(RNS) I was dismayed when I learned that Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox Web browser, had named an anti-gay activist as its new chief executive officer.

Brendan Eich wasn’t a hard-core activist. He had donated $1,000 in 2008 to a California campaign to ban same-sex marriage.

Even so, his ethical stance struck me as unfortunate. Mozilla’s naming him CEO struck me as tone-deaf. And his refusal to discuss his views seemed too aloof for a high-visibility enterprise like Mozilla.

I didn’t join the crowd demanding his resignation. I did the one thing I could do: I stopped using the Firefox browser.

Big deal? No, not really. Nor was it a big deal when I switched back to Firefox after Eich had the good sense to resign and a chastened Mozilla board learned its lesson about being a public enterprise serving an entire population.

It was a somewhat bigger deal when Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, filed suit against Wal-Mart to force consideration of a shareholder resolution on sales of guns and violent music.

Even if Trinity’s measure gets before Wal-Mart shareholders, it isn’t likely to prevail. But the point is made: At the people’s end of the telescope, we will use the power we have to push for change.

If enough push, impact will occur. Most institutions are well-insulated against constituents’ desires. Look at General Motors and its determination for 10 years to avoid addressing safety hazards. But the balance can tip.

Consider the collapse of institutional Christianity in America, not because of bad doctrine or a coarsening of the culture — though that is what some believe — but because of an attitude that said, quite incorrectly: It doesn’t matter what our constituents and prospective constituents need.

It does matter. If people stop trusting leadership, or turn against products, or see corruption, businesses will fail, politicians will be swept out of office.

Money-hungry politicians scored a victory when the U.S. Supreme Court handed democracy over to the mega-wealthy few. That victory, however, probably will be short-lived. Attack ads on television, like banner ads on websites, will stop being seen. Phony research, phony news outlets and deliberate distortion of reality won’t work for long. People have more sense than that.

Watch for people to seek real information. Using free social media — even the Koch brothers can’t buy Facebook or Twitter — people will accelerate a movement already underway to seek out accurate information and to share it widely.

Yes, some of it will be slanted liberal, and some will be slanted conservative, and those who seek objective reality will have work to do. But I think we can trust people’s common sense to ignore conspiracy theories, obviously biased coverage and hysterical headlines.

Some will choose to live within the bubble, like those who get their news from the Fox News propaganda machine. More will seek reality.

If your job is tenuous, your family’s welfare is under attack by the precious few, your community feels less safe, the excesses of the gilded set appall you, you won’t linger on fear-driven propaganda and cold ideology.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich


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You will ask what’s really happening. Multimillion-dollar attack ads and the politicians who benefit from them won’t deliver the information you seek. So you will become a news-gatherer yourself.

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tomehrich.)

YS/MG END EHRICH

6 Comments

  1. CarrotCakeMan

    Soon, we will see the anti-gay posters attack Mr. Ehrich for his audacity in refusing to promote their failed anti-gay agenda, just as they attack anyone who won’t help them hurt LGBT Americans.

  2. Susan Humphreys

    I wish it were true, that people would seek out honest and truthful information. I don’t see it happening. I see people looking for the news that supports their opinions! AND I see people passing on “news” from their facebook and twitter accounts that hasn’t been fact checked, but everybody is saying it, I got 20 tweets about this, so it must be true! AND they pass it on to all of their friends. Talk show hosts are more popular than news programs, check the ratings. People love that “in your face” style of “journalism”. They love to see someone “stick it to the man”, eventhough they can’t tell “who the man is”. I also see young people tuning out altogether, more interested in gossip then serious discussions about current events. This modern “news” and “social media” environment is a two edged sword and I don’t have faith that people will really use it wisely. But then what i consider wise, seeking factual information rather than opinion with an agenda is not what others consider wise. For them it is wise to seek out the information that conforms to their belief system, no need to unnecessarily rock the boat.

  3. “Even if Trinity’s measure gets before Wal-Mart shareholders, it isn’t likely to prevail. But the point is made: At the people’s end of the telescope, we will use the power we have to push for change.”

    The more attacks on the Second Amendment the more gun sales skyrocket.

    And why do statements from Trinity say gun murder is up when it is half of levels 20 years ago?

  4. Tom – I find your article confused and misleading. So Mr. Eich made a donation to a legal political group which was not advocating how Mozilla would or would not serve it customers. From all that I have read, there was no intent to deny anything to any group of people so far as Mozilla the product is concerned. But even if one’s legal free speech actions in the community to do not square with the vocal opposition, then you potentially face repercussions to your career. This kind of stuff is nothing new and will continue to happen when public figures express their opinions. Still, I think you make your own point in the article when you call Mr. Eich an anti-gay activist. Perhaps you are the one distorting the reality that he may be more correctly labeled pro-traditional marriage, but instead prefer the more negative anti-gay wording. Like you say, I can become my own new gatherer and see through the bias of the attack ads.

  5. As long as he keeps it out of the business, who gives a damn. Its none of your business anyway. If he is asked to do an editorial, that will be his side and I know someone will be asked to give the other view(and probably more space). having an opinion is one thing, attacking one for that is another.

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