I often don’t talk about how religion and politics affect small business, but I thought for once that we needed to with so many issues facing us.
This week on The Small Business Radio Show, I discussed how religion and politics are affecting small business with my colleague, Brian Moran. He is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs achieve their objectives and to run better businesses. With a global team of subject matter experts, Brian leverages his 30 plus years of experience in the small to midsize business market to assist entrepreneurs with everything from social media to accessing growth capital to expanding into the global marketplace.
Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was an Executive Director at The Wall Street Journal. He was also the Associate Publisher at Inc. Magazine, a Publisher and Associate Publisher at Entrepreneur Media, and held management positions at Success Magazine and Medical Economics Magazine.
Brian also co-authored “Lessons From the Great Recession,” a book that provided practical solutions to small business owners riding the economic rollercoaster.
First, we discussed the role of religion in the recent Supreme Court decision deciding that a web designer could deny creating a website to a gay couple (even though it turned out to be fictitious).
Brian asked, “Why do business with any company that doesn’t recognize you or accept you other than to cause controversy?” There are dozens of other florists, wedding planners, and website designers in town. Why choose the one who doesn’t want to do business with you?
Small Business Deals
He sees a few arguments on all sides of the issue:
- Freedom of Religion: The business owner is within his rights to refuse service because of his religious beliefs. This perspective maintains that freedom of religion is a fundamental right that should be respected, even if it may result in discriminatory actions.
- Discrimination: There are those who believe that this situation is a clear case of discrimination, irrespective of the business owner’s religious beliefs. They argue that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation and that the business owner’s actions are a violation of this principle.
- Human Rights Conflict: Another viewpoint recognizes this scenario as a clash between different human rights – freedom of religion versus freedom from discrimination. This perspective acknowledges the complexity of the situation but ultimately might lean towards one right over the other, depending on individual values.
- Business Professionalism: From a professional standpoint, some individuals may argue that as a business owner, the business owner has an obligation to serve all customers equally, regardless of personal beliefs. They feel that personal convictions should not interfere with professional service provision.
- Supporting Freedom of Association: People with this viewpoint might argue that the business owner, as a private business owner, has the right to decide who he wants to associate with or serve, similar to the way customers have the right to choose which businesses they patronize.
- Legal Perspective: From a legal viewpoint, it could be argued that if the business owner lives in a jurisdiction where discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited, he should be held accountable for breaking the law, irrespective of his personal beliefs.
- Prioritizing Love and Inclusivity: Those from this perspective may believe that the key principle of most religions is love and acceptance. They argue that the business owner should not use his faith as a tool to discriminate but should instead focus on spreading love and inclusivity.
- Supporting Non-Coercion: Some people may argue that while they do not agree with the business owner’s views, they also oppose forcing him to act against his deeply held beliefs. They believe in preserving the non-coercion principle even in challenging circumstances.
- The Impact on the LGBTQ+ Community: This perspective focuses on the emotional and psychological impact such instances of discrimination have on members of the LGBTQ+ community. Advocates argue that refusal of services contributes to a hostile and unwelcoming society for this community, and that it’s crucial to challenge and overcome such instances of discrimination.
Secondly, we also discussed the role businesses should play in politics and culture wars. Should companies be partisan according to their customer base or the founder’s beliefs?
Image: Brian Moran