Local Christian clergy from the Charlotte area today delivered a petition with 200,000 signatures to the Lowe’s headquarters, asking the hardware store giant to reverse its recent decision to pull advertising from the TLC reality series All-American Muslim. Lowe’s executives met with representatives of the clergy and spent an hour discussing the controversy that erupted after the company decided to take its ads off the series depicting the life of ordinary Muslim Americans following a campaign by conservative watchdog the Florida Family Association. However, Lowe’s is not changing its position on staying out of All-American Muslim, the company’s VP marketing Tom Lamb told local newspaper The Charlotte Observer, insisting that the decision to pull the ads was not influenced by the FFA. Lowe’s executives have been taken aback by the magnitude of the backlash to their move that has drawn criticism from politicians and civil rights activists and has prompted demonstrations in front of Lowe’s stores. “We’re surprised at how much happened and how quickly it happened in the context of an advertising decision,” Lamb told the paper. As for today’s petition, “We are concerned that Lowe’s’ decision to pull their advertisements from All-American Muslim based on the demands of an extreme fringe group may fuel divisions in our nation instead of supporting fundamental American values of honesty, community, and interfaith acceptance,” one of the organizers, Rev. Dennis Teall-Fleming, said.
UPDATE, MONDAY AM: The backlash against hardware store giant Lowe’s over its decision to pull ads from TLC’s reality series All-American Muslim continues. California State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, on Sunday sent a letter to Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock, calling the company’s decision “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry,” and threatened legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads, according to the AP.
In turn, Lowe’s issued a statement apologizing for having “managed to make some people very unhappy.” “Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views,” Lowe’s said. “As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”