Chick-fil-A Mea Culpa: I Have Changed My Mind

I thought Chick-fil-A's owners could separate religious beliefs from their business. I was wrong

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A photo posted on Sarah Palin's Facebook page of herself and husband Todd at a Chick-fil-A in Texas on July 27, 2012

Today is National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, at least according to Mike Huckabee. The evangelical minister and former presidential candidate — along with Rick SantorumSarah Palin and a host of other Christianist culture warriors — is mounting a counteroffensive after big-city mayors tried to shoo the Southern chicken chain from their borders, the Jim Henson Co. pulled its toys from Chick-fil-A’s kids’ meals, and the fast-food company has become a flash point for the whole LGBT community and all their sympathizers in the nonfundamentalist real world.

And somehow I have found myself on the wrong side of this controversy. Some background: I wrote back in February that I liked Chick-fil-A’s food, and that as an American, I felt bound to respect its owners’ opinions, however wrong I might think them, as separate from a business whose practices and product seemed above reproach. (This is the New York Times official position, more or less, and it’s wrong too.) I also pointed to One Million Moms’ idiotic attempted boycott of JCPenney for employing Ellen DeGeneres at its spokesperson. No one came onboard, and I argued that this was fair-mindedness.

(MORE: U.S. Politicians Take Sides on Chick-fil-A’s Gay-Marriage Controversy)

But after hearing what Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy recently had to say, and — more important — after looking a little more closely into just how freely Chick-fil-A mingles its religion with its business, I have changed my mind. I had always thought of Chick-fil-A’s owners as hewing to private principles in nonintrusive ways, namely by closing on Sundays. But those private principles just got a lot more public. In July, Cathy told Baptist Press that he was “guilty as charged” in supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.” In the same article, which went viral, he said, “Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community … Our work should be an act of worship. Our work should be our mission field.”

(MORE: From Chick-fil-A to Amazon: Why Companies Take a Social Stand)

Opposition to gay marriage has become a matter of pride for the Georgia-based chain. Worse by far is the support, as IRS forms show, by the WinShape Foundation (Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm) for various anti-gay bodies including Exodus International, whose leaders talked up its gay “cure” in Uganda before the country introduced legislation that threatens gays with death or imprisonment — although Exodus now says that going to that anti-gay conference was a mistake.

The problem with Chick-fil-A goes beyond LBGT issues. A former worker recently filed a lawsuit against the parent company in which she claims that a franchise owner of a Chick-fil-A in Georgia fired her so she could be a stay-at-home mom. The corporate culture embraces an overt religiosity, from prayer meetings at business retreats to asking people who apply for an operator license to disclose their marital status and number of dependents.

I respect Chick-fil-A’s owners for taking a love-it-or-leave-it stance in regard to their religion; and, like a lot of people, I am choosing to leave it.

361 comments
Dawgs4ever
Dawgs4ever

Personally I think tying the commercial marketplace at all into one's religious or political beliefs is silly.  If I like the food, I'll buy it.  If I don't, I won't.  I don't care about the company's or owner's or manager's political or religious beliefs. 

I don't eat fast food because it's grossly unhealthy, so Chick-fil-A doesn't get any of my business anyway.

siennifer
siennifer

The Cathy family and their upper management are MORMONS, not Christians as is often assumed in these articles and comments.  

siennifer
siennifer

This story has passed its expiration date. There are many other ideas to fight about.

Holly Dawn Hewlett
Holly Dawn Hewlett

As I have said all along..if this were about Blacks or Jews..how may of you would be standing in line then? OR, how many CFA would have been burned to the ground? You put whatever philosophical and elegant language you want out of your mouth to feel less guilty...but the word I use is bigot..plain and simple.

John Metsopoulos
John Metsopoulos

Here is a novel idea, just don't eat there. By carrying on this CRUSADE, you have given Chic Fli A free press and increased there sales. DA

Nikki Hatch
Nikki Hatch

No one is objecting to Mr. Cathy have an opinion for or against gay marriage. This company; however, is using it's profits to influence legislation to deny equal rights to American citizens. I think the LGBT Community has every right to make that information known to the public and to encourage fair minded people to boycott a business that encourages discrimination. When people go to Chick-Fil-A and purchase a chicken sandwich they need to know that a small portion of the money they just spent will be used against LGBT people.

DanoM
DanoM

TuSA23,

You might want to look into your soul as well. What about the pathetic excuse for the gays going there and kissing each other? Is that OK in your eyes? Would you want your young child to see two men swapping spit ? I don't, and I think that most of the country doesn't either. Keep that at home behind closed doors where it belongs.

kate_203
kate_203

The owner of Chik-fil-a is just trying to espouse the values of his faith and apply it to his business. Being Christian means trying to live your life as authentically as you can according to Christian values. He's not breaking any laws nor throwing stones and slurs; he has  the right to give financial support to causes he believes in because he is allowed to an opinion and he is allowed to have his own beliefs. People should respect that no matter their gender or their faith. He just comes off as insensitive because Christian values are inherently diametrically opposed to the LBGT community's opinions. It is what it is and we should just live and let live.

Kenneth
Kenneth

Chik-Fil-A is horrible for all the reasons Ozersky has pointed out, not to mention extreme animal cruelty. Watch MeatVideo.com to see how badly chickens and pigs raised for meat are treated.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

"Our work should be our mission field" sounds really good and fair as long as it is said by Christians in a Christian-dominated culture.

Does it sound so innocuous when said by Muslims or Sikhs?

How about Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists?

Erin Patton
Erin Patton

Idiocracy era has begun in the US. Imbeciles should eat at the new fuddruckers next and post pictures from that visit too.

killsmith
killsmith

So, JOSH OZERSKY, you'll support some one's opinions and their right to express them, until they cross an arbitrary line that you set, then they stop having the right to express themselves?  How is this different than every one else on the political left?

They're a private business. They have every right to do what they do. If people don't like it they don't need to eat there, work there, or go to the religious retreat. It's still a free country.

ComGenSupreme
ComGenSupreme

I don't condemn people, however, I choose to not have their anti-religious, and in-your-face lifestyle shoved down my throat every single day.  It appears as if their rights supersede mine, and I'm sick of it.

Tanya Strickland
Tanya Strickland

Dear DubitoErgoCogito -

You appear ignorant and poorly educated on human sexuality.  LGBT is not a choice, it is not simply a "behavior," and it is not a "lifestyle."  Homosexuality is natural, it is documented to exist in virtually all species.  

Your statement that LGBT cannot reproduce is rife with ignorance.  You are mixing biology with sexuality.  While it is true that a sperm and egg are required for human reproduction, and one is donated by a male and the other by female, this is biology.  Gay men produce sperm, gay women produce eggs and can reproduce with each other if they choose.  How the egg gets fertilized can vary.  LGBT are still capable of having sex with a member of the opposite sex - that doesn't change their sexuality because there is more to sexuality than having intercourse.

And finally, by assuming (and promoting the misconception) that all homosexuals by nature are having sex with 100s of partners, you confirm your ignorance.   To people who share your view, anything short of hiding in the closet and being invisible is "parading."  Just because something makes you uncomfortable does not make it illogical or an abomination.

Killroy71
Killroy71

No, you were right - the Cathy brothers CAN separate religion from business -- they just don't want to. And, this being America, I suppose they get to do that. And so do we.

And a word to the militants on both sides - please stop being hateful. You only hurt your case. Just shut up and vote with your dollars.

texan99
texan99

I don't even agree with Chick-Fil-A about gay marriage, but I'm not willing to stand by and watch petty municipal officials deny business licenses to people with non-PC attitudes.  It amazes me that people are offended by intrusive "fundamentalists" but fail to recognize PC-mongers as some of the most rabid fundamentalists among us.

I'll make up my own mind which fast-food outlet to buy from, thank you.  I don't need my mayor to vet their politics first.

LAscreenwriter_1
LAscreenwriter_1

>> Josh Ozersky: "I respect Chick-fil-A’s owners for taking a love-it-or-leave-it stance in regard to their religion; and, like a lot of people, I am choosing to leave it."

Wahoo!  Thanks, Josh!  That makes one LESS person in the long line so I can get to the counter quicker, and it means one MORE sandwich laying around that I can claim for me!

Dear Liberals:  Just a friendly tip. Next time you want to push more of your socialist, touchy-feely, politically correct nonsense -- DON"T step on the Constitution. Because this really WAS all about average Americans rising up and eating a chicken sandwich, as a fun way to show that Free Speech is one of the most cherished and beloved things that we,

as Americans, pride ourselves on.

And, yes -- I know this will come as a shocking news flash to you -- but even 200 plus years later, in the far LARGER and more IMPORTANT scope of things, protecting the Constitution STILL  supercedes things like gay marriage.

thejames2020
thejames2020

 Chick-Fil-A/American values/Free speech.........................100

Obama/leftist/radical gays..................................................0

thejames2020
thejames2020

 So the fascist leftist .mayors like Rahm Emanuel want to prevent a business from growing because they don't the religious values and free speech guaranteed by the 1st amendment. This is the crap Obama drags into the federal government......

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

 Thoughtful article ... I still adhere to the writer's original conclusion.  The owner of Chic-fil-A is entitled to his opinions.  He can close on Sundays.  He can speak on TV or radio if he wants.

I wouldn't expect a bakery owned by orthodox Jews

to be open Saturdays.  And, if the CEO were to say that he thought it

wrong that many parents fail to circumcise their male children, I'd

still buy bagels.  So the founder of Chic-fil-A is publicly ignorant and politically incorrect... so what?

I don't eat chicken and I believe in no religion.  I suspect that Dan Cathy I don't agree on much.   But that isn't important.  What IS important is that we and protect freedom of speech and religion and we respect diversity - even diversity that we don't particularly like or fully understand.

Talendria
Talendria

I think it's important to respect the rights of gay people, even if you privately disapprove of their lifestyle, because we live in a tolerant society.  However, respect is a two-way street, and gay people often seem not to understand or care about how their behavior affects others.  Be discreet.  Be polite.  Holding a public kiss-in at a fast food restaurant over summer break when there will almost certainly be children present isn't going to win any votes for gay marriage.

If you're going to boycott Chick-fil-A, do it because they're still serving food in styrofoam.

WayCoolJunior
WayCoolJunior

Every time one of those religious fundamentalist groups tries to boycott some TV show or other I always think, "How silly.  If you don't like it then just change the channel."   That's pretty much my stance on this issue, as long as they aren't denying service to anyone or breaking any laws, if you don't like it then don't frequent their business...  problem solved.

Personally, I don't believe I've ever been to a Chick-fil-A restaurant and I see no reason why I would start now.  

ezrarankin
ezrarankin

Bigotry dressed up in a chicken sandwich

ezrarankin
ezrarankin

Bigotry dressed up in a chicken sandwich

quitasarah
quitasarah

If you count yourself on the Chick-fil-A side of this debate, please read the following. It does an excellent (and civil) job of explaining the side of the boycotters, and why you should join us: 

http://www.owldolatrous.com/?p...

katerant
katerant

Why do you get to decide what is important to talk about today? This whole issue impacts so many lives and will be a story for quite some time. 

katerant
katerant

I guess we will see over time what the public really thinks.  They had ONE record breaking day.  We will see if it holds or if people start staying away.  It will be interesting to follow. 

umpire
umpire

@DanoM You have no issue with two people kissing in public a male or female did you read the issue is supporting anti-gay groups. that the issue. I think its funny your upset over a kiss from same sex. Just like the rest of you? get a damn life

umpire
umpire

@kate_203 What about the people he shows no respect to? you can't have it both ways.

katerant
katerant

Yes, but Jesus did not say a word about homosexuality.  If you want to go old Testament. and Hebrew, well your highly  valued Israel has a progressive stance on gays and Tel Aviv is known as the gay capital of that region.  They are supportive of gay people forming families and gay people have served in their military for years.  

American fundamentalist Christians need to catch up to the times we live in.  

katerant
katerant

They are a private business, but they donate part of their profits in an attempt to deny basic human rights to a group of people based on sexual orientation.  The times, they are a changin'.  Change with them.  We are going forward, not backward.  

katerant
katerant

If you just gave them the same rights you have, they would probably stop the in-your-face stuff.  That is what attracts attention to a cause when all else fails.  Remember when Sonya Johnson, a Mormon-turned-feminist chained herself to the gate of the Mormon temple in Washington state?  

The outrageous acts bring attention to a cause and point out how outrageous some policies and beliefs are in an attempt to change them.

katerant
katerant

Time will tell.  They had one good day, and we will see what the future brings for CFA.

umpire
umpire

@texan99 So they have all the rights to do that if they pleased.

katerant
katerant

I agree completely.  The politicians have no right to publicly try to keep this restaurant from opening based on the owner's political or religious views.  

I disagree with CFA, but I will vote with my dollars.  

umpire
umpire

@Talendria Really Really what about your behavior with straight people don't act like its only gays cause its not. Its people like you whom are too damn stupid to see the full picture.  So cause kids are they gay can't kiss?

Fed_Up18
Fed_Up18

 And if those black folks could stop acting so uppity, they could vote, amp; maybe get elected president one day...

5foot1
5foot1

Have you ever read the actual definition of bigot?  If you have, then you will surely recognize that you yourself are guilty of bigotry.

Talendria
Talendria

I read the blog, and while I found the argument compelling, it reminded me of why people often find homosexual behavior offensive.  The blog post is entitled "Chick Fellatio."  In his zeal to appear witty, the author used a word that's socially unacceptable.  Many years ago, I worked at a help desk with a gay guy who insisted on telling me stories of his sexual exploits at so-called underwear parties, despite the fact that it clearly made me uncomfortable.  If gay people could stop actively offending people, gay marriage wouldn't be such a tough sell.

killsmith
killsmith

They still have the right to express their opinion, and donate their money legally where they see fit.  This is independent from the issue of people trying to silence them by shutting them up, because they hold "disapproved" opinions.  

They also wouldn't have profits to donate anywhere if people didn't support them.  It's the free marketplace of ideas.

ComGenSupreme
ComGenSupreme

Hey, the point is, they have more rights than I do...get it! Done.

umpire
umpire

@Talendria If you would stop being so offended by small things you wouldn't be offended. But I am not buying that your making to many excuses and have yet to point out an offended way straight people done.

quitasarah
quitasarah

I'm sorry that you're sensitive, but in my circles (heterosexual, btw), a clinical term like "fellatio" is neither offensive nor socially unacceptable. Furthermore, you were harassed at work by an inappropriate person who happened to be gay. Don't paint every gay person with the same brush just because you had a bad experience with one person. If that person was Asian instead of gay would you assume that Asians "actively offend people"? Or do you bring up this experience because it happens to reinforce a stereotype about gay people that you already hold? Like the author said, maybe you need to look inward instead of outward in this situation.

umpire
umpire

@killsmith Yet just cause he can does not mean he right. you people sit here and allow this bs is why is been so hard for people to accept slavery and have a hard time seeing racism open your eyes. History teach's you. the failure here is you people fail to learn from history.

umpire
umpire

@Talendria Really I seen plenty of straight people act like pervs wake the hell up.

Talendria
Talendria

I'm not "sensitive."  The term fellatio is unacceptable in a public forum, just as a flash mob performing sexual acts in a public place is also unacceptable.  I have gay friends who don't behave like perverts.  However, the gay people who do behave like perverts are jeopardizing the cause for everyone.  The word of the day is decorum.