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Somewhat against our better judgment: a Chick-fil-A story

Somewhat against our better judgment: a Chick-fil-A story

Richard Allen Greene of CNN reports:

Billy Graham, the dean of American evangelists, has once again broken his usual silence on hot-button issues, defending the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage days after issuing a letter decrying what he sees as the nation’s moral decay. …

On Thursday, he issued a statement of support for the popular fast-food chain. Many people have slammed Chick-fil-A President Don Cathy for saying his company backs the traditional family unit and is opposed to same-sex marriage.

Graham praised restaurant founder S. Truett Cathy and son Don Cathy, the company’s president, “for their strong stand for the Christian faith.”


His open letter also contains a fund-raising appeal and a notice that Graham’s son Franklin, himself a major evangelical figure, is launching a new effort to “bring the Gospel into neighborhoods and homes in every corner of America next year.”

Randall Balmer, the chair of the religion department at Dartmouth College, suspects the motivation for the letter is at least partly political.

“It’s hard for me to believe that this letter does not have political intent,” he said.

Its move to decry what he would see as moral decay “would be tied to the Obama administration,” he argued, asking rhetorically why Graham would not have issued the statement in response to an event like the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

Who can helps us parse the Chick-fil-A situation? If I had ever eaten there, I’d stop eating there. But I don’t know that I’d feel the need to try to drive them out of business. Although I understand the desire to make sure people knew the politics of the place. So rather than my saying five or six more equivocal things, maybe someone else would like to chime in with a strong opinion.


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C. Wingate

Mark, you’re sneering at them, and you’re sneering at me. I go to fast food for the speed, not the food, so whatever your southern food credentials may be, they’re wasted here. If we could ban restaurants for serving lackluster food, the signs on the interstates would have a lot fewer places to direct us to; but while there are Episcopalians who would hold that bad cooking is sinful (“paging Fr. Capon”) there are plenty of offenders which appear to have escaped your wrath.

The chicken is not the point. Your absurd claim about the moral peril of the place it’s sold is the point. They are no more perilous than any other employer who doesn’t treat their people well, and there are plenty of those.

You find it strained, because it suits you to do so. Deep fat fryer? No. Do have one, though. You can get them for about $30, you know. You can use a pressure cooker, or, if you don’t have one, pan fry. I can get you the recipe if you like.

If I find Chik-fil-A morally threatening to my community, it is the same as the strip club. So, your point there is moot. Chik-fil-A’s support of militant anti-gay organizations does harm to citizenry. It is immoral to support them. That’s all.

And lower class – boy, I don’t know who you think you’re talking to. I come from the same region as Don Cathy, and he doesn’t even make a good piece of fried chicken because they’re a bunch of city men from Atlanta. Your little reverse snobbery is moot, too, get it? Now I haven’t personally attacked anyone here, but next time you want to make one of your little (very little) insight attacks on someone, you might want to know to whom you are speaking. It might also interest you to find out that the whole good ol’ middle-class working-man conglomeration does not necessarily share your views, any more than they all share mine! How dare you presume to know me? Lack of ethics? You should be ashamed, and I expect an apology if you have any – any – ethical backbone of your own. But don’t you ever presume to know what I would back or wouldn’t. If I wanted to tell you personally that I thought you were bigoted, cowardly and childish I would’ve said it to you, so don’t you think you can come back attacking me with snide little jibes. It’s about a hundred years to soon for you to think you can get away with that without a public hiding.

– Mark Brunson


I firmly support the right of Chick-Fil-A to run their business as they see fit. I find it a dangerous step for any politician to threaten to deny a legitimate business a permit on the basis of their owner’s politics. Shame on Mayor Menino.

On the other hand, I firmly support the right of anyone to choose where to spend their money. If Chick-Fil-A’s politics means that a broad swath of folks in Boston will not patronize their establishment and so they lose money, so be it. That’s the free market in action. I certainly am not going to give my money to a firm that is actively working against my rights. @Christopher Johnson wants to support such a firm. That’s his right.

The other side does the same thing all the time– witness most recently, NOM and their “Dump Starbucks” campaign.

Starbucks and many other firms have realized that supporting Equality is good for business. Chick-Fil-A’s owner may discover that working against gay people isn’t so good. On the other hand, there may be enough people who want to express their agreement with their anti-gay perspective, that they do fine. Be that as it may. Regardless, no chkn in my future.

Susan Forsburg

Benedict Varnum

Here’s a less-personally-attacking contribution; this article below notes that a church is being charged with a crime for the first time.

Tabling for a second whether it was a poorly-thought-through notion or done in bad taste (it was both), some of the writing dares to toe the line: is suing a church that stages a kidnapping “impeding the free exercise of religion?”

C. Wingate

Mark, your analogy with strip clubs is strained beyond plausibility. It is not their beliefs that is the problem with bars clubs; it is the business that they do, and while it might be argued that there are spots where fast food joints are multiplied beyond what is healthy to the neighborhood, you don’t seriously object to the selling of sandwiches. And indeed I am inclined to suspect that you would accept the political alliance of strip clubs and bars and sex shops if they are willing to get behind your political aims in this, regardless of any lack of other sexual ethics they may hold to.

And as for the “bland, overpriced product that can be made more cheaply and tastily at home,” I don’t keep a deep-fat fryer, so I can’t make it at home at all, and I suspect you are in the same culinary boat. I can make a much better burger at home than either McD’s or BK, and for considerably less, but that’s not necessarily the point of going to either, is it? Besides, in “bland” I hear the dog whistle tweeting a message of snobbery against all those lower class white evangelical bigots who don’t happen to have developed a taste for Indian or Thai food. I love both, but lots of people don’t, and I don’t hold it against them.

And Priscilla, when you say they want to “destroy” you, I don’t believe that. But I do believe you want to destroy their business, and I don’t think you can. I see from the admirably restrained and accurate AP report that there’s one CFA in NYC, none in Boston, one or two in DC, and one or two in the Chicago area; it’s going to be very hard for anyone at EDS to boycott them. I personally cannot boycott them because it always seems to be either Sunday or not mealtime when I am presented with CFA as a option. But it also seems to me that the willingness of the mayors to step in to this signals something of an admission that only governmental power is adequate to prevail. And beyond that, Cathy has his millions, and Bezos has his tens of billions; neither side lacks for money to buy the outcome they want. Nor do they lack for proponents. I see from the industry reports that CFA is expanding rapidly, so apparently they do not need my business to thrive.

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