Salesforce Slammed for Anti-Religious Bigotry

Free Enterprise Project Shareholder Proposal Precedes U.S. Supreme Court in Rejecting Salesforce’s Position in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

San Francisco, CA / Washington, D.C. – Tech powerhouse Salesforce was accused of being unconstitutional, hypocritical, and loose with the facts by a well-known conservative activist over company positions that he said opposed religious liberty. 

At yesterday’s annual meeting of Salesforce investors, National Center for Public Policy Research General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Justin Danhof, Esq., presented a resolution highlighting the company’s hypocritical stance on religious freedom. Danhof blasted the company’s involvement in the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Salesforce was one of 37 major corporations that signed the Human Rights Campaign’s amicus brief supporting Colorado’s efforts to force baker Jack Phillips to make a specialty cake for a gay wedding. Last week, in a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled for Phillips. 

“I guess Salesforce can’t have its cake and eat it too,” said Danhof. “Religious freedom stands and government-compelled speech falls. That’s a win for the Constitution and a loss for Salesforce. Investors should demand to know why the company was pushing such an extreme attack on religious liberty. Many Americans are likely unaware of just how large a role major corporations play in legislative and legal battles over social issues. Salesforce is on the far-left’s leading edge of the nation’s culture wars – and many investors may be put off by the company’s aggressive attacks on religious liberty. I know I am.” 

At the meeting, Danhof stated: 

Under CEO Marc Benioff’s leadership, this company has worked to eradicate religious freedom in the United States. In doing so, the company has obfuscated facts, contravened the Constitution and been extremely hypocritical. I’ll address these failings in order. 

When the company threatened to divest from the state of Georgia over that state’s consideration of a religious freedom restoration law, it claimed it was doing so because the measure was designed to discriminate against the LGBT community.  That’s not true.

Danhof then noted: 

The company also signed the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) highly disingenuous amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission U.S. Supreme Court case.  The company’s position would have allowed states to compel speech of private businesses and citizens all while further eroding religious freedom. Last week, the Supreme Court struck down the position of HRC and Salesforce in a landslide 7-2 opinion.  The company’s position was far outside of constitutional bounds. 

Finally, while the company regularly attacks religious freedom here in the United States, it also does business in China, India and Morocco – all countries with extremely questionable track records regarding women’s rights, religious rights and LGBT rights.  Where are the company’s threats to divest from those regions as it did in Georgia?

Our proposal offers the company a chance to explain these inconsistencies and justify its appalling record on religious freedom.

Danhof’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, is available here.  

Audio of Danhof presenting the National Center’s proposal is available here. 

The full text of the National Center’s shareholder proposal is available on page 68 of Salesforce’s proxy statement.

“Americans of faith need to get more engaged in the battle against anti-religious corporations. The biblical teaching to be in the world but not of the world doesn’t mean that Christians should shirk from these public policy debates,” said Danhof. “Salesforce was one of the companies that helped defeat Georgia’s religious freedom legislation in 2016, but it was far from alone. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and the National Football League all played a role in scuttling that effort. And in addition to Salesforce, 36 other major companies, including Amazon, Airbnb, and Marriott signed the amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that would have further diminished religious liberty and freedom of speech. The fight for religious rights needs more happy warriors.” 

FEP representatives have participated in 25 shareholder meetings in 2018. 

Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.

FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group). 

Danhof’s latest commentary, on the recent Walt Disney shareholder meeting where his actions resulted in Joy Behar’s public apology for suggesting Christianity is a mental illness, is available here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia. 

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The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.