In an attempt to drum up more business, Chick-fil-A has ads and billboards featuring black and white spotted cows – acting in what the company calls their “enlightened self-interest” – urging people to “Eat Mor Chikin.”
But that’s not what gay rights advocates want in the aftermath of the president of Chick-fil-A expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage. They don’t want the public to eat less chicken at Chick-fil-A – they don’t want consumers to eat any chicken served by the Atlanta-based chain.
In a June 12 radio interview on “The Ken Coleman Show,” Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy said: “As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fists at Him and say, ‘We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
When asked about his support of traditional marriage by the Biblical Recorder, Cathy responded, “Well, guilty as charged.”
It is surprising that anyone would be surprised by the position taken by the Chick-fil-A officials.
Its restaurants are closed on Sunday. In fact, there is a sign in front of one of its Fayettville, Ga. restaurants proclaiming they’re open “24/6.” It’s no secret that on the seventh day, employees rest and/or go to church.
The company says on its Web site, “From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.”
Fifteen years ago, the company became the chief sponsor of the Peach Bowl and renamed it the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“We are the only bowl that has an invocation,”‘ Cathy said in the Biblical Recorder interview. “It is our agreement that if Chick-fil-A is associated in this, there’s going to be an invocation. Also, we don’t have our bowl on Sunday, either.”
Both Dan Cathy and his father are devout Christians. And given their religious beliefs and their attitude about working or playing football on Sunday, it should come as no surprise that they believe homosexuality is a sin. As U.S. citizens, they were exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and religion.
And many people, including me, find that honorable.
The problem with many gay rights advocates is that they try to bully people into subscribing to their point of view. If you don’t believe in same-sex marriages or object to their trying to re-frame their position as an issue of “marriage equity,” they are quick to dismiss your genuinely-held opinion as homophobia. No, many opponents of gay marriages are not homophobic – they simply believe it is a sin. Most major religions – including Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism and Orthodox Judaism – reject homosexuality. Of course, the problem with some opponents of same-sex marriage is that want to invoke the Bible selectively instead of following all its teachings.
In arguing that gay rights activists shouldn’t boycott Chick-fil-A, some liberals are also wrong. Whether you agree with them or not, gay rights activists and their supporters have the right to spend their money with whom they please. And by urging a boycott of Chick-fil-A, which is a $4 billion a year business, activists are borrowing a page from what leaders of the civil rights movement did in the 1950s and 1960s to break down the walls of segregation.
Politicians on the left and on the right have injected themselves into the controversy.
Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee picked Aug. 1 as the day for people to eat at Chick-fil-A to show their support for the company. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) is promoting a National Same-Sex Kiss Day to be held Aug. 3 at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country.
The most disturbing part of this controversy is that elected officials are threatening to block Chick-fil-A from building restaurants in their communities. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino have said they might seek to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in their communities. That would amount to government censorship; no one should be punished by elected officials for exercising their right to free speech.
As the Boston Herald observed, “Which part of the First Amendment does [Mayor] Menino not understand?” The editorial continued, “If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.”
It’s outrageous that the president of Chick-fil-A, exercising his constitutional rights, is being persecuted for expressing support for the Bible. It’s outrageous to try to prevent gay and lesbian advocates from directing dollars away from a business that they deem unsupportive. And it’s outrageous for anyone on the left or right to think that they should dictate the personal views and opinions of others.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, http://www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.