I’ve always known Chick-fil-a and the people who run it have different values than I do. That’s OK – I don’t have to share your values and I certainly don’t have to share your religion in order to do business with you. As fast food goes, Chick-fil-a tastes good, is reasonably priced, and is less unhealthy than most. I like it and I’ve eaten a lot of it over the years.
Most businesses aren’t so open about their religious orientation – they don’t want to offend potential customers and cost themselves business. Chick-fil-a is different: they make it clear they’re
Evangelical Christians. Again, that’s OK. I admire people and organizations who are committed to their faith and their values. And with the exception of all stores being closed on Sundays and some stores who play Christian music they haven’t been “in your face” about who and what they are. They’ll happily sell chicken to anyone and everyone.
I’ve long known they support “family” ministries that are intended for only one kind of family, but those kind of families have been helped. Just as legalizing same sex marriages doesn’t impact opposite sex marriages one way or the other, if a counseling program helps people in opposite sex marriages that does no harm to gay couples or to single people.
In a 2011 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said “While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees. We’ve opted not to get involved in the political debate.” As long as that was true I had no problem continuing to eat at Chick-fil-a. I don’t support litmus tests (defined as holding the “proper” view on a single issue) in business any more than I support them in politics.
Recently, though, it’s come out that Chick-fil-a isn’t as politically neutral as Dan Cathy implied. Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation gave almost $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2010, including the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Family Research Council (classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and Exodus International, one of the leading promoters of “ex-gay therapy.”
There is a clear moral difference between “not helping” and “harming.” Giving money to groups that benefit straight couples but exclude gay couples is “not helping.” Giving money to groups that spread lies about homosexuality, that actively work to prevent the legal recognition of same sex marriages, and that promote “re-orientation” instead of acceptance is “harming.”
If there was any doubt left as to Chick-fil-a’s true colors it ended on Monday when the Baptist Press published this interview with Dan Cathy. When asked about his support for “traditional” marriage, Cathy responded “Well, guilty as charged.”
And in an appearance on a Christian radio program, Cathy said “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
I can’t do it any more. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a have crossed the line from “not helping” to “harming.”
I don’t imagine Chick-fil-a will notice the loss of my business. That’s not important. What’s important is that I won’t be supporting groups that actively work to cause harm in the world.
I’ve always enjoyed Chick-fil-a’s food. I imagine I’ll miss it… but somehow I don’t think it would taste very good any more.