5 Things I Don’t Understand about the Chick-fil-A Discussion
I can’t get away from Chick-fil-A—no matter how hard I try. I never thought I would say this, but I have to stand on the side of the ambivalent with this one. Every time I hear someone articulate their opinion about this issue, I get more confused.
Here are a couple of things I don’t understand:
1. Why Is Anyone Surprised by Chick-fil-A’s Opinions?
Chick-fil-A has been a pretty in-your-face Christian business for a while. I mean, good luck trying to get some waffle fries on Sunday. You shouldn’t have to work too hard to imagine their stance on gay marriage (senior vice-president Donald Cathy is known by everyone as “Bubba” for Pete’s sake). They have been a supporter of Focus on the Family and the WinShape Foundation both of whom stand firmly against homosexual marriage. Gay activists have been calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants since 2011.
So when CEO Dan T. Cathy comes out (no pun intended) last month and says, “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,” why is there this surprised outcry?
2. Is This the Kind of Culture We Want to Foster?
I am skeptical (and a little horrified) by any political, religious, or activist movement that would want to shut a business down or force it to capitulate because an owner of the business disagrees on an issue. Obviously we have the right to eat where we want, but organized, focused hatred seems beyond the pale to me. And I feel this way about any organized boycott whether it’s this situation or the Southern Baptists trying to close down Disney.
We either honor diversity or we do not. To demand a homogenized diversity which dictates the kinds of opinions you are allowed to have to run a profitable business seems dangerous—no matter who is defining acceptable public opinion.
I completely support the rights for homosexuals to marry, but I have a lot of close friends who I love and respect who feel differently. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would organize a movement against them to either close their businesses or force them to change their opinions. And I would oppose their attempts to do the same to a business that supported same-sex marriage.
3. Why Do Intelligent People Allow Themselves to Be Co-Opted?
This situation is a good example of how good, intelligent people allow the political machine to commandeer issues we are passionate about. Same-sex marriage is a hot button, polarizing issue to be sure—and partisan forces know it.
We are still talking about Chick-fil-A because it has been co-opted. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino jumped on this opportunity to vow that the fast food chicken joint will not put another restaurant in his city, while talking heads like Mike Huckabee helped to get the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day underway. These moves have helped to solidify their bases, fire up passions, and increase polarity . . . but have not really contributed anything for or against the issue at hand.
This sort of political involvement only seems to increase the hate speech from people on both sides. Why do we continue to fall for this nonsense?
4. What Happened to Civility?
When we allow the political machine to fire us up, we feel justified in saying terrible things. Just take a look at your Facebook news feed. I have yet to see an internet meme or snarky comment contribute to real dialogue. We have accepted a political mindset where victory means crushing my enemies (or at least making them look foolish) instead of making enemies my friends.
I am always more surprised at the stuff Christians post because they’re supposed to know better. Sometimes I am surprised that these people claim to have Jesus as an example.
5. Who Thought Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Was a Good Idea?
In a perfect example of political and religious polarity, we had Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day August 1. This was a day for everyone who supported Chick-fil-A’s stance (or at least their ability to have it) to go support them by buying fast food. By all accounts, Chick-fil-A had their busiest day ever—but at what cost?
This was an extremely combative move. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day came off more as a political stance against homosexual marriage rather than in support of Chick-fil-A. I saw a guy interviewed on the news who was talking around mouthfuls of chicken, “I am here to support Chick-fil-A and the movement.” THE MOVEMENT!? There is nothing in this statement that doesn’t seem polarizing. And the response will always involve some sort of escalation (like the upcoming Chick-fil-A “kiss in”). I can’t imagine that Jesus would encourage his followers to handle things this way.
I think when it comes to the tenor of this discussion—I am a conscientious objector.