Chick-fil-A Day

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Anecdotal reports today suggest a very big turn-out in many parts of the country for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, or whatever it’s being called.

This rush of people to go order fried chicken sandwiches is in response to the attempts by a number of big city mayors (Boston, Chicago and San Francisco) and other politicians to penalize or even ban the restaurant due to remarks by the company’s president, Dan Cathy, regarding marriage.

So much has been said and written on this subject, but for myself, I’m most interested in going back to what Mr. Cathy actually said and seeing where the justification was for the imbroglio in the first place.

It was an interview with a publication called the Baptist Press which set off the fireworks. The interview was broad, covering Mr. Cathy’s life and the history of the company. The emphasis is on Christianity, as you would expect in a publication of this kind. Mr. Cathy comes across as a thoughtful Christian, not without some humility.

“We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy told the Biblical Recorder in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, “There is no such thing as a Christian business.”

“That got my attention,” Cathy said. Roach went on to say, “Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.”

“In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are,” Cathy added.

“But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”

Among the ways in which Mr. Cathy puts his money where his mouth is is by keeping the restaurants closed on Sundays, despite the tendency of just about everything to be open on Sunday these days.

And the company also promotes Christian causes through a foundation called WinShape. One of the projects is the provision of resources to educate and support couples in Christian marriage.

So here’s the part of the interview that has caused all the ruckus:

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.

“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

That last sentence carries just a little irony today.

Notice, however, what is not featured in any of Mr. Cathy’s remarks. There is no mention of same-sex marriage, of gay marriage, or of homosexuality in any form. There is, in fact, no negative content at all. He is merely stating what he supports, which is what he describes as “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Previously, on a radio show, he is also reported to have said the following:

“As it relates to society in general I think we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake out fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'” Cathy said. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”

A tougher statement, that one, but one which many millions of Americans would ultimately agree with. That is, that there are consequences for doing something wrong and for going against the laws of God, which all of us do sometimes, and that there are particular consequences when an entire society goes off the rails in an important way. Notice that Mr. Cathy doesn’t rant against “them” but implicitly includes himself in the society and generation which needs God’s mercy. He’s stating his beliefs, but without hatred or incitement.

For these remarks above, he has had all hell rained down upon him and his company by Rahm Emmanuel, Thomas Menino and a cast of thousands, and has been accused of bigotry. How did we get to this point in America?

The advance of the same-sex marriage movement depends in major part on a large segment of the (straight) population which is increasingly tending to say, “Oh, I don’t really care. Let people marry whoever they want to marry. Just stop bothering me.”

These are not people who have the patience either for the elaborate arguments on the one side that the institution of marriage is not something we can tamper with without fearful consequences, or on the other claiming that same-sex marriage is the great civil rights cause of our time. They would prefer to just see the whole thing go away, and increasingly they seem to think that will happen if they accede to it rather than oppose it.

The lesson of this Chick-fil-A brouhaha, and the startlingly aggressive stances by elected leaders like the aforementioned Emmanuel and Menino, is that passing same-sex marriage doesn’t end anything. After it is passed, the next step is making sure that everyone accepts it, regardless of their own moral or religious convictions. It is simply not going to be allowed anymore for someone like a Dan Cathy to assert his biblical nonsense and talk of the value of “traditional” marriage. That is to be equated with bigotry, pure and simple, and the force of regulation and law is to be used to eradicate it.

So, for those wondering what some of the unintended consequences of the legalization of same-sex marriage might be, we have been given a rock solid example by these recent events: the redefinition of mainstream Christian thinking as contemptible, intolerable hate-mongering.

Except, to be honest, I’m not at all sure it’s an unintended consequence.