Is it wrong for us to buy products from companies that use sweat-shops or may have poor working conditions, poor company reputation, etc.? I've been thinking about this recently because I personally feel neglectful about shopping at a popular store because I've heard that they have had problems with their company in the past concerning their treatment of employees. By buying from that company's store I along with others who buy from there would be keeping them in business. But is it really wrong to do so? This company is still around and there might be other companies like this that are still in business yet may have poor practices.

Does the Bible say anything about this kind of thing? Would it be a conscience decision? I actually wouldn't mind shopping at a place, but I feel concern about it. If it's really not wrong, then I'd like to have a clear conscience about shopping there and other places.


I found your note amusing since I have a son who has worked at the particular store you mentioned for several years and he has been treated well there. As a Christian you need to be careful not to get caught up in rumors and gossip. Do you know that this particular store is engaged in bad business practices or is it that you just heard rumors of such? If it is the later, then why are you involving yourself in the spread of rumors? See the sermon outline, "Bearing Tales to Others."

Typically people are willing to think bad of other people and companies when they are successful. It is called "envy." And from envy people will try to disparage the reputation of another. Such is what the Pharisees did to Jesus. "Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation"" (John 11:47-48).

You also should consider if someone stands to profit from the rumors. This particular store has successfully kept unions out of its business because it treats its employees well and they have rejected bids for union representation. Yet that means less business for the unions and they aren't happy that others don't see unions as an advantage. So what is done? Spreading rumors is a why to get people to believe a lie by having the lie repeated often.

I'm not saying this store or any other is perfect. What I am saying is that a Christian must be honest at all times. That means you stick to facts that you know and do not dabble in rumors.

Let's say that we did know that a store was mistreating its employees. What is the most effective way to handle the problem? Stop shopping there or inform authorized of the violations so they can do something about the matter? After all such is the government's jurisdiction. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:3-4).

Usually at this point someone objects, "But I don't have enough evidence to convince the authorities!" Exactly! Then what right do you have to encourage a boycott on that same lack of evidence?

There are companies which I personally avoid, not because of rumors, but because I was treated badly by the company. There is an airline that I avoid flying because of two bad incidences I had with them about 20 years ago. But that is my decision based on how I was treated. I don't suggest others do the same because of what happened to me. But such decisions are made on personal facts.