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Religious nuts threaten to boycott Ford
Finance (News.com) (AU)
December 16, 2005

AN influential US conservative Christian group has threatened to boycott Ford vehicles after the auto giant said it would resume advertising in gay publications.

The American Family Association, which claims more than three million supporters, said Ford had reneged on a deal to pull ads from the gay media.

"We had an agreement with Ford, worked out in good faith. Unfortunately, some Ford Motor Company officials made the decision to violate the good-faith agreement," AFA chairman Donald Wildmon said.

"We are now considering our response to the violation and expect to reach a decision very soon," the veteran Methodist minister said, adding "the option of a boycott is now very much alive".

The controversy has placed Ford in the midst of America's "culture war", caught between the powerful Christian right and the vocal gay lobby.

The AFA called for a boycott of Ford this year because of the company's "support for the homosexual agenda and homosexual marriage," but claimed a victory on December 1, saying "our concerns are being addressed."

Rumours of a "secret deal" between Ford and the AFA sparked an outcry from rights groups, prompting Ford to state on Wednesday that it would continue advertising in the gay press.

"It is clear there is a misperception about our intent," Ford said in a letter to seven rights group.

"As a result we have decided to run corporate ads in these targeted publications that will include not only Jaguar/Land Rover but all eight of Ford's vehicle brands."

Ford denied that any deal had been made and insisted that the decision to cease advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications was part of a broad restructuring of advertising budgets at the luxury marques.

It also noted that its Volvo brand would continue to advertise in the gay press. But a number of rights organisations asked Ford to reaffirm its commitment to gay rights.

Company chairman Bill Ford did that on Monday with a statement that said the company values all people regardless of their racial, religious or sexual identity.

On Wednesday, Ford extended that commitment by stating it would continue to support non-profit groups and events in the gay and lesbian community.

However, Mr Wildmon insisted that AFA and Ford officials had hammered out an agreement that prompted the Christian group to call off its earlier boycott threat.

"All we wanted was for Ford to refrain from choosing sides in the cultural war, and supporting groups which promote same-sex marriage is not remaining neutral," he said.

The AFA, which Mr Wildmon founded in 1977 as the National Federation for Decency, recently made headlines by forcing US retailers to hang "Merry Christmas" signs instead of secular "Happy Holiday" messages.

It has claimed credit for successful boycotts of several national advertisers including Burger King and household products giant Clorox because they were "leading sponsors of TV sex, violence and profanity".

Ford did not immediately comment on the threat by the AFA.

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the gay and lesbian rights groups which received the letter from Ford, shrugged off the threat.

"We're not commenting on that. It's time to move on," Jay Smith Brown, communications director for HRC, said.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, 27 rights groups praised Ford's U-turn on gay ads as "an unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford's

Ford did the right thing - eventually, but - should decent people support a company that's so easily led astray by foul-minded religious nuts? People at Ford need to be fired.