Here’s the president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, publicly claiming to focus on his chicken business, not supporting hatred of gay people:
I’m keeping the main thing, the main thing. Chick-fil-A is about great food, great service and genuine hospitality for all.
But it’s not all Chick-fil-A is about, is it? It’s also about making money off gay hate, and supporting anti-gay hate groups. Here’s what he communicated to Rick Warren by phone yesterday. Warren stupidly tweeted the content of the conversation in a Twitter post, then took it down. But before it was taken down, it was captured by a gay rights group:
The president of Chick-fil-A, gloating over a hate-inspired day, even while formally claiming that he’s just focused on making chicken, is pretty obnoxious. What lovely Money Christians Dan Cathy and Rick Warren are.
Here are some gay flash-mobbers also voting with their dollars.
Too much animal protein isn’t all that good for you anyway. Maybe people should choose not to eat at Chick-fil-A for health reasons as well.
For a first-hand account by a lesbian employee of how the Chick-fil-A hate-in went on Wednesday, see here. Here’s a taste:
The people I work alongside kept going on and on about how powerful it was to be part of such a righteous movement, and how encouraged they were to know that there were so many people who agree with Dan Cathy. They went on at great length about how it was wrong not just for gays to marry, but to exist. One kid, age 19, said “I hope the gays go hungry.”
I nearly walked out then and there. . . .
That arrogance, self-righteousness, and desire for their opponents to suffer: that’s the least Christ-like attitude of all.
The cruelty directed toward gays–the ‘stuff it’ attitude–that Wednesday represented is what most gets to me as well.
From what I understand, all Dan Cathy said was that they were a family-oriented business with traditional family-values; he didn’t even mention the gay-marriage issue. And didn’t he make this statement to the reporter of a specifically Southern Baptist newspaper? Given that he’s evidently a devout, conservative, evangelical Christian, talking to a devout, conservative, evangelical Christian newpaper, what do you expect him to say? (Besides, if him merely noting that he and his fellow Chick-fil-A executives are all “married to our first wives” now constitutes a fire-breathing denunciation of homosexuals, then surely coming up with a list of statements that aren’t considered offensive and homophobic would be far easier than a list of those that are. Frankly, it’s pathetic.)
And even if I’m mistaken and he really did mention that he is personally opposed to gay marriage, so what? He was expressing his opinion! Is that now allowed only if your opinion happens to coincide with the current, officially PC-approved set?
Moreover, given how the mainstream media and the ideological left have hysterically reacted to Cathy’s non-statement, those of like-mind showing up to support Chick-fil-A is hardly the equivalent of a “hate-in.” You don’t like his (alleged) opinion, don’t patronize his restaurants — it’s, of course, well within your rights. But to then suggest that those who do share his opinion and who wish to show their support by eating his chicken sandwiches are thereby hate-filled, in my own opinion, that evinces far more hate than they are.
And finally, being against gay-marriage is not the same as hating gays. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, the couple we hang out with the most is a married gay couple. My wife and I are both against the definition of marriage being extended to same-sex couples — and both of them know that — but at the same time, we obviously don’t hate them.
He has a right to his opinion, of course. And if all he did was express his personal opinion to a Baptist publication, very few people would vote with their dollars and boycott his restaurants. But he took it much further than this. Profits from his company are being used to support anti-gay activism. That’s worth noticing. And numerous far-right celebrities, like Rush Limbaugh, publicly egged-on the Wednesday event to make it look like it’s completely respectable to erect hate on gay people.
Eating chicken is bad for you, anyway, and cruel to animals. There are other good reasons not to eat at a fast food chicken restaurant. That, I think, should be part of this conversation as well. What Limbaugh and other culture warriors on the right promote are sexist and homophobic junk culture and junk food. Crass suburban populism shouldn’t be confused with following the Prince of Peace.
So Cathy is putting his money where his mouth is. Again, so what? That is a part of free expression. Moreover, each time the issue of gay marriage has been put a vote, it’s been voted down — even in relatively liberal California! So it’s not like his views on the subject are out of the mainstream. And once more, wanting to maintain the definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman is not the equivalent of hating homosexuals. Heck, I encourage gay couples to commit themselves to one another.
I totally applaud your tolerance in encouraging gay couples that aren’t of your faith to go ahead and be in a committed relationship. Your live-and-let-live attitude is wonderful. But in a secular democracy, this means civil marriage, not religious marriage. This whole controversy is born from applying notions underlying religious marriage to civil marriage. Civil marriage is not recognized by God, but by the state for a straightforward purpose: equality under the law (in terms of visitation rights at hospitals, taxation, etc.).
If it were my call, there would be no civil marriage at all. It would be left to individuals to declare who they take themselves to be married to. I would be happy, for example, to recognize a polygamous marriage among a group of mature adults who told me that’s how they arrange their lives.
But since civil marriage certificates are not going away, and they carry legal equality issues with them, gays will necessarily expect to be treated equally. Like it or not, people from different faiths, interracial couples, polygamous groups, and those of the same gender all expect to have their marriages recognized by the state for equality purposes. And in a free country, civil marriages must be easily dissolved. No Catholic, for example, thinks a Protestant married to another Protestant–or to a Muslim or a Jew–is a marriage recognized in the eyes of God. Barack Obama’s parents were no doubt despised by bigots for their interracial marriage. And one who is religious cannot easily leave one’s vows. Divorce, like gay marriage, is a matter of conscience, not a matter for civil authorities to pass judgments upon.
Civil marriage is different from religious marriage on many counts because it has to do with equality of individual rights in a democracy, not God’s law applied to a believing community. Part of the problem, in addition to confusing religious and civil marriage, is confusing the secular and diverse democratic community with a community of believers.
A mature adult, theist or atheist, can reject the forcing of conscience and accept a diversity of self-definitions. A mature adult can move with civility among those who define themselves differently from him or her.
And this is where the Tea Party culture warriors display themselves to be emotional juveniles. The reality is that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and urbanized (demographers say that 90% of all humans will live in cities a century from now). That means that people who could once ignore and demonize one another must necessarily interact with one another. This also means that, for there to be peace, conscience must not be forced and everyone must be treated the same under the civil law. In such a situation, full gay CIVIL rights must logically be granted. To call gay equality ruinous of America is to mistake America with a community of believers. America is not a community of believers. It is a diverse and democratic republic constrained by Lockean and Jeffersonian notions of civil equality under the law.
I suppose I should have done this sooner, but here is the quote from Dan Cathy that is the source of all this controversy:
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
That’s it. If anything, such a statement seems more directed toward those are divorced or, I suppose, those who are re-married (or if one was really bound and determined to be offended, those who are atheists who don’t want God to be thanked for anything). So why wasn’t it America’s divorced community — or re-married community — who rose up in such high dudgeon? Why was it that three major U.S. city mayors (and one Chicago alderman) threatened to deny business licences to a fast food chain, in the interests of — of all things! — tolerance, while accusing both a man and an entire corporation of being intolerant, discriminatory, homophobic, and hate-filled, when all the man essentially said was that he and his colleagues try to run a family-oriented business? I’m sorry, but this is crazy!
Your source for “all Cathy said” is wrong. Here’s the Washington Post for context:
Dan Cathy, president of the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A . . . [said] on a radio show that “we’re 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. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”
Following backlash after those remarks, Cathy then told the Baptist Press in an article posted July 16 that he is “guilty as charged” and is very “supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”
Reaction has been fierce and swift. Bloggers sounded off. Celebrities promised to boycott Chick-fil-A. Fans of the company reacted on Twitter and Facebook with everything from support to disgust.
Chick-fil-A’s Christian ethos is already widely known. The chain, which has more than 100 locations in Virginia and more than 50 in Maryland, is closed on Sundays, pipes in hymns on the grounds surrounding its headquarters and has previously come under fire from lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender groups for donations made by the company’s foundation.
In other words, we have comments and donations that make gays want to vote with their dollars and not support the franchise. If you think fast food chicken is great and support groups that fight gay civil equality, you’re free to eat there. Nobody is stopping you. But those of us who find anti-gay politics repugnant are properly informed by the gay-led boycott. And not one aspect of my previous response was addressed by you. You simply changed the subject. Why do you try to conflate religious marriage and civil marriage? Why do you appear unwilling to make the obvious distinction–or even to discuss it?
As the WaPo article witnesses, Cathy didn’t say anything about gay-marriage in his interview with ‘The Baptist Press’ and only alluded to it in this radio interview (which, for some reason, I’m unable to find anywhere). There, all he says is that it is his OPINION that the U.S. is “INVITING God’s judgment” because of the repeated attempts to redefine marriage. He doesn’t declare God’s judgment, and he even goes so far as to say that he “prays for God’s mercy on our generation.” These are hardly the words of a “hate-filled” man.
That being said, whether we like it or not, the Bible is pretty clear on the subject of homosexuality. And (I’ll pull an Obama here), let me be perfectly clear: I have nothing but sympathy — bordering on genuine heartache — for homosexuals. My wife is a flight attendant and so comes in contact with more gay men than one normally would in other lines of work. She recently met a fellow FA who, upon hearing of my wife’s Christian faith, asked her how she felt about homosexuality. Referencing our gay friends, she told him that while she opposes gay-marriage, that doesn’t keep her from enjoying their friendship. During the course of the ensuing conversation, this fellow then confessed to her about how he desperately wants to worship God, but at the same time feels so incredibly conflicted because of his undeniable attraction to other men. I know I can only imagine what it would be like to have such profound feelings labelled sinful.
Now, I know too many American Christians seem overly obsessed with the sin of homosexuality, especially over-against other activities that the Bible also informs us are wrong. For instance, the Bible also speaks against gluttony, yet there are far too many church leaders who regularly rail against homosexuality but who can barely touch the podium at which they’re preaching because of the grotesque obesity of their own bellies. Some people have an undeniable and excessive attraction to food, but it’s very rare that it’s similarly expected of them to hold such desires in check. This is an especially egregious oversight given that all they would be told is to rein things in a bit, not to totally deny such fundamental urges altogether, such as is demanded of homosexuals. Nevertheless, biblically, it’s still a sin, and while we’re to be as loving, forgiving, caring, and understanding as we can be with homosexuals, gluttons, gossips, and other wrongdoers (if only because we’re all included in that general category), that doesn’t include declaring and accepting any of this activity as okay. We may not fully understand why God has designated certain things as wrong, but as believing Christians we don’t get to say something is right when God has said it’s wrong. (And if somebody is convinced that we’ve erred in our interpretation of Scripture and can show me where, I’m all ears.)
By the way, I’m willing to discuss anything. I merely thought I was keeping the correspondence on topic.
In addition to gluttony, the New Testament is also adamently opposed to torture, accumulating wealth (see James 5 for example), and returning violence with violence–yet the Republican Party’s base professes to be 2/3 “Christian” even as that party’s very identity is to applaud money-grubbing, oil wars, fatty and environmentally destructive cuisine, bearing arms, tough posturing, and torture.
Homosexuals are thus scapegoats on which hateful people erect their hateful politics. There’s no principle involved. If there was principle involved, contemporary “Christains” would sell all they have and give it to the poor, joining them in nonviolent trust in the redeeming power of God. They would act more like Gandhi, King, and Tolstoy, not Sarah Palin. Contemporary “Christian” activism is evidence of a lack of faith.
I’m happy to hear that you are personally compassionate to gays, but gays don’t want your compassion so much as they want you to stop erecting laws against the free exercise of their private consciences. That’s all. You can love them or dislike them all you want if you’ll just leave them to work out their own lives in civil equality. There would be no offense if contemporary “Christians” didn’t try to bring the law to bear upon gay people.
Santi, it doesn’t seem like David is hearing what you’re saying. He’s simply just waiting for his turn to talk. There’s no point in debating with Bible-thumping religious people who will not change their minds no matter how hard the evidence points the other way.
Lol! Oh yeah, I’m Bible-thumping all over the place here. Or haven’t you noticed that, of Santi and I, the only one to actually appeal to the Bible by specifically mentioning a book and chapter is Santi? (Certainly not that I have any problem with him doing so.) I’ve only alluded to the Bible in the most general way which, given the topic of discussion, is practically unavoidable.
But aside from that, it’s amazing to me how so many on the ideological left only regard somebody else as “hearing” them solely if that other person happens to agree with them, otherwise “They’re just not listening.” Forgive me for saying so but it takes a certain kind of arrogance to think like that.
You don’t have to agree with me, but it would be nice if you addressed the issue of civic vs. religious marriage. I’ve made that a key distinction in my argument and you have, thus far, ignored it.
I’m sorry but you have a peculiar penchant for telling Christians what to believe and how to act in order for us to be better Christians in your eyes. That individual Christians fail in myriad ways is both undeniable and unavoidable — we’re still fallen humans living in a broken world, and it’s the realization that we’re shipwrecked sinners that motivated us to become Christians to begin with! I assure, you pointing out our individual faults isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know.
But nevertheless, survey after survey has shown that, on the whole, conservative, evangelical Christians are, by all measurable standards, the most generous and charitable people on the planet.
And finally, it’s not Christians that are trying to “bring the law to bear upon gay people” (there may very well be some people who advocate for re-criminalizing sodomy and the like, but not only would they be pitifully few in number but also fringe besides), rather it’s the homosexual community trying to force changes in our laws in order to accommodate them. Besides that, the fact remains, it’s not just Christians; no society anywhere, at any time in history, has ever included same-sex couples within their definition of marriage.
Well, if you and your fellow “Christians” (I think there are actually very few practicing Christians in the United States, people who actually do what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount concerning nonviolence and nonpossession of material wealth) are so fully aware of your shortcomings, you certainly put on a false face to outsiders.
Right-wing politicized “Christians” don’t come across as vulnerable, doubting, compassionate adults. They come across as people not only quite certain of being right, but quite indifferent to the suffering of individuals mowed over by the advances of their rightness (support for the Iraq War, Bush’s torture practices, and opposition to free conscience exercised by gays and women are obvious examples).
For all appearances, contemporary “Christians” embrace the very things that Jesus so plainly told his followers not to embrace (money, returning violence with violence, torture, gluttony, praying in public, taking up swords, etc.). There are more things, in fact, that contemporary American Christians of the right-wing politicized variety practice that is the OPPOSITE of Jesus’s teachings than are in line with them. I don’t know what you call that. Perhaps anti-Christ (anti-Christians). It’s really not right for people to call themselves “Christian” when they don’t, you know, follow the plain teachings of Christ.
I assume you agree with me about this when it comes to Mormons–they might call
themselves “Christians,” but it is quite plain that neither Jesus nor Paul would have recognized them as such. I’m curious as to why you cannot see the same vast gap between politicized American “Christians” and the Christ of the gospels.
If you say–“Well, Jesus’ plain teachings in the gospels are too hard to practice; we need grace”–then give that same latitude of conscience and equality under the law to gay people and women (particularly feminists). Stop treating them as whipping posts for culture war mobilization. Let people free associate and work out their own salvations (or not) as you yourself are doing. If you don’t do that, then anti-homosexual politics just becomes another distraction of the devil from your own life’s work, which is to (presumably) make your life align with the radical path Christ taught and exemplified (nonviolence, love, compassion, nonkilling, nonmaterialism, noncruelty).
If Jesus’s life meant anything, it was an experiment in a model different from the worldly exercise of power: it was an experiment in the power of love and conscience alone to soften and change hearts, lives, and community structures of violence. Jesus never forced anybody and never sought formal political rule on this earth. Instead, he was the victim of the political exercise of power. It’s not followers of Jesus that annoy secular people. Wherever a true Christian is met, that can be understood and respected. That can be understood.
I do know a real Christian. He is a friend of mine. I’ll tell you about him below.
The one true Christian I know of is a Catholic priest in my town. He’s not from around here. I have become friends with him. I truly believe that Gandhi and Jesus live in him. Unlike me, he is kind and never returns evil for evil.
I was introduced to him by my dad (who is Roman Catholic) and we hit it off immediately. We both like each other enormously. He was born in another country; a poor country. People once tried to kill him there and he did not seek retribution against them. This led to the conversion of some of them.
He possesses nothing. He has no apartment, no home, no family. He sleeps in a nursing home room most nights and ministers to the abandoned elderly. He sends his monthly stipend to a school for impoverished Muslim children in his home country so that they can become educated. He is convinced that literacy and education are keys to a better world. He is not politicized. His focus is on love, education, and the free conscience.
If you offer to help him financially, he pretty much refuses. He will sometimes accept a gift of food. Otherwise, if you want to help him he points you to the poor students that he knows and who need tuition money and books. One of those students he’s helped recently started college because of him. This priest is a happy person. He is utterly different from the vast majority of “Christian” Americans because the vast majority of “Christian” Americans do not imitate Christ (not even approximately). He does.
“You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows.”