Chick-fil-A, Gay Boycotts & Assaults on Free Speech

Eat more chicken. Just not at the nation’s premier Christian and family owned chicken franchise, Chick-fil-A. At least if gay rights activists and government officials have anything to do with it.  What did Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s Chairman and son of founder Truett Cathy, say that has gotten not only him, but the fried chicken chain in hot water with the nation’s liberal elites? What most conservative, Bible-believing Christians would say if asked:

Asked about the company’s support of the traditional family, Cathy said in the Biblical Recorder story, “Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” (“Chick-fil-A, in nat’l media storm, swims against cultural tide”)

Cathy’s statements — with which I fully agree and am similarly guilty of both writing about and preaching about — have resulted in the predictable calls for boycotts of Chick-fil-A. Although I believe some gay activists, similar to the backlash directed against Kirk Cameron’s comments regarding gay marriage, would like to see the suppression of any speech which opposes the legalization and normalization of same-sex marriage, I would support the right of those who disagree with Cathy’s beliefs to patronize (or boycott) whomever they choose. If those who believe that gay marriage should be legal and that anyone or any company who opposes that belief should be not be supported with their own, hard-earned dollars, then so be it.

While I disagree with that position, the Jim Henson Co. has every right to withdraw the Muppets from any partnership with Chick-fil-A. However, boycotts go both ways. I reserve the right to boycott companies — including Muppets’ movies — that  not only aggressively promote the gay agenda, but also denigrate the beliefs and values of those who may differ on gay marriage. While liberals have traditionally been more effective at boycotts, conservative Christians could also vote with their money and their feet. While I loved the Muppets growing up, count me as one who will never pay to see Kermit or Fozzie Bear (my favorite) in the theater again. That’s the freedom that comes from living in this great country.

However, most Christians would probably not show up at a pro-gay business for a publicity stunt like the “National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A.” The purpose of this so-called day (although apparently not in response to Mike Huckabee’s call for a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Wednesday, August 1) is:

In honor of their support for love, equality, and the real definition of family, we’re holding a NATIONAL Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A’s around the country. So grab a friend (or 20) and head out to your nearest Chick Fil A! And don’t forget to post photos/videos of it here! For all the world to see! (Facebook page here)

How best to respond to this juvenile display that is being planning on Friday, August 3 at 8:00 p.m.? I had a few thoughts, but the best way to respond is for Christian churches and groups to be out in mass on August 3, not to confront these people with hate, but rather with love. We should not expect sinners to act any differently than how they are acting. However, we can respond with the grace AND truth (sorry, Andy, they are not mutually exclusive) of Jesus Christ. In the end, the public will either support Chick-fil-A with their business or they will go elsewhere. If the boycott is successful — which I don’t believe it will be — I still do not expect Dan Cathy to change his position on gay marriage. Likwise, if the boycott is unsuccessful, I would not expect gay rights’ proponents to suddenly change their position, either. Such is the wonderful democracy that we live in.

But, apparently government officials (not private citizens) in two major American cities — Boston and Chicago — have either forgotten or simply do not comprehend what democracy and the First Amendment are all about. In Boston, Democrat Mayor Thomas Menino has (for now) put a halt on Chick-fil-A opening a franchise in that city. Said Menino:

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.” (story here)

Along with the blooming idiot mayor of NYC, how these people get elected to positions of power in these cities is truly incomprehensible. Well, not really. I think I know why, but that’s a post for another day, so I’ll just move on. Gay or straight, conservative or liberal, we should be appalled at the unconstitutional abuse of power on display in Boston. Mayor Menino wouldn’t know the meaning of the “Freedom Trail” if Paul Revere were explaining it to him. With no evidence whatsoever of Chick-fil-A ever discriminating in who it hires or who it serves, the Mayor of Boston would punish an otherwise legal business because of the personal remarks of the Chairman of the company. This kind of of thinking — not to mention government action — is both dangerous and un-American.

If the same approach were used to keep a “pro-gay” business out of Anytown, USA, Menino and others would be the first to scream about an assault on the First Amendment. At least not all liberals are devoid of common sense. The L.A. Times, not known for its conservative outlook, found Merino’s stance too much:

“As both a private citizen and a prominent public figure, Menino is welcome to abstain from fried chicken sandwiches and urge others to do likewise.It’s a different matter if he attempts to trample the free-speech rights of others by using the power of his office to fight against a business license for Chick-fil-A.”  (“Free Speech and Chick-fil-A”)

Let Mayor Menino and others boycott Chick-fil-A if they so choose, but don’t abuse the power of your office to trample on the free speech rights of American citizens and law-abiding companies. Likwise, let those who agree with Dan Cathy eat more chicken. I’m not sure that I will make the hour plus trip to the nearest Chick-fil-A located in the mall in Las Cruces on August 1 (or the 3rd for that matter). But, the next time I have the opportunity to eat at the chicken joint, I think I shall choose to freely spend my money on a chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and a coke — supersized (this isn’t NYC). Ain’t freedom grand?

 

22 comments for “Chick-fil-A, Gay Boycotts & Assaults on Free Speech

  1. Tibor3 Breining
    July 25, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    I want to try Chick-fil-A!
    Bring them to Canada, the nearest one to me is 626 miles away, in MA!
    Tibor 3

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      Tibor3,

      I admire your enthusiasm, although I probably wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to drive 626 miles — and to MA at that — to eat at a Chick-fil-A. It is a far piece from where you’re at :-) Hope you have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  2. July 25, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Soon after I get back into the USA (Thursday night) I’m planning a trip to Chick-fil-A.

    I’m gonna do my part.

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Dave,

      I expect every Southern Baptist pastor worth his salt to do his part by eating the Baptist Bird at Chick-fil-A just as soon as possible, preferably on August 1 :-) Have a safe trip back and God bless,

      Howell

  3. William Thornton
    July 25, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Church I attended gave a plug to CFA in the morning service…I thought about eating Sunday lunch there…no, wait…you can’t.

    I’d like your thoughts on the Glorieta business, Howell.

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      William,

      I saw your post this morning on the Glorieta situation. I was going to write a post last week after my Executive Board meeting with the BCNM, but decided against it at the time. I think I would have been too harsh towards Lifeway. I think I’ll go ahead and write a post, perhaps even interacting and responding to some of what you wrote. I will still have some strong words directed at past and present Lifeway leadership, but perhaps it will not be quite as harsh as it could be. It is a crying shame at what has happened to Glorieta. Lifeway should be ashamed at what they have allowed to happen, but I’m quite sure that the corporate suits don’t really care. I’m glad to know there are at least a few people back east who are paying attention to what is happening in the west. Hope you have a great day and find a CFA to eat at for me :-) God bless,

      Howell

  4. Peggy Scott
    July 25, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I have never eaten at a Chik-fil-A before, probably because the closet is over one hour away.All my family members have eaten there and the next time I am anywhere near, I will certainly give them my business.

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      Mom,

      You and Angela and the girls should venture over to your nearest Chick-fil-A and have a bite. I’m not sure what Mike Huckabee was thinking when he set the Appreciation Day as a Wednesday. I guess he’s been out of the pastorate so long that hie’s forgotten that Wednesday nights are “church nights.” In any event, I think I shall head to my nearest Chick-fil-A as soon as possible to get a delicious chicken sandwich and some waffle fries. Hope you have a great day. Love,

      Howell

  5. July 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Howell,

    Living in the Metroplex of DFW we have them all over. So, I am going to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at different Chick Fil A’s to show my support.

    Blessings,

    Ron P.

    • July 25, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Ron,

      I am envious (I know I shouldn’t be) that you have so many CFAs where you live. If I had one in my town, I would be eating there at least once per week. The next time that I am in El Paso or Las Cruces, I think I will make it a special point to eat at Chick-fil-A instead of Five Guys :-) Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  6. July 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    This is a tough one. The owners of the private firm of chick Fil et have every right to their beliefs and/or opinions (even if I don’t agree and i don’t); but I’d defend their right to the end. I am not an attorney, but I’m wondering if there is some kind of law on the books in Ma, IA, and NY that ban public speech on gay marriage (in those 3 states it is legal)….I’m not sure though regarding the law. Would be interested in hearing from an attorney on this one. It wouldn’t be an issue to me anyway (even if I did agree with Chick Fil et’s beliefs as am a vegan, but I’d like to know why they are being banned from a place. Just because I don’t agree with them, does not give me the right to ban them. Something doesn’t seem right (unless I just don’t understand the law). Please (if there’s an attorney out there) set me straight on this issue. Thanks.

    • July 25, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Mr. London,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment. It would appear that in both Boston and Chicago, public officials are now moving to deny Chick-fil-A building and/or zoning permits and applications which would prevent the company from establishing franchises in those two cities. From the public comments that have already been made, the sole reason why these governmental actions are being used to deny an otherwise legitimate business (CFA) from operating in these cities is the personal views expressed by the Chairman of the Board of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy. There has been no evidence (or credible allegations) that the company has any discriminatory polices — either in hiring or in serving customers — based on sexual orientation. The only reason given why Chick-fil-A is no longer welcome in these cities is because of speech (not actions) of a corporate executive (Cathy) which are at odds with the beliefs of majority politicians in these cities.

      While I no longer practice law, I am fairly certain that using the government to deny permits based upon the religious and/or political views of the head of a company (as opposed to their actual practices) is not only an unconstitutional abuse of power that violates the First Amendment, but also smacks of being un-American. Can you imagine if government officials in a more conservative city or town were to deny permits to a business when it became known that the President of the company supported gay rights and same-sex marriage, solely because the majority was opposed to the same? While I do not support gay marriage, I would defend the rights of those who do to boycott Chick-fil-A (or any other company that they do not want to do business with). However, we tread on dangerous territory when the government begins to abuse its power to discriminate against ideas and thoughts, not actions. As a cartoonist, you should be free to publish your cartoons in whatever venues that are open to you. If folks don’t want to view the cartoons (i.e., boycott them), that is their right. However, if the government were to step in and tell you that you could not publish certain cartoons, I believe that would be an unconstitutional abridgement of your First Amendment rights. Even if I did not agree with the content of one of your cartoons, I would defend your right to freely publish them without government threatening to ban or censor them. Hope that helps to clarify some of the vital issues that surround this whole Chick-fil-A controversy. Thanks again for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

  7. Robin Rivers
    July 26, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Biblical Christians do not support gay marriage. Neither does Islam, and most sects of Hinduism. Does this mean that those proponents of gay marriage will not buy gas or a soft drink at the local convenience store?

    • July 26, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      Robin,

      Thanks for the question. You are exactly right about Islam and Hinduism not approving of homosexuality. One thing that most leftists — especially in Hollywood — will not do is say anything remotely critical of Islam. Christianity and Christian businesses like Chick-fil-A are fair game. That will, unfortunately, continue to be the case. Thanks for stopping by and God bless,

      Howell

  8. Dan Foley
    July 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Hi Howell,
    Excellent post, as always. Surprisingly the Boston Globe had an editorial taking Mayor Menino to task for his comments. As you’re probably aware, the Globe is generally as liberal as its parent, the New York Times.

    Here’s an excerpt: But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.

    We seem to be a fried chicken controversy magnet. Last Sept, while the team was enduring a historic collapse to miss the playoffs, a few of the Red Sox’ pitchers were rumored to be eating fried chicken (Popeye’s, I believe) and drinking beer in the clubhouse. The fact that it was on their off days doesn’t really matter.

    I hope all is well.
    Dan

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Dan,

      So good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and your family. We are enjoying the desert southwest. Have been in NM for five years now — time flies when you’re having fun :-) I appreciate the kind words about the post and you taking the time to share. I think that Menino in Boston and Rahm Emanuel have crossed a line in their condemnation of Chick-fil-A that even the liberal Boston Globe, LA Times, and other usually left-wing papers could not accept. I had read the Globe’s editorial the other day, but the excerpt that you shared is priceless. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in some of these major cities. Hope you have a great day and God bless,

      (Dixie) Howell

  9. Gary
    July 26, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Well said Howell!

    • July 26, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      Gary,

      Thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Hope you are doing well. Things are going well for us in NM. Hard to believe we have been here for five years. God bless,

      Howell

  10. Peggy Scott
    July 28, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Howell, our family drove one and one half hours to our nearest Chick-fil-A to support them. It was my first ever visit and the restaurant was packed full and the line was long and the parking lot only one or two spaces left, so we ordered and ate in the car. Don’t know if this is a normal Saturday lunch day for them, or people such as I showing our support. Wish I could be there on Wednesday, but have other obligations on that day. Mom

    • July 28, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Mom,

      Is the nearest Chick-fil-A in Lakeland or Winter Haven? Our nearest would be in Las Cruces, which is about an hour and ten minute drive. I think we will have a group from the church go over on Wednesday. Chick-fil-As tend to crowded, especially at lunchtime regardless of the day. I suppose that Saturdays might be busier than during the week, but it would not surprise me that this whole boycott thing has gotten folks riled up. I think the boycott will actually backfire and have the exact opposite affect. I’ll probably write a post on it next Thursday. Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for sharing with me and the other readers. Love,

      Howell

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