By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

target boycottBy now, you’ve most probably heard of the American Family Association’s boycott against retail giant Target.

The conservative Christian advocacy organization is promoting a boycott of the store, saying it has “crossed the line by intentionally exposing women and girls to voyeurs and sexual predators with their restroom and dressing room policy.”

Please don’t think of this article as a condemnation or endorsement of the AFA boycott, but a plea to think about the simple question posted by Pastor Carlos Rodriguez in a recent article , “If we keep boycotting each other, then when are we going to engage each other?”

Despite that, there are apparently over 1,000,000 people who have signed the petition to avoid the store.

The petition reads in part, “Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go? Clearly, Target’s dangerous new policy poses a danger to wives and daughters.”

However, research by a local CBS affiliate didn’t back up that contention..

The station was unable to find even one recorded case in the United States of a predator posing as a transgender person committing a bathroom assault.

However, there was one 2014 case in Canada.

“A man there pretended to be transgender and assaulted two females at a women’s shelter. He was later confined indefinitely to a security hospital as a dangerous sex offender and mentally ill.”

According to The Street, Target is not the first company to be caught in AFA’s crosshairs.  It’s had run-ins with a number of companies in the past, including Walmart.

In 2006, the association told shoppers to boycott Walmart’s post-Thanksgiving sales because of its outreach to some gay-rights organizations.

More recently, the association encouraged consumers to stop using PayPal after it withdrew its expansion plans in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It even does a “naughty or nice” list. See it here. There’s more information about the AFA at this link.

So while we’re busy flooding social media with anti Target comments, could we be using our resources more profitably? All of us only have a limited amount of time and discretionary funds, so could we make better use of those resources?

If you’re in New Mexico, remember that in a 2015 report, we were at 21.3 percent and ranked 50th in states of people who had incomes below the poverty line ($23,834 for a family of four) in 2014.

Then there was a 2016 article in the Santa Fe New Mexican which reported that New Mexico has the highest rate of child poverty in the United States, according to a study by New Mexico Voices for Children, an Albuquerque-based advocacy group.

Oh, and don’t forget that according to the New Mexico Association of Food Banks , nearly 70,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance weekly. That’s the equivalent of a city the size of Santa Fe needing emergency assistance every week.

Between 30 and 40 percent of the members of households seeking food assistance are children under the age of 18.

Twenty-one percent of the people seeking food assistance in New Mexico are senior citizens.

Sixty-one percent of households report that in the previous year they had to choose between paying utilities or buying food. Of this group, 33 percent reported that they have to make this tough choice every month.

Forty-eight percent of households report having to choose between paying their rent or mortgage or buying food. Nineteen percent of this group are forced to make this choice every month.

With that in mind, where are your resources going? It’s worth a thought. To quote again from Carlos Rodriguez, “As a believer of Jesus I choose not to join the righteous noise of boycotting, but rather to talk about God with those who have no access.”

When it comes to those in poverty, there are more and more of them. At Joy Junction we’re providing over 16,000 meals a month and sheltering as many as 300 people a night. Will you join me to gather a million signature petition to boycott and “target” homelessness and hunger- starting right here in Albuquerque?

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