A grocery store took some heat after stirring controversy with a politically-charged, religious ad mailer. People were up in arms and lashing out, but their outrage didn’t have the effect they likely wanted.
Mac’s Fresh Market, a southern U.S.-based grocery store chain, came under fire after referencing both religion and politics in a mailer for customers, according to Fox News. At the top of the weekly cash-saver ad for the market, which has stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri, was an interesting, politically-charged blurb that not everyone seemed to appreciate.
“Heaven has a wall, a gate and a strict immigration policy. Hell has open borders. Let that sink in,” the message read, but it was far from a new occurrence for the store, according to Newsweek. “Jesus is the reason for the season,” a December circular declared, and another featured the message, “Persecution and distress cannot be separated from God’s love.” Those messages went largely unnoticed, but the one about the wall did not.
The remark about Heaven’s “immigration policy” quickly sparked outrage since it appeared to allude to the contentious issue of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Critics quickly aired their complaints on Facebook with many calling for a boycott of the store. “You guys have just put the first nail in the coffin that is your company. Welcome to what we call a PR nightmare,” one social media user wrote.
“You guys think that heaven is only full of white people? Boy, are you in for a surprise. You may wanna try hell first, who knows you may see more people you know that you thought were there,” the outraged Facebook user added, while yet another commented, “Please remove me from any mailers. I will no longer shop in your store. I find your mixture of religion and politics disgusting.”
Some people were so up in arms, they branded the ad “racist,” taking aim at Reggy McDaniel, the owner of the store. “We are also checking out your racism and fake religion,” one such user wrote. However, all the criticism wasn’t going to stop this business owner. McDaniel not only denied the racist allegations but doubled-down on the sentiments in his ad.
McDaniel believes he picked the perfect time to run it because it sparked a conversation about the situation at our southern border, and he was dumbfounded by the allegations of racism. “I thought it was a perfect time because everybody is talking about the border, some people want it, some don’t want us to have one,” he said, according to KALB. “The only thing I was shocked about was that it’s racist. I have never in my life been accused of being a racist. I’m 70 years old. I haven’t evolved into one.”
Although Mac’s Fresh Market received plenty of backlash from angry social media users, there were also those who expressed support and promised to start frequenting the store more often. “Due to your Christian beliefs, I’m going to start shopping more at Mac’s! We need more store owners like you,” one user wrote, and another added, “Looks like I need to start shopping at Mac’s. He has my support. Freedom of speech people.”
Despite the commotion his ad created, Reggie McDaniel said he wouldn’t stop putting out similar circulars in the future. “I appreciate them shopping with me, but this is America; they have the privilege of shopping where they want to,” he explained. “All I can do is tell them my case; if they want to describe me in some kind of way that I am someone who is not worthy to shop with, I’d be shocked.” And, as promised, future mailers continued to have faith-driven, religious references.
Indeed, the outrage didn’t have the effect the critics had likely hoped because, as Reggie McDaniel told Fox News, “The bigger it got, the more the message is going to get out there.” He added, “It did get out there. It accomplished what we wanted to.” And, perhaps that’s the lesson the critics should learn from this. Whether you agree with the message on the flyer from Mac’s Fresh Market or not, what Reggie McDaniel said about the backlash is absolutely true. The critics inadvertently helped spread his message.
Maybe the best course of action when you see someone expressing sentiments with which you don’t agree is to use your own freedoms to either ignore it, put out your own opinion without drawing attention to theirs, or simply shop elsewhere. When you publicize a message with which you don’t agree, you might garner it more support than it would have received otherwise. Trying to squash someone’s right to free speech never seems to go as planned, and this is one of many stories that prove it.