Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is It Fair To Question Bonnie's Business Ethics?

While observing the latest insane blog entries and postings surrounding the Magic Chicken Diet, I have begun to consider the words of the diet’s promoter, Bonnie Luper, and her husband, David, in a bit of a different light. Bonnie has stated in numerous places that she is a Christian. She has also said that she believes that God himself directed her to share with the world (after they paid a fee, of course) just how she lost all of her weight. While the public at large may find humor in that claim, there are those of us that take invoking the name of the Lord quite seriously. I believe Bonnie is counting on that. What, perhaps she wasn’t counting on, is many of us also consider it equally serious just what we do attempt to claim as the Lord’s business, so to speak.

I began contemplating just how we, as Christians, are to conduct business in the marketplace. Are we held to a higher standard? Is that standard man’s standard or God’s standard?

Let me say, right out of the gate, that I do believe Christians are held to a higher standard, and rightfully so. I believe that standard is set for us by God, clearly laid out in Scripture. God is God all the time, in all areas of our lives, including while we are practicing our vocation. He sees all, He hears all, He judges all.

A very good resource for guidance in this area is offered by Chris Forbes, the founder of Ministry Marketing Coach. One statement that he made really resonates with me, and while it is directly speaking of the advertising tactics of churches, I believe it also applies to the advertising tactics of individual Christians engaged in business and courting the Christian market.

“Some churches, it seems, are more likely to ask “What would Machiavelli Do“ than What Would Jesus Do?. They tend to function as though the end justifies the means when it comes to marketing. Their Machiavellian tactics lead them to feel justified in misleading people, stealing other’s property, tricking people and manipulating them psychologically.”
source: www.MinistryMarketingCoach.com

So, what does any of this have to do with the Magic Chicken Diet? Plenty. This is a web based business which revolves around the claims that the founder – Bonnie Luper – lost an incredible amount of weight after creating her own eating plan. There is actually nothing new about Bonnie’s eating plan. A quick Google search turns up any number of diets revolving around the use of chicken: The Chicken Soup Diet (a small breakfast, then chicken soup for the rest of the day), The Chicken Diet (basically replacing beef in your diet with chicken) – in fact, chicken is a mainstay in pretty much any diet program out there. It is quite healthy, actually. Maybe Bonnie believes that what makes HER chicken diet proprietary is just that right combination of chicken and sugar free (or diet, as she calls it) Jell-O. Who knows? The fact remains, though, that the actual eating plan that she puts forth is not really “magical” at all.

Does Bonnie, as a Christian using that information as a benefit of doing business with her, have an obligation to market her diet website any differently than any of the other multitudes of hucksters out there? I believe she does. If she wants to invite people to join her for support, and pay for that privilege, then go for it, girl! Instead, she is baiting people to part with their hard earned money to find out her “secret”, which isn’t so secret after all. She misleads people to believe that she has that key to weight loss that so many have been searching for to no avail.

Perhaps her secret is in the self talk she gives herself, or sniffing food that tempts her. Maybe it’s giving away her “fat” clothes as she grows out of them, or wrestling her mind for control over her own body. Whatever works for her – more power to her. For her sake I do hope that those things are enough for her to actually maintain her short lived loss. Like most folks, she is likely to discover that once she starts to increase her calories to nourish her body the way it will start screaming to be nourished, she will rapidly regain the weight. Unfortunately that is a side effect of a very low calorie, low carbohydrate diet. But, I digress. That is not the focus of this blog entry.

Bonnie has a responsibility to deal with us in a fair, honest and accurate manner when marketing her website, and I, as one in a growing number of people, do not believe she is doing so. In the real world there is a word for that. Fraud.

And before you start to cry “Fowl!”, Bonnie, because other people may have taken what you believe to be yours, remember that YOU are the one who is claiming the name of Christ in your business. YOU are held to a higher standard. YOU are to be the example. There is a great irony for someone to complain that their diet secrets have been somehow violated when they (I’m talking about YOU now) began their venture by requesting someone clone another business’s website – a business that closely resembles your own. That is, quite simply, stealing. Unless, of course, you had the consent of that website’s owner. (Please feel free to clear the air right here in this blog by commenting.)

Beyond that, though, is something far more troubling with this entire situation. The responses that Bonnie has made, or others have made on her behalf, have been filled with virulence. Much of the ranting, for instance, on the MagicChickenDiet.net site, written, presumably by her husband, David, have bordered on vulgarity. So have many comments posted and left in view on their Stoney Creek Candles website.

Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about:

Why Bonnie Why….
Why don’t you give up this insanity of your slim body because you surely can’t be happy in that different figure you now have. You are a 50 year old grandma, so act like it. You are supposed to be waiting on your husband. Diets are so faddish. You start your insurance job Monday and you are going to be miserable there. There is nothing fun with being a slim old lady, 50 yr old grandma at that and sitting in some stuffy insurance complex building. You will be bored to death. That is so selfish of you. Think about it and listen to me. You’ve gotten so slim and fancy and you are a bad person for doing that chicken diet in the first place. Google the Internet and listen to these good people talk. They are all trying to help you and bring you back to your senses. They are talking about you because they really care about you and your husband does to. Remember when I played with our stoney creek candle site and messed it up and all that they have said about me. Well they are right and it was for my own good. What right do I have fooling with Stoney Creek Candle website. I must be a moron to play with websites at 55 years old. And guess what else I have learned from these loving and caring people on the Internet. It is against the law to put that Google adsense stuff on a fat people website. Fifty-five year old men should never be fascinated with the Internet because one of them knows as they said he is a moron. Like to shake his hand. Remember: Fat Rules
David Luper 817-238-8852
no guarantee that I can help guys, sorry

Goody Bags for Our Young Brave Troops but…
At it again huh! Somethings Up. We can smell a rat. Bonnie and her sister Wanda have just loaded up a bunch of goodies from some of Stoney Creek Candle business customers to send to our very brave young men and women overseas that have volunteered themselves for our country. Mostly razors, shaving cream, soap and even some lotions for the brave young women. Afterwards they are going to service some candle accounts. It never fails though that this mean ol Bonnie girl will run into one of her old friends (it nearly never fails) while servicing the routes and they don’t even recognize her. That is Bad Bad Bad we have to put a stop to this now.
NEWS FLASH: I think while Bonnie and her sister Wanda were getting ready to go to Wanda’s church to deliver the goody bag to send to our troops I believe they maybe fell in that nasty chicken pooh I was able to get these girls DL#’s and SSN’s. Here they are Bonnies 1st: ######## and Wanda’s ########. If this is illegible or hard to read then just F### it as we will make up a boat load of stuff on them. That slim trim terrible Bonnie especially. How dare her to do that to her body. Who’s body does she think it belongs to? Her maybe? Huh…
PS: Sorry guys but I can’t post the number anymore. I have had a number of calls and if any of you guys try to set your wife straight then just make sure that there is no woman around by the name of Sandy Lipton. She gave me what for up one side and down the other. Fat Women Rule….. they so fluffy and hey if there are any guys out there just remember we have got to stick together. And a double ps don’t tell yucky about this as I believe she is the ring leader and she will really be HOT! (concealment of numerical data was done by the original author)

So, I read this garbage, then, lo and behold I find an advertisement for The Magic Chicken Diet, in, of all places, the Christian Business Directory. As a Christian that depends on this publication locally, I was appalled to see that such a reputable organization was inadvertently being used by people who want the benefit of the Christian purchasing block, without feeling the obligation to conduct themselves accordingly.

I promise, Lupers, that I will object to each and every such advertising attempt that I come across for any company you choose to operate as long as you show a propensity to participate or support such derogatory language and innuendo, and for as long as you continue to display the habit of threatening legal action with those who have the nerve to complain about your business practices. If we Christians around the world are not willing to stand up and hold our own accountable then we deserve the ridicule of the world for our conduct.

Nothing torques my nut worse than someone using the name of my beloved Savior, to further themselves at the expense of others. Such behavior makes a bad witness for the cause of Christ.