Chick-Fil-A Comes Under Fire For Stance On Same-Sex Marriage
Chick-fil-A, which in recent years has broadened its restaurant business far beyond the areas of the Southern United States where it started out, finds itself in a bit of hot water because of comments made by its President regarding the hot button issue of same-sex marriage:
Chick-fil-A is “very much supportive of the family,” according to Dan Cathy, president of the popular fast food chain. That is, “the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said.
And that doesn’t include Adam and Steve, suggests Cathy, whose father S. Truett Cathy founded the Atlanta-based company.
In a new interview with Baptist Press, Cathy puts on the record what critics say his company’s actions have indicated for years. “Well, guilty as charged,” he said in the interview when asked about Chick-fil-A’s backing of families led by a man and a woman.
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” Cathy said.
The chain, according to the report, has 1,608 restaurants, sales of more than $4 billion and employees who are trained “to focus on values rooted in the Bible.” Chick-fil-A’s across the country shut down on Sundays.
“We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy said. “But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles.”
Last year, protesters accused Chick-fil-A of supporting an anti-gay agenda with donations, which the company has steadily denied.
As for Chick-fil-A, Cathy said the company’s leaders “intend to stay the course.”
“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,” he said.
In all honestly, I can’t see why anyone would really be surprised by this. The contributions have been a public issue for years now, and the fact that the chain closes its restaurants on Sundays has always been a pretty obvious clue as to the religious and political positions of the owners of the privately owned company. Nonetheless, we’re hearing the usual suspects renew their call for boycotts of the chain because of the positions that the parent company, just as we heard calls for boycotts of Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors because of the comments he made about Sandra Fluke earlier this year. Boycotts are nothing new, of course, they were a part of the anti-apartheid movement and have been a tactic used by left and right to advance their agenda pressure private businesses to adhere to whatever their idea of political correctness might be. It also happens to be profoundly stupid.
We already live in a world where far too many things have become politicized and, with the hyper-partisan nature of our political culture, that means that even something as innocuous as what movies one might choose to go see in the theater or, as in this case, what restaurant they might patronize, becomes a target for criticism. After 9/11, the Dixie Chicks became the subject of a boycott campaign because of comments they made during a concert, but it gets even more ridiculous than that People on the right will say you shouldn’t go see a movie staring Sean Penn because of his supportive comments about Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. People on the left will say you shouldn’t buy pizza from Domino’s because the founder contributes large sums of money to conservative Catholic and pro-life organizations. Sometimes it seems as though there isn’t a business that you can patronize without offending someone.
Jason Pye notes just how illogical it is to base consumer decisions on political opinions:
If I stopped spending money at businesses with which I had some sort of disagreement — whether it be religious or political opinion — my choices would be incredibly limited. I’d never eat Ben and Jerry’s again since they supported Occupy Wall Street and other left-wing causes. I would never go see another movie due to Hollywood’s support of SOPA and PIPA. And I would never listen to music from bands, like Refused, that express an anti-capitalist point of view that I, as a believer in free markets, disagree with very much.
I don’t know about you, but that seems like a dumb way to move through life. Why not just leave the politics out of it and frequent the businesses that provide things that you enjoy at a reasonable price?
It’s all completely ridiculous. When it comes to entertainment, or consumer decisions like which restaurant I might get lunch from tomorrow, the absolutely last thing I care about is the political opinions of the stars or owners. Who cares what Sean Penn thinks if he made a good movie, and who cares what the owners of Chick-fil-A think if you think they make a decent, healthy meal for a reasonable price? The extent to which we have let politics invade every sphere of our lives in this manner strikes me as quite unhealthy, and yet another sign of how polarized we are becoming in this country. There are extreme examples where boycotts might be called for, such as the case of a company who may be trading with a repressive regime, but that’s not the situation we encounter with most of these calls for a boycott. Usually, it’s just the fact that someone, somewhere doesn’t like a political statement that someone affiliated with the company has made.
The other point about calls for boycotts of companies like Chick-fil-A, of course, is that the boycott ends up hurting completely innocent people. Like most restaurant chains of its type, Chick-fil-A is franchise operation. A boycott doesn’t hurt the parent corporation as much as it hurts the franchise owner, typically a small businessman, and their employees. Where’s the logic in that?
As if the boycott talk wasn’t bad enough, we even have public officials vowing to block the opening of new restaurants because of the company’s political stances:
[Boston] Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to block Chick-fil-A from bringing its Southern-fried fast-food empire to Boston — possibly to a popular tourist spot just steps from the Freedom Trail — after the family-owned firm’s president suggested gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”
Even if you don’t see a problem with privately run boycotts, and I will say that as much as I oppose the concept of people boycotting businesses over politics I do support their right to do it, you’ve got to be profoundly disturbed by a politician threatening to strong-arm a business using the power of government because he or she happens to disagree with their political opinions.
Chick-fil-A has apparently decide that the public uproar over their President’s comments were too much and announced late yesterday that they would no longer be getting involved in the same-sex marriage debate. That’s certainly their right, and I can see from a business point of view a company that has been involved in a major expansion for several years now would want to reduce the risk of losing customers by offending them. At the same time, though, if they did this because they were being pressured by interest groups on the opposite side of that debate then I think its unfortunate that they were bullied into suppressing their speech. I don’t agree with the position they took at all, but they have every right to take it and I’m not comfortable with living in a world where it’s okay to bully people into shutting up.