Two things the world doesn’t need any more of: fast-food chains, and the Christian-right entrepreneurs who profit from them.
Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy is in hot water, and deservedly so, for telling Baptist Press he operates his chain “on biblical principles” and has an established policy against marriage equality.
It all started when Cathy was asked about the company’s “support of the traditional family” by the Biblical Recorder, a radio show, and responded: “Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
On June 16, he told “The Ken Coleman Show,” “As it relates to society in general, 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.’ I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
According to Baptist Press, the company issued a statement on July 19 telling customers that "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena" and that its tradition is "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." Somehow, the statement seemed less than propitiatory when it added that the chain has applied "biblically-based principles" to business management and will continue to do so (including closing on Sundays).
These masters of emotional boycotts — the far Religious Right — are shocked! shocked! that Chick-fil-A has ruffled feathers and is facing consumer reprisal and boycotts. Yes, Christian-right CEOs have a right to make antigay statements, and consumers have a right to boycott their restaurants. Get this. Focus on the Family’s Glenn T. Stanton (who?) called the restaurant’s critics “close-minded fundamentalists!” One wonders whether the dig by the Human Rights Campaign went over the heads of the real fundamentalists. NRC posted a Chick-fil-A logo on its website with a phony tagline: “We Didn’t Invent Discrimination. We Just Support It.”
Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says he’s been “incensed at the vitriolic assaults,” in a sense has dug the hole deeper for Cathy by calling a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” for tomorrow to “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse.”
Chick-fil-A is a four billion dollar a year enterprise with more than 1600 restaurants, including 262 restaurants in Texas and strongholds in other southern states. The Atlanta college football bowl game is now named after Chick-fil-A instead of being called the Peach Bowl. It is “the only bowl that has an invocation,” Cathy boasted in an interview to Baptist Press. “It’s in our agreement that if Chick-fil-A is associated in this, there’s going to be an invocation. Also, we don’t have our bowl on Sunday, either.”
Where is H.L. Mencken when we need him? Mencken, that arch-cynic, famously wrote: "No one in this world, so far as I know . . . has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." Mencken could have added, “or by underestimating their taste(bud)s.”