As a small business owner, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Chick-Fil-A controversy. I've been asking myself questions like, "Where is the line between personal belief and good business practices?" and "When is that line crossed?" Here's where I've come to stand:
I think it's perfectly okay for a business owner to have beliefs that drive a company's structure and practices. I actually have always been secretly happy that Chick-Fil-A was closed on Sundays, for example, because I thought it was a simple way of putting their values over the quest to make a buck to sell chicken to the post-church crowd. Hobby Lobby does the same thing. And while inconvenient to me at times, I'm happy to see that people do still have some values like that, just as I would expect a Jewish deli to be closed on Saturday and feel sort of sad if they ever felt the need to compromise on that tradition just to get by.
All that being said, I do feel that Chick-Fil-A has crossed a line because they are sending corporate money to support things like the legislation in Uganda that criminalizes homosexuality with punishments like life in prison or execution. (http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/chick-fil-a-profits-are-supporting-...) Worse, there is legislation in Uganda that makes it illegal to even *talk* about such matters. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/dont-make-dialogue-illega_b_170...) It would be one thing for the business owner to send his own money to these sorts of things, but to do it with company money is, in my view, unethical to the core. It is a disservice to all his LGBT employees and customers, because it forces them to stand with him in his beliefs, which is especially disturbing when one considers the level of hatred involved and the fact that the money was quietly sent to those causes for so long. I feel ill thinking that some of the money I used to spend at Chick-Fil-A might have gone to support the legislation behind someone's execution.
With all this controversy, I feel like it's time to make a stand about how our personal views affect what we do as a business so that our clients and readers will never be in the dark. Myself and my business partner are Unitarian Universalists. This means that we have very open minds for all religious values. We also are very open to all cultural values, including LGBT lifestyles. I am a bi-gendered person myself, and that definitely makes me more open to rainbow-tastic people. The only thing we do not advocate is hatred and violence. These views are most assuredly reflected in our catalog as we try to put forth a wide diversity of literature for all ages of readers and many reading tastes. When people ask me what kind of books we publish, my answer is almost always, "Good books." I can think of no other way to succinctly describe our openness to publishing such a diversity of books that reflect only high quality as their common characteristic. And in that way, I'm certain our personal beliefs will continue to influence what sorts of titles we produce. And for the record: Yes, that will include some Christian-themed books that we already have in the pipeline.
At this time, all the money the Grumpy Dragon earns is going right back into the company to pay for things like Advanced Reader Copies for titles, webspace hosting fees, contracted work (such as cover art), and other production costs for books. It is likely to be this way for quite some time. If, in the future, we ever do find ourselves with funds available to donate to charity, here are the rules we will follow for doing so: 1. We will only donate to causes that advocate for peace, love, and healing. 2. We will make donations publicly so that our readers and authors will be aware of where their money is going.
I find it unlikely that we will be donating to anything that would be a hot-button issue. We would most likely support programs for youth, libraries, anti-bullying, scholarships, and other worthy causes that would fall in line with a company that promotes creativity at any age but has a special interest in supporting teens.
I hope this answers any questions people might have about The Grumpy Dragon and its policies. If you have any thoughts, questions, or concerns, feel free to ask us in the comments field below.
~~Spring Lea Henry
~~Co-Owner, the Grumpy Dragon