The Artificial Controversy of Chick-fil-A

I respect Chick-fil-A . . . and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Chick-fil-A is an exceptional company that has brought fast food to a whole new level. The entire business is built on principles of excellence, dignity, and respect that have developed a company which produces superior food, superb customer service, clean restaurants, and happy employees. Chick-fil-A has also funded  camps to develop children and families, promoted programs that help foster children, provided thousands of college scholarships, a promoted first-class leadership training.

I believe that every company has the right to support whatever causes they deem important. In fact I believe it is not only a right but a responsibility for businesses to make a positive difference in the world. Unfortunately, the recent uproar over Chick-fil-A’s position on gay marriage has little to do with making a positive difference. It has a lot to do with creating a political (and religious) rallying point for the proponents, or opponents, of gay marriage.

The controversy began when Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A commented, in two different interviews, that he was opposed to gay marriage. This is far from a statement of opposition by the company. Contrast this to Oreo’s post on Facebook on June 25th which was an implicit statement of support for gay marriage. The Chick-fil-A sandwich has instantly become a political symbol with the declaration of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day by Mike Huckabee, the vow of mayors of Boston and San Francisco to never allow Chick-fil-A restaurants in their cities, and an explosion of vehement comments on the web.

The most disturbing part of this situation is that it reveals our ethical inconsistency and the artificial politicizing of social issues. We are allowing people to think that they are standing for equal rights simply by refusing to eat at a fast-food restaurant. Conversely, we are allowing people to believe they are standing to righteousness by eating chicken and waffle fries.

Perhaps you have seen this photo floating around Facebook. “So, you stopped eating at Chick-fil-A because the owner of the company thinks that homosexuality is wrong. Tell me, when are you going to stop buying gasoline because the owners of OPEC put homosexuals to death?”

This is the kind of questions that we should be asking every time this type of controversy erupts. Why are we so anxious to either boycott or support companies that take a stand on gay rights, but we ignore other issues of life and death? Why are church leaders not rallying their congregations to buy Tom’s Shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to a poor child for every single pair they sell? Why are we not demanding that our restaurants and grocery stores sell Fair-Trade coffee, which ensures that coffee farmers in developing counties are not exploited? Why are we not boycotting and protesting Apple Computers, which has been accused of abusing overseas workers and is refusing to bring its manufacturing back to the US?

I propose that we all put more energy into bringing love and life to those who need it, and less energy into being outraged.

19 Responses to “The Artificial Controversy of Chick-fil-A”

  1. Probably the most well thought out and thought provoking comments I’ve seen on this subject/incident (including my own).

  2. I have had a hard time with this since it came about, seeing that Chic-Fil-A did not suddenly change their mind, or suddenly decide to be open about their opinion. It has, as I understand it, been common knowledge for quite some time.
    When compared to other issues, it seems rather trivial.

  3. You are giving an organization that funds aggressive anti-gay rights groups too much credit. Everyone has the right to take a stance in politics. True we should preach love, fairness, and equality. The underlining concern you are avoiding is that the “good book” is interpreted as pro-slavery, anti-women, and anti-homosexual among other topics. If you research where Chick-fil-A actually sends their money I hope you will stop funding a harmful organization.

    • My concern here is not to address Biblical interpretation. Perhaps I will tackle that in the future. I do agree with you that we have a terrible problem when it comes literal interpretations of the Bible that promote discrimination, marginalization, and abuse.

  4. “I respect Chick-fil-A . . . and this has nothing to do with gay rights.” Don’t lie when clearly this is a gay rights issue.Tell the people the truth, show your followers where Chick-fil-A funds actually go. Take a stand, you have a voice in rare position of influence among others. Are Chick-fil-A validated in their funding of aggressive anti-gay rights groups?


  6. OPEC isn’t owned by anyone. OPEC doesn’t sell oil, countries do. The main foreign country we buy oil from is Canada. Canada has legal gay marriage unlike most of our states! So most of the foreign oil we buy supports a country that supports gay marriage!

  7. Why are so few people talking about the problem of government involvement in any type of marriage? I don’t think my marriage (no matter who it may be with) should be any business of the government. If someone wants to talk about over-politicizing marriage, let’s talk about where things first started going wrong. Everyone should have the same rights, and the government should focus on real political issues.

  8. Everyone is missing the point, including you. The Bible teaches us that it is wrong for same sex marriage. When we start believing it is ok to do this, we are violating God’s law. Maybe this is OK for you and some day you may be sleeping with your best friend and may be doing it now but you will have to answer to God for the decisions you make. Just remember we are all accountable for our sins.


  9. Nicely put. As for your comments about buying fair trade coffee, I’d urge you to take a look at that concept from an economic perspective. I try to buy non-fair-trade-coffee whenever possible, but it’s sooooo prevalent:

    • Thanks David. I have heard the criticism of Fair Trade. I do think it is a valid concern. While I am not a huge proponent of the Fair Trade system, I do believe that we need some kind of system that will fight for poor farmers in developing nations. There is little doubt that if I buy the cheapest sugar or coffee on the shelf of the grocery store, those who produced and processed it are being exploited.

  10. It seems to me both sides are caught up over using The Bible (or at least some interpretation of some part of the Old Testament that may or may not actually be relevant) to argue about gay marriage. It’s either “homosexuality is abomination so it’s wrong” or “the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination so it’s promoting anti-gay discrimination.” I don’t think either is a precisely accurate or sophisticated articulation of the “Christian” reason for being against gay marriage. Sex and marriage exist for procreation, thus neither are fully actualized in homosexual unions. Gay marriage simply is not possible because it is by its very nature fruitless. I really doubt the owner of Chik-fil-A hates gay people, even if he seems to be a little bit caught by the Leviticus trap in his reasoning.

    But I digress. If people really think that Chik-fil-A is really so evil, they should either apply for a job there, buy some food from there, or, even better, ask them to cater your gay wedding. I really doubt they’ll refuse you… unless it’s a Sunday.

  11. Thanks for the thoughts, Jas. It really is troubling how quickly the church rallies behind a political agenda, but is so ignorant of many other issues, especially in regard to the suffering of others. My church in australia has begun promoting “ethical shopping” as a way to make a difference. It is not about free trade, it is about choosing companies who have proven to manufacture and deliver products without the abuses of forced labour, are environmentally conscious and/or support local communities. I would recommend – it is an australian site, but has great info and links to american sites that are similar. it is such a small thing, but can make a huge difference.

    Perhaps you could have a periodic blog that highlights a particular company to either support or boycott!! :)

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