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Chick-fil-a isn’t the problem (part 1)

…but your reasons for boycotting Chick-fil-a might be.

“Damn you Chick-fil-a!”

We seem to be hearing an awful lot of that sentiment going around the web lately. This big hoopla is in response to a quote from son of Chick-fil-a founder and COO of Chick-fil-a Dan Cathy’s recent quote:

“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.’”

This has lead to a numerous divisive “discussions” (I use that term very lightly) on the internet, the mayors of ChicagoBoston, and San Francisco making comments that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in their city, and the Jim Henson company possibly (I’ll explain the “possibly” later) ending its kids meal toy partnership with Chick-fil-a.

Before I begin, let me add two quick disclaimers:

(1) My first job was at a Chick-fil-a and I worked there from ages 14-17. In fact, I am friends with two Chick-fil-a operators, and it is my favorite fast food restaurant on the planet – possibly even favorite restaurant. I’m a Chick-fil-a addict.

(2) I am a big supporter of marriage equality: the right for gay couples to marry, and I don’t agree with Dan Cathy’s comments and position from both a religious perspective and from a secular human rights perspective.

So, before you start attacking me as having a pro- or anti- Chick-fil-a agenda, please consider both of those facts. I have little doubt that I will receive flack from both sides of the debate for my positions – which is ironic, considering that would only reinforce the larger point I am trying to make.

Introduction

When I first heard this news, my gut reaction was, “Oh man, I probably shouldn’t eat at Chick-fil-a anymore.” Since then, I have had time to think about my reaction and come to a more reasonable opinion (reasonable in my opinion, you can judge it as you wish).

The financial connections between Chick-fil-a and anti-gay-marriage activist groups is old news. This is especially true for anyone who has been involved in or paid attention to collegiate politics in the last five years. Student governments (real Student governments with real power, not puppet student governments like the ones at my alma mater) have  been debating whether or not to allow Chick-fil-a on their campus for years. Rumors of hiring discrimination against gays have been floating around the internet for years (never mind the fact that most of this is unconfirmed rumor and any hiring discrimination would have occurred  at the franchise owner level and discretion, not at the corporate level or as a matter of policy).

So, I find it very amusing that this is all of the sudden a big news story. If Dan Cathy made that statement six years ago, would it have been as talked about as much as it is today? Or is this just the perfect wedge issue for Democrats and Republicans (and their media surrogates) to use as they race for control of our various branches and levels of government in the coming months – distracting the general public from other important/boring issues?

This controversy has lead to other spin-off controversies. Did Chick-fil-a lie when they said that the Jim Henson Company dissolved their partnership for reasons other than Dan Cathy’s quote? Did Chick-fil-a create a fake Facebook account to defend itself in light of this debate?

In less than a week, this debate has produced many confusing layers of controversy. But I believe one core problem lies at the heart of the debate. So, as I peel back some of these layers, I hope to expose that core and explain how it fuels both sides of the debate and is actually the central problem that both sides are fighting against.

These are the topics I plan to discuss. Each statement is one with which I disagree.

(1) Gay marriage will invite God’s judgment upon the U.S. or destroy the institution of marriage.

(2) Supporting anti-same-sex marriage groups is effective and must be stopped. – 8/17

(3) Boycotting Chick-fil-a is the only right thing I can do if I support same sex marriage. – 8/18

(4) My city/university should ban Chick-fil-a from opening a location there. – 8/21

(5) Everyone who participated in “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day” is an homosexual hating bigot. – 8/22

(6) Chick-fil-a was caught in a lie about why their partnership with Jim Henson Co. ended. – 8/23

(7) Chick-fil-a was caught creating a fake Facebook account to defend themselves. – 8/23

I will address each topic as a new post on the day listed and link to it here. Please check back for updates!

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  • I’m looking forward to Friday’s post…However, I must ask you: Do you believe that the money you spend at Chick-fil-a eventually flows into the anti-gay groups that Chick-fil-a has been supporting? If so, do you still plan on eating there?

    • Also, I know that you do a fair amount of research for your blog posts, so I would like you look up where Chick-fil-a funnels its money (if you already haven’t).  I want to hear your thoughts….or read, I guess.

      • ZachariahWiedeman

        Thanks, Justin. I have done some extensive “follow the money” research on it. Here’s a teaser… over 25% of Chick-fil-a’s annual $1.7m in donations to “anti-gay groups” ($480,000) was made to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (the second largest recipient on the list). 
        http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201207020001

        Liberals calling the FCA an anti-gay group is about as ridiculous as conservatives calling Planned Parenthood an abortion clinic. http://www.fca.org/

        I will provide an analysis of just how much of a typical $10 you spent at Chick-fil-a is going towards crushing gay rights, as well as an analysis of where all the money you spend with every other business in America  is going (okay, maybe not every other business).

        • ahhh, FCA…I was the treasurer for my high school’s chapter, so I’m with you there. You write, “I will provide an analysis of just how much of a typical $10 you spent at Chick-fil-a is going towards crushing gay rights…” So, does that mean that you think that there ARE funds from food sales going towards crushing gay rights, no matter how small (or large)?

          • You probably see where I’m going. ;-)

          • ZachariahWiedeman

            You’ll just have to wait and find out!

        • John Albert

          They’re not just giving money to Christian athletes. You’re claim that they don’t give money to groups opposing equal rights is beyond disingenuous. It’s an outright lie.

          $1,188,380 (70% of the 1.7m) was donated to the Marriage & Family Foundation, which cites as its goals: “opposing domestic partner benefits” and “opposition to adding homosexuality to the list of protected classes in anti-discrimination lawsuits.”

          http://familyfoundation.org/initiatives/marriage/

          The Marriage & Family Foundation sounds to me rather like a hate group dedicated to opposing equal rights for people of different sexual orientation.