Government persecution of Chick-fil-A

Michael Barone summarizes a number of pundits criticizing the mayors of Boston and now Chicago for seeking to deny business licenses to Chick-fil-A because its owners don’t believe in gay marriage.

Their point is simple, and based on Supreme Court rulings: it’s wrong and unconstitutional under the First Amendment for government to deny business licenses because of an applicant’s speech and beliefs. As the Globe rightly notes, “If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.”

As a conservative on most issues and a supporter of same-sex marriage, I find it fascinating that liberal politicians are so ready to clamp down on others’ speech. It’s certainly permissible to refuse to patronize a restaurant because you dislike the owner’s beliefs and to encourage, by means short of violence or intimidation, others to do so. It’s also kind of foolish and in my view would be a waste of time to have to research owners’ or managers’ political views before going somewhere to eat. But for public officials to penalize people because of their expressed beliefs—well, I wouldn’t go as far as blogger Elizabeth Scalia does when she titles a blogpost “this is how fascism works,” but it’s pretty nasty stuff.

via Liberal officials penalizing free speech | WashingtonExaminer.com.

UPDATE:  The Boston mayor has backed down from his effort.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fjsteve

    As a California resident and frequenter of the San Francisco Bay area, I’m not surprised at all by the freedoms politicians are willing to restrict. That’s kind of why we have a constitution.

  • fjsteve

    As a California resident and frequenter of the San Francisco Bay area, I’m not surprised at all by the freedoms politicians are willing to restrict. That’s kind of why we have a constitution.

  • Tom Hering

    I was outside last night, observing the stars and discussing the day’s news with my liberal/atheist neighbor from across the street. He surprised me by expressing disagreement with the actions of the Boston and Chicago mayors. I don’t know why this surprised me, except maybe I spend too much time on this blog, and it’s warping my view of my fellow liberals. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    I was outside last night, observing the stars and discussing the day’s news with my liberal/atheist neighbor from across the street. He surprised me by expressing disagreement with the actions of the Boston and Chicago mayors. I don’t know why this surprised me, except maybe I spend too much time on this blog, and it’s warping my view of my fellow liberals. :-D

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 3 – We only excoriate the unthinking* left. Unfortunately it seems to be the overwhelming majority of the elected segment of the left.

    *And some of us do try to excoriate the unthinking right, too (who often also mostly fill elected office).

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 3 – We only excoriate the unthinking* left. Unfortunately it seems to be the overwhelming majority of the elected segment of the left.

    *And some of us do try to excoriate the unthinking right, too (who often also mostly fill elected office).

  • Steve Billingsley

    I posted the following on Facebook and it sums up my thinking on the subject….
    “Weighing in on the Chick-Fil-A kerfuffle. I love Chick-Fil-A and will continue to love it. I also love companies like Starbucks and Apple who are pro-gay marriage in their statements and policies because I love their products and have always received good customer service there. I will happily continue to patronize all of these companies. You know why? Because politics isn’t everything! And people can have different views than I do without me getting my panties in a wad.”

  • Steve Billingsley

    I posted the following on Facebook and it sums up my thinking on the subject….
    “Weighing in on the Chick-Fil-A kerfuffle. I love Chick-Fil-A and will continue to love it. I also love companies like Starbucks and Apple who are pro-gay marriage in their statements and policies because I love their products and have always received good customer service there. I will happily continue to patronize all of these companies. You know why? Because politics isn’t everything! And people can have different views than I do without me getting my panties in a wad.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sometimes we say dumb things when we are motivated by something we feel strongly about. I’m glad that Mayor Menino has since come to his senses, but there was probably never any real threat that he was going to implement official government discrimination on account of religious beliefs and speech. That wouldn’t fly, even if he tried.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sometimes we say dumb things when we are motivated by something we feel strongly about. I’m glad that Mayor Menino has since come to his senses, but there was probably never any real threat that he was going to implement official government discrimination on account of religious beliefs and speech. That wouldn’t fly, even if he tried.

  • The Jones

    Hide you kids! Hide you wife! They comin’ fo yo ‘ligious liberty!

  • The Jones

    Hide you kids! Hide you wife! They comin’ fo yo ‘ligious liberty!

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Thanks, Jones. You’ve really managed to contribute something insightful on this issue.

    Keep up the good work.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Thanks, Jones. You’ve really managed to contribute something insightful on this issue.

    Keep up the good work.

  • The Jones

    Mike,

    That short comment actually references two and a half internet viral videos to connect to the subject at hand in a pertinent fashion. Bonus points if anyone can connect the dots and get the joke. (Hint: Google Antoine Dodson) I’m actually agreeing with Mr. Barone, and yes, I do think we are witnessing the stripping of religious liberties. It’s just that when the world is crazy, sometimes it deserves a crazy response.

  • The Jones

    Mike,

    That short comment actually references two and a half internet viral videos to connect to the subject at hand in a pertinent fashion. Bonus points if anyone can connect the dots and get the joke. (Hint: Google Antoine Dodson) I’m actually agreeing with Mr. Barone, and yes, I do think we are witnessing the stripping of religious liberties. It’s just that when the world is crazy, sometimes it deserves a crazy response.

  • DonS

    Never underestimate a petty politician’s willingness to pander. And that’s true for both sides of the aisle.

    Although Mayor Menino backed down, I don’t think Rahm Emanuel has. Even though, as this article points out, he worked for two presidential candidates who opposed gay marriage ;-)

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/rahm-emanuel-campaigned-for-2-presidents-who-opposed-gay-marriage/260401/

  • DonS

    Never underestimate a petty politician’s willingness to pander. And that’s true for both sides of the aisle.

    Although Mayor Menino backed down, I don’t think Rahm Emanuel has. Even though, as this article points out, he worked for two presidential candidates who opposed gay marriage ;-)

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/rahm-emanuel-campaigned-for-2-presidents-who-opposed-gay-marriage/260401/

  • Helen K

    Hooray for Steve B. @4! Be careful with that great common sense you display. It may be catching.

  • Helen K

    Hooray for Steve B. @4! Be careful with that great common sense you display. It may be catching.

  • Tom Hering

    From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

    [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg said Menino, Emanuel and Lee are “really are good mayors” but “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is exactly the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.”

    Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer and former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights who is urging a boycott of Chick-fil-A, said Bloomberg is right.

    “Consumers can disagree with a company’s corporate political position and decide not to spend money there,” Socarides said. “But the city cannot regulate speech by denying someone a permit to operate their business just because you disagree with their political beliefs.”

    … A spokeswoman for [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel said that while the Chicago mayor believes that Cathy does not share his city’s values, he would not block Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant.

    I’d guess this story is just about over, and will be last week’s news on Monday. I’d also guess that awareness of the Chick-fil-A brand has doubled or tripled, and the number of non-political customers the company gains (people who just want to try its sandwiches) will be far greater than the number of gay marriage supporters it loses. Maybe one of us could follow up by the checking Chick-fil-A’s sales figures at the end of this quarter?

  • Tom Hering

    From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

    [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg said Menino, Emanuel and Lee are “really are good mayors” but “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is exactly the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.”

    Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer and former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights who is urging a boycott of Chick-fil-A, said Bloomberg is right.

    “Consumers can disagree with a company’s corporate political position and decide not to spend money there,” Socarides said. “But the city cannot regulate speech by denying someone a permit to operate their business just because you disagree with their political beliefs.”

    … A spokeswoman for [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel said that while the Chicago mayor believes that Cathy does not share his city’s values, he would not block Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant.

    I’d guess this story is just about over, and will be last week’s news on Monday. I’d also guess that awareness of the Chick-fil-A brand has doubled or tripled, and the number of non-political customers the company gains (people who just want to try its sandwiches) will be far greater than the number of gay marriage supporters it loses. Maybe one of us could follow up by the checking Chick-fil-A’s sales figures at the end of this quarter?

  • Fws

    Is bob jones university still allowed to racially dicriminate for reasons of religious conscience? How did that old case turn out? Anyone know here? Did they lose thei tax exempt status?

  • Fws

    Is bob jones university still allowed to racially dicriminate for reasons of religious conscience? How did that old case turn out? Anyone know here? Did they lose thei tax exempt status?

  • Michael B.

    @fws@12

    “Is bob jones university still allowed to racially dicriminate for reasons of religious conscience?”

    I’m not sure, but if they’re private, then that should be their right to racially discriminate. Just as I would be greatly opposed to any government official limiting Chick-fil-a’s business due to their stance against gays. Having said that, I think we all have a right to be disgusted by them, boycott them, and at least *ask* them not to come to our neighborhoods.

  • Michael B.

    @fws@12

    “Is bob jones university still allowed to racially dicriminate for reasons of religious conscience?”

    I’m not sure, but if they’re private, then that should be their right to racially discriminate. Just as I would be greatly opposed to any government official limiting Chick-fil-a’s business due to their stance against gays. Having said that, I think we all have a right to be disgusted by them, boycott them, and at least *ask* them not to come to our neighborhoods.

  • Tom Hering

    … if they’re private, then that should be their right to racially discriminate. (@ 13)

    Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court which held that federal law prohibited private schools from discriminating on the basis of race … Runyon’s holding was severely limited by Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164 (1989) … In turn, Patterson was legislatively overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1991. (Wikipedia)

    Although BJU admitted Asians and other ethnic groups from its inception, it did not enroll black students until 1971, eight years after the University of South Carolina and Clemson University had been integrated by court order. From 1971 to 1975, BJU admitted only married blacks, although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had already determined in 1970 that “private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies” were not entitled to federal tax exemption. Late in 1971, BJU filed suit to prevent the IRS from taking its tax exemption, but in 1974, in Bob Jones University v. Simon, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the university did not have standing to sue until the IRS actually assessed taxes. Four months later, on May 29, 1975, the University Board of Trustees authorized a change in policy to admit “students of any race,” a move that occurred shortly before the announcement of the Supreme Court decision in Runyon v. McCrary (427 U.S. 160 [1976]), which prohibited racial exclusion in private schools.

    In May 1975, as it prepared to allow unmarried blacks to enroll, BJU adopted more detailed rules prohibiting interracial dating and marriage—threatening expulsion for any student who dated or married interracially, who advocated interracial marriage, who was “affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage,” or “who espouse, promote, or encourage others to violate the university’s dating rules and regulations.” In a 2000 interview, the then-president, Bob Jones III, said that interracial dating had been prohibited since the 1950s and that the policy had originated in a complaint by parents of a male Asian student who believed that their son had “nearly married” a white girl.

    … In November 2008, the university declared itself “profoundly sorry” for having allowed “institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.” (Wikipedia)

  • Tom Hering

    … if they’re private, then that should be their right to racially discriminate. (@ 13)

    Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court which held that federal law prohibited private schools from discriminating on the basis of race … Runyon’s holding was severely limited by Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164 (1989) … In turn, Patterson was legislatively overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1991. (Wikipedia)

    Although BJU admitted Asians and other ethnic groups from its inception, it did not enroll black students until 1971, eight years after the University of South Carolina and Clemson University had been integrated by court order. From 1971 to 1975, BJU admitted only married blacks, although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had already determined in 1970 that “private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies” were not entitled to federal tax exemption. Late in 1971, BJU filed suit to prevent the IRS from taking its tax exemption, but in 1974, in Bob Jones University v. Simon, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the university did not have standing to sue until the IRS actually assessed taxes. Four months later, on May 29, 1975, the University Board of Trustees authorized a change in policy to admit “students of any race,” a move that occurred shortly before the announcement of the Supreme Court decision in Runyon v. McCrary (427 U.S. 160 [1976]), which prohibited racial exclusion in private schools.

    In May 1975, as it prepared to allow unmarried blacks to enroll, BJU adopted more detailed rules prohibiting interracial dating and marriage—threatening expulsion for any student who dated or married interracially, who advocated interracial marriage, who was “affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage,” or “who espouse, promote, or encourage others to violate the university’s dating rules and regulations.” In a 2000 interview, the then-president, Bob Jones III, said that interracial dating had been prohibited since the 1950s and that the policy had originated in a complaint by parents of a male Asian student who believed that their son had “nearly married” a white girl.

    … In November 2008, the university declared itself “profoundly sorry” for having allowed “institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.” (Wikipedia)

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    The left wants to shut you down if you don’t agree with them.

    What a shame.

    I remember a day when U.S. companies were assessed by the quality of their goods and services. Not on the politics of the owners.

    Liberty. What a quaint, archaic notion to those on the left.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    The left wants to shut you down if you don’t agree with them.

    What a shame.

    I remember a day when U.S. companies were assessed by the quality of their goods and services. Not on the politics of the owners.

    Liberty. What a quaint, archaic notion to those on the left.

  • Grace

    Steve Martin @15

    “I remember a day when U.S. companies were assessed by the quality of their goods and services. Not on the politics of the owners.”

    I remember as well Steve.

    These are some of the attributes and beliefs of Chick-fil-A Dan T. Cathy President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A.

    Dan T. Cathy
    President and Chief Operating Officer

    “As president of one of the nation’s largest family owned businesses, Chick-fil-A’s Dan T. Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for the Atlanta-based quick-service chicken restaurant chain founded by his father, S. Truett Cathy. Eager to incorporate his own skills and talents into the business, Dan has taken an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to Chick-fil-A leadership.

    ANOTHER EXCERPT

    “As dedicated to Chick-fil-A as he is, Dan also finds time to give generously of his time and efforts in the community. Following is just a partial list of his awards, affiliations and associations:

    ⚫ Member, Board of Trustees, Berry College
    ⚫ Member, Board of Trustees, Morehouse College
    ⚫ Member, Advisory Board, Eagle Ranch
    ⚫ Member, Advisory Board, Global Teen Challenge
    ⚫ Executive Member, National Advisory Board, Lead Like Jesus
    ⚫ Member, Board of Councilors, The Carter Center
    ⚫ Member, Board Trustee, Gordon College Foundation
    ⚫ Member, The New Hope Baptist Church (and trumpet player in the church band)
    ⚫ Sunday School Teacher, 12th Grade Boys – Youth teacher for 37 years
    ⚫ Member, Metro Atlanta Board of Directors, Chamber of Commerce
    ⚫ Member, Jenkins Clinic Board of Directors, Vice Chairman
    ⚫ Advisory Board, Heritage Preparatory School
    ⚫ Recipient of the Outstanding American Award from the National Wrestling Hall
    ⚫ of Fame – 2003
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate Degree from the State University of West Georgia, Anderson College and Carver Bible College
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Anderson College – 2005
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate from HBCA Entrepreneur Summit
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate, Law Degree, Pepperdine University, 2011

    “And in his “spare” time, Dan earned his Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license and has completed numerous marathons in Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Additionally, Dan is a passionate trumpet player, gardener and an avid motorcyclist.

    A native of Jonesboro, Ga., Dan has been married to the former Rhonda Palmer (whom he met while in the 1st grade at age 6) for more than 38 years. He has two sons, Andrew (Mandy) and Ross along with his first granddaughter.

    His personal passion is to see the fulfillment of the Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

    ★ READ THE REST: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Press/Bios/Dan

  • Grace

    Steve Martin @15

    “I remember a day when U.S. companies were assessed by the quality of their goods and services. Not on the politics of the owners.”

    I remember as well Steve.

    These are some of the attributes and beliefs of Chick-fil-A Dan T. Cathy President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A.

    Dan T. Cathy
    President and Chief Operating Officer

    “As president of one of the nation’s largest family owned businesses, Chick-fil-A’s Dan T. Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for the Atlanta-based quick-service chicken restaurant chain founded by his father, S. Truett Cathy. Eager to incorporate his own skills and talents into the business, Dan has taken an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to Chick-fil-A leadership.

    ANOTHER EXCERPT

    “As dedicated to Chick-fil-A as he is, Dan also finds time to give generously of his time and efforts in the community. Following is just a partial list of his awards, affiliations and associations:

    ⚫ Member, Board of Trustees, Berry College
    ⚫ Member, Board of Trustees, Morehouse College
    ⚫ Member, Advisory Board, Eagle Ranch
    ⚫ Member, Advisory Board, Global Teen Challenge
    ⚫ Executive Member, National Advisory Board, Lead Like Jesus
    ⚫ Member, Board of Councilors, The Carter Center
    ⚫ Member, Board Trustee, Gordon College Foundation
    ⚫ Member, The New Hope Baptist Church (and trumpet player in the church band)
    ⚫ Sunday School Teacher, 12th Grade Boys – Youth teacher for 37 years
    ⚫ Member, Metro Atlanta Board of Directors, Chamber of Commerce
    ⚫ Member, Jenkins Clinic Board of Directors, Vice Chairman
    ⚫ Advisory Board, Heritage Preparatory School
    ⚫ Recipient of the Outstanding American Award from the National Wrestling Hall
    ⚫ of Fame – 2003
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate Degree from the State University of West Georgia, Anderson College and Carver Bible College
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Anderson College – 2005
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate from HBCA Entrepreneur Summit
    ⚫ Honorary Doctorate, Law Degree, Pepperdine University, 2011

    “And in his “spare” time, Dan earned his Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license and has completed numerous marathons in Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Additionally, Dan is a passionate trumpet player, gardener and an avid motorcyclist.

    A native of Jonesboro, Ga., Dan has been married to the former Rhonda Palmer (whom he met while in the 1st grade at age 6) for more than 38 years. He has two sons, Andrew (Mandy) and Ross along with his first granddaughter.

    His personal passion is to see the fulfillment of the Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

    ★ READ THE REST: http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Press/Bios/Dan


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