The Morality of Advertising, Endorsing, and Working for Stores or Businesses?

Hello all. Lets just say I was doing some job searching when this question came into mind: Would it be morally permissible to Advertise, Endorse, or even Work for a store that sells morally questionable or even morally offensive goods and services?

Here are some personal examples: I was considering working for a local Airsoft store. This store sells primarily Airsoft weapons as well as military gear. I was kind of looking forward to working and/or advertising for this store until I saw a particular item on their Ebay catalog. The item in question is a Red Handmade Leather Bondage Set!!!. They actually have quite a few of these in stock. I was kind of mortified at this especially because I can not quite look at the old people who own the store quite the same way again.

Another example is this: After finding out about the bondage set being sold at my local Airsoft store, I decided to seek employment with other Airsoft stores. However, I found a few items in particular that seem to be the moral bane of a lot of airsoft stores: Patches. I own a few Christian-themed Patches myself, but not all patches are so appropriate. Airsoft stores, in addition to selling Christian and American Patriotic patches, also sell patches that are extremely offensive to Muslim people (insulting to Islamic Extremists as well), that contain blatant sexual obscenities, and that contain morally inappropriate humor and language. I am not even sure if that covers all the kinds of inappropriate patches that are sold.

Finally, I considered making money out of advertisement revenue on Youtube. Obviously, there are a lot of things that one could end up advertising for. Some of them may be good and others are bad.

So, would you all help me to form my conscience on this issue? What exactly is the morality behind Advertising, Endorsing, and Working for a store or other business? Please cite the Bible, Catechism, Priestly advice, etc. Also, please let me know if you are actually quoting moral doctrine or are just giving your own opinion. I thank you all in advance.

Scrupulous…you are being scrupulous. Some thoughts:

  1. Respectfully, I think your whole focus is off, as, candidly, I think the focus of many people who are scrupulous are off. It shouldn’t really be up to us to quote a Church teaching that says you can do X; it should be up to you to quote something that says you can’t do X.

  2. Although I can understand your desire not to basically participate in immorality, what you are doing essentially precludes employment doing anything other than maybe working for a Catholic parish. For example, I could argue, “no working at any pharmacy that dispenses contraception,” which would mean no Catholic can be a pharmacist. I could argue that no Catholic could ever work for anyone that so much as sells a pack of cigarettes – which would include every supermarket, pharmacy, and gas station in the US. Now, let’s say I find a supermarket that doesn’t sell cigarettes – but it’s owned by someone who voted for a candidate who supports abortion so I can’t work for him/her, etc. You can take this concept to such an extreme that basically you can’t go about daily life and just need to sit in the house all day - which is sinful because the utility company that supplies power made a contribution to a charity that supports Planned Parenthood. Now, lets say I find the 1 pharmacy that doesn’t dispense contraception or the business which only does what the Church allows…but it’s owned by bad people who are cheating on their wives, or otherwise doing bad things – aren’t I helping them by working for them or increasing their riches?

Get my point?

I think the only hard line we can draw is that we shouldn’t work for a company or institution whose sole purpose is to commit an act which the Church declares to basically always be bad. The only thing I can think of might be an abortion clinic - but even there one could argue that I can work for an abortion clinic if my purpose is to evangelize others.

My ultimate point is that morality is just too complex to make the sort of hard-and-fast rules scrupulous folks seek as to essentially all areas. That’s ultimately why we’re left to our own consciences in this area, and why we need to form them well – by the Church; the Bible; and natural law written on our hearts.

To PolarGuy

I thank you for your reply. Its funny because Paragraph 2 and onward of your reply pretty much summarized my current moral view on employment. I, too, believe that as long as the work being done or the organization I am working for is not intrinsically evil, I am not sinning by being associated with the work.

I would not see it as a sin to work for a charitable organization that gives toys to children from poor families even if the organization was completely run by Communist-Nazis!

The reason I asked this question here today is because I wanted to be sure. Better safe than sorry, right? Plus, I wanted to be sure if the examples I gave here are indicative of businesses that are either intrinsically evil or businesses that would require me to do intrinsically evil work (I hope they do not ask me to specifically advertise that Bondage Set :eek:). Finally, I know that just catering, attending, or even acting as a photographer at a Gay Marriage is sinful. That is what led me to believe that just associating with an intrinsically evil business or products would incur sin.

And, yes, I would agree that Catholic teaching does not account for every specific situation and that believers must make choices based on their own conscience (a conscience formed according to Catholic Church, of course). Its just that I am a bit apprehensive about that. Lets just say I encountered people who profess to Catholicism that have a conscience that tells them that things like Gay Marriage and Contraception are not intrinsically evil. I also fear giving into moral relativism.

Are there any more answers? I would appreciate them as well.

What’s wrong with that? I have one, but it’s actually black canvas. I use it all the time. Bangs,scrapes, cuts, bruises are inevitable…you need a high-quality kit or you can just make injuries worse.

Wait…you **did **say “bandage”, right?

Seriously, though … what’s “intrinsically evil” about a bondage set?

To QuasiCatholic

Well, it is a set of tools specifically designed to indulge in sadist/masochist sexual fetishes. But, come to think of it, it may not actually be intrinsically evil. Like, if I, for some reason, had to cuff a guy that tried to rob my store and the only cuffs I had on hand were part of the bondage set, then I would use them. If I had to use them like that, I would not mind being associated with them and I surely would not incur sin. But, to use or sell this set for its intended purpose is undoubtedly sinful.

To Everyone
May you all focus on my personal examples? Would you consider it sinful for me to be associated with these businesses? I mean, they are selling a bondage set at an airsoft store!

I’m sorry, scrupulous, I’m just sort of pushing back a bit, not in a bad way, but rather in a hopefully educational way.

It’s not up to us to say why it’s sinful; it’s up to you to tell us why it is. So…why would in be sinful, in your opinion, just to work in such a store?

Do I think it’s sinful? Me, personally? No, I don’t. But I have no more or less authority on morality than anyone else on this board. You know a lot more about the place than I do. So? Do you think it’s immoral?

To PolarGuy

Thank you for following up. If I may ask, what exactly is the basis for belief that It’s not up to us to say why it’s sinful; it’s up to you to tell us why it is? Please pardon me, but I just keep seeing that as a relativistic belief.

Also, I know applying Catholicism to complex scenarios is difficult and that sometimes one should just do what one thinks is right (according to Catholicism). But surely there must be scenarios where the answer is obvious even if it was not obvious to the person making the choice at the time.

For example, in a warzone, your comrade wants to be euthanized before the enemy captures and tortures him. You choose to euthanize him out of weakness. Afterwards, you realize that what you did was wrong. After all, euthanasia is a Non-Negotiable.

Or, your gay son invites you to his gay wedding. You believe that it is not wrong to attend the wedding as long as it is just to support your son and not gay marriage. Of course, even though well-intentioned, this is still wrong in the eyes of the Church. Even acting as a caterer or photographer at such a wedding is sinful (if I am not mistaken).

Basically, what I am trying to get at here is that there are situations where it would be obvious if something is right or wrong. Its just that it would not always be so clear to the people who are directly involved. That is why I asked this question here today so that I can verify if this is a “Non-Negotiable” issue or if it is one where one may do as he sees fit. I also want to see how far the association must be in order for a work to be sinful.

Please pardon me if it seemed like I was rambling. I am just trying to put my thoughts out there.

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