While I’m at it, let me say what’s been on my mind concerning the Chick-Fil-A hullabaloo. I know everyone is sick of hearing about the Chick. Fine. Scroll on by. But I’m on a roll, and I feel like typing this out.
If all that happened was that Dan Cathy said what he did about his beliefs about marriage and God and the gays and all of that, while I would find it distasteful, I would not necessarily feel compelled to take my fast-food dollars elsewhere. Chick-Fil-A has a lot of good stuff to say for itself, like having clean restaurants and pleasant staff. I hear they make some charitable contributions that no one could oppose (you know, other than the stuff people can seriously oppose–more on this later). It’s supposed to be a nice place to work, as fast-food restaurants go, and I heard once that their corporate headquarters has an awesome day care on site, and policies designed to make returning to work easier on new moms. And I like their food. Not enough to eat there all the time or anything; I probably have my 8-piece nugget meal with waffle fries 4 or 5 times a year, if that.
Plus, Dan Cathy’s allowed to believe whatever he wants. Generally speaking, he doesn’t get on a soap box to preach about the gays. He was asked about his opinion on gay marriage during an interview with a Baptist news agency. Everyone knows Chick-Fil-A operates on Christian principles of a particular shade, or everyone at least suspects it when they realize they can’t Eat Mor Chikin on Sunday. It should come as no surprise that Cathy believes what he does, nor that he felt at ease talking about it in an interview with the Baptists. The fact that this is the first time his beliefs have been confirmed to the public, and the fact that he has not continued to engage the world at large in this debate, suggest that he’s not attempting to begin some anti-gay war with semi-literate cows on the front lines. And it kind of lends credence to his insistence that CFA treats all of their patrons with the same level of respect.
Besides, it’s not realistic to shop only with people who share your beliefs. For one thing, it would be difficult to determine who agrees with you, and to what degree they agree with you, and how much that matters. Plus, think of the limitations on what you can do or buy. I mean, I was an English major, but most of the English majors I know are pretty bad at math, so if I refuse to do business with anyone who can’t read Shakespeare, I may never get my taxes done.
However. Dan Cathy expressing his beliefs about gay marriage is not all that happened.
Even before the kerfuffle with Dan Cathy’s “guilty as charged” remarks, there were rumbles about what CFA does with its profits. And this is where it gets sticky for me. A large amount of CFA buckaroos go to organizations that actively work against my values. This goes for a number of issues, but since the gays are the topic of the day, let’s just focus on them (since everyone else is). CFA contributes to Exodus International, which tries to help gay people not be gay anymore. Of CFA’s charitable contributions, I think their donations to Exodus are comparatively small. Even so, if I ever hear about some poor 16-year-old gay kid who committed suicide after his mom sent him to butch camp on a Chick-Fil-A scholarship, those eight nuggets and waffle fries are going to feel like thirty pieces of silver sitting in my stomach.
To me, the problem isn’t that CFA is against gay marriage in principle (as much as a corporation can have beliefs and values) but that CFA’s money goes to some aggressive organizations that could actually do harm to gay people by making them believe that they can or should try to be something they aren’t, or that they are less than others because of what they are. (And there’s other stuff these organizations do–I’m sure you’ve Googled it by now.) And I can’t feel good about forwarding my own money on to these organizations via Chick-Fil-A.
Does this mean I’ll never eat there again? Probably not; I’m sure I will go again. In fact, the uproar over CFA has made me crave the Chick lately just by making me think of it when I normally don’t remember it exists. But I will certainly pause before I hit that efficiently designed drive-through.
On a related note, I was so interested by something I read on PNJ.com about the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day (or whatever it was) that Wednesday when everyone went to lunch there:
Here in Pensacola, our two CFA locations were very well attended that day, with lines running a long way out the building. Photos accompanying the article showed three protesters outside of one location: one wearing a cow costume with a mask and holding a “GOD HATES FAGS” sign, and two standing beside him holding signs that said, “Don’t Listen To Hate” and “God Loves Everyone.” (CFA made it clear that the guy in the cow costume with the “GOD HATES FAGS” sign was not affiliated with them and that they were unable to make him leave since he was not actually on CFA property.) The masked cow (who refused to be identified) showed up first, but the kids with the “God Loves Everyone” signs saw him and made their own signs in response and stood next to him. “Much later in the day,” the masked cow revealed to the PNJ reporter that he “is actually a gay rights supporter and said he was ‘satirizing’ Christian extremism.” The really interesting part is that the kids with the nice signs told the PNJ reporter that they actually support Chick-Fil-A’s view on marriage. So… these people stood outside of this demonstration and each demonstrated for the view that opposed their own. I just… love that.