Today I, like hundreds of thousands of others, ate at a Chick Fil A restaurant. I didn’t do it because I support traditional marriage, or because Dan Cathy does. I ate there because I was annoyed about the double standard present in the media over this area, concerned about the public statements of elected officials threatening to discriminate against a business which actually doesn’t discriminate, and a small part of me felt good to jump on the bandwagon today. Plus, I like Chick Fil A sandwiches and sweet tea.
But before I explain myself, let’s look at the controversy.
What Cathy Actually Said
First, this wasnt just some news release the company’s CEO put out. The man was asked a question, and he answered transparently in an interview with Baptist Press:
Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.
“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 operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.
Some have twisted this. For example, CNN reported:
But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire. “Guilty as charged,”, Cathy said when asked about his company’s support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
Cathy never mentioned same sex marriage in the interview.
Frankly, in that interview, he made a more direct reference to divorce than same sex marriage. That took more guts than anything about gay rights. Christians seem to have forgotten that God hates divorce. Many churches don’t preach “against” it much. And half the people in our pews have had one. But that is a topic for another post.
In the wake of this controversy, another interview was dug up. Cathy was talking about raising children, according to a post by Denny Burk which outlines these two interviews in greater detail:
And in that interview, Ken Coleman wanted Cathy to talk about fatherhood and family. So Cathy made some wide-ranging remarks about the family in general and about his own father in particular—remarks which had no reference to homosexuality.
Cathy also emphasized how crucial it is for children to be raised by both a mother and father. As an aside, he mentions that that’s why he believes it’s arrogant to try and redefine marriage. It’s bad for children and invites God’s judgment.
I, like Burk, think it’s clear what Cathy thinks about same sex marriage, but am amazed that his simple statements about what he supports have been twisted into some sort of hate filled message. Even Christians are misquoting Cathy.
The last few weeks have been filled with vitriol from the left. News commentators have slammed this company, politicians quickly tried to build support… some suggesting courses of action which may be illegal. (Is it legal to block a restaurant from building a new franchise in your town because you disagree with the CEO about marriage?) Many began calling for a boycott. Many have taken to social media outlets to vent their outrage.
When you press people on it, asking why the news that a Christian CEO does not support same sex marriage surprises them, many I’ve talked to, or read, explain that it’s not really his views, but the fact that he takes money that he makes selling chicken and gives it to political organizations who actively work against making gay marriage legal. So… this is just an opportunity for you then? You thought you would seize on a moment or two of transparency in a polarized political climate and try to get some steam on the whole boycott thing.
Take it from a Southern Baptist who lives in the shadow of Disneyworld. Boycotts don’t work.
In light of the media controversy, Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested people who support Chick Fil A should eat there on August 1st. And I would be shocked if this wasn’t the most chicken they have ever sold in one day. The reports I’ve seen show lines out the door and around the building. People waited hours for chicken in some places. They are literally running out of food in some stores.
In response to the appreciation day, a counter protest sprang up online. The plan was simple: On August 1st, go to Chick Fil A and order and large water, and then leave.
So let me get this straight. In order to show how much you don’t like a restaurant, you are going to the restaurant, ordering something they will gladly give you, and walking out carrying a cup that advertises the restaurant you want to harm. How does this hurt Chick Fil A? You get a positive experience in the store. They do what they always do. Any increase in lost revenue because of the additional cups was more than made up by the increased sales today. Any extra time spent serving you, which is their main function (to serve the customer) didn’t matter to those supporting the chain because they were willing to literally wait hours to get their food. In fact, your presence in the store added to the crowd, and helped give the appearance that there were tons of people who supported the restaurant’s right of free speech. Great idea. I’m sure it was effective.
So in the middle of all of this, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife donated $2.5 million dollars to help make gay marriage legal in Washington state.
Obviously, many supporters of gay marriage think this is great news.
How is this any different than what Cathy did? Both people have an opinion about marriage, and have expressed it, in interviews or emails made public. Both have made donations to political groups who work for an outcome on this issue. But each CEO is on the opposite side of the issue.
And Tango Makes Three
I tried to not talk about this. I tried, mainly because I think it has been blown way out of proportion. If this wasn’t an election year, I don’t think this would be such big news. If the president hadn’t publicly changed his view on gay marriage a few months ago, this wouldn’t be big news. If social media didn’t exist, this would not be nearly as big of a deal.
Know what pushed me over the edge? Coming home to find a children’s book my kids checked out of the local public library about two male penguins that love each other and raise a baby together. You don’t find out the main characters are gay until 10 pages in. A blurb on the back of the book claims the story is “heartwarming proof that mother nature knows best.” How exactly does a zookeeper giving another penguin’s egg to a “gay” penguin couple show that mother nature knows anything? If it was mother nature, they wouldn’t have gotten an egg because male penguins don’t lay eggs.
The book, “And Tango Makes Three” is much more insidious than any political campaign. It’s not called “Heather has Two Mommies” or something similar. It masquerades as a basic kid’s book. It is specifically written to promote homosexual relationships and non traditional families. This is much worse than a group openly spending donations to buy advertising for their political agenda.
So seeing this controversy over public statements and money, I have resisted the urge to comment because it just doesn’t matter in the long run. Come 2nd week of November this whole thing will be long forgotten.
It just won’t matter that much.
But wait, I ate at Chick Fil A today? I participated in Chick Fil A appreciation day. Yes, I did because I support the right of Chick Fil A’s CEO and Amazon’s CEO to say what they want, and use their money as they want in the free market.
But let me be clear. Hearing Dan Cathy state his views on marriage has no real effect on my long term commitment to eat his chicken. It’s not like anything he said was new to me. I have often referred to Chick Fil A as “Jesus Chicken.” If I didn’t like the food, I wouldn’t eat there no matter what the family that owns it thinks. But I would support the right of the family to think and speak as they wish.
On the other hand, I still buy Apple products and Oreos. I still shop at Amazon. Yet all these companies “support’ same sex marriage. They have a right to their opinion, and like Cathy, have a right to give money to organizations that try to pass laws that reflect their views. If they make a good product, they will be successful and will continue to have money for their political contributions. At least they aren’t hiding it in a kid’s book.
Both sides will throw millions at their viewpoint. But people don’t suddenly change their views of marriage based on one ad campaign. I’ve never heard anyone ever say, “Well, I was against same sex marriage, but then I heard a radio spot and now I have decided to be for it.” The only people that might be swayed by these are the ones that are in the fence.
Beliefs and attitudes about marriage are some of those that people use to define themselves. Political and religious views are some of the most closely held beliefs. Those are not something that people change on a whim. People are moved a little bit at a time. It takes time to change someone’s self defining beliefs. It takes a long time for them to be in a place where an ad campaign can tip them to the other side.
Want to really change someone’s view on marriage?
Write children’s books about animals that teach kids your viewpoint. Create TV shows that reflect your worldview. Produce movies that show the world as you want it to be. Teach people to think like you want them to. Then eventually, over time, people change their minds.
I don’t think that our society’s biggest problems are restaurant owners and tech company CEOs that give millions to organizations that fund political initiatives. Buying chicken or Kindles won’t matter much in the larger scheme of things. I will buy as much chicken as ever, and buy as many mp3s and books as ever.
Change the world by teaching people to see it from a biblical perspective.