October 20, 2019

Home Depot Asked if it Opposes Religious Freedom

*Editor’s Note* – The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” [emboldening added]
One might ask why it would be necessary for any Congress to write another law that seemingly gives government the control over religious liberty – disguised as a guarantee?
Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:
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 Corporation s Pawns or Willing Accomplices?

Religious Freedom for Hundreds of Millions May Hang in the Balance

 

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 hereand 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 Networkand 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.

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John Deere and Apple Investors to Vote on Liberty Proposals

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:
Pro-Liberty Resolutions to Be Presented to John Deere and Apple Investors This Week

National Center for Public Policy Research Asks John Deere Investors to Support Its Call for Increased Transparency Surrounding the Company’s Anti-Free Market Policy Activities

National Center’s Proposal to Apple’s Shareholders Highlights Dangers of Corporate America’s Fight Against Religious Freedom

 

Moline, IL / Cupertino, CA / Washington, D.C.  – At tomorrow’s annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, and Friday’s annual meeting of Apple shareholders in Cupertino, California, The National Center for Public Policy Research will present two different shareholder proposals aimed at advancing corporate transparency and religious liberty.

“For far too many years, corporate America has been lending its voice, money and power to liberal politicians, causes and organizations. From ObamaCare, to gay marriage to federal energy policy, the past seven years of the Obama Administration has coincided with an expansive growth of corporate statism and corporate liberalism,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “While the exponential growth of cronyism has coincided with President Obama’s time in office, it isn’t coincidental. The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project will bring the fight for liberty to corporate America in earnest this year. The battle starts this week.”

On Wednesday, Danhof will present the National Center’s shareholder proposal to John Deere’s investors at the company’s annual meeting in Moline, Illinois. The proposal, titled “Political Spending Congruency Analysis,” asks the company to report to shareholders when Deere decides to fund or work with anti-capitalist groups or politicians.

“Deere has often taken actions that run counter to its duties as a for-profit, publicly-held company,” said Danhof. “For example, when liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. needed corporate support for their repeated attempts to shackle the economy with cap-and-trade schemes on carbon emissions, John Deere happily obliged. However, after the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project ran advertisements highlighting the economic pitfalls of a federal cap-and-trade program, Deere withdrew from the corporate lobbying coalition supporting such a plan.”

The National Center’s proposal also criticizes John Deere for kowtowing to radical liberal groups and withdrawing from the American Legislative Exchange Council, noting that:

[D]espite the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works to foster a low-regulation business-friendly environment, the Company publicly ended its affiliation with ALEC in 2012 at a time when anti-free-market activists were perpetuating falsehoods about ALEC and its activities.

“Deere’s leaders are free to continue supporting anti-capitalist politicians and causes,” said Danhof. “We just think that they should tell the company’s investors when they do so. That way, the investing public can make an informed decision. That’s why we urge all John Deere shareholders to support our proposal.”

 The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and John Deere’s response to it, can be found on pages 67 and 68 of the company’s proxy statement – which is available for download here.

John Deere’s lawyers attempted to remove the National Center’s proposal from its proxy statement; however, the National Center’s legal team prevailed in its arguments before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and won the right to place the proposal before the company’s shareholders for a vote.

The entire legal exchange between John Deere and the National Center, along with the SEC’s decision, can be downloaded here.

At Friday’s annual meeting of Apple shareholders, scheduled to take place at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, Danhof will present a stockholder proposal as part of the National Center’s Religious Freedom Defense Initiative.

The National Center’s Religious Freedom Defense Initiative is working to correct the record about religious freedom laws. The National Center’s proposal to Apple highlights the company’s hypocrisy on the issue of religious freedom and points out the adverse effects on shareholder value that can occur when corporate leaders speak out on issues which they have no expertise.

Last spring, Apple CEO Tim Cook joined with many corporate executives and much of the liberal media in attacking Americans of faith. Writing in the Washington Post, Cook falsely claimed that attempts to enact religious freedom laws in Arkansas and Indiana “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.”

“Cook is simply wrong on the law,” notes Danhof. “The federal government and 31 states have heightened religious freedom laws and none of them legalize discrimination against anyone. What Mr. Cook did was taint Apple’s brand with extreme anti-religious bigotry. American society was set up to protect discreet and insular minorities. Today, that has become an Indiana pizza shop and small cake bakers who simply want to practice their religion and not be forced by the government to break their covenants with their Creator. Cook has joined with the mob in trying to destroy them.”

Despite Cook’s outlandish attacks on religious liberty here in the homeland, Apple actually does business in many countries where homosexuality is outlawed and homosexuals are imprisoned and even killed. The National Center proposal drives this hypocrisy home, stating:

CEO [Cook] bashed state-level religious freedom laws as anti-homosexual bigotry saying, “Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.” Yet, according to the Washington Post, Apple has a presence in 17 countries where homosexual acts are illegal. In four of those nations, homosexual acts are punishable by death. These company operations are inconsistent with Apple’s values as extolled by our CEO.

The proponent believes that Apple’s record to date demonstrates a gap between its lofty rhetoric / aspirations and its performance.

The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and Apple’s response to it, can be found on pages 62 and 63 of the company’s proxy statement – which is available for download here.

Apple’s lawyers also petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking to block the National Center’s proposal. However, the National Center’s legal team prevailed in convincing the SEC that its proposal was so significant that the company’s shareholders should have a say on the matter.

The entire legal exchange between Apple and the National Center, along with the SEC’s decision, can be downloaded here.

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. This week’s John Deere and Apple meetings mark its first and second shareholder meetings 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.

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