Conservative Christian groups are waging war against corporations that don't pass the litmus test of their extreme right-wing agendas.
Most recently, these groups have targeted such businesses as the Ford Motor Company, American Girl dolls and Wells Fargo bank.
Donald Wildmon's American Family Association has been going after Ford since 2002, demanding that the company stop advertising on "Will & Grace" and other gay-friendly television shows.
Ford's initial response to the American Family Association's charges was to argue that its advertising decisions were simply about smart business.
Wildmon's group decided in May to escalate by threatening a boycott against Ford. In an attempt to head off the controversy, the car company met with American Family Association off and on for six months. Those meetings eventually led to an announcement that Ford would dramatically reduce its advertising in gay publications.
Wildmon and his group claimed victory, while gay activists and their supporters were outraged.
Ford then met with gay and civil rights leaders and thankfully reversed its decision. Not only would it continue to advertise in lesbian and gay publications, but it would now increase its support by advertising all of its brands rather than two or three.
Not surprisingly, Wildmon's American Family Association has renewed its threat of a boycott.
The makers of the utterly wholesome American Girl dolls were taken aback when James Dobson's Focus on the Family, the Pro-Life Action League of Chicago and other groups organized a variety of campaigns against American Girl earlier this year. The point of contention is American Girl's financial support of Girls Inc. (formerly known as the Girls Clubs of America).
Among numerous statements related to girl's empowerment, the Girl's Inc. Web site includes phrases supporting young women who are questioning their sexual identity, as well as words in support of Roe v. Wade.
Focus on the Family also recently severed its connections with Wells Fargo bank because the group says the bank is advancing "the radical homosexual agenda," according to a statement by Focus President and CEO Jim Daly. The move came after Wells Fargo agreed to offer matching funds to a media education campaign sponsored by GLAAD
(the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
The organizing tactics of groups like American Family Association and Focus on the Family are not surprising. After all, boycotts have been an effective organizing tool utilized on both sides of the political divide for decades.
What is worrisome is that companies are being targeted for even the smallest amount of support for gay and feminist causes.
It's also chilling to see how a major company like Ford could so easily -- albeit briefly -- jettison its commitment to human rights because of a threatened boycott by conservative groups.
Corporations need to take a stand beyond their bottom line, and concerned consumers who are committed to social justice must strongly support those businesses that refuse to capitulate to extremist demands.
Andrea Lewis is a San Francisco-based journalist and co-host of "The Morning Show" on KPFA Radio in Berkeley, Calif. She can be reached at email@example.com.