Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Chick Fil A Controversy

I've been tweeting for over a month about the rage against Chick Fil A in Pennsylvania and the calls for boycotting the chain because they disagree with the company providing food to "some of the most ferocious anti-gay groups around". At first I thought wow, that's quite a charge, what are these groups doing? Participating in lynchings? Contracting hits on gay people? I mean, what actually defines "ferocious"?
Merriam Webster says:
"1: exhibiting or given to extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality
2: extremely intense "

The group in question was the Pennsylvania Family Institute. In Particular, Chick Fil A is providing lunch for thier marriage seminar "The heart of marriage: getting to the heart of God's design for marriage".
View the promotional trailer:

From their Mission and Values page:
"The Mission of the Pennsylvania Family Institute is to strengthen families by restoring to public life the traditional, foundational principles and values essential for the well-being of society. We are a research and education organization devoted to restoring these values to our state and nation. We produce policy reports, promote responsible citizenship and work to promote unity among pro-family groups."
and their About page:
The Need for Strong Families Has Never Been Greater
In the last three decades, the number of out of wedlock births in Pennsylvania increase an astounding 400%, more than doubling for age 19 and younger.
In 1960, less than 1 out of 5 marriages in Pennsylvania ended in divorce. Today, statistically half of all marriages taking place this year will end in divorce.
In 1992-93, Pennsylvania ranked 4th nationally in total public school spending, yet the state has a high illiteracy rate, with SAT scores and high school graduation rates consistently below the national average.
Young people are becoming more violent. From 1987 to 1992, juvenile aggravated assault increased in Pennsylvania by 59% and juvenile drug offenses rose 96%.
Hard-core pornography has proliferated breaking down barriers of decency and offering its patrons a distorted view of morals and sexuality.
Each day 33,000 people contract a sexually-transmitted disease. That equates to over 12 million cases per year, up from 4 million in 1980.
Sobering as they may be, these numbers are still cold and faceless. At Pennsylvania Family Institute they come alive, representing real people who are experiencing the results of a culture that is turning its back on the family.
So where is the ferociousness?

Oh. The group supports a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as man and woman. To watch the trailer for the event, one would be hard pressed to think the event was focused around gay marriage, as a matter of fact, no where in the event information is the definition of marriage even mentioned, contrary to what is saying:
"The February event co-sponsored by Chick-fil-A is called "The Art of Marriage," and it's intended to be a launching point for Pennsylvania to return to "the biblical definition of marriage." Given the work of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, it's hard not to see where this event is going to go -- straight for the jugular of anyone who supports marriage equality for same-sex couples."
Man, talk about violent rhetoric! "Straight for the jugular"? Are they trying to imply that this group is conspiring in some way to kill gay people? Contrary to what this group believes, when I attend faith based meetings that talk about topics pertaining to my marriage, gay marriage is the least thing on my mind. My marriage, and my life, is on my mind. The comment that I found most dramatic was:
"And if you're spending money on Chick-fil-A sandwiches, you're helping the Pennsylvania Family Institute deliver this message." (message being, supporting traditional marriage through a citizen vote instead of judicial activism)
The above comments then lead up to the call for a boycott of Chick Fil A because of the donation of sandwiches to a marriage seminar. That leaves several thoughts. I'm not a "boycotter" myself. I'm a firm believer that, if you do not like what a business is doing, you have the right to not spend your money at that establishment. I do believe, however, that over-inflated calls for boycotts are too dramatic for my tastes. The call by for people to boycott Chick Fil A, I believe, is as equally dramatic as the calls for boycotts by the American Family Association. You do not need a dramatic diatribe to convince people to do something. Let people make the choice themselves. "Did you know Chick Fil A was donating food to a marriage seminar event promoted by a group that supports a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as man and woman?"

The defense of Chick Fil A has been interesting. The other day, I heard the quote on the radio AND read it online myself, the current President of Chick Fil A, Dan Cathey (son of the founder):

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Cathy says Chick-fil-A operates its business on Biblical principles but "is not a Christian company."
But to watch this video, it seems Mr. Cathy might be spinning a little:

Dan Cathy Statement from Chick-fil-A on Vimeo.

To insist that Chick Fil A is anything BUT a Christian company, strikes a nerve with a great many conservatives. While not questioning the company's founding principles, I question, however, just how committed Dan Cathy is to his father's vision. The evidence is clear, for me, to feel comfortable in doing so. There is no doubt that the company values Christianity, you can hear that through the music played in the dining rooms of the restaurants; but WHY did he say the company was NOT Christian? Is he comfortable enough in his statement that providing food is not the same as endorsing a group, that the chain would donate food to anti-marriage (poke poke, that is MY buzz word) groups that are vehemently FOR marriages having to be validated by the state to begin with? In other words, those groups who are pushing sooo hard for homosexual marriages to be legislated the same as heterosexual marriages?

These are my questions:
If providing food is not the same as an endorsement- will Chick Fil A, as an olive branch to those who are so angry with them now (to shut them up?)- donate food to groups that do not live to glorify Jehovah God in all that they do?

Is it possible, to live one's life morally, in line with biblical principles, and NOT be Christian?

What are your thoughts?

I look forward to reading your responses below. For now, I'm headed up the road to Chick Fil A for lunch- because I appreciate the people who work there and wish to see their jobs secured through my money.

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