Does It Matter That Jonathan Merritt Has An Opinion?

One of my senior friends tells me often, “Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. And, they are entitled to be wrong.” Others have said, “Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one.” There are other variations of that maxim available. You get the point.

Jonathan Merritt stirred the Interwebs yesterday with his opinion. I shared his piece on FB and good conversation ensued. Later I read through the comments of his follow-up post where he included Russell Moore’s critique of his first piece. Timothy Dalyrymple accused Merritt of violating journalistic standards. Merritt responded by describing how opinion pieces work. They are opinions.

Today Bart Barber weighed in with his opinion on the matter. Then, there is this very different take than Bart’s. No doubt countless others have too.

Yes, that Jonathan Merritt has an opinion matters. It must if you expect your opinion to matter.

Dring the various back and forths on the piece it struck me is that while many took up the defense of Hobby Lobby and reminded us that we all own something made in China, we still seem to miss the interconnections of humanity that transcend a company’s bottom line and risks exposing many Christians lack of how their decisions impact others in remote places.

Freeset

Each year our youth group goes to summer camp. We put together a package that includes a t-shirt and a book bag with a themed logo. Brad, our Youth Minister, works diligently to use the book bags as a means to teach about justice and Christian responsibility.

We could order these bags wholesale and get them for less than $14 each. Who knows where they might be made and by whom. A much deeper search might reveal an even cheaper supplier.

Instead, we use Freeset. Brad found this group whose aim is described as,

Freeset exists specifically to provide freedom for women from the sex trade, women who were forced into prostitution by trafficking or poverty. These women didn’t choose their profession it was chosen for them.

Now, they’re being offered a real choice. When they choose to work at Freeset, they can start new lives, regain dignity in their communities, and begin a journey towards healing and wholeness.

All profits from Freeset in Kolkata benefit the women (salary, health insurance and retirement plan) and are used to grow the business. This means more women can be employed and experience freedom.

The great thing is, when you buy a Freeset product, you directly participate in a woman’s journey to freedom.

These bags cost more. Freeset explains,

Freeset uses an “upside down” model that turns the normal principles of running a business on their head. Businesses generally choose the best people for a job and pay them the lowest possible wages. Here, women are employed on the basis of their need for freedom, rather than their qualifications – many have had little or no schooling. They are trained and then paid well above the going market rate. The transformation in women’s lives is clearly apparent, simply because they’ve been given a chance.

The women actively engage in running the business. They have their own committee which liaises with management to ensure their voices are heard. This committee has the final say over many internal decisions and issues relating to employees.

Our young people learn that what they buy has consequences far and wide. We could save money buying from a cheap wholesaler.

With My Money I Have a Voice

No one will ever listen to me. My vote does not matter. Considering the political season and the decision to vote for President of the United States left me wondering what effect our vote, more specifically my vote, will have. It stands to reason many people think this way and so voter turnout is not close to representative of the overall population. If it represents anything, it illustrates despondency often ruinous to healthy change.

Giving up is not in an achievers vocabulary. We must be able to make a difference. The size of the difference does not matter. So I have some ideas that began germinating hearing Scott talk about the current moves made with One Village Coffee.

Scott made the comment, With my money I have a voice. In the context of a church setting the implication is often understood as a means to exert power or influence. Ron Fannin used to say people vote with their hand, their heart and their pocket book. Often people vote with their hand and not their pocketbook; which is a no vote. In this way the statement Scott made would be viewed negatively.

We often do not think about what we do with our money. Scott talked of Hives for Lives. He noted he would pay more knowing his money was going to help others. With his money, he has a voice.

If you have not clicked on the link to One Village Coffee, do so and learn of the ways these young mission minded entrepreneurs hope to influence communities to collaborate for the good of the world. Scott reported today that his father uncovered a small village in another Country needing to find avenues for their coffee bean crop. Connecting this small group to those who would buy will go a long way to bringing a more sustainable living context for these villagers.
In church how we spend our money on things such as plates and coffee and in the process illustrate who we speak for. Adam noted that his young church plant took Scott’s story to heart and stopped buying paper or Styrofoam cups and instead will be using coffee cups – real coffee cups. Realizing the effect we have with the consumption of paper products, this young church is using its voice.

Too often churches slip into the role of consumer thinking what they buy really only effects the given church. Scott’s statement and the work of companies like One Village Coffee and Hives for Lives should spur us all to consider what our money says about our values.

(With My Money I Have a Voice was originally posted in 2007. Since that time One Village Coffee‘s website has changed. You may find the Bee Files here.)

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.