Chick-fil-a probably did not expect that a donation of food to a marriage seminar would land the company in hot water with gay activists. What could be offensive about the Georgia-based restaurant chain’s delicious chicken sandwiches? Nevertheless, when a Silver Spring Township, Pennsylvania Chick-fil-a restaurant agreed to donate sandwiches and brownies for one hundred people attending a seminar titled “The Art of Marriage, Getting to the Heart of God’s Design” it caused quite a stir.
The seminar is billed as an “event where couples have the opportunity to look at their relationship in a whole new way.” It is a video series featuring “instruction from respected pastors and Bible teachers together with compelling stories, humorous vignettes, man-on-the street interviews and more.” The seminars purpose is to strengthen existing marriages.
The seminar was not a political meeting, but a two-day event aimed at strengthening marriages. Cathy does say, “While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees.” Chick-fil-a does not have a political agenda according to Cathy. Cathy says, “We're not anti-anybody. Our mission is to create raving fans.”
Apparently, as gay rights activists see it, Chick-fil-a’s sin was not in making a donation to the marriage seminar, but in associating with the seminar’s sponsor, Pennsylvania Family Institute. The Pennsylvania Family Institute is affiliated with Focus on the Family. Both groups have worked to oppose the push to legalize homosexual marriage. Currently Pennsylvania law defines marriage as “between a man and a woman.” There have been attempts both to place a definition of marriage into the state’s constitution as well as to extend marriage to same-sex couples. It seems that promoting marriage is, in their view, homophobic unless same-sex marriage is affirmed as well.
On one flyer for the seminar, Chick-fil-a was listed as a cosponsor of the event. PFI President Michael Geer and Chick-fil-a President Dan Cathy both say that Chick-fil-a’s role was limited to a donation of food, and that claims that Chick-fil-a sponsored the event are in error.
Chick-fil-a is a company that is run on Christian principles, but Dan Cathy says it “is not a Christian company.” The company is known for the fact that all of its restaurants are closed on Sunday. It is also well known for donations and assistance to both local and national charities. Our local Chick-fil-a in Villa Rica, Georgia often aids local churches, schools, and even hosts regular blood drives.
Gay activists are encouraging their supporters to avoid patronizing the Atlanta-based company. Chick-fil-a, which has stores in 39 states, is concentrated in the south, but has a number of restaurants in blue states as well. Even though public opinion generally runs against gay marriage, many states are closely divided and a boycott could cost Chick-fil-a a lot of business. For example, in Maryland where the state senate is preparing to vote on a gay marriage bill, a recent poll shows that 54% of the public supports keeping marriage between one man and one woman. In contrast, Georgia’s marriage amendment passed with 76% in favor in 2004.
Marriage is by definition a contract between a man and a woman. Boycotts and referendums will never be able to change that immutable fact of life. It isn’t a question of fairness or equality; it is a basic recognition of the fact that men and women are different and that they each have different but important roles to play in society and the family. Two fathers or two mothers are not and never will be equal to one father and one mother. That is not meant to be hurtful or hateful. It is simply a statement of reality.
The Chick-fil-a controversy seems to be part of a wider pattern of attempts to silence opponents of gay marriage, particularly if those people happen to be religious. Last year, Apple withdrew an iTunes app created by the Manhattan Declaration, a document that explains Christian positions on marriage, religious liberty, and the sanctity of life, on the grounds that it was offensive. In Georgia, a counseling student was forced into re-education because she believed that homosexuality was immoral. After California voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman in 2008, backers of the amendment faced a campaign of intimidation by gay rights activists.
Most Americans will likely resist the calls to boycott Chick-fil-a, a company known for its great food and service. Chick-fil-a is a true asset to the community, a corporation that believes in giving back. Hopefully, gay rights activists will realize that opposition to same-sex marriage is not equivalent to hate and that they should have tolerance for other viewpoints, just as they expect others to have tolerance for their lifestyle. Sadly, all too often tolerance to leftists means that others must not only accept their views, but affirm them as well. If they come to realize that tolerance is a two way street, perhaps we can all sit back and enjoy a Chick-fil-a and waffle fries together.