Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
Conservative groups, including those who support a traditional view of marriage and family life, have been increasingly complaining about attempts by major corporations to silence their viewpoints in the public square. Another such recent report comes from The Ruth Institute (www.ruthinstitute.org), “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.” The organization was founded by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, a Catholic author, speaker and academic. She regularly speaks at religious and pro-life conferences on the Christian view of marriage and sexuality and the ill effects of the Sexual Revolution.
Her institute, she said, “has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.” In an August 31 statement, The Ruth Institute reported that Vanco, their online donation processor, has ended their service to the Institute for promoting “hate, violence, harassment or abuse.”
In a letter to the Institute, Vanco explained: “Vanco has elected to discontinue our processing relationship with The Ruth Institute. The organization has been flagged by Card Brands as being affiliated with a product/service that promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse. Merchants that display such attributes are against Vanco and Wells Fargo processing policies.”
Dr. Morse offered the following comments in response:
- The Ruth Institute's primary focus is family breakdown and its impact on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it. If this makes us a "hate group," so be it.
- Vanco, Card Brands, and Wells Fargo are private businesses. The Ruth Institute respects their right to conduct their businesses as they see fit. We just wish wedding photographers, bakers and florists received the same respect.
- No one from Vanco, Card Brands or Wells Fargo ever contacted the Ruth Institute to inquire about how we “promote hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse.”
- The Ruth Institute is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map,” which was recently in the news. We have been on this “Hate Map,” since 2013. To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever been inspired to riot or shoot anyone by our activities.
- We have compiled the items which some groups have found objectionable on a page called “Where’s the Hate?” (http://www.ruthinstitute.org/knowledge-base/wheres-the-hate) Anyone interested can review that material and judge for themselves whether the Ruth Institute belongs on a list with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
- The Vanco company markets itself to religious organizations. Many churches use their services for processing donations. We surmise that Vanco dropped us because we hold views about marriage, family and human sexuality that are considered “Anti-LGBT.” Our beliefs are the common heritage of all Christian groups. Christian organizations that utilize Vanco’s services may wish to reconsider.
- Donors to the Ruth Institute can rest assured that their private information has not been compromised. Supporters can send checks to our main office, 4845 Lake St.; #217; Lake Charles, LA 70605.