Players: TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie; Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, which describes itself as a "Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive"; Jezebel and its commenters. Last week, Mycoskie headlined an event hosted by the Christian group. That week Christianity Today reported that Focus on the Family was "working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa."
Opening Serve: After getting word of the unlikely pairing, Jezebel's Irin Carmon questioned TOMS's partnership with a group that's anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-evolution--basically anti-everything a lot of TOMS wearers believe in. Alienated commenters on one of Mcyoskie's blog posts noted their disappointment, but the founder didn't respond, even though he engaged with other non-Focus on the Family related comments--including one about his eyewear.
Jezebel reached out to TOMS, asking Mycoskie to explain his decision. Mycoskie responded, distancing itself from the group. In a statement posted on both Jezebel and his blog, he denied the partnership with the organization and expressed his regrets for speaking at their event, claiming he didn't know the full extent of Focus on the Family's anti-progressive beliefs:
Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family's beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company's part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.
Jezebel and commenters on the TOMS founder's blog both seem skeptical of this excuse: Mycoskie couldn't have done a quick Google search?