The Rise and Rise of Chick-Fil-A

SPOILER ALERT:  This one’s going to be a long read, folks… may I strongly suggest you brew your favorite Starbucks before you sit down to read this one.

 

Every person of faith knows that at some time their beliefs and convictions will be called into question by people who don’t share those beliefs and convictions.  In my own experience, I’ve had many occasions when I’ve had “arguments” of sorts with people who didn’t share my messianic Jewish/Christian viewpoint on the world, society, and “religion” (using that term loosely).

In the last couple of weeks, it seems that the country has become entangled in the row that has been stirred up over the statements made by Dan Cathy, the CEO and son of the founder of a popular USA fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-Fil-A (which I’ll hereafter refer in my comments as CFA for ease of writing) in an interview he had with a religious publication, the Baptist Press.

His comments in the interview caused many people in the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) community to cry “fowl” (pardon the pun).  The result was a firestorm of controversy, which started with people who support the concept of gay marriage publicly ridiculing Cathy and his company, and has since ballooned into a mass and social media deluge of arguments and name-calling back and forth between LGBTQ persons ridiculing CFA and its supporters (most often persons who claim a “Christian” faith), and the CFA supporters defending their positions on marriage and CFA as a company.

If you’ve been following this drama for any length of time, you’re probably coming up with the same thought I am:  how did this thing get so blown out of proportion?

It’s all due to activists, both gay and straight, who subscribe to what I have termed a “militant gay agenda”.  These people aren’t the average gay people, such as those I know personally, who are confident in their own position and have actual respect and tolerance for other peoples’ feelings on issues such as homosexuality and gay marriage, and who expect and get the same respect and tolerance back.  Those who push a militant gay agenda are those who openly, deliberately, and willfully spew hate speech, ridicule, and fear.  These are the ones who stand up at public events like televised award shows and use their 20 seconds on the stage not to thank those who helped them win an award, but castigate persons of faith for being “intolerant” of gay issues.  These are those people who make up anti-Christian pictures and flaunt them on Facebook.  These are those people who take every opportunity to stand in front of a TV camera and yell against Christian leaders for being “bigots” when these leaders express their personal views.  These people are the ones who are the largest users of intolerant, arrogant, bigoted hate speech, yet accuse those who oppose their views of fostering intolerance, arrogance, bigotry, and hate.

The militant gay agenda has most recently used Cathy’s statements to stir up more controversy in a brazen attempt to polarize the American public, and cause confusion as to the origin of the controversy itself.

But for a moment, let’s go back to the beginning of the specific CFA issue.  Let’s look at what CEO Dan Cathy actually said in his interview with the Baptist Press cited in their online journal from July 16, 2012:

“We don’t claim to be a Christian business… There is no such thing as a Christian business… 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… 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.”

Mr. Cathy is clearly stating here his personal belief that he does not consider CFA to be a “Christian” business.  This was a comment originally made by Christian businessman Fred Roach, during a conference Cathy attended some years ago.  Cathy clearly believes he, as the head of the company, should enable the company to operate on biblical principles.  And for the record, these principles include justice, fairness, integrity, and wisdom (among others).

Let’s move on in the interview, where Cathy was asked about how Christians should conduct themselves in the workplace:

“Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community… [our goal is] to take biblical truth and put skin on it. … We’re talking about how our performance in the workplace should be the focus of how we build respect, rapport and relationships with others that opens the gateway to interest people in knowing God.  All throughout the New Testament there is an evangelism strategy related to our performance in the workplace. … Our work should be an act of worship.  Our work should be our mission field. … If you’re obedient to God you are going to be evangelistic in the quality of the work you do, using that as a portal to share [Christ].”

Now before somebody gets huffy about Cathy’s use of the words “mission field”, he is clearly stating that he believes Christians should consider their job as an opportunity to share the reality and the love of Yeshua (Jesus) with those they encounter, and by using biblical principles in one’s work, they can build respect and rapport with co-workers and customers.

The writer of the article noted the company’s investment in Christian ministry through the “WinShape Foundation”, which assists with college scholarships, foster care, international ministries, and a conference and retreat center similar to the Billy Graham Training Center.  Of this, Cathy said:

“That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries.”

Finally, let’s move on to the comments that started the firestorm by the militant gay agenda.  The interviewer asked Cathy about the company’s position on the opposition by some to the company’s support of the traditional family.

“Well, guilty as charged…  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.”

I included the comments prior to the “target” because of their importance to the focus of the issue.  CFA as a company invests in other entities.  This is no different than other public and private companies that invest in other companies, stocks, bonds, and are involved in charitable and philanthropic works.

The fact that CFA invests in Christian ministries that work to strengthen and support families and “traditional” marriages is CFA’s right as a privately-owned company.  They are not publicly traded, and therefore don’t have to answer to stockholders.  In all seriousness, the executives at CFA clearly feel they answer to God; again, which is their right.

Now, putting aside the gay issue for just a moment, can we stop to consider that one issue Cathy is referring to when he says “strengthening families” is the horrendous plague of divorce in our society, and its effect on families?  In our day, divorce is as common as, well, breathing.  Even in Christian circles, the divorce rate is about the same as among families who don’t claim religious belief.  This problem is very much older than the gay marriage issue, and was a problem even in Cathy’s father’s day, so it is reasonable to assume that CFA’s initial and long-term support for families and marriage had nothing to do with the gay marriage issue.

The Bible mentions very few “legitimate” reasons for divorce.  Yeshua (Jesus) mentioned infidelity in Matthew 19:9, and Sha’ul (Paul) mentioned abandonment by an “unbelieving” spouse of the “believing” spouse in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Yet, our society feels that there is no problem at all with divorce on any grounds, or even no grounds at all.  I have personally known some couples (both straight and gay) who have separated and divorced (I know of one gay couple who were previously married in their jurisdiction) who split for as ridiculous a reason as one partner was just “tired” of the other.  Now, throw financial problems, children (or lack thereof), child, spousal, drug, and alcohol abuse, and a host of other issues into this mix, and the resultant toll of physical, emotional, and societal devastation that the divorce leaves on the spouse who didn’t ask for the divorce, let alone the permanent scars it leaves on the children in both traditional and gay marriages, and it is no wonder that companies like CFA see the destruction of marriages and the family unit as a scourge upon our society that needs to be corrected.  No one has the right to criticize Cathy for his desire to do something about this scourge, neither does anyone have a right to castigate him for his choice to do something about divorce from a Christian, biblical point of view.

But the militant gay agenda has ignored divorce as a reason for CFA to support marriage and family, and has singled out CFA’s support modalities as solely having to do with being “anti-gay” and somehow trying to discredit and destroy gay marriage in this country.  As such, the militant gay agenda has clearly thrown a target on Cathy’s back, and by collusion, on his company as well, and they have every intention of shooting early and often at that target.

So, let’s attack back at the gay agenda’s “ministry of hate” against Chick-Fil-A and Dan Cathy.

The original issue was this:  certain (not even all) lesbian and homosexual individuals took exception to Mr. Cathy’s statements in the Baptist Press regarding his support of the biblical model of the family.

Wow, how hard was that?  I’ve taken the whole nasty controversy and boiled it down to one sentence.

But because this small group of people – yes I said SMALL, but capable of screaming so loudly that it’s a wonder they don’t have laryngitis – did not like what a business leader said, they have deliberately taken upon themselves to not only take Cathy’s words out of context, but to also publicize deliberately erroneous inferences on what he actually did say, and more egregiously, maliciously generalize those erroneous inferences into a small host of issues so that the controversy will be palatable to tolerant, peaceable LGBTQ people.

Following this first “outcry” against Cathy, we’ve seen the following (clearly NOT an exhaustive list!):

  • Lisa Henson of the Jim Henson Company had a note posted on her company’s Facebook page stating that they were pulling the plug on a current promotion with CFA.  Though the note does not specifically charge CFA with being “anti-gay-marriage”, the clear implication was there, since the note did state, “Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.”  This in itself brought a firestorm of controversy both for and against CFA as a company, and Jim Henson Company as well.  This was met with hundreds of posts in support of Henson’s decision, many calling CFA an anti-gay, bigoted company, and while posts in support of CFA, presumably from Christians, countered the accusations, soon the back-and-forth bickering began against Henson’s company and the Muppets in particular, and as of this writing, it continues.
  • CFA pulled the Jim Henson Creature Shop toys from its kid’s meals, and it was widely publicized on the Internet that the reason was for potential safety hazards of the toys.  One picture posted on Facebook showed a placard that was put up in one of the company’s restaurants mentioning this, with the date that preceded the Jim Henson Company’s statement on their Facebook page.  This, coupled with the facts that 1) no company could, in one day, notify all their stores, ensure every toy is pulled from every restaurant, and make up mass amounts of notices (assuming that the picture publicized on Facebook could not possibly have been the only toy-recall notification to customers out of all their restaurants across the country), and 2) Henson’s Facebook note was dated after the toys had already been recalled; and it’s easy to see that the safety concern was most likely the first issue between CFA and the Henson company, and that Cathy’s comments just gave Henson a cheap excuse to back out of the deal without accepting responsibility for defective toys, as well as to kowtow to the militant gay agenda of which Lisa Henson is clearly a subscriber.
  • Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Joe Moreno (local Chicago alderman), and Boston mayor Thomas Menino, and later, local officials in San Francisco and Washington D.C. (you could have guessed those last two, huh?) spoke out vehemently against CFA and its CEO, some writing letters to Cathy, and all of them going on record in the media about their intent to either force CFA out of their cities, or to specifically prevent the business from opening restaurants there.  The problem with their hot-headed, short-sighted statements was clear, even to the left-leaning and quite atheistic American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who, along with a host of attorneys, shot back at Emanuel, Menino and the others, clarifying the fact that for them to attempt to prohibit a legitimate business from opening and/or operating in their jurisdictions was not only a violation of various federal and state laws, but also a violation of the Constitutional rights of the company and its personnel.  So, as early as July 26, these politicians, in true politician style, began back-pedaling on their original rants against Cathy and CFA, no doubt to the disdain of the militant gay agenda.
  • Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee posted comments on his Facebook page in support of CFA and Cathy, and promoted a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” to be held on Wednesday, August 1, 2012.  Shortly after this page was promoted on Facebook, it “mysteriously disappeared, only to reemerge about 12 hours later.  Though Facebook claimed it was a “mistake”, the more likely probability is that either an attorney representing Huckabee or Huckabee himself contacted Facebook’s legal department (not hard to do, if you have the right phone number), and set Facebook straight along the same lines as the politicians in Chicago, Boston, and elsewhere were set straight by the ACLU.  Given Facebook’s well-known penchant for pandering to radical left-leaning gay activists, I’m really sure the whole thing was “just a mistake.”  Yeah.
  • Actress and comedienne Roseanne Barr placed the following on Twitter: “Anyone who eats S— Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens” in a clear hate-filled slur against the company and its supporters.  She later apologized, but she only apologized for using the word “deserves”, not for the hate-speech she fostered.

We can easily sum up the vast majority of other recent responses to the row by saying that a multitude of bloggers, guest columnists, Facebook addicts, Tweeters, and people both left and right of this issue have placed anything and everything from Photoshopped pictures of Bert & Ernie with a KFC bucket, thumbs-up for CFA pictures, snide comments, and outright lies, half-truths, and the like all over the Internet and mass media.

It seems that the militant LGBT agenda just won’t let this issue go, and they keep finding different people, avenues, and messages to put out there, all unfairly labeling CFA and Dan Cathy as “antigay”, bigoted, hateful, arrogant, out of touch with reality, archaic, and likened him to association with the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis.  The problem with this (beyond the obvious) is that all the militant gay agenda is deliberately and spitefully generalizing their same hate speech to ALL Christians and persons of religious faith, not just CFA and its executives.

But why would the militant gay agenda, spearheaded by such notables as Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and most infamously, Joe Solmonese, head of the so-called “Human Rights Campaign” (a front organization for two non-profit political lobbying groups), use the very things they claim to fight against: bigotry, lies, intolerance, and hate, to stir up such controversy and bring the “gay marriage” issue to the forefront of the American consciousness?

The answer is simple and obvious: it’s an election year.

OK, let me expound on that.  The issue of gay marriage is one of the several “hot-button” topics in this year’s presidential election.  The militant gay agenda was obviously pleased when President Obama “came out” (wonder when that’s really going to happen?!) in May 2012 in favor of gay marriage, although his statement contradicts statements he made back in 2008 during the California Proposition 8 campaign when he stated he personally believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.  Nevertheless, his statement in favor of gay marriage didn’t really do a lot to push the issue to the top of the list of potential debate issues, particularly given de-facto Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s relative quietness on the campaign trail regarding the subject and his church’s well-known support of traditional marriage (recall the LDS church helped spearhead Proposition 8 to passage).

So, LGBTQ activists and their more radically-left-leaning associates in the militant gay agenda, needed something to both quickly raise the awareness of the gay marriage issue in the American consciousness, and raise its status as a valid political issue in this year’s election.

Then along came Dan Cathy’s comments in a relatively obscure (if anything is obscure in the day of the Internet) online article from the Southern Baptist Convention.  Once Cathy’s words were publicized, the “gays jumped on it”, to cheesily borrow a quote from a famous 80’s singer.  They had something (they thought) that had the potential to not only raise awareness of the issue, but also to ridicule Christianity at the same time, which is something the militant gay agenda has demonstrated a particular love for doing.  Excuse me, let me be more correct:  they love to ridicule anything and anyone who disagrees with their view, not just Christians.

But let’s think about this for a second.  Do all LGBTQ people feel exactly the same way as their counterparts who subscribe to the militant gay agenda?  I don’t think so.  And I have proof, since I have a number of LGBT friends, who are very confident in their views and their convictions about their sexuality, but all of whom give show respect for differing points of view, and are tolerant of people who hold views that are not their own.  These friends know my Judeo-Christian point of view, and respect it, even if they don’t agree with everything that point of view teaches.  And likewise, I know that I will never talk them out of being gay/lesbian, and I’m not about to try.  I respect their decisions and their point of view, and reconcile my religious viewpoint as believing the way I live will be more of a positive witness to them of the love of Yeshua than my words will.  For all those LGBT people who would rather live a balanced life than one of radical hatred toward anyone who disagrees with them, I tip my hat, and wish them well.

But let’s be clear: the militant gay agenda may preach unity, equality, and tolerance, but they have demonstrated time and again that they don’t have any feeling of unity or tolerance for anyone who disagrees with their point of view, let alone lesbians or gays who disagree with the way the militant gay agenda is going about trying to achieve equality in marriage and other issues.  The militant gay agenda is practicing a deliberate double standard in every issue they bring before the country.  The double standard is evident and rampant… just ask your local gay activist if they’re going to stop buying gasoline because the leaders of OPEC believe in putting gays and lesbians to death… and oh, don’t ask them to take a vacation to Iran, because they’ll never come out alive.  Yet, God forbid we ask them to not boycott a fast-food restaurant because its president stated he believes in the traditional definition of marriage, and never said he hated gay and lesbian people.

The militant gay agenda’s practices give one the impression of a bully wanting to have his own way, no matter the cost, and no matter the infringement by them on the life, liberty, and happiness (remember that little line?) of those who disagree with their views.  Even Boston mayor Tom Menino, when backing off from his original stance, used the term “bully pulpit” to refer to his initial comments.  He said:

“…That {referring to his initial statement against CFA} was mostly using the bully pulpit of being mayor of the city and getting public support.  But I didn’t say I would not allow them to go for permits or anything like that.  I just said we would do everything we can, bully pulpit-wise.”

So Menino, just like the rest of those in the camp of the militant gay agenda, is clearly set on using the “bully pulpit” to attempt to keep CFA out of Boston (although by now he may be rethinking that policy of his after his discussions with civil rights lawyers and the ACLU).  But the fact that the mayor of Boston feels he can step on a “bully pulpit” gives further credence to the way I’ve likened the militant gay agenda to the Nazis of the 1930’s, bullying their way to control of Germany, and beating their opponents into submission by whatever means they felt expedient or necessary.

But, as we’ve seen throughout history, the end does not justify the means.  The militant gay agenda will never achieve its goals as long as they pursue their religion of hatred.  The German Nazis in the 1930’s and 40’s tried that, and look where it got them… nowhere but dead.

Can we be honest with ourselves here?  The issue of gay marriage should never have been politicized.  Though the original concept of marriage in our early history was founded and performed on religious terms, more modern civil societies have enabled and utilized two separate and distinct components of the concept of marriage:

  1. The concept that God had ordained in the Bible (and other religious texts have similar concepts), of a lifelong relationship of “marriage” being between one man and one woman.  In this context, as has been followed throughout human history and tradition, the joining of man and woman is carried out “before God and these witnesses”, to quote a phrase commonly used in church-based marriage ceremonies, and has specific spiritual and religious meaning and connotation.
  2. The concept that state and federal laws dictate the rights that are afforded to persons who wish to consider themselves “married”, including joining of financial, civil, and other responsibilities before the government (for example, the ability to claim joint filing status on income tax).  In this context, there is no religious meaning or connotation; the marriage is simply a basis of civil law, which recognizes two persons joining to each other for certain and specific legal and civil reasons.

If one follows the aforementioned logic, and given the assumption that many gay/lesbian couples desiring to marry wish to do so more for legal rights and protections (health care, financial issues, etc.) the conclusion should be obvious, that if LGBT couples wish to marry, then the civil aspect of marriage would be afforded to them, but the religious aspect of marriage be reserved for the “traditional” couple of man and woman, as befits the biblical standard.

Is this showcasing a difference?  Of course it is.  But I would defy any LGBT person to claim that his/her sexual preference, his/her family “lifestyle” if you will, is not different from the traditional concept of sexual preference and family life.  But from what I’ve seen in the past, with pride parades and the like, the LGBT community has celebrated that very difference that makes them unique people.  And let’s face it – we’re all unique in some way or other.

So, though the Judeo-Christian standard of homosexuality being immoral in the sight of God is a correct interpretation of the Bible, it is also correct that because of the deeds of Yeshua, grace and forgiveness is afforded to every person, and with that grace and forgiveness comes a necessary action of “speaking truth in love.”

Let me put it plainly.  Though someone has a right to speak regarding his/her Bible-based belief system that indicates that homosexuality as a way of life or a sexual orientation is wrong, they should never “point a finger” at the LGBT person and say he/she is “going to hell”.  Recalling that the Bible lists among the “fruit of the Spirit of God”, love, peace, patience, kindness, humility, and self-control, Christians would do well to demonstrate to their LGBT friends and neighbors, a life marked with those fruits of the Spirit of God, and allow God to do the rest.

The whole CFA issue will be resolved when two things happen: 1) the militant gay agenda gives up its tactics of ridicule and bullying in order to promote their viewpoint, and show respect to those who hold differing views, so that honest and clear dialog may ensue, and 2) people of faith demonstrate the lifestyle that befits their faith.  I’m afraid that I won’t see either of these things happening en masse any time soon.  But there’s always the hope that respect and grace will win the day.

As for Chick-Fil-A, I’ll continue to support the company, and not just because they know better than anyone else how to make chicken breast and pickles taste so good.  It’s also because they, as a private company, have the right to operate on whatever principles they wish, so long as they are operating within the laws of our country.  And just as I don’t abandon my cell phone provider, some of my favorite restaurants, and other companies I do business with just because some executive in those companies wants to increase sales and market share by publicly claiming they’re in favor of equal rights for LGBT people, I won’t abandon my favorite chicken sandwich fast-food restaurant just because an executive of that company chooses to exercise his first-amendment right to publicly express his opinion.  Boycott Chick-Fil-A if you wish, but don’t lie and say that it and Dan Cathy are anti-gay… because they aren’t.