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

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.