I was in Niagara Falls recently, and saw a big sign in a store window that proclaimed “Christian Owner”. I’ve written on the topic before, but I found it unbelievable that someone would even CONSIDER putting up such a sign.
The most charitable interpretation of this sign would be that it somehow relates to the store’s purpose and serves to warn customers before they enter. If I ran a store selling holy symbols, it might be worth letting customers know which religious denomination they’re for, before they come in (if someone is looking for a new crucifix and I only sell Stars of David, I’m not going to be able to help them). This store was a general gift store, so while they may have had angels on some of their goods, they sold other non-religious items, so I really didn’t think this was the purpose.
Less charitably, and probably more accurately, their purpose may have been to tell Christians “Hey, I’m the same as you. You should shop at my store instead of patronizing some atheist or Muslim!”.
The least charitable, and hopefully inaccurate, interpretation is that the owner is warning others away. They’re posting the sign to say they only want to conduct business with Christians, and if you’re not one, they don’t want you in their store.
Penn and Teller have a proposal for world peace. They suggest all barriers to trade be removed, and that as many different groups and people are encouraged to do business together as possible. Their belief, and I think they’re on to something, is that if people are making money together, they’re going to do what they can to get along. I read a quote from an Indian businessman who said that he’s too busy making money to want to fight with Pakistan.
When people start segregating and only doing business with people who believe the same things they do, we’re on a path for some real trouble. The way to reconcile differing opinions is discussion and at a political / legal level through democracy. Economic warfare where we don’t do business with people who don’t believe what we do is one step up from physical violence and can be just as harmful (talk to a small business owner who has gone bankrupt – he probably would have prefered a punch in the nose to losing his savings and livelihood).
Some people may say “well, I’d never boycott a business because of someone’s race or religion, I’m a good guy”. I think what they’re doing is just as ugly if they do it to try and force their political beliefs on a person or company. If you’re pro-life and you boycott a local cafe owner you know is pro-choice (or vice-versa) it’s just as bad. The abortion debate has NOTHING to do with lattes.
In case it isn’t clear from the post, I would have found it just as offensive if there had been a sign in the window saying “Hindu Owner” or “Atheist Owner”.