TOMS Shoe Founder Pressured to Lose Focus

Jaclyn Martin

TOMS Shoe Founder Pressured to Lose Focus

(WNS) -- TOMS Shoes is living proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, recently partnered with Focus on the Family to help people in need. On June 30, the team worked together for the “Feet on the Ground” event and raised awareness the needy.

Focus on the Family’s President Jim Daly interviewed Mycoskie at the event. Mycoskie shared his Christian testimony in the interview and explained how his faith led him to create the philanthropic shoe company.

Although the event was a sold-out success, gay rights activists criticized Mycoskie. Focus on the Family’s belief in traditional marriage caused gay rights activists to pressure TOMS to end the relationship. Mycoskie responded by apologizing to the gay community and distancing TOMS from Focus on the Family.

“Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret. We do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.” Mycoskie said.

Daly expressed sadness at Mycoskie’s response to the gay rights activists.  He said Focus on the Family’s intention in the partnership was to inspire Christians to better the world. 

“We interviewed Blake because we thought his story would inspire other Christians to act on their faith like he has and to help others in need. We want to tell our friends about the great work TOMS does and how they can be a part of putting shoes on the feet of impoverished kids,” Daly said.

TOMS’ decision to end the partnership also demonstrated the influence of homosexual activists. Daly said that the controversy “is an unfortunate statement about the culture we live in, when an organization like ours is deemed unfit to help children in need simply because we hold to biblical beliefs about marriage and family.  What will someone decide we’re unfit to do next?”

TOMS has now made clear it will not be partnering with Focus on the Family because of the organization’s views on marriage. “So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud.” Mycoskie said.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of Ministry Communications for Focus, said, “How distressing that Christians seem to be the only ones not tolerated in our culture of tolerance.” He also pointed out that a biblical view of marriage does not promote the hatred of homosexuals.  “We believe marriage is a sacred, lifetime union between one man and one woman,” Schneeberger said.  “But all people are created in His (God’s) image and are worthy of dignity and respect.”

Focus on the Family still wants to air the broadcast of Mycoskie’s interview.  “But that’s not our choice,” Daly said.  “By contract, TOMS has the right to block broadcast of the program. We hope they won’t do that, but we have yet to hear directly from Blake or anyone at TOMS about this situation.”

This article published on July 15, 2011. Copyright WORLD Magazine. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Photo from TOMS blog.