BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When Chick-fil-A's president Dan Cathy came out loud and clear against same-sex marriage, some folks decided that CFA restaurants are for the birds, and are taking their business elsewhere. Christian right culture warriors, incensed by the outpouring of anti-Chick-fil-A sentiment, are mounting a pro-CFA campaign.
Cathy says that he runs Chick-fil-A, as is his father did before him, on biblically based principles. His defenders also talk about biblically based principles. How has the term biblically based principles gotten so defined down that it has essentially come to mean being against same-sex marriage?
Joel C. Rosenberg, the noted Armageddonist and best selling author of several End Times novels, responded to the Chick-fil-A controversy with a blog post that wanted to know why the Left has its "long knives ... out for the leaders of the Chick-fil-A corporation." Rosenberg, who is out promoting Implosion, his most recent book, charged the American Left with "declar[ing] war against the traditional family, against the Bible, and against all who dare say that they follow Biblical principles."
Rosenberg also recently reported that Cathy, described by Rosenberg as "a devout born again follower of Jesus Christ," maintains "that while he and his company respect and honor people of all races, creeds, religions and sexual orientations, he strongly believes in traditional marriage between one man and one woman and is ‘guilty as charged' when it comes to defending a Biblical approach to family."
Cathy also believes, as do many conservative Christian evangelicals, that America's cultural permissiveness "could trigger the judgment of God against us if we choose to continue defying the Bible's teachings on marriage. ‘I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You what constitutes a marriage.'"
The late Rev. Jerry Falwell used that same line of reasoning when he blamed gays, liberals, the ACLU, pro-choice folks and others immediately after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
More recently, several conservative evangelicals have said Cathy-like things when commenting about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado.
Another Twenty-First Century Culture War Skirmish
Cathy's anti-same-sex marriage remarks brought down the wrath of gay rights supporters. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Joe Moreno said they are determined to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in Chicago. In a letter from to Cathy, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said that he "was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." Menino later acknowledged that he couldn't, and wouldn't, stop CFA from opening a restaurant in the Boston area.
But Cathy also has some pretty impressive allies as well, including evangelist emeritus Billy Graham, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family (he took over the reins from FotF founder James Dobson), and former Arkansas Governor, and current Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee.
In a statement, Graham supported Truett Cathy and his son Dan, and praised them "for their strong stand for the Christian faith. I've known their family for many years and have watched them grow Chick-fil-A into one of the best businesses in America while never compromising their values. ...Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God's word. I appreciate the Cathy family's public support for God's definition of marriage.
Graham also acknowledged "Huckabee's leadership and [thanked him] for encouraging Americans to support Chick-fil-A on August 1. As the son of a dairy farmer who milked many a cow, I plan to 'Eat Mor Chikin' and show my support by visiting Chick-fil-A next Wednesday."
In an op-ed piece for crosswalk.com, Daly wrote: "When a good man who has devoted his life to managing a successful and upstanding business that's deeply committed to the community is labeled a bigot for supporting the traditional understanding of family, something is wrong. .... Dan Cathy and his corporation are deserving of praise. They love and serve all people -- and are wonderful role models for how to engage a diverse public."
Huckabee, who prides himself on his born-again healthy lifestyle that saw him lose a lot of weight a few years back, is the point man for "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," which is set for August 1. The aim of the day is to have Chick-fil-A supporters buy/eat/give away as many chicken sandwiches as they can possibly consume.
"Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick fil-A on Wednesday, August 1," Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page.
"Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant."
What Are Chick-Fil-A's "Biblically-Based Principles"?
In a Facebook posting, Chick-fil-A, headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, Georgia, described itself as "a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates." Truett Cathy, who founded the company, "began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family."
This company's "biblically-based" business practices seem to be the basis for Chick-fil-A's involvement with anti-gay organizations and activities. In January of last year, The Advocate reported that the company had "thrown its support behind ‘The Art of Marriage,' a series of antigay marriage conferences being held ... in south-central Pennsylvania." In 2009, Change.org reported Chick-fil-A had supported the anti-gay Colorado-based Focus on the Family.
What "applying biblically-based principles" actually means, other than being opposed to same-sex marriage and closing on Sundays, is open to question.
Does the company treat its workers fairly, pay a decent wage and offer reasonable benefits? Is the company a good environmental steward? Are their chickens free range and organic or are they raised in factory farms? Is the food it serves healthy and nutritious?
In mid-April, the Washington City Paper's Chris Shott -- an admitted fan of Chick-fil-A's chicken nuggets -- acknowledged that, "these greasy golden-brown morsels (retail price: $4.69 for a 12-pack) packed with sodium (1490 mg) and cholesterol (105 mg)," are nutritional time bombs.