law, as far as I can tell.

Still, as Catholics we have a general obligation to evangelize and do what we can to promote justice and decency in the world.

While it’s true that we can’t totally avoid some kind of material cooperation in evil — even the devices and software you and I are using to communicate contain elements made by firms that promote some kind of bad causes — we should look for ways to push back somehow.

This could involve looking for alternative products if possible. It could involve writing to companies to encourage them to desist from supporting bad stuff. It could involve trying to raise awareness among fellow Catholics and other citizens.

A key notion here is that we have to be careful not to go along with the world too readily.

We as individuals might not change things overnight. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. If we wash our hands and say, “I can’t do anything,” then things won’t likely change for the better.

Sure, if you decide not to buy coffee at a certain shop anymore, for instance, the impact is tiny. But if every pro-lifer were to stop buying coffee from the same company, that could have a big impact.

Moreover, by consciously avoiding certain companies or looking for alternatives, it helps keep us aware of the mission we need to embrace as Christians.

For related reading on this topic, see The Pillar interview with a bishop.

It might be good to take some of this to prayer and see where the Holy Spirit might be guiding you.


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  1. The best means of quietly ‘living the faith’ IN but NOT OF this world is to ‘offer up’ the little things of good we do each week at the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Pray for the conversion of souls who ‘bought into’ the
    many ‘lies’ put out by smoo-oooth and charming tongues, using word twisting of actions that are offensive to God.

    We will never ‘outright’ change any one person or company ourselves… but we need to be careful ‘who we work for’ in our employment choices. The larger the firm, with all the perks and benefits… the more possibility that those profits are not being used for good charitable causes. (pro abortion payments) any firm that speaks this at an interview; politely rise from the seat after interview and don’t look back… no matter the
    ‘perks’ (don’t hand over one’s soul for today’s equivalent of 30 pieces of silver) Sometimes its good to forego the many ‘benefits’ of large and corporate for small and midsize companies (non franchised) / In the once
    ‘good old days’ the term was ‘slow and steady wins the race’ . . . to the TOP… THE REAL UPWARD RISING to where the fullness of JOY is (yes, that heaven above our natural sight)

    If one learns an actual skill of some type and puts it to work in a small to mid size firm and does it well there need never be fear of ‘corporate downsizing.’ Small firms and mid-size firms that may not offer tempting benefit packages but do offer greater long time security. (AND with knowing how to do something, one may get to work for one’s own self someday) SLOW AND STEADY ‘wealth building’ using the virtue of prudence in life living.

  2. Don’t go to R movies, or for that matter ANY movies of Hollywood… good or bad; it supports the ‘bad Hollywood ideology ‘motif.’ One good film … is one out of MANY OTHERS that promote wrong values.

    LIVE SIMPLE. One family TV in family room or living room area (there doesn’t need to be a TV in kitchen)
    Family meals are for family conversation. The kids do need a TV in bedroom. (better to keep eye on what they view) A home computer for the kids should be in an area where parent can keep watch of what they
    click on. There’s also a means to LOCK certain apps (so I hear) so they can’t randomly click. Put the kids
    computer in same room with mommy and daddy’s work computer. LIMIT computer time for doing school work only. NO ‘PLAYING’ online. (no talking to strangers on line or in the street)

    KEEP kids engaged in REAL LIFE. (sport team, hobby, and reading of books borrowed from library)

    Do not ‘shop ’til one drops’ . . . SIMPLE LIVING means not always running out to get what everyone else
    has… just for the ‘status’ of having. (something good and nice to have… is what birthdays and Christmas is
    for) Consider, when family is beyond Santa years… purchasing one ‘family’ gift all can enjoy. (a TV or
    a special family vacation perhaps) TEACH THAT ‘SPECIAL’ ‘FUN’ things come ‘after the disciplined good
    doings.’ FIRST the working ‘for good of others’ (aka job) doing without little things…to enjoy SPECIAL.
    (one doesn’t need to fall into the consumeristic way of living… and one is NOT supporting the companies making such stuff for big profit and using profit in perhaps ways that tear down common good..

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