LGBTQ Equality

Targeting Target: State attorneys general threaten chain store over merchandise Christian Nationalists dislike

  Rhys Long

In a galling attempt of intimidation, seven state attorneys general signed a letter to Target threatening legal action over Target’s Pride Month displays and merchandise. The AGs representing Indiana, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and South Carolina allege that Target may be running afoul of several states’ child protection and obscenity laws and warn that states are obliged to take legal action if this is the case.

AGs are misusing state laws to advance Christian Nationalist agenda

This is not even a thinly veiled threat from the AGs; it is a blatant attempt to intimidate a corporation into conforming to the whims of Christian Nationalists. The AGs called Target’s Pride merchandise a “comprehensive effort to promote gender and sexual identity among children,” and criticized LGBTQ+-themed clothing and accessories for sale. Ironically, other Target merchandise which could be construed as sexualizing, like this boy’s onesie with the phrase “women are always picking me up,” weren’t mentioned in the AGs’ letter.

These AGs are misusing state laws to launch discriminatory campaigns against businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community. These states want legal consequences for any person or business that is out of sync with an extremist, Christian Nationalist agenda.

Products with non-Christian designs also targeted

While the attorneys general made many reprehensible comments about LGBTQ+ displays in their letter, the section in which they reprimand Target for selling “anti-Christian designs” is particularly egregious and unconstitutional. The AGs’ letter states that “Target also sold products with anti-Christian designs, such as pentagrams, horned skulls, and other Satanic products.”

It is not illegal to sell material that some people perceive to be anti-Christian, and it is not illegal to vocally criticize any faith. You would think that in light of Christian Nationalists’ campaign to allow private businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ folks, they would understand that Target is a private business and is welcome to sell whatever merchandise it believes the public wants to buy.

It is also worth noting that occult and supposed satanic designs are not, by their very nature, anti-Christian, and Target selling these items does not make Target anti-Christian. And, even if the material was overtly critical of Christianity, the attorneys general of seven states do not have the legal right to interfere in the matter. If anyone is running afoul of the legal system, it is these AGs.

Non-Christian religions should be afforded same legal protections

Wicca and Paganism, which sometimes incorporate these symbols, are valid religions, just like Christianity, and they are afforded the same legal protections as any other religion. That this imagery offends some Christians does not constitute legal basis for the attorneys general to make threats against Target. Christianity does not get special rights or privileges over other religions and nonreligion – that is a fundamental part of religious freedom.

Christian Nationalists are seeking to turn America into a puritanical theocracy in which Christians are a protected class while everyone else’s rights are rolled back. This letter makes that intention clear. Inclusion and freedom mean nothing to Christian Nationalists and the AGs who support them. All they care about is conformity and control.

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