Some thoughts on Chick-Fil-A and it’s role in Christian Dialogue

So this whole Chick-Fil-A family values gay kerfuffle is bringing out some really interesting qualities in Christianity. I’ve been party to a lot of debates, and sitting on the sidelines watching many more. I’ve neglected writing a blog post about it because I wanted to watch the dust settle and decide what really needs addressing.

1) “This isn’t about politics, it’s about Christian Values!”

Actually, it’s about both. Chick-Fil-A has directed money towards a number of religiously based Charities. Some, like Focus on the Family, can be seen as more or less neutral as they do a lot of work in several arenas. Others, like Exodus International, clearly demonstrate a sort of bigotry against homosexuality. The language they use to describe homosexuality shows that they view it as a kind of illness humanity is better off without, there can be no question why gay people would be upset to find their money going to a non-profit whose stated goal is to counter-act the bad affects of gayness on society. If this is added to the fact that Chick-Fil-A also funnels money into several “Family Councils” who work to keep gay people from being able to adopt or get married, and these “Family Councils” operate not in the religious but political arenas, there can be no rational argument that this isn’t at least partly about politics. This is about far more than one man defending his Biblical views, this is about several million dollars of money that Chick-Fil-A makes selling sandwiches going to actively prevent the acceptance of gay people in our society. It is personal, and political, as well as religious.

2) “If you believe in a Christian’s right to free speech you need to support Chick-Fil-A”/”If you like your gay friends you need to stop eating there”.

For the first sentence, don’t be ridiculous. It isn’t about free speech, it’s about money. If all that had ever happened was Chick-Fil-A’s CEO saying “I don’t like gay people” I would roll my eyes and say that no one should be surprised that there are Christians who don’t like gays. I mean, Westboro Baptist has taught us that one already. But this isn’t about a Christian’s right to free speech, it’s about where a Christian puts their money and their corporation’s money. At the end of the day, he absolutely has the right. But all Christians have the right to decide where they want the money God entrusted to them to be spent. We aren’t obligated to part with God’s monetary gift to us anywhere, except in the churches we choose to be in communion. I don’t *have* to support Chick-Fil-A. And as for the opposing statement, that somehow I owe it to my gay friends *not* to eat there- come on, people. There are far more effective ways to enact political change than where we choose to buy deep fried animal parts shoved in a bun. Whether or not to eat Chick-Fil-A is a personal choice, and I support my friends whether or not they eat there.

3) “All of the people making a big deal out of this are such bigots against Christians.”

I must admit, one of the reasons this post is so behind-the-times is the fact that I can’t write about this without starting to feel all veiny-green-in-the-face-pulse-pounding-hulk-roaring angry.

Christians, who has the burden here? The world to which we’ve been sent to minister like a doctor treating the ill, or US? Are we owed tolerance? Do we deserve it?

Take a moment and think about the motivation behind the opposition. Think about the gay people who have been spat on at every turn, sometimes literally. Think about the people who have felt strange, different, rejected, belittled, hated, opposed, cut out of society, cursed, and reviled. Think about the fact that they find out that here is one more way in which they are isolated. Think about the fact that someone has been asked if that person truly funnels millions of dollars with the express purpose of counteracting the effect that gay people can have on our society and has answered “YEP! GUILTY AS CHARGED!” and that he did so clearly with pride.

Imagine that the shoe is on the other foot, and that a gay person owned a multi-million dollar corporation and just gleefully admitted that he funnels millions of dollars into teaching atheism and counter-acting the negative impact of Christians on society. Feel that blood boil? That anger? That deep and overwhelming sadness? Now think that hundreds of thousands of atheists and gays line up to support that corporation and start posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter where they are swaggin’ their bags of fried goodness around saying “SEE, I THINK THE BIGOTRY AGAINST YOU IS AWESOME AND JUSTIFIED!”

Can you picture it? Can you imagine your response?

Of COURSE people are offended, of COURSE they are calling you close-minded, because you have completely closed your mind to the pain, humiliation, and suffering that your choice is inflicting on the world. Instead of seeing the world as a sick patient to whom you are called as a caregiver, you have chosen to see the world as a criminal for whom you are called as judge and jury, and your greasy bags of fried food that you so gleefully post look more like a death sentence than a show of moral support.

The Bible has this thing where it says that if we judge, we will be judged in kind. The battle lines in this ridiculous debate about Chick-Fil-A are a demonstration of that in action- Christians judged the world.

So the world judges back.

If you don’t like the bigotry you are feeling, don’t dish it out.

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23 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Chick-Fil-A and it’s role in Christian Dialogue

  1. What’s odd is that in the history of Christians, they themselves were treated with hatred and were persecuted. Even then, they were said to have turned the other cheek and practiced tolerance. Yet, here they are today, practicing intolerance and that same type of persecution is being brought upon the Gays, this time by the Christians themselves. Have they learned no lessons through the ages?

    • I take a lot of pride in the fact that the Mennonite church was one of the first churches to support a council for Gay and lesbian rights. The Mennonite church has always been a huge proponent of social rights and freedoms, maybe because their own martyrdom is only a few hundred years old.

      I don’t know how with the storied history of the church, and all of the times we’ve seen love and understanding triumph violence and inequality, and Jesus own brilliant example, some Christians could become such prideful and simpering bigots. It’s sad, really.

      • I think it is sad that they have compromised the truth, in that ‘affirming’ nature towards homosexuality.

      • It’s American… I honestly can’t imagine Christians in other countries (except maybe Uganda?) getting all worked up over something that is fundamentally about $$$$$ as well as prejudice.

        otoh, the corporate franchise model seems to be what many churches have adopted, so I suppose people feel threatened in more ways than one. (Thinking of all those megachurches with in-house concessions for coffee, donuts and the like…)

      • e2thec: I think it is a very capitalist fear that is driving the Christian end of this debate, and you’re right about the churches with their own coffee stands. God prospering us isn’t about our wallets. (Lilies of the fields, anyone?) and facing economic pressure shouldn’t be a fear that motivates Christians. I hate, hate, hate, how capitalism and religion have been married in this country. It’s so confounding, so not like what I read in the Bible. We aren’t defending our faith when we BUY STUFF. We’re, like, contradicting it.

  2. I am not sure how you arrived at your conclusion, that Exodus has a bigotry air, that believes……Have you kept up with Exodus position, distancing themselves from reliance on reparative therapy. I have found complete support towards those who have struggled with SSA, and the journey , and have been thankful for their presence throughout my struggle. I strongly suggest they have done a lot of good, you always know you’ve done something right, when wrongly accused.

    • I can’t say that I have much experience with Exodus in recent years, as the time when I was most exposed to them was some time ago. I know someone who was very deeply damaged by reparative therapy. If your experience with them was positive that is wonderful, really. Hopefully you can understand, tho, why gay people whose major exposure them has been reparative therapy and young kids becoming suicidal as a result to feel there is a measure of bigotry there. I do appreciate that their stance has become more nuanced than praying away the gay, but…

      I don’t know any gay person who isn’t a Christian who would look at wording like “afflicted with homosexuality” or “struggling with homosexuality” and not feel a little attacked. I know Gay Christians who feel that their sexuality is anything BUT an affliction. Obviously you do not have that experience, and I would not want to take your convictions away from you- but try to understand why the vast majority of my blogs readers would feel the issue of bigotry is indisputable, especially when paired with the political action groups that continue to define what rights are available to gay Americans.

      • I have experienced plenty of slurs and name calling from people who want to discredit what God has done in my life. I have received more criticism from ‘Christians’ than any other, who can’t understand what I have struggled with. SSA is not something that is repaired, but when one is able to experience true intimacy with Jesus, instead of a ‘false intimacy’ or a ‘counterfeit love’ such as homosexuality, one then experiences the peace that passes understanding that Is spoken of in scripture. I understand the heartbreak and the extream loss of leaving the lifestyle, but we are really dealing with something that far transcends any sense of earthly treasure or gain. We are speaking here of coming to ‘know’ Christ. I have experienced offense on both sides of the fence, and it is that with that reality that my journey is where it is. I believe in grace and mercy, but as unpopular as it is I reject affirmation of sin.

      • I can’t even begin to imagine what your journey has been like. It takes an incredible amount of guts to do what you have done, because there isn’t going to be a single group of people who will feel entirely comfortable with you. Again, I can’t even imagine. Slurs from Christians, slurs from the SSA community, slurs from people in the same boat as you who make different decisions… it’s such a complex thing, and not only is Christianity not widely on the same page but it seems at times like people are using different books.

        I, personally, have only respect for you and I hope that my irritation with Exodus doesn’t make you think that you and I would have any problems. I accept and love my gay friends because I trust that if God wants them to change, and they love God, that God and them can figure it out. Never having had to struggle with my sexuality in that way I don’t trust that my own convictions are sufficient to save them, and I’ll trust in theirs and their love for God just as I trust you and your love for God and have no wish to condemn you.

      • You might want to keep an eye on the Ex-Gay Watch blog re. news on Exodus and many other things that come under the blog title’s heading. It’s one of the most level-headed, non-ranty blogs out there… and they are very good at doing balanced coverage of issues. (All staff members are gay or bi, afaik.)

      • I have many friends that identify themselves as gay, I don’t judge them at all. I have just drawn a line I will not cross, for myself, into homosexual behavior.

      • I think that’s all we can do, Paul: find our own lines not to cross. You know? And I appreciate that. It seems like everyone (myself included, a great deal of the time) wants to hold everyone accountable to their ownn code of ethics. I’m just trying to remember that I have to be accountable for what I do. What others do is not my business.

      • I’ll second this conversation- there’s a big difference between not choosing to openly condemn things you believe are sinful and agreeing with or condoning sin. Allowing my gay friends the right to carry on their own journey is not the same as condoning sin. Where their own line is, is between them and God. I think Christianity does itself a grave disservice by feeling the pressure to walk around preaching against sin everywhere. We only have that burden for those who are accountable to us, which isn’t society at large. People out there in society have a right to their sin, and a right to their own journey. We are only obligated as a society to eradicate behaviors that harm our society.

        I don’t think my gay friends are harming anyone, and it is deeply painful to them when they are treated as if they are. I’m sure you can understand this, Paul- how painful it is to have your sexual orientation treated as if it’s a problem for someone else.

        Which is a big part of the sensitivity towards bigotry with the Chick-Fil-A flap, regardless of Exodus’s actions, overall Chick-Fil-A’s donations and the way in which they’ve been covered in the Media, especially the way in which Chick-Fil-A’s CEO talks about them, seem to paint a picture of gay people and their relationships being really bad for society.

        The gay people I know are very productive members of society who donate to charities and take care of their friends. They don’t appreciate being fingered as if they are a problem.

        As for God, and his relationship with them, it’s only my business if my friends choose to make it my business.

        I guess I’m rambling now. My point is just this: Sin may be sin. But our relationship with God is not just a black and white issue, it’s about Christ’s sacrifice, the convictions the spirit leads us to, and the choices we make in light of that.

        It’s about love.

  3. Excellent post, Lindsey, though I have to say that I differ re. Focus on the Family. They are highly political – keep in mind that they’ve been involved in so-called “ex-gay ministry” for a number of years now – and (imo) very much upfront in their disregard for/prejudices against LGBT people.

    There are no Chick-Fil-A outlets in my area… and if there were, I’d avoid them. I think the reasoning you cite is pretty much the same as that of the people who think mass murderers can be stopped if other people are carrying pistols (or assault weapons!) and can gun down the one who opens fire…. the end result is that there will be a *lot* more casualties.

    I am so tired of the God-damned culture wars! (nad yep, I capitalized the “g” there for a reason.)

    • Considering the fact that he has been vocal about his belief that gays are bad for society, I don’t think that Dan Cathy could make the argument that he donated to Focus on the Family for marriage retreats and pro-family radio programs. If it WEREN’T for all that other stuff, he COULD make that argument, which is why I said FotF alone could be seen as more or less neutral. Of course, given what we know I don’t think it is.

  4. Once again Lindsey, a very thought provoking post. It is refreshing how everyone is equal and valued in your eyes.

  5. I am probably in the minority here but I find it disingenuous that so many people are suddenly anti- Chick-Fil-A.

    Firstly, based off their history, this cannot be a surprise to anyone. It would kind of be like people being surprised that the Salvation Army is anti-homosexual.

    Secondly, nothing the President said is illegal and Chick-Fil-A is not engaging in any illegal employment practices. People that are pissed off should be contacting their state legislatures about adding gays as a protected class re discrimination.

    This guy had an opinion and he stated it. Many people in this country share that opinion. He didn’t say he hated all gay people and that they should go to hell. I do not personally agree with his ‘marriage is between a man and a woman and we shouldn’t redefine that because that would be spitting in God’s face’ statement but it is hardly hyperbolic.

    What we are effectively, culturally, doing is making it social suicide to be anti-gay. I guess then the legislation will follow to protect LBGT individuals from workplace and other discrimination.

    I actually have no problem with people who believe that being homosexual is a sin. I don’t agree with those folks about other things (like having children out of wedlock, etc.) being a sin. It is an opinion informed by religious belief and as long as no one is trying to run the country off those beliefs than you can believe whatever you want to. Just keep your religion out of my government and we’re cool and I will support your right to say things that I patently disagree with.

    • If it’s any consolation, most of the people I know who oppose Chick-Fil-A now have been boycotting them for YEARS. Not because of what this guy said, but where he’s been putting his money.

      As for the rest of it… it just pains me to see Christians giving in to the vitriol. It’s not helping anyone.

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