Maybe post-Chick-fil_A and Komen you’re wondering what other companies are funding ultra conservative agendas with your money. To this end, Leah Buron is launching Leah’s List™ today, Wednesday August 15. Leah’s List™ is in part a reaction to Citizens United, and exposes businesses that are using their income to finance ultra-conservative politics.
Through Leah’s List™, Ms. Burton aims to redirect the billions spent by moderate secular Americans – including mainstream Christians – who believe that we are a democracy, not a theocracy, by putting dollars back into the secular marketplace.
The following is an interview with Ms. Leah Burton about her latest project, Leah’s List™. Ms. Burton is a registered non-partisan and a former social justice lobbyist in Alaska, and a current activist and writer.
SJ: What is Leah’s List™?
LB: Leah’s List™ is a resource that provides you with information about businesses and services that use their income to finance ultra-conservative politics in America.
One of the primary aims of Leah’s List™ is to boost the secular economy by diverting money spent on goods and services away from these Kingdom Builders. These very people who preach damnation of the “wrong kind of Christian” and yet have no problems padding their accounts with secular dollars.
What we are adamantly opposed to is the building of financial wealth that in turn is used to elevate the power and authority of a single religion in our secular Nation. These Kingdom Builders seek precisely that – a Christian Nation with a theocratic government.
SJ: What prompted you to think of doing Leah’s List™?
LB: I am a researcher and social activist. I have been for many years and over the course of the past 2 and a half decades I have personally witnessed the increasing Christianization of the Republican Party.
The announcement in 2008 of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential pick brought me out of my seat and set me into action. In that one act, the March of the Theocrats had formally begun their blatant descent on the White House.
We have certainly wrestled with the mixing of religion and politics over the years with the former Religious Right and their open proclamations of faith by various politicians, but Palin represents a breed of extreme Christianity known as Dominionism - or Christian Nationalism. These people are devout and indoctrinated – a dangerous combination.
They honestly believe that the United States of America was founded as a Christian Nation and that other religions are allowed here as virtual “guests” that can be removed at any time. When they talk about “freedom of religion” they really mean only their sectarian brand. They literally see themselves as “the right kind of Christian” and all others are lost or under the spell of evil and that includes not only the obvious such as Mormonism and Jews, but Catholics and Protestants who do not buy into their scripture-twisted version of Christianity.
SJ: How does this project tie in to standing up to this extremism that you are trying to expose?
LB: Getting the message out about Christian Dominionism/Nationalism is a challenging task. Most people don’t recognize its existence even though we are surrounded by it in today’s world. There are a number of us who have dedicated our lives to writing, researching and speaking out about this Movement, but our efforts are frustrated by the inability to get this picked up by mainstream promoters and media.
Some of us have written books, created our own web sites and blogs and actually gotten articles published – but in today’s world it is becoming more difficult to grab people’s attention. Some say that a book today has to be written in paragraphs of no more than 140 characters (the maximum length of a tweet). That might be a slight exaggeration but I will say that in my own frustrated experiences I would agree that it would have to be fiction and the main character would be required to be a vampire carrying a bow and arrow to insure that it is read.
SJ: How will Leah’s List™ help in standing up to infiltration of ultra right wing corporate money in government?
LB: One thing that I know to be absolutely true about this religio-political Movement is that they are unbelievably well-organized and well-funded. I learned a few years back that to study what they do and how they promote would serve me very well in the future. What they do works! So why re-create the wheel?
They have a plan they call the “7 Mountains Strategy”. In this plan they outline the 7 categories of secular America that they must conquer. They are:
Leah’s List™ focuses on the Mountain of Business. In their own words,
“When entrepreneurs exercise a kingdom worldview in their businesses we should see a successful company that meets the needs of its customers with excellence, but we should see much more. Let’s examine the beneficial results God produces through kingdom entrepreneurs:
- Blessing that flows from the business to all those it touches
- Transformed lives-employees, customers, suppliers, and the general public.
- Everyone should recognize the hand of God on the business, even unbelievers.
- And, as a result, we should see revival.”
They have training, seminars, coaches, classes degrees, certificates, networking organizations and more…much more…all aimed to get as many Believers into the workplace in both corporate America. There are several terms used by these Dominionists such as, “Kingdom Builders”, biblical entrepreneurs, and biblically based businesses. They promote strongly the value of “keeping Kingdom dollars in the Kingdom” so that their followers support only Christian businesses and avoid spending in the [evil] secular marketplace.
The outcome is that it is working. They are building a sizable parallel Christian economy that is virtually unnoticed by most Americans. This has caused enormous harm to those who – even mainstream Christian businesses – are not part of their approved marketplace. I call it the ReBiblican Marketplace and it is spot on.
It is now time that we expose just who these businesses, services and politicians are who contribute to the process of diverting billions – yes it is true – billions of dollars away from the secular marketplace and into this building religious-political population.
SJ: Are we talking about a marginal number of businesses in the grand scheme of things?
LB: We are talking businesses, services and politicians that number into the hundreds of thousands. Over the past several years my research team and I have worked 24/7 unearthing candidates that fall into all three categories and if we consider just the ones we have currently archived at the time of this writing I can tell you that our reservoir totals well over 200,000 listings that have definitively qualified to be on Leah’s List™.
SJ: How does Leah’s List™ work?
LB: Leah’s List™ is a membership driven site. All you have to do is sign up, pay $9.99 a year and that will give you access to all the listings we have entered, articles that we have written and more. We currently have over 3,500 listings with new ones added every day.
Our list is a way to give people a voice and a choice. Many of these listings advocate shopping only in the ReBiblican Marketplace while they sneakily market to secular Americans as well. They have no problem pocketing money from all the “others” while they build their Kingdom in the process.
They actually promote boycotts. At Leah’s List™ I promote transparency. With Leah’s List™ a person can decide whether or not they meant to support a business, service or politician who votes and financially supports initiatives, legislation and politics that may be at minimum contrary to their own – and at maximum offensive and discriminatory.
We offer the ability to make informed decisions as consumers and point out that the two most powerful tools we have in this country at our disposal are 1) our vote; and 2) our wallets. My motto says it clearly,”Buy informed, be the Change”.
SJ: Do you think there is enough interest to make a difference? Do you think that enough people will actually give up their favorite food, for example?
LB: Great question – and one that I have asked myself over the years of collecting information and data that is going into this project. Those of you out there who know me understand that if I could give this away I would, but the task of putting this project together, continuing to build the list and promote it is daunting. So it has required a constant outlay of costs to get it launched which has made me stop to ponder…will anyone really look at this?
I was encouraged by, first the impact that religious politics played on the Susan G. Komen Foundation and then most recently, the controversy that occurred when Chick-fil-A, CEO Don Cathy came out with his biblically-based business principles and open support of anti-LGBT issues and legislation.
In both cases, people flooded out from what at times these days seems like a very apathetic moderate demographic and really made an impact.
SJ: Why do you think they rallied in these cases?
LB: In part because we are being mislead to believe that our vote doesn’t matter, and because of that we feel like there is really nothing we can do to fight back so we might as well turn our blinders on to the world of politics entirely. Then delude ourselves into thinking that it is perfectly okay to say to ourselves and others, “I don’t get involved in politics, it doesn’t matter anyway, they are all corrupt” – as though when a law is passed, whether local, state or federal laws – that somehow you are going to be omitted from its long arm of authority. I will never understand that logic.
But then – getting back to your question – I think that people supported these reactions to the Komen Foundation and Chick-fil-A because here was something they could actually do. Their act of spending money is tangible and it is something that they can control.
SJ: Who do you see as your potential audience?
LB: The majority of Americans, actually. With all this rhetoric filling our heads by extremists on both sides of the aisle it is often easy to overlook that they are the minority. A loud minority, I grant you that, but a minority nonetheless.
Most Americans whether liberal or conservative; Democrat or Republican; religious or Atheist, rich or poor; black or white – most of us are moderate in our politics, our faith and our daily lives. But this minority has made such a raucous that we start believing that they really are the majority.
My goal is to give the true majority information. They can take this information and do nothing – or my hope is that they use this as a resource to make impactful, wise decisions for the betterment of our democratic republic that was originally designed to keep all religion out of government policy making and authority.
SJ: How do you select which businesses qualify to be on Leah’s List™?
LB: A business, organization or political entity can arrive on Leah’s List™ in one of the following ways:
- Openly advertise in places that require a Statement of Faith (a Dominionist oath);
- Openly support theocratic legislation and the myth that America is a Christian Nation;
- Use places of business to proselytize by overt or stealth means, i.e. “John 3:16 on your burger wraps, or posting promotions for Good News Clubs, Youth Missions, Campus Crusade for Christ and/or similar organizations;
- Answer in the affirmative to any one of the questions in the ReBiblican Marketplace Survey;
- A politician who runs on a biblical foundation and disregards the separation of church & state;
- A PAC (Political Action Committee) who endorses and supports politics and politicians who disregard the separation of church & state;
- Churches and religious organizations who illegally preach politics from their pulpits…and more.
Those are just a few of the ways that a candidate becomes eligible for arriving on Leah’s List™.
SJ: It seems that what they are doing is discriminatory, but they could argue that this is just as discriminatory. How do you respond to that charge?
LB: Dominionists are experts at playing the persecuted-Christian card and we are seeing that used with greater frequency as a dog-whistle to their targeted audience of followers – so yes, it may play into that crowd, but again, they may fancy themselves to be the majority voice in our country but that is simply not fact.
Their practice of Kingdom Building is 100% discriminatory.
As I stated earlier, Leah’s List™is designed as a resource to provide information and in doing so help contribute to an awakening in this country that the push for theocracy is very real. Unlike them, I am not admonishing my audience and threatening them with damnation and hellfires if they veer into the ReBiblican Marketplace. I am simply shining light on who these people are. Knowledge is power!
SJ: As you state on the site, this appears to have been happening for years, so why this site now?
LB: In addition to what happened with Susan G. Komen Foundation and Chick-fil-A bringing this into light, and the increasing presence of religion in American politics the third most important factor that drove me to create this project now was the extremely ill-advised and destructive Citizen’s Untied decision which is swiftly stealing freedom from America’s citizens and locking it up for wealthy corporations and their managers here and abroad – and they are doing this without even having to identify themselves.
This presidential election is like no other in the dollars raised and spent. It is also occurring on the congressional and state levels as well, and this is all resulting from the CU decision. So how does this tie in to Leah’s List™?
Businesses and services have more room to buy politics and laws than they ever have before! This is a frightening reality for those of us who know just how big and how powerful the ReBiblican Marketplace really is. Their buying power is huge and their voter turnout are always surpass the progressives.
There is time to make a change, to stem this tide of theocracy and to divert hard-earned dollars into a secular marketplace where most Americans can agree. Secular is not a 4 letter word. It does not mean anti-religion. It simply promotes the ongoing intelligent choice of separation of church and state.
SJ: So once we know who these folks are, how do we determine the alternative businesses?
LB: This is where I came up with my second web site that I will be launching in the Fall of 2012. It is titled, “The Secular Marketplace” and it will be a the sister-site to Leah’s List™. Over at The Secular Marketplace we are building a list of businesses who enthusiastically want to be associated with a directory that highlights a true free market.
My motto for The Secular Marketplace is, “Where Freedom Means Business!”
I came up with it for the very reason you raise in your question because I too thought, “Okay, now I know where I do not want to spend my money…where can I shop?” I am as excited about The Secular Marketplace as I am about Leah’s List™ because over time it will have very positive effects in the secular economy and that is in all of our best interests especially in a time where jobs and money are so scarce.
This isn’t about punishing those in the ReBiblican Marketplace as much as it is about not unknowingly rewarding them.
SJ: What is your ultimate goal?
LB: Hmmm…just one? Lol. 1) reward those who promote freedom and in some way contribute to their financial health and stability; 2) withhold support from those who dangerously and ignorantly promote theocracy in America; 3) give people a sense of empowerment – that there is something they can do to push back against extremism and that their place as a citizen in this country does matter.
Those are just a few goals that I can think of, but here is my ultimate goal – to do all I can as one individual to stave off the March of the Theocrats. To preserve our democratic republic, our religious freedoms and to prevent a world run by religion so that my daughter and granddaughter will never know what it is like to live in a theocracy.
Leah’s List™ can be found by clicking here.
Disclosure: Leah Burton is a contributing writer to PoliticusUSA. Neither PoliticusUSA nor Sarah Jones have any financial interest in Leah’s List™.