In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A
If you have missed the firestorm that Chic-fil-A has found itself in after the comments of her President Dan Cathy let me get you caught up. Cathy’s remarks last week to a Baptist Press site, which he affirmed the company’s belief in “the biblical definition of the family unit,” went viral Wednesday. He said, “”We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles”. Supporters and opponents of gay unions immediately weighed in and did so heavily. From Twitter campaigns, petitions to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino telling the Boston Herald he would work to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the city. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.” and this is where my interest peaked.
I am a Chic-fil-A fan. Not the food, in particular, but the service. I have worked in restaurants most of my life and they have a culture that I think many others should look to and follow when it comes to service. I honestly was bothered by the calls for boycotts and, death threats that went out against Dan Cathy. I mean I thought this was America, the place where we have freedom of speech or have I move somewhere else?
This weekend I was reading The Atlantic and came across an article from author and blogger Jonathan Merritt. I’m only going to give portions of it but he said in these few paragraphs what many were thinking.
Should they swear off the legendary chicken sandwiches to support gay rights? Or could they eat one of the filets anyway, knowing their dollars would be but a drop in the bucket for a chain that has more than $4 billion in annual sales and donated a pittance to groups they may disagree with?
I’d argue the latter — and this has nothing to do with my views on gay marriage. It’s because Chick-fil-A is a laudable organization on balance, and because I refuse to contribute to the ineffective boycott culture that’s springing up across America.
First of all, Chick-fil-A is not a hate group. In a statement released yesterday, company leaders made their commitment to equal service clear, “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.”
As a native Atlantan, I’ve dined at the chicken chain more than I’d like to admit over more than two decades and even interacted with its leadership team. I’ve never witnessed any customer refused service or even treated differently. On the contrary, Chick-fil-A is known for offering world-class customer service to each person that walks through one of the restaurant’s doors.
Additionally, the organization gives millions of dollars each year to charitable causes — and not just to “pro-family” groups. It funds a large foster care program, several schools of a higher learning, and a children’s camp. It has provided thousands of scholarships for Chick-fil-A employees to attend college and grow past the service sector where they got their workplace start. (On Friday, the company provided free meals for Aurora, Colo., policemen.)
And the company’s leaders claim to do all of this out of convictions rooted in the Christian faith. Anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of the company should know that it does not hide its commitment to biblical values. Its corporate statement of purpose since 1982 has begun, “To glorify God…”
Given this, that anyone was surprised by Cathy’s statements is, well, surprising. Like many conservative Christians, he does not support gay marriage.
I’m flummoxed that so many consumers are so quick these days to call for boycotts of any company that deviates from their personal or political views. For one thing, boycotts rarely cause actual pocketbook – rather than PR — damage. Most consumers don’t care enough to drive an extra mile to get the same product from someone else. And that’s especially the case for companies as large as Chick-fil-A, which has prime locations on many college campuses where there is little head-to-head competition.
But my bigger question is this: In a nation that’s as divided as ours is, do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed? And is this really the kind of culture we want to create? Culture war boycotts cut both ways and are much more likely to meet with success when prosecuted by large groups of people, such as Christian activists, who are more numerous than gays and lesbians and their more activist supporters.
Gay and lesbian groups were famously rankled when pro-family activists reacted against Kraft for posting a photo of an Oreo cookie with rainbow-hued filling last month in honor of Gay Pride Month, and also when similar groups protested JCPenney for announcing lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres would be its next spokesperson.
So should the 45 percent of Americans who oppose gay marriage opt for Chips Ahoy! instead of Oreos? Should they begin shopping at Belk instead of JC Penny? If they did, it wouldn’t make any more sense than the endless failed calls for liberal consumers to boycott Urban Outfitters, because its owner is a conservative and Rick Santorum donor, or to not order from Domino’s Pizza, because it was founded by a Catholic conservative who helped fund anti-abortion causes.
Please read the rest of the article here The Atlantic and please let me know your thoughts on the subject.
Will you boycott Chic-fil-A or will you eat more chiken? Why?
Posted on July 23, 2012, in ...from Jon, Guest, Politics and tagged biblical definition, Boston, Boston Herald, Chick-fil-A, civil union, civility, culture-wars, Dan Cathy, family unit, Gay Marriage, Jonathan Merritt, Mayor Thomas Menino, Michael Symon, The Atlantic. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.