Home   »  Our Work  »  Boycott & Divestment Campaigns  »  Occupation Free Faith Communities ...

Boycotts and Economic Pressure in Faith Communities

Morally responsible investing and campaigns of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) are moral, nonviolent, economic measures that seek to change the bad behavior of corporations and of governments. Faith communities and nonviolent movements have long used boycotts and other forms of economic pressure in their work for justice and peace.

Boycotts have been used by anti-colonial movements, movements for racial justice, labor rights movements, and anti-war movements. As you can see from these examples, faith communities do not use boycotts and divestment to target people based on identity or to vilify workers at companies, but rather to change policies that are morally wrong or in violation of universally accepted human rights standards.

Here are 10 examples:

1)    Gandhi employed a boycott of British-made goods during the nonviolent struggle for Indian independence.

2)    The U.S. civil rights movement made heavy use of boycott, including the Montgomery bus boycott and boycotts of segregated stores during the 1963 Birmingham campaign, which played a major role in the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Churches and other faith communities played a key role in these efforts.

3)    During the Vietnam War, faith communities took part in a boycott of products made by napalm producers, such as Saran Wrap made by Dow Chemical.

4)    Churches played key roles in the grape boycott organized by Cesar Chavezís United Farmworkers Association.

5)    Many faith groups participate in the boycott of Nestle products due to the companyís questionable marketing of baby formula in developing countries.

6)    Faith communities participated in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to end apartheid in South Africa.

7)    Several churches have resolved to divest from companies doing business in Sudan and Burma/Myanmar.

8)    Faith communities, including the Presbyterian Church USA, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, American Friends Service Committee, National Council of Churches, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, supported the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in its successful boycott of Taco Bell in order to win a wage increase for tomato pickers in South Florida.

9)     Many faith communities embrace boycotts to oppose oppressive or violent labor practices, such as sweat shops, and promote fair trade products as ethical alternatives.

10)     Many faith communities have ethical investment or socially responsible investment policies and screens that prevent investment in weapons manufacturers, but which fail to screen out companies such as Caterpillar and Motorola that provide military technology to the Israeli military.