In the comments section to my post from yesterday, the Global Marketing Manager of Gloria Jean’s Coffee says:

Hi, Alexandra Deakin, Global Marketing Manager for Gloria Jean’s Coffees. Read your comments & just wanted to share what we think about all of this. You can get our view from our website, here’s the link: http://www.gloriajeanscoffees.com.au/resource/Mercy_Web_Post.pdf

To save you downloading the PDF, I’ve pasted it here (with my commentary, of course):

www.gloriajeanscoffees.com
MEDIA RELEASE
18 March 2008

Gloria Jean’s Coffees response on Mercy Ministries

Gloria Jean’s Coffees has issued the following statement in relation to current media coverage of the company’s sponsorship of Mercy Ministries:

We are deeply concerned with the recent media coverage related to our
sponsorship of Mercy Ministries and association with the Hillsong Church and feel it is not reflective of what our business is all about.

I don’t think the media coverage is worried about how you sell coffee. It’s concerned with the “charity” you support, Mercy Ministries, and the fundamentalist religious cult it is associated with, Hillsong Church, and the allegations of psychological abuse of young women at their hands. Let me quote from the Sydney Morning Herald: “Counselling consisted of prayer readings, treatment entailed exorcisms and speaking in tongues, and the house was locked down most of the time, isolating residents from the outside world and sealing them in a humidicrib of pentecostal religion.”

Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a company built on family and community values with the vision: “To be the most loved and respected coffee company in the World.”

Well you aren’t doing a very good job of that right now, are you? Sticking to selling over-priced, overly-sweet coffee and staying away from the religious fundamentalists might help your reputation.

Our responsibility is to our Franchise Partners and our guests.

We are not religiously affiliated, or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences.

But that isn’t quite true, is it? The founders of Gloria Jean’s, Peter Irvine and Nabi Saleh, are both board members of GJC (Saleh is the Chairman) as well as members of the Hillsong Church. In fact, Saleh is listed on Hillsong’s website as an “Elder” of the church. 

We are non-discriminatory and accept staff, franchise partners and guests from all walks of life.

We believe as a truly responsible corporate citizen, that we should have a
positive impact on the communities from were we source our coffee and the
communities we serve. Our values include: “Belief in people, building and
changing lives”.

And I think that’s admirable. Do you think that giving money to organizations that practice Bronze Age rituals to please supernatural deities is really having a positive impact on the community?

Our sponsorship of many international and local charities including Mercy
Ministries is based on giving back to the communities who have helped us
become the brand we are today, there are no hidden agendas.

We assessed Mercy Ministries along with many other potential charity partners several years ago now and found that their work transforming the lives of young women in crisis was a good fit with our vision, mission and values.

Our corporate donations amount to approximately $150,000 – $170,000 per annum plus the donations made by the public through the money boxes in stores.

And how much is the latter? How much money have you taken from your “guests” and given to Mercy? And how much do the founders of GJC tithe to the church on a regular basis from their salaries and company dividends?

Since then we have seen many young women’s lives transformed for the better.

“Better” in whose judgment? Gloria Jean’s? Mercy Ministries? A qualified psychiatrist’s?

We have regularly visited Mercy Ministries’ homes to meet with the residents.

And you’re only now finding out about the exorcisms and speaking in tongues? Did you get the “look over here! look over here! – don’t look over there – look over here!” tour?

All our Franchise Partners in Australia have the opportunity to do this as well as all our Master Franchise Partners from the 29 other countries in which we serve coffee. We have several Mercy Ministries’ graduates working in and making a positive contribution to Gloria Jean’s Coffees both in our stores and support office.

By “graduates”, do we read “young women who, at a time in their lives when they were at their most vulnerable, were brainwashed by a fundamentalist cult”?

We have been in direct discussion with Mercy Ministries and we will be working with them to understand what elements of their program could have given rise to these very concerning claims.

Which of the claims do you find concerning and what about them concerns you? Which practices of Mercy Ministries were you not familiar with before you started working with them? You obviously knew of their relationship in Australia with Hillsong and that Hillsong were an extreme sect of Christian fundamentalists whose founder Brian Houston’s father, Frank Houston, had engaged in homosexual and paedophilic acts as a minister in New Zealand. This didn’t bother you?

We would encourage any member of the public
that is concerned to review their response to these allegations on their website at www.mercyministries.com.au

Many of the issues facing these young women are not easily fixed. While the vast majority of young women succeed in the program, there are those few for which this program is not the answer. Clearly they have the right to give their views.

We believe this however should not outweigh the positive impact Mercy
Ministries has had on the lives of many young women.

Where is the measurement of the “positive impact”? Have qualified professionals in the field of psychiatric care had a chance to review the treatment these young women have received?

By removing our sponsorship without due diligence, we would be removing our support for the many young women dealing with eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, abuse and other life controlling issues that are in desperate need for help to turn their lives around.

We have no relationship with the Hillsong Church.

As started above, the founders of Gloria Jean’s, Peter Irvine and Nabi Saleh, are both board members of GJC (Saleh is the Chairman) as well as members of the Hillsong Church. So I don’t think you can credibly say you have “no relationship”.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees is an Australian-owned private company and there are no financial or legal ties between Gloria Jean’s Coffees and Hillsong Church. This remains unchanged.

While this may be true, the founders and current board members of GJC *do* have financial ties with Hillsong Church.

The religious affiliation of our management, staff, Franchise Partners, charity partners has absolutely no relevance to how we operate our company. Our responsibility is to our Franchise Partners, our guests and the quality of our coffee.

And yet here you are, getting loads of negative press, because of the relationship your company has with a fundamentalist cult, which also happens to be the church that your Executive Chairman and his company co-founder belong to, and a charity the church is associated with. I’d say it is pretty relevant to how you operate your business right now.

Alexandra Deakin
Global Marketing Manager – Gloria Jean’s Coffees

While I appreciate that fact that you took the time to respond to the post Alexandra, I think the media release isn’t a very good attempt at trying to dampen down what is a very real issue for many of our readers and listeners. If you’d be interested in coming onto the show for discuss this is more detail, you’d be most welcome.

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