Wells Fargo says the bank will not be swayed by religious groups joining Charlotte evangelist Franklin Graham’s call for a boycott and will continue with its national advertising campaign featuring a same-sex couple, reports the Charlotte Business Journal.
Graham took to social media last week to announce he was pulling the accounts for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association out of Wells Fargo because of the bank’s recent commercial featuring a lesbian couple — reportedly, actual Wells Fargo customers — learning sign language before adopting a young deaf girl.
But the televangelist’s decision to bank instead with BB&T Corp., itself a visible supporter of gay pride events in Miami, had MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow crowing with glee.
“It turns out his new bank is so much gayer than his old bank,” said Maddow. “The universe has a way of making these things work out!”
Graham responded in a column in USA Today that “there is a difference between being friendly and being a public advocate.”
Although other religious groups have joined Graham’s chorus against Wells, including the anti-LGBT American Family Association, Wells Fargo is standing firm.
“No, we will not be pulling the ad,” said Wells spokeswoman Valerie Miller Williams in Charlotte.
In a column titled Franklin Graham and Wells Fargo: Wrong Battle, Wrong People, Wrong Issue, Christian Today contributing editor Mark Woods said Wells's decision is simply business.
“They make ads because the ads sell products,” Woods wrote. “If they used a lesbian couple in an ad, it’s because they think it will make people like them. The only thing Wells Fargo was advocating is ‘bank with us.’”
But Wells Fargo’s embrace of LGBT equality appears to go beyond its bottom line, one of the bank’s LGBT executives told the San Francisco Business Times.
“Our CEO, John Stumpf, very frequently will talk about LGBT inclusiveness and, talk about walking the talk, you can often hear him speak to the value that our LGBT team members provide,” said Doug Case, senior vice president, small business segment manager.
David Gushee, a writer for the Religion News Service, concluded that the Graham boycott demonstrates ignorance of one important fact:
“Corporate America has already made its decision on the gay issue. Other than hiding his funds in a mattress, Graham has few banking alternatives.”