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Why would anyone be against a business’s charity foundation donating millions of dollars for college scholarships, foster care, retreat centers, and programs designed to strengthen and save marriages? That’s what Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation1 supports: programs dedicated to “shaping people to be winners.”
Due to these programs, Chick-fil-A has for several months been attracting the attention of activists accusing the company of hating homosexual people. (See News to Note, March 10, 2012.) Those accusations have crescendoed from campus protests to the mayors of major cities in the wake of recent comments Chick-fil-A’s president and CEO Dan Cathy made in support of the biblically traditional family.
Ironically, the remarks that have engendered so much ire include nothing at all about gay people. Dan Cathy, during an interview with Baptist Press of North Carolina, explained his understanding of the way a company can operate on biblical principles:
We don't claim to be a Christian business. There is no such thing as a Christian business. . . . Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me. . . . [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are. . . . But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have.2
Voices have not risen to protest Cathy’s remarks about the importance of Christ-like behavior in the workplace or even the company’s policy of closing on Sunday. No, the protests came in response to his support of the traditional family.
Voices have not risen to protest Cathy’s remarks about the importance of Christ-like behavior in the workplace or even the company’s policy of closing on Sunday. No, the protests came in response to his support of the traditional family. Cathy said,
We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.
A number of politicians and protestors have vilified these remarks as “hate-speech” against homosexuals. Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney, for instance, said, “There is no place for this type of hate in our great City of Brotherly and Sisterly Affection.” Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino declared Chick-fil-A unwelcome in his city, saying Chick-fil-A’s presence would besmirch Boston’s Freedom Trail. And Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared, “Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's values.” Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno declared his intent to block the restaurant from opening a franchise in his ward.3
In response, a number of Americans have risen up to recall that America was founded by people with a plurality of Judeo-Christian values embracing and defending their common desire to protect their mutual freedoms, including freedom of expression. In fact, the threatened discrimination is unconstitutional.4 August 1, thanks largely to the social media, became “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” as people lined up for chicken, some to show solidarity with Cathy’s stand on biblical principles and some to stand for his right to speak of his beliefs publicly.
The historical foundation of marriage reaches back 6,000 years to the day God created Adam and Eve for each other. Adam freely recognized Eve as his wife in Genesis 2:23, and God declared them to be joined in marriage in Genesis 2:24. Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:4–6 reinforced the truth that marriage was designed by God to be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis responded to the controversy by asking in his blog, “Why are they intolerant of the only true marriage?”5 The answer lies in the war of worldviews. Those protesting Cathy’s right to speak for biblical marriage are not only denying our Creator’s authority but also denying the rights of others to acknowledge the Creator’s authority.
Read more about what the Bible reveals about the dangers to cultures that reject God’s authority in this matter in Ken’s blog.6
Chick-fil-A has a reputation as a family-friendly restaurant that seeks to treat all guests with hospitality. Perhaps the over-blown reactions of public officials who declare such places aren’t welcome in their “friendly” towns will help more people to realize the absurdity of defining tolerance as “acceptance of only those who agree with you.”
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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.