As more and more companies “go woke,” new companies are filling the void vacated by established businesses that alienate customers. One such entrepreneur is NBA player Jonathan Isaac, who recently started UNITUS, a new athletic apparel company.
He explained the goal behind his new venture in a tweet: “Values matter. When we give our money to companies that don’t support our values, we co-sign that message. @weareunitus gives freedom and faith loving Americans the option to buy with their values.”
Isaac, a forward for the Orlando Magic, launched his company at an event last weekend. There he told Brett Cooper, host of “The Comments Section” at the Daily Wire, that while he “knew absolutely nothing” about designing clothes or shoes, what he did have was a “vision.”
That vision? “Helping people to find confidence and encouragement in what we believe, that it’s valid to believe and still believe in faith, family, and freedom. Those things matter, and I believe that they lead to a prosperous society. And so, I want to stand on those principles with all of you.”
One of the values that was a priority for Isaac was to not manufacture in China and to make sure that UNITUS has no ties to China.
To say that it’s bold for an NBA player to take such a stand against China would be an understatement.
The NBA has close and controversial connections to China. The league and its players excoriated former Houston Rockets General Manager Darryl Morey for tweeting support for protestors in Hong Kong standing against China’s erasure of their long cherished freedoms. The NBA also faced backlash after it became known that human rights abuses were committed at its Chinese training academies, such as physically abusing players.
And one of the NBA’s leading corporate sponsors, Nike, has been chastised for its use of Chinese slave labor. But Nike feels no shame over its commitment to China, with CEO John Donahue once bragging, “We are the largest sport brand there, and we are a brand of China and for China.”
Isaac, though, is no stranger to taking bold stances. He drew headlines when he became the first player to refuse to kneel during the national anthem while all other players protested. Not surprisingly, Isaac became a target of Internet trolls, who applauded his season-ending injury as “karma.” Additionally, he refused to take the COVID vaccine, considered akin to a “sin” by league officials and participants, and he is one of the very few in all of sports to take on the issue of sexual morality, specifically encouraging young people to abstain from pre-marital sex as a way to guard against both teenage pregnancy and abortion.
He has credited his faith as the reason behind his courage to take such stands. When he chose to stand for the national anthem, Isaac said that he knew kneeling wasn’t the answer, as only the Gospel can change the hearts of men. With his new company, Isaac is still seeking to glorify God. “I do see this as something that is bigger than me. And so, for that, I have to give glory and honor to Jesus Christ.”
In fact, Isaac said, everything to do with the company is biblically based, though he did want to create a brand and a logo that allowed people to wear fashionable clothing and to engage the culture. Isaac’s pastor, Dr. Durone Hepburn, came up with the idea both for the name UNITUS and for the brand’s logo, which is based on the Ark of the Covenant
The company will start by selling leisurewear, but it will eventually expand to sell athletic apparel and sports equipment, including shoes, which viewers of the company’s launch were able to preview; Isaac will wear his own shoe line during the NBA season. He also hopes to one day sponsor college teams who would wear UNITUS brand jerseys and equipment.
What separates UNITUS from other brands, according to Isaac, is that “I know firsthand what it is to feel alone while you’re standing up for something and to be the only one. And there’s so many other people who have felt that way too, but if people know that there are people who believe like they do, think like they do, are white, are black, are in between…that people stand together for these values, I think it makes a huge difference.”
How many times have you gone to a store and seen displays promoting LGBT themes or the Marxist ideas of “social justice” and “diversity and equity” espoused by Black Lives Matter, or how many times has a company expressed anti-American sentiments? Or, in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, how upsetting was it to see longstanding, popular companies telling customers that they would take their dollars and use them to fund out-of-state abortions for their employees?
For many Christians and conservatives, it’s hard to navigate this environment. The decision to no longer buy your preferred brand, not go to the movies, or to shop at a different grocery might be a minor inconvenience. Other situations might be more difficult because the only real option is the woke option.
That is why it is so important to support people like Isaac and get behind the growing effort to give consumers a choice. Don’t misunderstand me, UNITUS isn’t a charity; it has to earn your dollars with quality products. But as Christians and conservatives we should be excited when a company takes a stand against the push to advance evil agendas or spit on the freedom our country promises. Before you buy that new Nike sweatshirt or the latest trendy shoes, consider supporting a company that shares your values, won’t spend your money on abortions, and doesn’t profit from the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses.
How you spend your money matters. Which companies you support has consequences. While you think you’re just buying a shirt, you’re helping to fund things you may abhor. With companies like UNITUS, you have an opportunity to support a company that not only shares your values but is sharing those values with others.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.