Is it sinful to patronize Starbucks?

Salvete, omnes!

Was just thinking on this issue and did a search on CAF before creating this thread. Evern though there has been some writing on it, I decided to start my own thread because the precise issues relating to this topic about which I am concerned have not been, or at least IMO, too little been, addressed.

Since we know that some, perhaps even a good, percentage of money Starbuck’s receives goes to fund Planned Parenthood, which, in turn, supports abortion, are not Catholics obligated not to patronize Starbucks?

I have heard it said that Planned Parenthood supports more than just abortion so that we cannot be certain whether our money proper would go to support an abortion.

I am indeed familiar with issues concerning proximity to sin and there are many who would argue that, since we are not directly contributing to abortion and since we cannot ultimately decide for someone where their money goes, we are not sinning by patronizing Starbucks and businesses like it even though they support abortion.

I used to believe this.


Let’s think of it this way. If I go to Starbucks, my money may very likely go to support abortion. If I did not go to Starbucks, that money would have no chance of supporting abortion (i.e., the murdering of babies). To be even more specific, whatever money I would NOT give by NOT going to Starbucks may do at least a little to prevent the killing of even one baby, but, if I went to Starbucks, that one baby may not be saved/may be killed.

Furthermore, I have been reading that boycotts do sometimes have positive moral effects so that, ifw e would all, say boycott Starbucks, all of us who do not support abortion, that might cause companies such as Starbucks to stop supporting organizations that support abortion.

Also, linked with remote proximity to sin, as I understand it, is a doctrine (infallible or no, I am not sure?) called something like double-effect which, as I understand it, basically states that the good which results from doing an activity should be proportional in significance to or better than the negative side of the sin, or something like that, before we can justify even a remote cooperation with sin. FIrst of all, am I understanding this double-effect correctly? If so, then, I doubt there are many people who would say the positive effects of having a Starbucks are sufficiently good to negate the evil effects of killing a baby. Indeed, we could argue that Starbucks coffee does, in some way, nourish our bodies, but surely most of us who go there are doing so primarily for the pleasure that a good cup of Starbuck’s coffee brings. So, is our pleasure sufficiently positive as to outweigh the negative effects of killing a baby? Am I right on all this?

Still, it would seem that we would have to give up a good deal of daily “pleasures” (i.e., things that are technically not utterly vital to support our existence) to avoid inadvertently giving money to abortion, or even other sins for that matter. We would essentially have to live like the Amish in order to avoid this. Yet, are we, technically, required to make such sacrifices in order that we are not guilty of remote cooperation with sin via double-effect?

Again, is double-effect a set infallible doctrine of the Church? If not, would there be any argument to counter this particular line of reasoning? If so, why do not more Catholics live like the Amish? Why is the Church not encouraging Catholics more vocally to live like the Amish in order to avoid double-effect of remote proximity to sin?

Also, what about all the actual good Starbucks and other organizations do in supporting causes with which we agree? Could that not be sufficient reason to be all right to go ahead and patronize these companies? I mean, it’s about like paying taxes, perhaps? We don’t agree with everything they go to, but we do agree with many things, so we still pay them. “Render unto Caesar” and all that. Though taxes may have in antiquity gone to fund, say, pagan temples, they also went to fund roads and other things and also were ultimately used to keep law and order in the Empire. One might even argue that Christ’s saying here meant that “rendering unto Caesar” was, in some sense “rendering unto God” because not only of obedience to God-ordained authority but also because of the good that could come out of it.

So, with all this in mind, what do you guys think? Is it all right to support companies like Starbucks even though they support causes like abortion, or should we give up virtually all modern pleasure in life and live, at least to a great extent, practically like the Amish? (I ask this in all seriousness.) Is this the kind of sacrifice that Jesus requires of all of us? Why or why not, in either case?

Hmm, I am indeed wondering if this is not what the writer of the Apocalypse had in mind when he said we would be able neither to buy not sell or that we should “flee to the mountains” so that we would not be partakers in their punishments…?

Gratias vobis.

Some may also suggest using alternatives, but, I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty picky about tastes of things. Just how I am. Still, again, is this sufficient reason or no to still patronize Starbucks given what they support?

And, for other companies, it is rather a similar situation. For instance, both Apple and Microsoft are companies with far reach and with very high quality services. If we refused to, say, buy an iPhone or a Mac or use Windows, what are wel left with?

Also, let’s take social media as one example. Twitter, Facebook, even Periscope have a much wider audience than any smaller “equivalent” entity. Should we sacrifice all the possible interest groups/audience (even in the Christian/Catholic sphere) because such companies support sinful causes?

Also, some would argue that we are not obligated to research what every company contributes to because it would take so much of our time. However, there are loads of trusted sites that have lists upon lists of companies that, say, support abortion and it wouldn’t take that long to look up those lists. Even if we’re not sure of the reliability of this or that list, is it not better to not patronize the companies on them just in case our money goes to abortions, for example?

(Sorry. Keeps timing out and I keep thinking of other important points to add.)

I would suggest asking your Confessor. That way we can dispense with the “some will argue this, some will argue that”.

My first starbucks frozen coffee resulted in a Brain Freeze, and I haven’t been back since.:smiley:

I am glad you asked this question, but how are we supposed to know how every business stands on moral and social issues?

I don’t like the taste of Starbuck’s coffee so I won’t go there for coffee. I do like their hot chocolate and their pastries are good. However, I seldom go there.

Anyhow, I will wait and read other responses.

There’s an app called 2nd Vote that lists this.

But the big difference is that there aren’t many options beyond Apple and Microsoft. On the other hand, I can still easily get my coffee fix by going somewhere else or making my coffee at home.

I keep updated on which companies donate to PP. If at all possible, I will not shop there. If there is a viable alternative, I will use it, even if it’s slightly inconvenient for me.

Just don’t buy Girl Scout cookies. Many do buy them but they support PP a lot and that isn’t good for young girls to think PP is doing a good job.

I would personally bouycot any business that support abortion.

I don’t’ patronize the businesses that put THEIR beliefs in my face.
Having said that, Starbucks is a product that tastes bad, and is VERY overpriced. We’re paying them to shove their political views upon unsuspecting young people who think the whole thing is “cool”.

PS: you really should consider drilling down your posts/questions to a couple of sentences. You might get more responses and more discussion. Most people here “get” what you mean from the get-go. :wink:

Frankly, I avoid Starbucks anyway because their coffee sucks!

The people who run Starbucks are also very vocal advocates of same-sex marriage. It frustrates my wife when we’re stuck in an airport, but I won’t support Starbucks. I am, however, on the verge of boycott fatigue, especially since so many companies are trying to hop on the SSM Express with the “cool kids.”

Misty, I think on Starbucks you’ve got your answer already. The way the double effect issue speaks to you, you don’t want to patronise them.

The Church doesn’t keep points on our licence! We’ve got to learn to police ourselves as individuals.

If you patronised a company without checking or knowing what they do with what frankly is their money, once you’ve bought what you are actually buying from them, and it is reasonable that you hadn’t checked - and frankly from a practical viewpoint in the absence of the sort of resource given above it often is reasonable that one hasn’t - then so be it.

In the case of electronic companies, we must typically additionally watch what scheme we are entering into and what the practical effects of that are on us before anyone else. Drinking a cup of coffee isn’t continuing a scheme.

The Church’s teaching on cooperation with evil addresses this type of situation. Generally, this type of choice, to patronize a business despite some sins committed by the people running it, is remote material cooperation and is moral. Your act is not inherently evil, and you do not intend any cooperation with whatever is sinful in the acts of other persons, so it comes down to a judgment of the circumstances. Buying some coffee is not a direct participation in any sin by the company; it is remote.

The same type of analysis applies to buying Girl Scout cookies, or to patronizing any business, as long as what you are doing is moral and the sins of that business are remote from your act.

thank you. this is good to know.

I try to be aware in as much as is reasonably possible and avoid supporting companies who are “in your face” about supporting pure evil. I would not buy Starbucks products even if that meant I would do without altogether. I have invested for retirement through a Catholic broker and all my funds are invested in companies that support Catholic teaching and values. I do not subscribe to secular magazines or newspapers due to the vast amount of advocacy of social evils. I do what I can to support businesses who promote family values, which generally means shopping at small businesses. I am sure that some goods that I must purchase such as new underwear and clothing from time to time may have been manufactured by companies that are not in support of good moral values, however as someone pointed out, it is a matter of remote, very remote cooperation. Do your best, that is all I could suggest. :slight_smile:

I’m paying for a cup of coffee, not for some woman’s abortion.

Personally, I love Starbucks coffee and have spent many hours in their cafes doing work. Others don’t like the taste and that’s a more valid reason to avoid the place, in my opinion.

If we looked at nearly any major corporation we will probably find something objectionable about what they do.

I agree.

Yeah, but the point is, we DO know. :slight_smile:
You can get Wi-Fi almost everywhere now.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit