Chick fil A and “The Gays”

Growing up in the South and having lived here my entire adult life, I have heard people who call themselves Christian say some of the most horrible things about their fellow man.    White southern Christians I have known have referred to African Americans as “the blacks,” or if of an older generation, “the coloreds,” followed by some horrific generalization.  Today, we might hear those same Christians say “the gays.”  As in, “the gays are trying to redefine marriage.”  Or worse. What I believe this reveals is that some Christians, including Chick fil A CEO Dan Cathy, see gays (like blacks before them) not as contributing members of their community, but as interlopers who are horning in on their sacred space and who they fundamentally do not respect.

Credit: Ted Kouklos’ artistic response to Chick fil A

My history with Chick fil A is a long one.  I admit to having enjoyed their chicken sandwiches since high school when my friends and I would go shopping at the Four Seasons Mall in Greensboro, NC, when malls were the only place where you could get a Chick fil A sandwich. ( I prefer not to think about the fried roach that came with my fries that one time.)

Later in life, when I lived in Washington, DC, and worked for a heritage marketing firm, I had the opportunity to see the inner workings of the company up close. I was sent on a research mission to Chick fil A headquarters in Atlanta to learn more about its history since the company I worked for developed corporate museums and exhibits.  I went there to review Chick fil A’s exhibit and consider ideas for updating the corporate narrative.

The company sent a car and driver to my hotel to take me to its headquarters. The car, like everything else Chick fil A, was branded with cows. (Imagine me sitting in the back seat, only instead of my head you see a Chick fil A cow head, appliqued over the window).  After I arrived, I went through the exhibit, ate lunch in the company cafeteria (yes, they serve from their menu), and then toured the test kitchen.  I eventually met Truett Cathy, the company’s founder, who I found to be a perfectly nice man.  I even scored a cool, cow beanie baby–a groovy, hippie cow that carried with it the message “Peece, Luv, Chikin,” as only cows can spell these things.

Peece and Luv, ya’ll

I also learned about Chick fil A’s college scholarship program for employees, and that its WinShape Foundation supported several foster homes in Georgia whose purpose was not to separate siblings.  Mr. Cathy’s foundation paid for their education, their clothing, and even paid salaries to couples who served as full-time parents in the home.  You know, doing good works that was consistent with the company’s Christian beliefs.

Still, I had this gnawing feeling about the company’s philosophy–tied to the fact that stores are closed on Sundays.  This, in and of itself, is nothing to criticize.  Yet in the materials I was given to read, the company wanted to convey that this was a day for employees to “worship as they saw fit.”  In other words, this was not necessarily about the company’s Christian values.  At least in theory.  But deep down, I knew that this was, indeed, part of a much more conservative philosophy tied to the founder’s evangelical Christian belief system.

Those beliefs, especially as expressed by company CEO Dan Cathy (Truett’s son), have been on full display this past week.  Cathy’s comments and his company’s support of the “biblical definition of marriage,” have resulted in a firestorm of negative media, backlash from cities outside of the South where the company has attempted to set up shop, and a soiled relationship with The Jim Henson Company.  Yes, he even ticked off the Muppets.

While Cathy’s comments on gay marriage have upset people, it is the company’s financial contributions to conservative, so-called “pro-family” organizations who actively lobby against gay rights, via the WinShape foundation, that many are questioning.  Last year, when that point was made by LGBT organizations, Cathy responded that Chick fil A was not “anti-anybody.”  His more recent comments suggest otherwise.

Companies and CEOs can believe what they want, but they operate in the marketplace where those beliefs are held up to public scrutiny.  Chick fil A has alienated many customers with its stance, and not just gay ones.  And why would any company, particularly in this economy, want to alienate customers?

As a southerner, a longtime Chick fil A customer myself, and one of “the gays,” it looks like I’m going to have to step away from the chicken sandwich and the waffle fries in hopes that the company might reconsider its stance. And while, for personal reasons, I’m no fan of the institution of marriage, I’m also not interested in supporting enterprises that seek to ban two loving people from legally formalizing their union.  Peace, Love, and Chicken, y’all.

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16 thoughts on “Chick fil A and “The Gays”

  1. Well, I for one, have ALWAYS been impressed that Chick-Fil-A is about the ONLY place that is CLOSED on Sundays – having grown up in a world where EVERYTHING was closed on Sundays (“blue law”) and NOBODY shopped for ANYTHING on Sunday! It was a day of worship, rest, and families. THAT stemmed from the belief that GOD came before ANYTHING else! That isn’t where we are today, unfortunately! Now as to this GAY MARRIAGE thingy! The way I see it there is an institution of “marriage” established in the BIBLE, by GOD, and it describes a man and his “help meat” made from man by God and called WOman. That has nothing to do with “freedom”! It is established by God, just as “honor thy FATHER and MOTHER” and “thou shalt not kill” are established by God. We, in this country, and throughout most of the world have many freedoms (and a lot of countries have few freedoms) but just because we WANT what we want, does that make it right? No, I think it doesn’t! We don’t let killers run the streets and live “free” – because they broke not only man’s law – established by the belief in GOD’s law. So, why is it okay to “excuse” a “gay or lesbian” to break God’s law in the name of “freedom”. IF a person is gay then it’s not about human rights – gays have the same “human” rights that “heterosexuals” have EXCEPT the human “right” to be recognized as “married” because by definition of marriage a man and man or a woman and woman can not be married! I would agree that people should be able to have some of the same “perks” as “married folks” enjoy (health/auto insurance, home ownership – which I don’t believe is an issue really; even raising children) but to call yourselves MARRIED and to engage in sexual acts with each other (abstinence is directed by God) is Sodom (where do you think THAT was derived?) and Gomorrah which God destroyed BECAUSE of their depravity! Now – YOU GO Chic-fil-a! Stand your ground and continue to be the company you have always been and let those who would defile God, country, themselves and YOU go about their business and “boycott” if they like! I, personally, get sick to death of the liberals – whether politicians, media, or just “regular joes” trying to change the world to fit THEIR needs! It’s not about them any more than it’s about ANY of us! It’s about God, loving Him, teaching Him, obeying His law, and leading others to Him! It’s about Faith! Whether those who seek “freedom for gays” realize it or not, God IS in control and they may or may not get what they desire here in this earthly plain – they will forever pay the price for their disobedience to His word. Go Chick-fil-a – STAND YOUR GROUND! You always have to this point, and my prayer is that you always WILL!

    • I’m not sure if you’ve ever read the Bible or if you just parrot the junk that comes from those who represent religious organizations. If you can find enough actual quotes from that work of fiction to support this page of crap you call a reply, I might tip my hat to you; but you wouldn’t get more than that.

      Try thinking next time. Your “God’s Law” is separate from the State’s law. That’s why killers got to jail. Also, it’s never in the Bible that people shouldn’t do things on Sunday. Go check it out. Seriously — and consider paragraphs.

  2. Joy – when did you drink the Kool-Aid? My god that was the most inane internet diatribe I have read. You’re understanding of God’s law is both arrogant and ahistorical. CFA funds the destruction of loving families. You are complicit and doing the work of (let me put this in terms you will understand), the devil.

  3. Crikey some of these die hard Christian types are a little short on the forgiveness and turning the other cheek. I guess if a countries law provides a means for gay folks to get “married” all the DIFFERENT churches can do as they see fit, it would be difficult to choose the right church anyway they all tell you they’re right and all the others are wrong, When they can agree on what universal truth is I might begin to take notice of some of it.

  4. I’ve dug around in your blog a bit and so far there are two things I really don’t like about it:
    1. You don’t post often enough.
    2. You don’t write longer posts.

    I never thought I’d say that about a fellow blogger. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  5. Karen,
    Just curious, what was Chick-Fil-a’s / Truett Cathy’s approach in the era of the civil rights movement? Certainly, publicly, the company and the family didn’t follow the Lester Maddox model, but did they make any sort of anti-Maddox stand (i.e. openly support integration of their stores)? Did they Cathys make any sort of private moves with this regard that you are aware of? In other words, how’d they handle this era in their PR/history if at all?

    By the way, setting up in malls only seems to have been the ultimate sort of “New New South” business model a fast food company could have pursued in 70s-80s.

    • Evan, that question would be great for a grad student working in Atlanta if s/he could get into the corporate archives. I’ve never researched it, since this was more of a personal observation post.

  6. i see it very simply: if the govt does not like the definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman, then they should stop granting marriages. the institution of marriage pre dates modern government, and it is not the goverment’s to define.

    and beyond my argument, re-defining marriage carries unintended consequences. anyone curious, google “bountiful, b.c.” and read away

  7. I simply don’t understand how someone can say that God invented marriage between one man and one woman when there are several different forms of marriage in the Bible. It is a specious argument. Besides, marriage in this country is a civil and legal contract not a religious one. The ministers that perform marriages are licensed by the state. The couple must get a marriage licence from the state. Marriage is sanctioned and regulated by the government. Churches can have rules and deny performing marriages based on what they believe but that same couple can go to the justice of the peace and get married and in more and more states, that includes same sex couples.

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