When the conservative group One Million Moms initiated an email campaign against Nabisco for releasing a Honey Maid ad featuring same-sex couples, the company sat up and listened. But Nabisco didn’t retract the ad or apologize; instead, it doubled down, hiring artists to transform the flood of hate tweets and emails into printed pieces of paper that spell out the word “love.”
“That’s how they decided to respond, and that’s fine. That’s their choice. Now we know where they stand,” says Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms. “Now we know not to support Honey Maid, and we won’t be buying their products. …We can vote with our wallets.”
This is the modus operandi of One Million Moms, an offshoot of the American Family Association that attacks brands and television shows that members feel are bad for children by initiating email campaigns and boycotts. They focus on the use of profanity, sexuality and positive depictions of same-sex couples or families. Comprised of “Christians and/or conservative parents,” the group believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that anything else is a departure from the biblical teachings they are trying to pass on to their children.
Though they have never released official numbers, the One Millions Moms moniker is a misnomer: Their Facebook page has only about 64,549 likes. Cole says this is because a large number of members use email and not Facebook, and the real number is closer to 500,000. Pressed for more specifics, she declined to offer any confirmation. “We’re not at a million yet—that’s our goal. And we are working towards that goal every day,” she says. “One million starts with one.”
The group typically goes after companies featuring prominent lesbian or gay spokespeople, famously criticizing JCPenney after they featured Ellen DeGeneres in a campaign (she promptly shot them down), but they also fight TV shows that feature gay families. If they can’t successfully get the show canceled or convince sponsors to pull advertising, they encourage their members to stop watching.
“Even if part of the show has a good base as far as the plot line, if there’s anything added in it that we would find not appropriate, it’s kind of like a batch of brownies,” says Cole. “You put a little poison in it, you’re still not going to eat them. A little bit of poison can ruin the whole batch.”
When asked what’s wrong with the depiction of gay couples in the media, Cole says it’s bowing to the pressure of a minority that offends the majority, and presents a bad example for the nation’s children. But she and One Million Moms don’t hate gay people, she says; they act out of love.
“Love the sinner but hate the sin. It’s an unhealthy lifestyle choice—60% of those with AIDs are homosexual,” she says. “I know it’s a concern when they’re talking about intolerance, but when we’re not able to, as Christians, stand up for what we believe in then they’re being intolerant to our beliefs. Tolerance goes both ways.”
It’s not just lesbian and gay adults that worry them. Cole and her cohorts believe that gay teens are also a threat to the fabric of society. An upcoming “Day of Silence” to be held on April 11, encouraging students across the country to support their LGBTQ peers, has her particularly concerned. Cole sees it as clear evidence of the “homosexual agenda” entering the public school system, and warns that it will cause Christian students to miss school.
“Many Christians will stay at home. They won’t go to school that day because they don’t want to participate in something that they feel like they’re being forced to participate in,” says Cole. “Because in scripture it does say that if you participate or agree with something, it’s the same as sinning yourself.”
Cole and the One Million Moms definitely appear to walk the walk. She speaks sincerely about the objectification of their daughters at the hands of popular culture, but makes it clear that she doesn’t consider herself a feminist. In her eyes, the basic tenets of feminism are un-Christian.
“I think that women and men should be treated equally, but I am a Christian,” she explains. “Speaking biblically, once you become married you join as one, but there does have to be someone who is the head of the household—and biblically speaking, it is the man. And we’re to be submissive in the Lord to our husbands.
“It doesn’t mean to be submissive to alcoholism or physical or mental abuse or anything like that. It means to be submissive to the Lord. So as long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing and treating you like the Lord wants him to treat you, then you are to be submissive and support him in his decisions. If he loves you, then he won’t be doing those things that we would call wrong.”
But the group’s central mission is about protecting children—just as long as they’re not the children of gay parents. When asked if the agenda of One Million Moms makes life harder for the increasing number of children born into same-sex households, Cole was circumspect. She says that while these kids didn’t choose it, accepting their families as valid would be normalizing sin and increase the potential that they, too, will enter the “homosexual lifestyle,” like a “chain reaction or domino effect.”
“Those particular children, I’m sure they do have it harder, but that is on the same-sex couples who choose to raise families or adopt children. They’re putting children in that situation knowingly, and that’s their decision,” she says. “Growing up is not easy. We’ve all been there, and kids can be cruel. …But raising them in a situation that may not benefit the child—not that they can’t love the child, I’m sure they would love a child—but it’s not in the best interest of the child.”