Chick-Fil-A Meltdown: Evangelicals Are Giving Us the Most Glorious Meltdown EVER!

Chick-Fil-A Meltdown: Evangelicals Are Giving Us the Most Glorious Meltdown EVER! December 5, 2019

Hello and welcome back! Last time we met up, I showed you how bizarrely-distorted evangelicals’ beliefs about themselves really are. And right on the heels of that revelation, this story erupted in the news. Before, I thought Mike Huckabee’s 2015 tantrum over rainbow Doritos was the most awesomely funny evangelical meltdown ever. But no, it turns out that that title belongs to the millions of self-appointed Designated Adults in evangelicalism freaking out over their favorite virtue-signaling fast-food seller, Chick-fil-A (CFA), mayyyybe not being quite as bigoted as they used to be.

hungry cat approaches a chicken
EAT MOR CHIKIN. (StevenW, CC-SA.)

Of Supernatural and Reality-Based Beliefs.

To maintain their beliefs, evangelicals pared away from their worldview any ability to accept helpful criticism and feedback. That move happened decades ago. As a result, evangelicals now hold a lot of demonstrably-false beliefs. Not all of those beliefs center around supernatural claims and imaginary friends, either! For example, they believe that their tribemates possess a whole lot of good qualities that they categorically don’t.

Nobody else thinks evangelicals possess these qualities. That’s likely why one of their other reality-based claims involves them being misunderstood as a group. In Barna’s survey, after all, about 20% of them landed on that descriptor.

When I was Christian, the first time I came face-to-face with how little others bought into my own tribe’s inflated self-image, it really shocked me. (See endnote for how that went down.) So it’s got to be provoking some major cognitive dissonance by now that reality so often contradicts evangelicals’ beliefs and claims.

I hope so, anyway. That realization proved an insurmountable stumbling-block for me. Maybe it will for other evangelicals.

Good-Humored.

Zeroing in to Barna’s survey, evangelicals also believe they are good-humored. About 35% of evangelicals thought that.

And yet here we are at the funniest meltdown I’ve ever seen them have.

They’re freaking completely out because a chicken-sandwich seller isn’t going to overtly pander to evangelical culture-war causes in the future.

They’re throwing a collective toddler-tantrum over a chicken-sandwich seller.

This chicken-sandwich seller, Chick-fil-A (CFA), doesn’t wanna pander to evangelicals quite as much as they used to.

Not a one of their leaders seems capable of looking at this whole situation in perspective, much less laughing at how ridiculous it is. They’ve never been good at mockery generally, but seriously, this is absolutely ridiculous.

The fact that Chick-fil-A ever became a huge virtue-signaling flag is, itself, hilarious. But what’s even funnier is how evangelicals behave like someone literally died here. And it’s someone they like, not one of their enemies. They’d rejoice over that, just like the Bible says not to do. No, this time it’s someone they actually liked. And it’s someone who provided them fast food.

I hinted at this truth years ago and I stick by it: do not, ah say do not evah, get between evangelicals and their favorite vittles.

The Best Meltdown EVER.

Well, this past week–for the first time in decades, really–the fast-food giant CFA took a breather in its ceaseless quest to pander to evangelicals. They want to expand to more public-sphere venues (like airports, but also taxpayer-funded universities and whatnot) and head into Europe. However, it turns out that public-sphere venues and Europeans don’t really like bigotry in their chicken sandwiches.

Long ago, Mormons had to give up official adoration of polyamory and racism to do the stuff they wanted to do, which in these cases meant, respectively, making Utah a state and having their college team play basketball with other universities. Similarly, Chick-fil-A had to give up its official support of bigotry to do what its fundagelical owners wanted to do.

It’s a wise business move if nothing else. As I write this post, CFA still waffles over the move. It might not last. But I hope it does. I’ll be first in line to buy some chicken tendies if so. I wrote them years ago to inform them of why I would not be purchasing their food when they came into my city. And I promised in that letter to change my position if they changed theirs.

All the same, even with this little forward progress, evangelicals have utterly, completely, totally melted down. Yes indeedy! Over this beyond-weaksauce declaration and unseemly waffling, culture warriors are throwing a collective fit like frustrated, over-tired toddlers at a hardware megastore. 

(See endnote for an observation about Catholics. Weirdly, they don’t seem too fazed. Yet.)

A Grown-Up Millennial Bigot Loses His Faith in Huge Nationwide Companies.

I loved loved loved this USA Today opinion piece from yesterday. It’s called:

“Chick-fil-A once inspired me to live out my faith in the workplace. Those days are gone.”

Oh my WHOA, can you imagine the dramatic mic drop this nutjob thought he was making here?

“THOSE DAYS ARE GONE.”

BOO HOO HOO, WOE IS ME! I, A WHITE MILLENNIAL FUNDAGELICAL DUDE, HAVE BEEN BETRAYED BY THIS HUGE FAST-FOOD COMPANY!

Oh my gosh you guys, will nobody think of the poor widdle white Millennial fundagelicals that used to enjoy unlimited pandering from CFA that now must endure less-than-total pandering?

THE HUMANITY!

But that’s where we are. JP Duffy, also known as one of the very big names over at the Bigotry Family Research Council, talks in this post about how his parents told him he needed to find a job. They told him to apply at Chick-fil-A. Though reluctant at first, he says, he knuckled down when he discovered that CFA was just as bigoted as he was. Hooray Team Jesus!

He mentions only in passing his liking for CFA’s policy of staying closed on Sundays. I’m sure it barely figured at all. Yep. Oh wait. That policy was a driving factor in all of my friends’ desires to work there when I was in high school 10 years before Duffy.

The Only Important Tribal Marker.

Poor JP Duffy. He put his faith in a company pandering to him. It didn’t even occur to him that maybe CFA would discover one day that his tribe wasn’t exactly a growth market.

But he’s lying through his teeth in this post about one important aspect of his idolization of CFA, just like he’s very likely fibbing about exactly why he wanted to work for them.

He whisks through all kinds of wonderful things CFA did back when he worked there. They set up a Salvation Army tree, donated food to local church events, and used Jesus lingo in their employee handbook. The owner of the business ran some kind of Sunday School.

I’m sure they still do donate money to the poor around Christmas, and I’m sure they still donate lots of food to various causes–probably even to church groups still.

And not one bit of that stuff matters to JP Duffy now that CFA has possibly stopped pandering quite so much to the bigotry he so loves. What matters to him instead is how hard CFA panders to his tribe. They’ve stopped doing that quite so much, and so CFA might as well be dead to him.

Like look, I went into mourning when it turned out one of the Firefly stars, Adam Baldwin, was a GamerGate asshat. But to be upset that one’s panderers are going to be less pander-y? I don’t know, it just sounds so childish.

(See endnote for an observation about the attack on his hate group’s offices. Yikes.)

CFA’s “Shameful Capitulation.”

On November 20, John Hirschauer wrote a post for National Review, a conservative site. They called it “Chick-fil-A’s Shameful Capitulation.”

See, it was totally okay for CFA to shamefully pander to fundagelicals. But the moment they stopped, or rather sorta-kinda-maybe stopped a little, that constituted “shameful capitulation.” To whom, you might ask? “To the mob,” he helpfully clarifies.

And who might “the mob” be, you might ask? Well, hon, that’d be two groups:

  • Christians who aren’t TRUE CHRISTIAN™ like he is. Of course, Hirschauer measures TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ by adherence to the culture wars evangelicals like nowadays.
  • Actual LGBT people and their allies.

I thought one bit was interesting, though. He’s downright salty over how ineffective he thinks CFA’s somewhat-about-face will be. To him, it’d be better to maintain the course on his culture wars and bigotry than to “capitulate to the mob.” And that’s especially the case when “the mob” seems unlikely to forgive CFA for its previous bigotry.

So okay. It’s not enough to do something because it’s just the right thing to do–not to him.

However, I don’t think he’d have written a single word differently in his self-pitying and bitter post if CFA had made a very obvious profit from its change in policy.

They BETRAYED Us!

Twitter folks had a grand ole time mocking one Christian Trump-worshiper, Charlie Kirk, who declared on his account in all total seriousness,

Chick Fil A betrayed us.

We stood by them for years during every attack and controversy

Despite this they announced they will no longer support Christian organizations. . .

No more Chick-Fil-A, ever!

So dramatic!

And gosh, y’all, literally two years ago this same Christian was chiding college students for not wanting CFA’s hate sandwiches on their campus. He mocked them for being all “triggered.” His pals at the time mocked them as well, calling them babies, “spineless snowflakes,” self-centered, manipulative, etc.

I guess that’s all fine if one is Christian!

Some years ago, exactly this same crowd of zealots got furious with that federal judge, John E. Jones III, for deciding against their fellow zealots in the Dover Creationism case. One of them, Phyllis Schlafly, lectured him about having “stuck a knife in the backs of those who brought [him] to the dance.” They seriously think that once they own someone or something, they always own it forever. When that proves not to be the case, they lose their minds.

Evangelicals act like they were doing CFA a favor by buying their products. That theme runs through the posts I saw, over and over again (like here). In reality, these hapless, luckless, gormless truck-nutz-for-Jesus were just victims of a marketing campaign–and a stupendously successful one, all things told. If they hadn’t supported CFA, the company would only have changed course all the quicker.

Rod Dreher: Losing His Ever-Hatin’ Mind.

Rod Dreher is the ultra-right-wing nutjob behind the galactically-grandiose and yet somehow self-pitying “Benedict Option” idea. He has now written many thousands of words of self-pitying nonsense about Chick-fil-A. In his comments, his fans wring their hands on command and intone thunderous and momentous declarations about the sky falling. It is incredible to behold. The dude wrote FOUR HUGE ESSAYS AT LEAST about this one outrage to his delicate sensibilities:

The “LGBT Bullies” essay begins: “This is a sad day.”

Oh my. I’m having trouble not bursting out laughing.

The “Thomas More” essay begins with a reader’s comment about feeling “stabbed in the back.”

CHICKEN. SANDWICH. SELLERS.

THAT IS WHO PROVOKED THIS MELTDOWN.

Who’s Lost Whose Way, Teddy?

Guardian reported on the evangelical backlash to CFA’s decision. For example, Ted Cruz tweeted that CFA had “badly lost its way.”

But to people who are already very lost, anybody who gets “found,” even a little, will seem like being lost to them. They define themselves, in absence of any feedback at all from their victims, as “found,” and so yes, obviously, anybody outside the tribe will be defined as its opposite.

Mike Huckabee, who’s never once met a culture war talking point he didn’t immediately embrace, whined that CFA had “surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups.”

But he long ago surrendered to hate himself. He revels in hate; he enjoys it by now. His tribe successfully relabeled hatred as “love” years ago. Anyone who doesn’t join him in that relabeling likely does seem to him like they’ve “surrendered” to its opposite, which his tribe successfully relabeled in turn as “hate.”

He lives in Opposite Land and thinks every day is Opposite Day. He doesn’t understand that this fight isn’t between Christians and anti-Christians. See, LOTS of Christians stand against bigotry.

No, like Creationism itself, the war occurs between his narrow-minded band of culture warriors and pretty much everyone else in the world.

My Favorite Bigot in This Story.

By far my favorite response in this story comes from Tony Perkins, who is JP Duffy’s boss at the Bigotry Family Research Council. Like Duffy, he’s invested his whole life in opposing human rights and pushing hatred and bigotry as Christian virtues.

He stood up in front of his tribe and told some conservative podcaster, with a totally straight face,

“It’s time for Christians to find a fast food alternative to Chick-fil-A. . . It’s betrayal by them in many ways.”

Wait, wait, let me get my breath back. What? Seriously? He’s almost as upset with CFA’s 2017 donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center as by their about-face, it sounds like; like Duffy, he blames that nonprofit for the attack on his hate group. But still.

Fundagelicals have lots of alternatives if they want to express bigotry through the fast food they purchase. They still have In-n-Out, Whataburger, and who even knows what else. As well, there are other super-Christian businesses besides fast food. Or maybe culture warriors can just cook at home instead, rather than wasting their money virtue-signaling.

Hooray Team Jesus!

Oh hey! Maybe all these frustrated fundie bigots could go to Hobby Lobby and pick up materials for a new craft. Hobby Lobby is very unlikely to want to expand into colleges or airports, and their appeal in Europe is likely extremely limited. Plus, they stand way, way against human rights and absolutely HATE women. Plus, there are probably a lot more women in America than there are LGBT people. So fundagelicals can still wave money around to punish their enemies, and they might learn to do something useful!

(What I’m saying is that if you like to knit, feel free to share your project in the comments.)

So. Good. Humored!

Nothing says good-humored like a complete tantrum meltdown thrown over a fast-food restaurant’s business decisions. Man alive, that kind of sniveling, whining, self-pitying whingeing just screams good-humored to me. I always think of that exact description whenever I see toxic Christians complaining about being OH SO PERSECUTED because a huge national fast-food giant might be pulling back on the culture-wars throttle just a little.

And I realize why evangelical culture warriors take this decision so personally. They’ve invested themselves for years in this culture war, and almost nobody big stood with them on it. Oh, sure, a bunch of spineless Republican politicians still pander to them on that score. That’ll last for a while yet, probably; they’ll want to be sure that evangelicals’ decline in numbers and effectiveness isn’t just a blip in the trend line before they about-face. They can afford to be careful about changing direction; they’re not using their own money for their businesses, for the most part.

But outside the tribe and those directly entangled with it who pander to it, very few big names stood with the culture warriors. For a while, Chick-fil-A was one of those big names. But their profits and future plans matter to them, and they matter a lot more than sticking to their guns on a culture-war topic that seems doomed to fail anyway. So when CFA pulls back a bit on that throttle, it means evangelicals are losing one of the very few big names willing to sign on to their culture war.

The Rainbow Doritos Meltdown, Reeee-visited.

Similar sentiments drove Mike Huckabee to go into that meltdown tantrum of his over rainbow Doritos years ago.

Of course, it wasn’t the rainbow Doritos themselves that did it. It was what they represented: a raised middle finger of dissent that he could not possibly ignore. That’s what’s going on now. Evangelicals know what this move means for them.

I can’t wait to see what they do when the newest generation of kids–the one just now getting into its school years–begin voicing their own opinions about the culture wars. (Or–kittens forfend!–what evangelicals will do when Republicans realize what a bad bet they really have become.)

Let the adults rage all they want. Christianity is still in decline and nobody reputable gives it a single chance of recovery. Bigots are still an aging breed that is not replacing itself in near enough numbers to maintain their culture war’s momentum.

And most of all, without regaining their lost powers of coercion, not one of these screeching, shrieking, pearl-clutching hatemongers has a single hope of reversing any of the trends facing their tribe.

The kids are gonna be all right.

a chicken chases a tuxedo cat
DON’T EAT MOR CHIKIN

In the middle of all this end-of-year fuss and muss, that truth, at least, shines as clearly as a star for me.

NEXT UP: What conversion actually did for the women of the movie Only God Can–and, for that matter, what it actually did for me and for most converts.


Endnotes.

How I Got Slapped Right in the Face: Back when Biff started his silly PRAYER WARRIORS FOR JESUS club on our college campus, it all seemed harmless. Not long before the group disbanded, I caught a letter to the editor in our campus newspaper. The student who wrote it complained about her college fees going to support groups she absolutely didn’t support. And she named, specifically, PRAYER WARRIORS FOR JESUS. Nowadays, Christians seem to understand that people don’t agree at all with their antics and their constant grabs for communal funds. But back then, it slapped me hard. I was shocked! Wait, not everybody supported prayer groups?? OMG! How could that be? Oh, how indeed! (Back to the post!)

An Observation: It’d be interesting to see what hardline Catholics think of all this mess, since by now they’re largely indistinguishable from evangelicals. But I haven’t seen them talking much at all about it. Back in September, one Patheos Catholic blogger offered a pair of anecdotes that he’d copied-and-pasted from news stories regarding Chick-fil-A generally; he implied that CFA hadn’t suffered at all for its bigotry.

Other than that, I saw a 2012 opinion post in NCR Online indicating that at least that one hardline Catholic bigot didn’t especially approve of the protests against CFA, but he tut-tutted at CFA for animal welfare. So I wonder if this brouhaha is just too silly even for Catholicism’s bunch of theocracy-obsessed fanatics. (Back to the post!)

About the writing about the attack on Family Research Council’s offices: He erroneously blames the evil liberals for this attack, obviously. But his description of the attack itself, which has next to nothing to do with CFA despite his insistence otherwise, just screams “untreated aftereffects of serious trauma” to me. Whatever he thinks “Jesus” did to heal his mind after the attack, it didn’t happen. He needs real help. I hope he finds it. (Back to the post!)


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About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. And she still can't carry a note in a bucket. You can read more about the author here.

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