31 Jul 2012

Why Chick-Fil-A’s stance against GLBT equality, and our response to it matters

It may seem as if I’m coming into this discussion a bit late, in fact – I’m not –  I’ve been participating in the  boycott against Chick-fil-A for nearly 3 years now and in those 3 years I’ve probably been 5 times when other people were driving. I’m not sure why Dan Cathy had to make it official that he and the company had a stance that was specifically geared against GLBTQ equality, perhaps the media simply didn’t pick up on the millions in donations made every year to Focus on the Family and similar organizations – or their attempts to blackball PFLAG groups from making grounds in private colleges the WinShape Foundation makes sizable donations to. (These are old news stories that are almost impossible to find because of the torrent of hype surrounding the recent statements by Dan Cathy – once this dies down it should be easier to find them and I’ll update the post with links.)

Contrary to what many conservative Christians might have you think, this is not a witch hunt all about taking away a single man or even a companies’ rights of freedom of speech away;  though you may have a few people taking advantage of the emotions of the moment willing to ban privately owned franchises (likely because it will benefit them politically, and yes I’m looking at you Mayor’s Menino, Lee, and Emmanuel) Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A are perfectly within their rights to talk about how sinful they believe same sex marriage is – and they can even give money to whatever causes they deem appropriate. Obviously I believe that, as a boycott participant if I didn’t believe that I’d be a hypocrite.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: people have a Constitutional right to bigotry, to hate, and to being closed minded.

This is far bigger than speech or words though. It’s about the distribution of millions of dollars intended both to affect legislation and destroy lives (even if done with the best of intentions). It’s about creating and continuing a culture that makes it OK to stigmatize children and adults whom, whether they chose it or not, posses a sexual identity that is different from the mainstream. A culture which rejects children based on their sexuality, for any reason, leads to a %300-800 increase in  suicide and attempted suicide among those youth.

Chick-Fil-A gives money to organizations that ensure that this culture remains and becomes further pervasive in society, and the fact that a “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day” is being scheduled for August 1st by Mike Huckabee is evidence of just how out of touch certain members of the right are. People are being alienated for things beyond their control (or not, whether or not homosexuality is a choice is actually irrelevant here) and a man is being praised for his statements and contributions that ensure that they will remain a secondary class of society for years into the future. Think, dear Christians. Think. You are praising a man for driving people toward taking their own lives.  Yes, he has the right to speak as he wishes, to believe whatever idiocy he pleases, but please consider the consequences of these statements and these contributions.  Do you truly want to support him? Do you want to support what hurts someone else? What makes someone else feel smaller and less important?

Would the same man that allegedly said that the meek would inherit the earth and pleaded for the life of an adulteress be there?

I’m no apologist for Jesus, be he the liberal brown-skinned Hippie Jesus or the gun toting republican Jesus so many in America seem to be fond of, but the guy I’ve read about broke bread with more outcasts than pharisees.   What I see, in Dan Cathy and those praising his actions, are pharisees – legalists who want to ensure that those content to be without the laws from their god are forced to live by them regardless and who value money over charity and compassion.  He had words for them too:

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? ~Matthew 23:33

So, what if my personal boycott means nothing?  I’ve probably only prevented myself from spending a couple thousand dollars at Chick-fil-a over the last few years (There is one just down the road from my work) – maybe that means that Exodus ministries only received $1000 last year rather than $1001 and therefore could attempt to “deliver” fewer men from the evils of homosexuality. I can live with that.   I can live with 10 fewer dollars going to Focus on the Family – whom lobbies Congress to have the definition of marriage limited only to that between a man and a woman, and whose founder – James Dobson – is known for hateful rhetoric against the GLBT community.

What’s better than less money in the hands of bigots?

Letting my friends know that I support them and love them and accept them. Letting them know that I see them as my equal and that I want as badly as they do for the rest of the world to treat them the same. Our response matters because it tells those that we love how much we love them.  I love my GLBT friends more than a chicken sandwich and waffle fries.

Christians should too.

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written by
Matt is a former Christian who, through facing his own doubts found a life without faith. Now atheist he dedicates his life to helping people transition through stages of belief via private counseling. Matt is currently working on his first book - Embracing Doubt, and contributing to the dialogue between atheists, Christians, and skeptics.
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  • Dustin Jones

    It's quite sad that you've quoted Jesus more times than all the "Christians" involved in this ridiculous affair.

  • Justin Mertes

    As a Christian, I'd like to stand up for Dan. I'd also like to, as a reasonable and rational human being, try not to ignorantly ignore your statements. That being said, my biggest question is as follows:

    When did Dan come out (pun) and say declare that he hates the LGBT community? As far as I can see, the interview which got him in trouble focused on him being in support of Biblical marriage, not being an actively anti-homosexual person (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38271, see bottom of interview).

    I believe Jesus is also a supporter of men marrying women, but did that mean that Christ did not interact and love the GLBT community? Of course not! As Christians, we are called to our convictions of Scripture, which includes loving all who God have made, for all are the imago dei (image of God).

    It is unfair to reach the conclusion that Dan and Chick-Fil-A hates gays when they have never claimed to (feel free to prove me wrong, just link me to an interview) when all they have said is their convictions for traditional marriage.

    Bottom line: Jesus is in favor of no prostitution, yet he spent time with the prostitutes. Dan is in favor of traditional values, but he (like Christ) does not exclude, serve, and love them.

    • Brian

      I believe the issue for Matt is more about the money donated than the statements. Also, "in defense traditional marriage" IS actively descriminatory, and could have easily been a phrase used to prevent interracial marriages 50 years ago. I'm all for Mr. Cathy's right to speak and spend as he chooses, but that doesn't mean I am without my rights to castigate and boycott him for it…

  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Well said, Matt.

  • Dustin Jones

    People who are familiar with the groups CFA has supported, have been choosing to not to eat there long before Dan Cathy's comments, but him saying "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation" makes it obvious this isn't just a personal opinion for him, but something he is actively pursuing to continue to spread throughout our country through his funding. Free speech is one thing, but funding groups that strive to eliminate freedoms is quite another. He really puts his money where his mouth is, it's just now the media is focusing on his mouth.

  • http://www.artsydot.com Guy Vestal

    Revvy sedd: "Would the same man that allegedly said that the meek would inherit the earth and pleaded for the life of an adulteress be there?"

    Of course He would, what a great place to spread The Gospel! Right there among the sinners that need it the most!

    (BTW, pull down my ad, I retired from the ministry, remember? LOL)

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