Kent Bush: Eat at Chick-fil-A for the right reason
What is more offensive: someone who claims to believe something, but you can’t tell it, or someone who is dedicated enough to their belief system not to disavow it when they come under scrutiny?
Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy has always gained notoriety for closing his chain of restaurants on Sundays. Giving up 10-20 percent of his potential revenue because of his religious beliefs never offended anyone beyond those who really wanted a chicken sandwich after church but had to wait until Monday.
But when Cathy was asked about a hot-button issue of the day, he answered honestly and made his simple sandwiches a political cause celebre. Now the restaurant is the target of boycotts and support days.
Cathy was asked how he felt about gay marriage. Why it was important what a guy who sells chicken sandwiches with skydiving cows thought about gay marriage, I can’t say. But, apparently, it was a very meaty topic.
Cathy answered the question by saying, “I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”
Cathy didn’t say he hated gay people or that he wouldn’t let them have any whip cream on their milkshakes. He was asked what he thought, and his answer should really have come as no surprise. Marriage being between one man and one woman is a fairly common conservative creed.
But don’t let the fact that the answer is innocuous make you think it will be uncontroversial. Boston and Chicago’s mayors each have weighed in, saying the cows that encourage people to “eat more chicken” are not welcome in their fair cities.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino condemned Cathy’s “prejudiced” comments and said he would prefer not to have a chain open in Beantown. Former Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama and now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel said Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. Obviously.
Of course, no one has accused Cathy of refusing to hire non-Christians or homosexuals. The fact that a guy who is devout enough to close his restaurants on Sundays to ensure that work never interferes with church is against gay marriage couldn’t have been shocking news to either of these city leaders.
I wonder how many other business owners had their belief systems inspected before these mayors decided whether or not to allow a franchise in.
I wonder if Emmanuel had a conversation with “The Bijou Theater and Sex Club” on N. Wells St. to see if they discriminated against Mormans, Muslims or Christians. I’m sure the Windy City’s mayor checked out all public comments by the owners of the Paradise Club, advertised as “A bathhouse without a frisky following” before giving them the city’s blessing.
In Boston, I’m sure Mayor Menino is far more comfortable with the belief systems of the owners of Centerfolds 2000 or The Golden Banana.
After all, these are clubs for gentlemen, not prejudiced poultry po boys.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to bring some logic to the discussion.
“You can't have a test for what the owners' personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city,” Gotham City’s mayor said. “You really don't want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That's just not government's job.”
Christians aren’t taking these perceived attacks on their belief system lying down. If there is one thing the modern church does well, it is express outrage. Christians will boycott anything these days. Now they are going the other direction in support of Cathy and his restaurants.
Never one to miss the publicity of current controversy, Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, made a stop at Chick-fil-A in Texas while campaigning for a Senate candidate there.
Now, Aug. 1 is “Support Chick-fil-A day.” Don’t expect to be able to stop in for a quick lunch on that day. There are going to be a lot of waffled fries on Wednesday.
I’ve never eaten at a Chick-fil-A. I should have. I like the fact that the owner’s beliefs affect how he runs his business. I like chicken sandwiches with extra pickles. I just never lived close enough to one to make it part of my routine.
I probably won’t go Wednesday, either. I don’t tend to boycott or anti-boycott. I’m not a big fan of making a statement that way.
I don’t think it behooves Christians to make issues about “us” versus “them” if we are really trying to show Christ’s love to those around us. Jesus had lunch with the tax collectors and sinners. He didn’t boycott them. He never carried a sign or walked a picket line.
It isn’t like Jesus told us to eat at Chick-fil-A. He wasn’t looking at the bread during the Last Supper, wishing it had a chicken breast on it.
We should support the Christian business owners around us. But why not reach out in love to those who think we are their enemies?
Jesus had something to say about that in his “Sermon on the Mount.” In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the worst among you doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
So eat at Chick-fil-A Wednesday if you want. There are worse things to do.
But let’s cut out the boycotts. Let’s lavish Christ’s love on people who stand against us, too. We need to learn to turn the other cheek and offer the same grace to those who stand against Christians as we received from God.