An Office Max in Marshfield, Wisconsin has refused to print a poster submitted by Wisconsin Christian News (WCN) advertising an upcoming speech on November 16 by Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality on the topic of “The Homosexual Agenda.”
WCN publisher Rob Pue created a poster for the event with a (LGBTQ activist) “rainbow flag” covered by the words, “The Homosexual Agenda EXPOSED!” and submitted it Oct. 25 to his local Office Max, which had printed many promotional posters for him in the past, for various conservative cultural events. He also submitted a Veterans Day poster for printing.
Initially “Eric” from Office Max sent Pue an email saying that they could “definitely” print both posters and that they would be ready by 10:00 AM the next day. But that morning (Oct. 26), Pue instead received another email from Store Manager Jeff Schweiger informing him that while the store COULD print the veterans poster, “we are unable to print the first print” advertising LaBarbera’s speech.
When Pue inquired as to why the poster could not be printed, he received another email, this time from Print Supervisor Jeffry Costigan, which read:
Good morning Rob,
Unfortunately we will not be able to print the contents of the poster for Peter Labarbera.
The contents of the poster falls under the prohibited guidelines of our company’s Duplication procedures.
We will be able to print the second request for the Veterans poster.
Pue then requested the Office Max (owned by Office Depot) “Prohibited Guidelines” policy but instead of sending him the “Prohibited Guidelines” he had previously cited, Costigan simply replied:
Dear Mr. Pue,
I stand by the decision not to duplicate your material. If you have any more questions, I request that you contact OfficeMax at 1-800-GoDepot.
Jeffry A. Costigan
Print Supervisor, Office Depot, Inc.
1629 N. Central Ave, Marshfield, WI. 54449
Tel: (715) 389-8820
Office Max (Office Depot), has previously been in the news for refusing to print a pro-life flyer. In 2015, a Chicago-area Office Max refused “to make 500 copies of a flyer featuring a pro-life prayer — which called for the conversion of Planned Parenthood — that was written by a Catholic priest,” CNS News reported.
The company relented but stood by its right to refuse print jobs based on its “hate” policy prohibiting “the copying of ‘hate material’ that advocates for the persecution of groups of people, regardless of the reason.”
Pue told AFTAH, “By refusing to do the job, Office Max simply proved my point, that there IS a homosexual agenda. There is no ‘hate’ in that poster, and our speaker is not about ‘hate’ but Christian love and truth.”
On November 1, Pue and LaBarbera appeared as guests on the VCY America network program “Crosstalk,” which reaches nationwide, to discuss the Office Max rejection of the Wisconsin Christian News poster. Following the radio interview, numerous other media outlets and internet blogs picked up on the story as well
As the media exposed the hypocrisy, the local Office Max in Marshfield, Wisconsin — AND Office Max/Depot Corporate Offices were inundated with phone calls and emails from outraged Christians regarding the double standard of refusing to print the poster which promoted a Christian perspective of the “LGBT Agenda,” while actively SUPPORTING the “LGBT Agenda” at a corporate level.
Office Max/Depot has maintained a 100% “score” with the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC). According to the HRC website, “The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”
Office Max recently announced that for the sixth year in a row, they have earned a prestigious 100% rating with HRC in 2017. In a press release, they boasted, “We continue to recruit a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities that we serve, recognizing that our organization only flourishes when we hire, promote and create paths to leadership for people of every background.”
As Christians would call or email the company to voice their opinion of the anti-Christian discrimination and silencing of the Christian voice, each was told that the situation had been “addressed and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.” But that was not true.
Pue noted in a recent commentary, “According to HRC’s own website, Office Max is only one of ‘887 of the nation’s largest businesses that have demonstrated their commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion.’ This…to the Exclusion of God-fearing Christians, because in order to earn that 100% rating from the HRC, a company cannot do ANYTHING that endorses or assists ANYTHING ‘Christian’ in any way.”
In reality, the corporate headquarters was willing to make a personal, private phone call to Pue to apologize for the situation and “quickly sweep the media coverage under the rug,” but not willing to put anything in writing. Pue had simply demanded a WRITTEN apology, and a WRITTEN statement, indicating that the company would NOT discriminate against CHRISTIANS in the future.
It took 12 days (and multiple phone calls from Pue’s legal team and Pue himself) before Office Max/Depot finally relented, and the promised statement finally arrived, in writing, from Casey Ahlbum, Senior Manager of Customer Relations in Boca Raton, FL.
In the written statement, Ahlbum said, “Office Depot sincerely regrets the misunderstanding that led to your print job being denied. As we explained to you on November 2, our associate misinterpreted the policy regarding the types of items that we will and will not print. When your request was reviewed at the corporate level, we quickly determined that it did not violate our policy and that it should have been printed.
“Our company has established print guidelines and we make these guidelines available to our customers in all of our stores. From time to time, an associate may receive a print request and not be certain whether it falls within our print guidelines. To ensure we are following our guidelines and not disappointing a customer by denying a job that should be printed under these guidelines, we have established an escalation policy for prompt review and guidance at the corporate level. In this instance, our associate did not follow our established policy.
“Additionally, immediately following this incident, we re-trained all of the associates who work in the Copy and Print center at the location.”
But Ahlbum’s statement fell short of Pue’s request of a written confirmation indicating the company will not discriminate against Christians or their right to free speech in the future. In lieu of that, Ahlbum simply responded: “Office Depot does not discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs.”
Pue believes the company will never issue such a statement specifically protecting the free speech rights of Christians, because “to do so would cost them precious points on their HRC ratings” and put their 100% score with the LGBT activists in jeopardy.
Last summer, Fortune.com reported that Office Depot is planning to close more than 300 stores over the next three years. Regarding this, Pue commented, “when a corporation bends over backwards to cater to 0.7% of the population, while alienating 99.3% of the population, their sales are bound to reflect that when people begin to learn of the agenda.”
Bottom line: While Office Max/Depot has admitted they made a mistake in this case, they are still 100% on board with the activist “LGBT agenda,” and still refuse to specifically state they will not discriminate against the free speech rights of Christians in the future, and so they join other large corporations (i.e. Target, JC Penny, Sears, etc), reaping the “rewards” of their corporate social activism.
(Source: Christian Newswire)