Unless one doesn’t live in the US, or is not in tune with the blog-o-sphere or Facebook, then you may not be aware of the bruhaha over the restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A. The chain serves a limited menu based on chicken, usually deep-fried, fries a couple of salads and beverages. What has made this place make the news recently is an admission by the founder, who’s made serious bank on deep-fried chicken parts. He is an avowed conservative styled evangelical Christian, and not surprisingly is not exactly welcoming of the LGBT lifestyle. The owner is not ashamed of his views which are shared by others in that aspect of the faith.
What puzzles me is the outcry which is the result of an interview the founder gave, in which a reporter asked about some of the charities Chick-fil-A contributed to. The charities in question are known for their much less than welcoming stance on a social minority. There are cries for boycotts and there are cries for “support Chick-Fil-A days.” That’s right. battle lines have been drawn over waffle fries and tasteless sandwiches garnished with a lonely pickle (true, their basic chicken sandwich is a bun, a deep-fried chicken breast and a pickle slice…that’s it)
So depending on one’s view they are either the devil or the angel of fast food chains. Meanwhile I suspect sales are up at the fast food chain in question. People on both sides are acting all offended and surprised that such a thing is occurring and are rallying the troops.
What I really don’t understand about all this controversial fun, is that the social and moral stances preferred by the Chic-Fil-A isn’t exactly new news. Anyone who is familiar with the company can make a pretty good guess to where they lean socially. They’ve never been covert on their social or religious views.
Here’s the thing. Many companies contribute to charities that someone is going to be offended by. That is hardly a surprise. History can attest to various companies supporting causes that were later to be shown to be highly problematic to one segment of the population or another. Sometimes when it comes to light, the company in question makes changes to their charitable donations list, sometimes they do not. That is their choice to make.This company in particular also does a lot of work with in the community, giving funding and resources to a lot of great local causes. Many companies do that.
I have to wonder what the driving forces are behind all of this, besides an increasing gap when it comes to social ideology, and a decrease in respect of differences of views. The restaurant chain is apparently silent on the debate they supposedly triggered , simply silently raking in sales, content to let the fact that their name is on the” most talked about list” that is actually very, very very good for business.
What people just aren’t seeing in all this hot contentious mess, is that it’s merely deep-fried chicken that they are arguing over whether to buy or not. It’s not like they are the only fat laden chicken place around. There are plenty of others that offer similar options. If one has issues with a companies ideology on social ideas, then one has the option to decide not to do business with them. And that is what is happening. There are some people who are utterly outraged and angry over this, to the point they want to make very pointed decisions of support on one side of the debate or the other. Some who just happen to usually patronize the fast food chain, will go on as if there is no big deal, because to them it isn’t a big deal. Others will be curious, and will visit the chain for the first time to see what all the hubbub is about. Sill others will be also curious but will discover that there isn’t a Chick-Fil-A available in their state. To play the outraged card, on either side of the debate really offers no real solutions, only division, and derision. To me, as a Christian, I find that very problematic.
Personally my personal faith doesn’t line up with the kind of faith practiced by Mr. Cathy or his supporters. I disagree strongly with his views on the LGBT community, believing that the command to “love my neighbor as myself” means just that, and that “my neighbor” meant everyone. There isn’t a clause in that command that says, “love your neighbor as yourself, unless they are ________” that blank representing anyone you deem as unworthy.
My personal faith tells me that how I look at and treat others better have less to do with the color of their skin, the clothing they wear, who or what they worship, their nationality, their citizenship status, their political affiliation, who they happen to fall in love with, who their family is, how much money they have in the bank, where they live, where they work… then the fact that I believe that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, that God adores them as much as God adores me, that they have a purpose in this thing we call life, that they have hopes and dreams, talents, abilities, a place in this crazy place we call Earth, AND that their crossing paths with mine is no accident.
Yeah, I know, idealistically impossible. But I feel I should do it anyway, or at least give it my best attempt. Why? Because I think the Great Commission alluded to by Christ is hinged completely on the concept of loving God with every fiber of my being and loving my neighbor with the same fervor I give to myself. To me it has nothing with getting people to join my religion, but instead trying to recognize the value in others, because God already does.
In a week or two this will all blow over and we’ll all have something new to get all hot and bothered about, fickle that we are. In the meantime Chick-Fil-A will get a temporary uptick in sales, some support, some hate mail, and then things will settle down to normal for them. And that is mystifying part of all this. We love scandals. We love arguing over stuff, we love pointing fingers, calling names, getting into fights over such matters. We just don’t seem to like actually solving problems all that much. Debate and discourse has its place and its great that we can partake. The same is true with social activism, and those of us who live places that allow it should be quite thankful for that wonderful freedom. Maybe something positive will come out of all this debate over chicken, religion and charitable giving, I hope so, but I’m not going to hold my breath.