For Release: May 19, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Home Depot Asked if it Opposes Religious Freedom
Asked to Leave Anti-Religious Freedom "Georgia Prospers" Coalition
National Center for Public Policy Research Says "Georgia Prospers" Misled Public, Policymakers About Intent and Function of Religious Liberty Legislation
Group Questions Why Home Depot Joined and Lobbies With a Group that Fought a Religious Liberty Bill So Nonpartisan, Its Model Was Drafted by the Late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
Corporations Are Being Used as Front Groups By Left-Wing Anti-Religion Coalitions, Group Says, and Asks: Are These Corporations Pawns or Willing Accomplices?
Religious Freedom for Hundreds of Millions May Hang in the Balance
Atlanta, GA / Washington, D.C. - At today's annual meeting of Home Depot shareholders in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Center for Public Policy Research denounced the hardware giant's affiliation with an activist group that lobbied against Georgia's effort to protect religious freedom at the state level and asked the hardware giant's management point-blank: "Does Home Depot oppose religious freedom?"
Home Depot is a member of Georgia Prospers, a corporate coalition that lobbied extensively - and dishonestly - against Georgia's religious freedom bill titled "The Free Exercise Protection Act," and cheered when Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the bill at the end of March.
"I am surprised Home Depot affiliates with a bigoted organization such as Georgia Prospers," said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. "While some corporate leaders such as Tim Cook of Apple and Marc Benioff of Salesforce actually oppose religious freedom, other corporate managers may be signing up to oppose certain social and political liberties without realizing all the facts. I hope that my efforts today cause Home Depot's management to reconsider working with Georgia Prospers and its anti-religious agenda."
At the meeting, Danhof stated:
As Georgia politicians debated whether to adopt a religious freedom bill known as "The Free Exercise Protection Act," perhaps the biggest opponent of the bill was Georgia Prospers, a business coalition of which Home Depot is one of the most prominent members. Georgia Prospers lobbied hard against the bill and boasted when Governor Deal vetoed it, but I'm sorry to say much of its work was extremely dishonest and I truly doubt it aligns with Home Depot's values.
In its lobbying campaign, Georgia Prospers claimed that the bill "legalized discrimination." That's a sensational lie.
Danhof went on to urge the company to disavow Georgia Prospers, stating:
Corporations and the mainstream media have expressed concern that religious freedom laws will lead to discrimination, in part, against homosexuals. There is zero evidence for this concern. These laws only require the government to avoid interfering with religious freedom if it can do so while still achieving important government goals - one of which, in every state of the union, is outlawing discrimination.
If Georgia Prospers does not in fact represent Home Depot and this company's values, I urge you to reconsider your membership in this bigoted organization. Until you either withdraw your membership - or denounce Georgia Prospers on this issue - Home Depot will just be another American company that has jumped on the anti-religious bandwagon. I hope the company is better than that.
Danhof's statement, as prepared for delivery is available here.
Danhof has been traveling from one shareholder meeting to the next, working to set the record straight regarding religious freedom laws. After General Electric's shareholder meeting in April, Danhof observed that:
Religious freedom laws in the United States, whether federal or state, simply set a high bar for government action that might interfere with an individual's deeply-held religious beliefs. To pass such an infringing law, the government must prove that it has a compelling interest in doing so, and if the government can reach that compelling interest by other means, the courts will direct it to use those other means. That's all these laws do. The public debate over these laws are often void of these very basic facts.
Furthermore, the left's newest attack on religious liberty has all the trappings of a fundraising ploy. Many liberal organizations spent years raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight to legalize gay marriage. Perhaps winning that battle too quickly left a hole in the movement's pockets. In that light, it is easy to understand why it concocted this fake outrage over basic religious freedom that has been a non-controversial issue in American jurisprudence for hundreds of years and a matter of state and federal law since the early 1990s.
"I think many religious Americans have been caught off guard by the barrage of government, corporate and activist attacks on religious liberty," said Danhof. "And for a time that was understandable. But now, from the contraceptive battles stemming from ObamaCare, to the removal of Christian societies from college campuses to these repeated attacks on state-level religious freedom restoration laws, the time for complacency is over. Religious Americans of all denominations must stand up for their convictions and confront these anti-religious elements in our society."
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's leading voice for religious freedom when it comes to shareholder activism. In just the past few months, the Free Enterprise Project has:
- Presented a religious liberty shareholder proposal to Apple's investors calling out the company's hypocrisy in denouncing religious freedom in the United States while doing business in countries that persecute homosexuals. More information here, here and here.
- Presented a similar proposal to General Electric's investors after GE CEO Jeff Immelt tried to block a state-level religious freedom bill. More information here and here.
- Offered a religious defense shareholder proposal to Eli Lilly's investors after that company tried to impede Indiana's religious freedom restoration law.
Danhof has also been interviewed dozens of times about the Free Enterprise Project's efforts to promote and restore religious liberty including by the Christian Broadcasting Network and nationally-syndicated radio host Janet Parshall.
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers' rights and many other important public policy issues. Today's Home Depot meeting marks its tenth shareholder meeting of 2016.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.