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Commentary: Exclusion isn't a Christian value

October 22, 2007

Here's an idea. Let's establish a chamber of commerce for whites only. Yep, just for "us." Let's join forces for further empowerment, more success and greater marketplace impact. It is time we came out of the closet and enjoyed the fruits that living white brings our companies, our employees, and our homes and families.

Let's call it the Indiana White Chamber of Commerce. We'll get together to celebrate being white and to further our association, serve the community, enhance one another, and have fun in the process. Let's also start a white phone book and a white business directory. No one will be allowed to advertise unless they proclaim in writing that they are white. Our phone books will become leading sources of trusted organizations and vendors. Advertisers can expect increased loyalty and preference (you know what I mean). Am I leaving anybody out? Have I offended anyone? Wait a minute. Did I say "white"? I didn't mean "white", I meant "Christian." Please substitute "Christian" wherever I've said "white." It's not the Indiana White Chamber of Commerce. It's the Indiana Christian Chamber of Commerce, and it isn't just an idea. It's here and espousing the rhetoric I cited above. Is it leaving anybody out? Has it offended anyone? I guess it is legal for this group of people to affiliate. Our Constitution protects our freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of association. But is it offensive and immoral that fellow central Indiana Hoosiers have formed a chamber of commerce on the basis of religion and that they continue to advertise and support publications, including phone books, that specifically cite a mission to exclude anyone who is not a Christian?

The Indiana Christian Chamber of Commerce professes as its goal the application of biblical principles to daily business dealings. I cannot find any citations in my Bible that instruct me to deal exclusively with people who pray the same way I do.

"When honesty and integrity matter, turn to the Christian Blue Pages first." Really! When honesty and integrity matter, I turn to Angie's List. Can't non-Christians offer goods and services in the same moral and ethical manner a Christian would? Surely, encouraging consumers to inquire into the religious affiliations of providers of goods and services is inimical to the free enterprise spirit and to a democratic and pluralistic way of life.

Some advertisers in the Christian Phone Book and the Christian Blue Pages are Christian bookstores and gift shops that sell religious items, but some businesses that have no specific relationship to religious activity have purchased listing and display ads. I'm not sure I wish to do business with anyone who engages in this boorish behavior.

Organizations for the disenfranchised were established generations ago when white Christians refused to grant membership in their trade and professional associations to religious or ethnic minorities. Vestiges of these necessary affiliations continue to survive. Although the Jewish Bar Association has dissolved, there exists the Marion County Bar Association (black bar), a black chamber and a Hispanic chamber.

Perhaps a credible service continues to be performed as these populations continue to seek assistance in gaining access to many mainstream Hoosier businesses. Further, membership in these organizations is welcomed regardless of ethnicity. No one need file an affidavit of African heritage to join the black chamber.

The great religions of the world, Christianity included, have produced moral and ethical codes that are upheld by those who adhere to those faiths. In espousing the venom of exclusivity, the Indiana Christian Chamber of Commerce, the Christian Phone Book and the Christian Blue Pages undermine the very teachings they purport to promote.

The business community should spurn these enterprises and affiliate with organizations that promote good business practices without regard to religious beliefs.



Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.
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