8.03.2012

Because the Chick-Fil-A Story Won't Die...

I recently had a comment thread on my Facebook blow up into a discussion that saw seventy-some responses. That thread was on the topic of gay marriage, the Christian faith's supposed banning of it, and the hows and ifs surrounding its legality in America.


It all started with a chicken sandwich.


Recently Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-Fil-A restaurants gave an interview in which he was probed on his company's support of traditional marriage. "Guilty as charged." He replied. Then he said the following:


"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. We are very much committed to that," Cathy emphasized.
"We intend to stay the course," he said. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."


This appeared in an article circulated by Baptist Press.  He has also said that our country's efforts to "redefine" traditional marriage are tantamount to "shaking our fist at God" and that doing so is "inviting his judgment."

Let me be clear, Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion and within the law he is allowed to operate his restaurants however he'd like.  

Chick-Fil-A, though, gives money to a variety of anti-Gay organizations through its charitable arm, Winshape. These include the Marriage and Family Foundation, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the National Christian Fund, Exodus International, the Family Research Council, and Georgia Family Council.  Many of these organizations, though perhaps innocently named, have condemned gays, made efforts to "deprogram" or "pray the gay out of" gays (and have made claims of succeeding) and one (the Family Research Council) has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I think it's important before we go any further to say, flat out, that the organizations that CFA has donated to have done tremendous harm to the gay community through concerted efforts to make life miserable for this group. They've succeeded in this endeavor and depression and suicide rates among gay teens is at tragic levels. Where's the LOVE?

Now, Chick-Fil-A, and for the most part all of the aforementioned organizations are still well within their rights to act the way they do. Like-minded individuals are also well within their rights to support Chic-Fil-A or even to support some (or all) of these organizations directly. Fine. But I think it's fair to ask at this point, in what way is doing so communicating the love of Christ to the gay community?

The situation, though, devolved even further when former Arkansas governor and current Fox News television personality Mike Huckabee told his audience that August 1, 2012 would be National Chick-Fil-A day.  It was time for good traditional-marriage-loving citizens to put their money where their mouths were and go buy a chicken sandwich.  People did so in droves, and CFA experienced a record sales day.

I could explain why I think this was misguided, at best, and hateful, at worst, but instead I'll just quote a tremendous blog post by Matthew Paul Turner entitled "5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday."

Call yesterday what you want, freedom of speech, a rally behind “family values,” a sincere fascination with CFA’s brand of fried poultry… but it cannot be called love. It was not love.People felt hate and we ignored that. At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not your Christian understanding of scripture harbors hate or not, a large group of people felt hated.By rallying behind CFA, Christians put an issue above people. And it’s impossible to follow Jesus when issues trump people. Jesus never said “love God, love causes.” Once in a while, our culture needs to be surprised by how much we love people–all people. Once in a while, our culture needs to be overwhelmed with joy that we are involved in the greater story. Once in a while, our culture needs to see us being a part of the solution and not the problem. But yesterday? There were no surprises.Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people. Oh I know that most Christians will say, “I don’t hate gay people!!”But did supporting CFA Appreciation Day prove that?

In closing this post I'm expanding a bit my "closing statement" from the Facebook thread I mentioned at the beginning of this post because I think it's the best job I've done of summarizing my feelings on this matter, thanks for reading:

I think we've got differing views on the degree to which our faith should inform our political opinions, or, rather the extent to which our faith should actually be POLICY. And I think legislating Christian morals serves only to be divisive, to alienate, and to oppress and I don't think it is AT ALL the intention of the Biblical authors that their standards of conduct be applied to non-believers.
I've had several friends in this thread say things like I am their "favorite Christian" or the example they hold up when trying to think of a "good one." It is meant as praise, but it makes me a little sick because it means SO MANY of my brethren are doing the faith a disservice through their politics. THEIR POLITICS. Ugh.
Any Christian will tell you that the most important three things (to the faith) that Jesus said were, in this order, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." (he said those two back to back). Followed by the Great Commission, "Go and make disciples of all nations." They'll also all argue that the third thing is pretty obviously impossible without the first two. Additionally a Christian will argue (though an atheist would surely disagree) that the second thing isn't possible without the first.Christians as a group and especially "the church" as the public entity that exists in the world is TERRIBLE at that second thing. Terrible to the point of absurdity. Terrible to the point that the vast majority of Non-Christian humans would be forgiven for believing the church's stated goal was the OPPOSITE of that second thing.And that is, to me, pretty depressing.I can debate semantics and textual interpretation all day, but at the end of that day we really just need to suck a LOT less at the basic tenets of our faith.

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