OK, for the record, this is NOT a post about the “radical homosexual agenda” or whether gay marriage should be legal or not. This is a post about freedom to do business according to one’s conscience, and freedom to express views with which others may not agree. [Please note: neither I nor any of my family work for this company.]
Yes, I’m talking about all the ridiculous, inflated fracas about Chick-fil-A, a national fast food chain whose owner makes no secret of the fact that he supports traditional marriage. In a recent interview with The Baptist Press, he was explicit:
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.
And that’s ALL he said, people.
Company president Dan Cathy did NOT make disparaging remarks about the LGBT community, offer political statements about the validity of gay marriage, make any statement about hiring homosexuals or serving them. Chick-fil-A has a fixed policy of being closed on Sundays to ensure their employees a day a rest. Other than that, the most radical thing they do is refuse to sell beef–the source of their long-running PR campaign featuring spokescows who urge us to “Eat Mor Chikn”.
Here’s their statement from their official Facebook page:
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Only now, in today’s hyper-polarized, overly-politicized society can affirmation of a biblical belief be equated to hating something or someone. Even 20 years ago, this news would have generated barely a peep. Now? It’s instant ‘high dudgeon’, plus some.
Enter the Jim Henson Company, fearing to be tarred with the same family-friendly brush as the chicken vendor. (Who IS the target audience for Henson Co.’s many products, one must ask?) So Henson has pulled its toys from Chick-fil-A kids’ meals, thus shooting themselves in their own promotional foot in order to make a loud statement about Chick-fil-A’s alleged intolerance…and their own obvious intolerance. Was Chick-fil-A putting disclaimers in the kids’ sacks, warning them that Henson is an ‘inclusive’ company? Nope. Did they refuse to carry the toys because of Henson’s pro-LGBT policy? No again. But the company has made charitable contributions to not-for-profit organizations that Henson dubs “anti-gay”.
Notice how polemic language works? It turns a positive statement into a negative one: “PRO-life” or “ANTI-abortion”? “PRO-family” or “ANTI-gay”? In most cases, the positive statement is much broader (more inclusive, if you will) than the negative one!
Next, enter Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston, who is threatening to bar Chick-fil-A from getting a license to do business in the city famous for its Freedom Trail…because he personally feels that this company should not be free to say what it believes in.
Again, please note where the judgmental, harsh, intolerant, hyperbolic over-reaction is coming from: not from the conservative family-oriented business. No, no: it’s coming from the people who are screaming Tolerance, Openness, and Fairness. Because obviously, their definition of Freedom of Speech is: “You have a right to say whatever I agree with.”