In one of the most passionate outbursts of reader mail of the year, the industry resoundingly sided with a retailer's right to advertise -- or not to advertise -- wherever it deems fit.
When Lowe's stopped advertising with the TLC show "All-American Muslim," the retailer was criticized by freedom of religion advocates, who claimed the retailer reacted to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Critics of Lowe's include California State Senator Ted Lieu. Lowe's issued this statement on its Facebook page.
Here are some of the many comments HCN.com received on the subject.
"Good for Lowe's. They have the right to put their sponsorship money any place they believe will get them the most exposure."
— Don Dye
Mary's River Lumber Co.
"Americans in police and military uniforms have fought for the right to practice any form of religion without fear of persecution in this country. This was one of the fundamental principles our country was founded on.
“Having said that, I don't think a retailer deciding not to advertise on a particular TV show whose sole purpose is a religious PR campaign to push a specific agenda, is ‘bigoted.’ There are plenty of fundamentalist Christian TV shows that most retailers wouldn't want to advertise on simply because the people who watch those shows aren't their core customer demographic. So, why are they bigoted if they don't want to advertise on a Muslim TV show but not bigoted if they don't want to advertise on a Christian TV show?"
— Steve White
“Lowe’s Home Improvement made its decision to end advertising during the TLC show ‘All-American Muslim’ following the bigoted outcry of the Florida Family Association (FFA). The FFA claims the program is a form of ‘propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.’
“Ironically, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock oversees the Lowe’s Social Responsibility policy for Diversity & Inclusion. The policy states: ‘Lowe's is committed to treating each customer, employee, community, investor and vendor with respect and dignity.’ I urge Niblock to add the following amendment: ‘So long as that customer, employee, community, investor or vendor doesn’t practice Islam, a belief that offends an ignorant and backwards segment of our market.’ I encourage readers to respond to this un-American decision and confront bigotry by shopping somewhere other than Lowe’s for their home improvement needs. I'll also encourage readers to remember a time not so long ago in our nation's past when Americans of all colors and creeds stood up to bigotry by boycotting ‘White Only’ businesses intent on supporting the destructive culture of injustice and inequality. Lowe's has a right to cancel their advertising during the TLC program. Society has an ethical and moral duty to stand up against an unjust influence of those attempting to pit Americans against Americans on account of differing faiths.”
— Adam Staerkel
"Now we are defining religious freedom by forced financial sponsorship."
— Jeff Wilson
“If Lowe's had decided to quite advertising on a Christian-based program would Senator Ted Lieu have called Lowe’s bigoted, shameful and un-American? I don't think so.
“Lowe's should be able to use its advertising money anyway it sees fit.”
— Steve Johnson
“We seem to be always finding people trying to sublimate freedom in order to accommodate special interest groups. When it comes to advertising, a company should always have the right and responsibility to its shareholders to pick the proper type of advertising that will maximize ROI. With the Muslim population in the USA approximately 2.5 million people or .8% of the population total, I think it would be a bad idea to spend precious ad dollars to appeal to that small demographic. I would have made the decision to pull those ads also, and most likely would not have considered them in the first place.
“We are a free society, and I do not believe that any special interest group should impede free commerce. I also believe that it is imperative for companies to put the interest of their stockholders and customers first, and spending money and time on this issue is not in the best interest of either of these groups.”
— George McCullough
Global director of sales and marketing
Quaker Chemical Corporation/Coatings division