Should You Protest Chick-fil-A?

A few weeks ago Michelle and I attended a Chick-fil-A customer appreciation night with a handful of our friends. It was a private evening for about 300 people and the top leadership of the company—including President Dan Cathy. I was expecting something extra noteworthy out of the evening but it proved to be a bit anticlimactic. A few days later, however, was a different story.

You are probably aware of the immense controversy raging over Chick-fil-A’s stance concerning homosexuality. It has led to the Jim Henson Co. pulling its Muppet toys from their kids’ meals and politicians in Boston and Chicago telling the franchise to go elsewhere. In response, Christians (led by Mike Huckabee) have launched a support campaign calling for everyone to eat at Chick-fil-A today, August 1st. For those of you who love a good conspiracy theory, Facebook “accidentally” removed the campaign and then put it back up 12 hours later after a ton of people called them out on it.

You might be wondering how something this bizarre got started. Here are some quotes from Dan Cathy, that began with this interview (as far as I can tell), which got this ball rolling:

We don’t claim to be a Christian business, 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.

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 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.

When I first heard about this story I was under the impression that Chick-fil-A had taken a stand against gay marriage. I thought that was an incredibly dumb idea. Why does a food chain need to try and fight moral battles that are hotly debated right now (especially to tell a group of people that they are against them)? After I read the above quotes however, I quickly deduced that this is an example of only one opinion being allowed and that what is being portrayed is totally out of context.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Church (collectively) has done an incredible disservice to gay people in the way we have treated them. I say we because it’s easy to point the finger and much harder to own our own role, even if by association only. With that said, those supporting gay rights are losing credibility by taking a stand against an organization like this. You don’t like what they stand for? Fine, eat at McDonald’s. But to protest them and label them is to abandon forward progress and dive into the turf war.

Here’s the bottom line, Chick-fil-A should be entitled to be pro male/female marriage (which is the point he’s making in those quotes) and run his business on Biblical values just as much as J.C. Penny should be able to use Ellen DeGeneres (a vocal leader of the gay movement) as their spokesperson. To ban either one of them based on those types of criteria is incredibly narrow minded and counterproductive to the larger conversation. We are talking about real people on both sides. Tragically, the VP for Public Relations at Chick-fil-A died of a heart attack just last Friday morning amidst all of this controversy. We can never let the argument surpass the people.

As Mike Huckabee stated, “We are for the freedom of Americans to speak their mind and practice their faith. There is no need to lower ourselves into childish name-calling and screaming. That is what people do when they can’t defend or explain their point of view.”

If you really want to show us how objective you are, grab lunch at Chick-fil-A and then pickup a new swim suit at J.C. Penny’s afterward. Otherwise, let’s commit to engage in healthy conversations without protesting each other. We all have a lot to learn.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

23 Comments

Zach

about 2 years ago

I don't really have an opinion one way or the other if Christians in general should support or boycott Chic-fil-A. I suppose that's up to the individual. But what I do have a problem with is Cathy's assumption of what "biblical marriage" means. It's easy in this day and age to assume it's one man and one woman because that's the current societal standard and has been for a long time. But marriage arrangements by the earliest Christians in the first century would appear totally alien to us in modern day western culture. Does Cathy believe women should be considered property of fathers and husbands? Does Cathy support the idea that women literally have no say in their marital arrangement? Does Cathy believe it's ok for non-elders to have more than one wife? Does Cathy believe it's fine for a brother to marry his sister? To say that "biblical marriage" is exclusively a one woman/one man arrangement is a pretty good indication that the Bible hasn't been studied nearly enough. I have no problem having a discussion about this issue but it's very difficult when so many just assume there's a universal, timeless standard of marriage. That doesn't exist.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

I certainly hear what you are saying Zach, but my point is that even if you conclude he is wrong in his personal understanding of the Bible do you help your argument to boycott his store? What shocks me are how people on both sides of the debate feel that the best way to make forward momentum together is to protest each other. It's time for us to open lines of communication and talk this through without labels and protests.

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Zach Lind

about 2 years ago

I think that just depends on your view of marriage. If you're gay and you would eventually like the right to marry your partner, then it seems like choosing to eat at Chick-fil-a would be working directly against your own interest in light of the fact that Chick-fil-a donates portions of their profit to organization working against marriage equality. On the other hand, if you don't support SSM, then there doesn't appear to be a conflict. There may even be a motivation to eat there more than you would otherwise. Not only do you get a tasty meal but you contribute to the effort to prevent gay couples from marrying. Two birds, one stone. In the end, I don't think this makes much different in the debate. It's just two sides doing what's in their interest. My point in bringing up the flawed interpretation is to speak directly to the shaky ground conservatives stand on in this issue. This whole boycott/no boycott story is a distraction from the real argument at hand. This is why conservative are slowly losing this argument. "Because the Bible told me so" isn't carrying much water in the debate. Conservatives need to form an argument that exists outside of scripture as to why SSM is inherently bad. So far, they've not done this.

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

Zach. Morality comes from God. What can anything "outside of the bible" possibly have to say on the issue that would not be rooted in some kind of moral standard? Any argument you or anyone could make outside of scripture would eventually lead back to The Originator of right and wrong, morality and truth. It is inescapable.

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Chester

about 2 years ago

I'm not going to eat at Chick-fil-A today, I've eaten there 3 times in the last couple of weeks, this is far more than I usually eat any fast food. But I am considering going to Chick-fil-A on Friday, August 3rd. This is a day the gay community has chosen for a "Same Sex Kiss" day. As you say Jeremy, the Christian church hasn't got the best record on this topic. Maybe God has given us an opportunity to change that. I don't exactly know how but I am hoping that if I show up that day God will provide an opportunity for me to show respect or maybe even Love for the homosexuals participating. Maybe I can take a picture for them, or maybe I can buy them a sandwich, since they won't be buying one for themselves in most cases. I believe the Bible speaks out against the homosexual lifestyle, there are others who don't read it that way. However, I am pretty sure that the Bible talks a whole lot less about homosexuality than it does about the sins I've committed. That leaves me personally in a position where I find it difficult to point a finger, but I am in a position to show God's Love to others. I am hoping God will use me this Friday and that I won't get in His way (as I often do). Good words in this post, I agree many are taking the interview with the Baptist Press out of context, but maybe it's all a setup in which God's will can be done.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Good thoughts here, thanks Chester.

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Tricia Sachs

about 2 years ago

What an awesome post Jeremy! I agree with you wholeheartedly, this thing is totally counterproductive. I do want to point out that as far as the muppet toys they were actually pulled prior to this hullabaloo by Chick-fil-A because of safety reasons. Henson Co. Severed their relationship and will be donating the proceeds they have made to GLAAD. It's so sad the way that this is being misconstrued and the point missed. :( Many are protesting because CFA donates part of their proceeds to an organization that supports traditional/Biblical marriage. They don't realize that the organization provides so many other services for orphans and to try and help with divorce and such. Another point is that not only are these boycotts going to hurt CFA (who really knows how much) but will hurt the independent owner/operators who have paid/pay for their franchises, some of which are . Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against homosexuals and individu franchisees might not necessarily agree with Mr. Cathy's statement. I like Chester's idea, of going on the 3rd. I don't know how that well that will work out but I think it's a fabulous idea. I might do that instead of or in addition too depending on how busy the Chick-fil-A near us is.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Thanks Tricia!

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Michael Albert

about 2 years ago

Tricia: Your points are very well taken. I would caution you, though. I mean, just because an organization does some good things, it doesn't mean you need to support them if they are doing crazy bad things. There are many other organizations you could support which help with divorce and orphans without the side order of hate and bigotry. I mean, if you put aside the whole Holocaust and world domination thing, the Nazis produced some interesting art, music and amazing advances in science. It doesn't mean I'll be dining at my local Hotsy Totsy Neo-Nazi Schnitzel Emporium any time soon. OK, that's an unfair sensational example, I'll grant you. But you get my point. As to the franchise owners....yeah, I feel kind of bad for them. But that's the problem with being a franchise owner. You are somewhat subject to the pros and cons of your parent company. I'm sure McDonalds franchise owners took a HUGE hit when the movie "Supersize Me" came out. Those are the breaks. The people I REALLY feel sorry for are the slack-jawed teenagers who work behind the counter of Chick-Fil-A huts just because they needed, like, a summer job and junk. Now, in addition to exacerbating their acne from the grease filled air ducts, they have to deal with *THIS* mishegoss? I'm sure when they took the job, they thought the worst thing they'd have to deal with was the occasional irate customer complaining about soggy waffle fries. It's gotta SUCK for them.....especially the gay ones.

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Dan King

about 2 years ago

If more of us "Christian's" looked at the bible through the lens of a bunch of "do's" instead of a bunch of "dont's", and actually lived that way, I don't think we would have the backlash that is constant today between Christ followers and others. Do love God, Do love your neighbor, do pray continually for others, and let God be the judge of other's actions that might conflict with scripture, not us. If Jesus was here today, I bet he'd be hanging out with all the gay community and the bible thumping pharisee's of today would chastise him just as they did back in the day. Love God, Love others, no regrets. Dan

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Agreed!

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

Dan. Read Matthew 7 down to verse 5. Our judgement is okay, as long as we are not doing it hypocritically. We are to stand on God's truth and call people out when necessary. If you were to see someone stealing a bicycle, it would be right to make the judgement "hey, that's wrong" and call the police. But if your a bike thief, your position would be self righteousness and in violation of the Matthew passage. Further, if we are not to exercise Godly judgement, then how would the church invoke discipline? See Matt. chapter 18.

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Michael Albert

about 2 years ago

There's one huge point the article misses. This isn't just an issue of first amendment free speech. This is an issue of economics. If I buy lunch at Chick-Fil-A, a portion of my money will end up in the hands of "The Family Research Council" which not only works to block gay marriage rights at every turn, but has advocated for the criminalization of homosexual activity. Another portion will go to "Exodus International" which used to claim to work to change gay people to heterosexual. They have apparently finally apparently recognized the futility of that notion. Now they seem to treat homosexuality like alcoholism....abstain one day at a time. Mr. Cathy has donated literally MILLIONS to these organizations. So why in the world would you or I want to contribute to those causes of bigotry and divide and pain? My suggestion? Skip Chick-Fil-A and have lunch at a nice KFC next to the JC Penney's after a lovely day of shopping. After all, neither KFC nor JC Penney has ever suggested you shouldn't be heterosexual.

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Michael Albert

about 2 years ago

By the way, I don't know about anyone else, but I've never really liked the food at Chick-Fil-A. It just tastes to me like soggy friend chicken on a boring bun with a pickle. Personally, I don't think I'd eat there if they donated all of their money to hearing-impaired, underprivileged, Hispanic, wheelchair using lesbian nuns. But I guess that's neither here nor there. :-) Thank you for your thoughts.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

To your first comment... That's a valid point. However, you can accomplish what you are saying by simply not eating there. Boycotting it takes it to a totally different conversation (or lack thereof). Second, have you also done the due diligence to know exactly how KFC and JC Penny's spend all of their income? It sounds great to make this argument since you know about Chick-fil-A but I doubt we'd be willing to do that research for every company we support. To your second comment... I would love to meet the type of person you mention there. Do you know any? A+ on the creativity.

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Michael Albert

about 2 years ago

You are absolutely correct. I need to do more due diligence on my shopping choices. I know there are organizations that even do that research for me, and I don't do enough to avail myself of their efforts. This has taught me a valuable lesson. That being said, KNOWING that THIS organization is so noxious absolutely justifies spreading the word and making sure that as many people as possible who care about equality withdraw their food purchase dollars from Chick-Fil-A. That is OUR freedom of speech and freedom of commerce. And there is the other side of the coin, as well (please google "Replacements Limited stand for Gay Marriage" to see one such sad example). I guess it also justifies folks who oppose equality spreading the word and rushing out to choke (down) their chickens! Welcome to Democracy, I guess! :-)

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Chris Bisgrove

about 2 years ago

I appreciate your post Jeremy. Nicely put. Chris

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Dan King

about 2 years ago

Is In-N-Out Burger and Best Buy the next Chick-Fil-A? Today I finally got to use that picture of In-n-Out Burger's fries and drink cup scriptures that I had been waiting for the right time to use. Today is the day! Check it out: http://crookedhaloblog.com/ Lets see what you think...

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

Jeremy. We agree! :-)

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

More specifically Jeremy, I think the whole boycott thing is a waste of time. If we or anyone were to follow their social issue de jour, everything from Starbucks to Disney to you name it would be boycotted by someone. Did you happen to see the video of the man in Tucson who videotaped himself harassing a Chick Fil employee at the drive through? I won't post a link here ( I think you once told me not to do that) so if you Google it, it will come up pretty quick.

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David

about 2 years ago

As long as the company is not breaking any laws, they should be able to run their company the way they want. If they want to run their company by a certain set of values then I find that refreshing. Too often companies are quick to sell out their values, morals, and ethics to make a dollar and try to appease everyone. I like the fact that they have made their position clear and they have not wavered from it. If you don't believe in their values and that bothers you then don't eat there. I think America would be better off with more companies stood up for what they believed in and did not waver from that no matter of the outcome.

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William Catapano-Cooper

about 2 years ago

Absolutely David! I don't agree that Gay people should not be able to get married. The point of a marriage certificate is so that your union is recognized by the Government, not God. The other side of marriage which is based on biblical terms is another matter and is left to the Church to allow whether or not they can be married within that religion. I don't agree with their stance on Gay marriage but I will defend their right to voice it. As long as their business is operating within the statutes of the law, they can say whatever they like. I also agree with Jeremy's previous point with shopping elsewhere. Do you know where those company's are spending the money you give to them? How do you know that JC Penny or KFC isn't funding terrorist organizations? If you like the food, buy it. If you don't like the food, don't buy it. Leave the politics out of my lunch.

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Michael Albert

about 2 years ago

Again, it is one thing to say, "I don't know where company X is contributing its money." It's totally ANOTHER thing to say, "I KNOW that company Y is donating its money to organizations devoted clubbing baby seals in Bosnia and burying nuclear waste under Madagascar orphanages....but heck, since I can't research everything, I'll still do my shopping at company Y because I don't want to be 'political'". With all due respect, that is a complete and utter cop-out. You are right...lots of organizations boycott a lot of companies. And maybe it isn't always effective. But let's not be disingenuous, here. Part of the nonchalance I am reading over this issue (I suspect but I hope I am wrong) is that gay people, whether you support their rights or not, are just not on the top of your "care about" list. But suppose Chick-Fil-A were donating millions of dollars to neo-Nazi groups, or groups advocating totalitarian governments and the suppression of Christianity worldwide, would you *really* just say, "meh -- all in a day. Pass me the waffle fries?" I sure hope not. And IF not, then why be so cavalier about *this* issue?

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