Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Vocation of Marriage

We have a new website!

The Vocation of Marriage has been suffering huge losses. More marriages end in divorce than succeed.  Fewer people choose marriage as a goal. We live in a culture that glorifies romance without the commitment of marriage vows. We live in a world that is increasingly breaking down the definition of marriage to “anything goes”.

We need — now more than ever — to (1) fortify romantic relationships with a better understanding of the biblical and moral truths about marriage, and (2) recommit our lives to it, and (3) stand strong as couples and as a Church to turn the tide of worldly influences back to what is healthy for children, couples, and society.

Our new website — marriagevocation.net is a resource and inspirational site for everyone who is interested in understanding more about the Vocation of Marriage, including clergy and others who minister to couples.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Help end discrimination

Help end discrimination against faith-based charities!
Updated on November 13, 2014
We won! Intuit changes policy!


By Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay, Inc.
October 16, 2014

Praise the Lord with me! We won a victory for Christian organizations! Now religious charities can get donations of QuickBooks 2015 financial software (including the nonprofit version).

In the original article posted here (see it below), I wrote about discrimination against Christians and shared the story of how Intuit has refused to donate to Good News Ministries the accounting software we need, QuickBooks for Nonprofits. After trying fruitlessly for weeks to get them to change their anti-Christian policy, I asked readers to sign a petition asking Intuit to stop discriminating against faith-based organizations. 110 people signed it and emailed it to Intuit's Senior Manager of Corporate Public Relations. This made a difference! Together, we have won the victory!

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Inequality. Injustice. Discrimination. We’re living in an age when society has matured at least to the point where everyone knows it’s wrong to discriminate. Not all want to live this way, but it’s become socially unacceptable to discriminate.

Unless it’s against Christians.

Sign my online petition to stop discrimination by Intuit!

At Good News Ministries, we rely 100% on donations to fulfill our mission of making this world a better place by changing hearts for Christ. For donations of the software we need, we rely on TechSoup.org. TechSoup’s mission is “connecting your nonprofit, charity, or public library with tech products and services …. Our free resources are available to all users. Once registered and qualified with TechSoup, nonprofits and libraries can access donated and discounted products and services from partners like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Intuit, and Symantec.”

Good News Ministries qualifies and is a registered member. Sounds good, right? The problem is, almost every time I have applied for donated software, we’ve been rejected. Discriminated against.

So, for the sake of the people we serve at Good News Ministries and for the sake of other Christian charities, I refuse to remain silent. When we do not take action, we allow discrimination against faith-based organizations to continue.

I write to their customer relations department, which usually is in charge of the company’s Facebook page. This public forum is a good place to get attention, and we can increase our voice by asking our Facebook friends to join in the conversation.

One reason why we’ve been denied software donations is because non-Christians think that Christians treat people unequally. They think that our moral stands against sin are discriminatory. They don’t understand that it’s actually because we care about everyone that we invite them to higher moral standards.

I explain, “We do not discriminate but provide our services to anyone who wants to use them.”

Another reason why they claim that Good News Ministries doesn’t qualify is because we’re a global organization and the company only donates software to charities that serve the local community in ways that they recognize as making a difference. They don’t understand the importance of making a difference in people’s souls.

I explain, “We serve the local community as well as people around the world through our website, and we have also given financial aid and other special help to the poor in Third World Countries, such as Malawi and remote regions in India.”

Two months ago (August 25), I encountered very uncaring, discriminatory treatment from Intuit when I applied for a donation of QuickBooks for Nonprofits. They remain discriminatory today. I cannot win this battle alone. Almost every faith-based charity uses Intuit software. QuickBooks is expensive. Many thousands of charities could benefit from fair treatment by Intuit.

A year ago, it was Adobe that denied us the software we needed. But after I persistently pressed for fair treatment, requesting that they end discrimination against faith-based organizations, they relented.

Elated over that victory, I tried to obtain a donation from Microsoft of their Office Suite software and discovered that I needed to repeat my campaign. I asked them to realize that their policies discriminate against faith-based organizations. TechSoup soon informed me: “Microsoft is currently reevaluating their guidelines for faith-based organizations.” Two weeks later, they gave me the software.

Several years ago, when I first set up an account at TechSoup, I was rejected by Intuit, and so I turned to Sage for their Peachtree accounting software for nonprofits. They granted it to us without hesitation.

For a number of reasons, I’d like to replace that old (no longer supported) software with QuickBooks for Nonprofits. Once again I went through TechSoup to request that Intuit donate it to Good News Ministries. This time, I am not going to be silent about their discrimination.

I use Intuit’s Quicken software at home and don’t want to support their discrimination by paying for upgrades as my copy ages. An accountant I know says she can obtain a discounted copy of QuickBooks for me, but I believe it’s wrong to support Intuit’s discriminatory practices with any purchase at all.

I’ve tried talking to Intuit’s Customer Service Department, and they gave me a run-around, passing the buck to TechSoup. I reported this to TechSoup, who replied with what I more or less expected: “We can’t do anything about it; Intuit set the policy.” So I took my campaign to Intuit’s Facebook page.


At TechSoup.org, Intuit lists their restrictions for eligibility. Of nine restrictions, Good News Ministries matches two, and these are discriminatory.

One: “Religious organizations without a secular community designation are not eligible to receive software through this program. A secular designation is defined as an organization separate from the church or religious organization that provides services to people regardless of their religious beliefs and does not propagate a belief in a specific faith.”

What is wrong with propagating a belief in a specific faith? We have the legal right to freedom of religious beliefs. We do not force anyone to accept our faith. Nor do we withhold our services from anyone who doesn’t agree with our religious beliefs. At Good News Ministries, we explain our faith beliefs to anyone who wants to access it; it’s up to each individual to decide what to do with the information we provide. Why is that a reason to discriminate against us?

Two: “Organizations that advocate, support, or practice discrimination based on age, ethnicity, gender, national origin, disability, race, size, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background are not eligible to participate in this program. Organizations must be willing and able to attest that they do not discriminate on any of these grounds in order to receive donations.”

I have attested as such, but Intuit has ignored me. Those who make customer relations decisions in Intuit continue to contradict company policy by discriminating against religious organizations.

Three: When I brought this up on Intuit’s Facebook page, I received a third reason: “Terry, Intuit’s We Care and Give Back efforts are primarily focused on organizations that support financial literacy or small business development in disadvantaged communities. As such, our restrictions for donation requests, on a corporate level, reflect that philosophy. However, Intuit does provide each of our regular employees with a copy of QuickBooks for donation purposes and they can give it to any 501c(3) organization of their choice each year, we believe in supporting the charitable interests of all our employees. ^Staci”

I replied, “Thank you, Staci, for replying. We are involved with supporting the development of a non-profit organization in Malawi, Central Africa. We support the efforts of a radio station (run by Msgr. Joseph Kimu) by supplying them with some of their needed equipment, content, and other types of support. We've been helping that radio station since 2001 as well as a children's nutrition centre and a program for training women to sew for income, which are associated with that radio station. Please tell me how I can obtain a donation of QuickBooks for Nonprofits for the work we do in Malawi and around the world.”

The result: No response. What’s with the “We Care” name they claim? After repeatedly stating my request, still no response.

Join the cause! (update: this is how we won the victory)
1. Sign my online petition to stop discrimination by Intuit.

2. Go to Intuit’s Facebook page and post your plea for an end to their discriminatory practices: www.facebook.com/intuit. Post, too, on my comment thread so they know you’re supporting Good News Ministries with your comments: www.facebook.com/intuit/posts/10152587911950100.

3. Download this article for printing or distributing to friends, click here (PDF file removed).

This article is part of the international Blog Action Day, #BAD2014, #Inequality