Catholic Boycotts

I’m new to CA and this may be an old topic, but I wonder how many Catholics refer to the Catholic League’s website on a regular basis. Among other things, the CL monitors and maintains contact with the media and calls for boycotts for serious offenses against morality, social justice, Christianity and Catholicism. There’s power in numbers and we’ve certainly got the numbers to change things. The need to attract Christians kept the media pretty clean for years. We could do it again if Catholics were willing to stand up en masse and boycott offenders, temporarily or permanently. (I’m thinking in particular of a Boston Legal episode several years ago where, in defense of cannabilism, the defense attorney connected it with the Catholic belief about the Eucharist, and a Two-and-a-Half Men episode where a sexual enuendo was made regarding the persons of the Trinity.) Boycotting is a very effective form of activism; it gets 'em in the only thing they understand; money. Any thoughts?

I’m not familiar with the CL. Any links to their website?

And welcome to the forums, I might add!:slight_smile:

Apologies - I’m a tech neanderthal and don’t know how to post a link - search engine works, though!

are you referring to this site?

i didn’t see anything about boycotts tho

Thanks for the link. I didn’t see any, either.

I’m so chagrined…I use my search engine for everything and went in under “Catholic Boycotts” which led me to the Catholic League’s website. I’m so sorry for the confusion - In any case, what I told you is correct. They do investigate complaints, contact the media and publicly call for boycotts (although probably not often enough!) When I was horrified over the Boston Legal episode (BL had been my favorite show) I contacted the local Catholic paper, who referred me to the Bishop’s Conference, who referred me to the Catholic League, who had already received numerous complaints. SO, if the CL isn’t familiar to people, how are folks monitoring the media and are we doing it at all?
Going to Mass now…

The Catholic League does monitor the media for anti-Catholic sentiments, and they make statements accordingly (which often will entail a call for boycotting or letter writing). As far as I can tell, they do not maintain any sort of active “Catholic Boycott Registry” which would list all the products and companies to boycott. You’d just have to keep up with their press releases and keep track for yourself.

Historically speaking, well-organized boycotts can be very effective. But, I’ve never seen anything close to a well-organized boycott among Catholics or Christians. Even if you manage to publicize it well, many people simply will not follow through with it.

First, a private boycott accomplishes nothing. For you to simply say “I’m not going to watch this TV program because of it’s anti-Catholic content” will not do anything. There are many reasons why people choose not to watch something. Now, if you write a letter (or letters) letting the TV company and their advertisers know why you’re not watching something, that may be a different story. If you help organize a letter-writing campaign, better still.

Second, don’t be surprised if not many people jump on board the boycott. With so many things in our culture that run counter to the Gospel, it’s hard to keep track of it all (not to mention the fact that if you boycotted everything that ran counter to the Gospel in some way, you would have no where to shop and nothing to buy). People might easily forget what they’re supposed to boycott, or else they might think that one off-color joke isn’t worth the effort. Even if they are upset, they might not think one person will make a difference. Many times, those who are gung-ho about the boycott of a TV program are those who weren’t watching it to begin with. For those who are already partial to watching that program, they will have an easier time dismissing the occassional anti-Catholic slur in lieu of the hours of entertainment they derive from the show.

Third, there is such a diversity of opinion even among Catholics and Christians as to what is acceptable and what is not. I always hear the statistics that Catholics contracept, abort, and divorce at the same rate as the secular culture at large. If that’s the case, how do you convince Catholics to organize as a group to boycott this or that product because they give money to Planned Parenthood (for example)?

I don’t mean to say that boycotting is not a good idea. I think it can be. But there are certain challenges unique to our modern situation that we have to take into account if we want to do it effectively. It’s not an easy thing to do. If the Church were the federal government, a boycott would be easy: you just make in illegal to buy or sell a certain product. The Church does not have that same method at its disposal.


I agree that there are many things that make our time in history particularly hard in every way. There are abundant ‘logical’ reasons to be discouraged and to feel that we are each too unimportant to have any effect and that we are isolated in our values. That we’re an anachronism. That’s what today’s world drums into us, and above all, what the devil wants us to believe. However, if it were all up to the logic of powerlessness, no overwhelmed sinner would ever work their way back through the damage they’ve done to themselves. No cancer patient would ever find the strength to fight through the difficulties and set-backs with no guarantees of health on the other end. No social justice movement would ever begin with just one person and get off the ground. We can’t just lay down and let the world have its way with us. God blesses our pitiful efforts, but He can’t if there are no efforts to bless. And, I might add, we are NOT isolated. We’re part of the Mystical Body of Christ. That carries a little weight.

Every “movement” starts small and has an uphill battle, including the one that started with a tiny, motley, insignificant group of Jews 2000 years ago. I was in a parish where a courageous priest called attention to the offensiveness of certain television shows and asked the entire congregation to write or email producers and sponsors. And people did. How good would it feel to send a letter stating that an entire parish of 3500 families have agreed not going to see a certain movie? How good would it feel to be part of an effort that included every parish in a diocese? Or more than one diocese? People do respond, especially if they think they’re part of something that has real meaning and is bigger than themselves. I’ve been a volunteer recruiter for many years in an area of volunteerism that’s particularly hard to interest people in. When people see themselves as part of a movement to improve a situation, they do get involved. Not everybody, but enough to make a difference, and they influence others. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the word out and presenting it an appealing, intelligent way. Sometimes it fails miserably the first time, or even more than once, but eventually it may just work. And it has the added bonus of making people think about the issues involved, which is something that’s lacking in our ‘on autopilot’ culture.

If the Catholic League isn’t the way to go, does anyone have any suggestions? A blog? A new website? A post office box in Hoboken?
C’mon, I can’t be the ONLY Pollyanna here…

You make a very convincing post! I can see why you’re a volunteer recruiter! :wink:

You are absolutely right that we cannot let the struggles involved dissuade us from doing anything. We just have to be mindful of the cultural landscape and plan accordingly (as it seems you have already done).

Personally, I think the Catholic League is the way to go in these matters. It is true that not everyone knows about them, but they are already well established. Rather than reinvent the wheel, it would be better to promote the Catholic League than try to start from square one with a new group of some kind. At the very least, any efforts to boycott something would be more effective if they were funneled through them.

Even if many people don’t know the Catholic League by name, they do know of their work. Bill Donahue (president of the Catholic League) frequently grabs headlines.

The only thing that might have more impact that I can think of would be if the bishops themselves organized a boycott list. I have severe reservations about whether this falls under their role, though. It could have the adverse side effect of turning the bishops into more of a political body rather than a spiritual one. Usually, the bishops and clergy simply give us the guiding principles and leave it to the laity to parse out how the principles apply to a given situation. In addition, the sheer quantity of new media and new products would make it impossible for the bishops to keep up with it all and still manage to teach the faith.

so FF, are you up to the task of keeping up with the CL press reports and finding out what the new and on-going boycotts are? and you’re right, they would need to be posted concisely and centrally to get the most bang for the buck. there’s a lot of information out there, but most of us can only focus on a few things in any detail.


:whistle: Sorry. Did I get too wound up? (Right now I’m an out-of-work Volunteer Director who really should be looking for jobs on the internet instead of mouthing off on the CA forums…)

I agree the best way to go should probably be through an existing entity. The Catholic League would have to be better promoted and they’d need a different layout or separate site to make information easily accessible at a click and more user-friendly to the laity.

As far as bishop involvement being perceived as political, as the successors of the apostles they’re responsible for dissiminating information concerning faith and morals. They speak out against gay marriage and abortion; why should they not also publicly invite (Invite, not require) Catholics to collectively boycott movies, tv shows and sponsors when serious faith and morals issues or major blasphemy are involved? I’m not suggesting anything remotely resembling another Index. The laity should make those decisions for themselves. But enough Catholics just might respond to an invitation to boycott that sponsors and investors might sit up and take notice. They won’t take notice however, unless it’s done publicly.
There’s also something to be said for promoting Catholic identity in practical ways and proving Catholics can actually be united when we need to be. (we’re not dead; we’re resting.) The laity themselves would be more than happy to keep the bishops informed and rat out offenders! LOL!

The way it is now, though, we all think we can’t make a difference in any major way so nobody tries…:banghead:

Har har har har:rotfl: Being concise and detailed are not my gifts; I’m completely inadequate in the left-brain department. I’d more likely be the person who rats out the offenders and writes annoying letters to the bishops…as if you haven’t figured THAT out already…

Life Decisions International produces a list of companies that support Planned Parenthood. You have to pay for the list (here’s why), and then the list is always changing.

One thing that struck me is how much work and research they put into compiling their list, and this is an area that seems relatively narrowly defined and clear-cut: companies that give money to one specific abortion provider (Planned Parenthood). Imagine maintaining a list of companies / TV shows / movies / books / websites / video games / music / magazines / universities / etc. that in some way contradict any aspect of Catholic moral teaching and Catholic doctrine, whether it be statements, actions, or financial contributions to other organizations.

And then, where do you draw the line? Do you blacklist a company for matching a donation an employee makes to a Catholic college with a heretical moral theology professor?

I think this is part of the reason why a group like the Catholic League does not keep a list going. It would be unwieldy. Plus, it’s often counterproductive to keep only a partial list. Whenever you compile a list like that, people will assume that if something is not on the list, it must therefore be perfectly fine.

Further, a comprehensive list can scare people off. When you see a list that includes a majority of restaurants, stores, musicians, TV shows, etc., it can be easy to toss up your hands and say, “Well that means I can’t buy or do anything.”

I think it is helpful to pick our battles and focus our energies. That seems to be what the Catholic League is doing. Then when other companies see one particular company taken to the mat for this or that, they will follow suit.

Joe, I think that’s too generalized and it does make it unwieldy and impossible. Limiting it to major offenses and boycotting major sponsors is sufficient. The purpose wouldn’t be retaliatory, it would just be a nice, gentle reminder that we’re out here in enough numbers to matter to their bottom line. If I’d stopped using the products put out by the sponsors of the Boston Legal episode it would mean nothing except to me. but if only 10% of Catholics in this country had done it for a period of a year and publicly, it would have made a difference.

I’ve been participating recently with the Parents Television Council (, which gives weekly email reports about current programming. I don’t think they call for boycotts, but (unless I’m confusing them with another organization) they urge their members to write to the networks that air offensive shows on primetime. The latest big offender is ABC’s “Swingtown.” They also provide links to report indecent content to the FCC, which I have done on quite a few occasions.

I believe OneMillionMoms and OneMillionDads (sponsored by the AFA) are the ones who call for specific boycotts. Just today I sent off an email to ACE Hardware to ask them to withdraw their advertising from an offensive program. They seem pretty effective in pulling the financial rug out from under nasty shows. :thumbsup:

Thanks, Surfinpure (what a great name!)

Those sound like a wonderful resources.

Just got this in my inbox:

*Dear One Million Moms, One Million Dads and the American Family Association Members, *

Thank you for contacting us regarding Ace’s advertising on the CBS prime-time show, “Swingtown.”
When the media buy was placed for the show that aired Friday, August 8, we were unaware of the questionable content that would be included in that particular episode. While Ace, like all advertisers, is never given the opportunity to preview shows before the advertising is placed against our target demographic, we have made the decision to permanently cease all advertising on this particular CBS show, effective immediately.
*For more than 80 years, Ace has prided itself on being an organization that puts family values, integrity and the highest standards in the forefront of all that we do not only at our 4,600 retail locations, but also throughout the corporation. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us and sincerely hope that you will continue to make Ace “your place” for your neighborhood hardware needs. *
Anne-Marie Cronin
Advertising Brand Manager


Another victory! :clapping:

:rotfl: Just goes to show…it works! Thanks, Surfinpure, SO much for sharing that! Made my day! :dancing:

I was a fan of how McDonalds runs their business, but their contribution toward a gay organization, etc., has made me boycott their restaurants.

So I’ve driven by about 5-6 times since then, and bought food elsewhere. My small act of personal resistance.:slight_smile:

Oh boy! You all said it better than I ever could!! I too was searching far and wide for the elusive “boycott list” when the same thoughts occcured to me…"hum… guess I’m goin’ have to boycott most everything."EWTN did a piece about the horrors going on in China.If only it were possible to avoid goods from that country!..So I’m being very frugal&careful about what I buy and send all that extra money to EWTN or my local Catholic radio station,CL,and so on.

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