Church boycotting Pepsi over gay marriage debate
BRANDON, Florida - The Cola Wars aren't just between Coke and Pepsi. Now, a Tampa Bay church is taking on one of the largest corporations in the world.
"We would like to send them a message," said Terry Kemple, President of the Community Issues Council that is organizing a boycott of Pepsi products because he says it "advocates the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle."
In addition to hundreds of church-goers who have joined the boycott, Kemple just got his mega-church, the Bell Shoals Baptist Church, to remove its 10 Pepsi machines. They have been replaced with Coke machines.
"They (have) begun to utilize the money we've helped them build up to trample on what we consider family values," said Kemple of Pepsi.
He said the company donated more than a million dollars to organizations that fought California's gay marriage-banning Proposition 8. He also says the Pepsi Corporation has sponsored gay pride events and commercials that accept cross-dressing and homosexuality.
"We're concerned about that diminishment of the ability of Christians to speak what the Bible says," Kemple said.
But Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida, called the boycott offensive to her and embarrassing to those who participate.
"The irony is that - in moving from Pepsi products to Coke products - they actually switched from one company that supports full-equality to another companty that supports full-equality," Smith said.
Pepsi is one of the largest corporations in the country, boasting subsidiaries like Gatorade, Tropicana, Frito-Lay and Quaker. However, calls to the company's headquarters went unreturned on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Bell Shoals Baptist Church, which draws several thousand members every Sunday, declined comment as well.
Note to Self: Buy more Coke too.