I left the States five years ago now, and I’ve followed significant developments in that country’s movement toward equality with regard to same-sex rights, and I’ve been pleased to watch the changes. Many of my friends are still down there, and I know a number of them feel more freedom to talk about their relationships than they did when I lived there. Sometimes I wonder if, if fact, they’re coming up right behind Canada with regard to their acceptance of sexual orientation and gender expression. But then something happens like the “Chick-Fil-A” controversy (NY Times), I’m reminded why I left the South.
Now in the case of this company, I believe (quite strongly) that the owners have the right to say what they want. (Believe me: I’d rather know.) And I, similarly, have the right to react against them. I’ve done soin a previous post: not just because of their stand against same-sex marriage, but because, as Christians, they’re legalistic and inconsistent. (Then again, who ever said the religious were consistent?) In a capitalist democracy such as ours, we vote at the cash register at least as much as at the voting booth, if not more (much more). Thus buying chicken sandwiches funds “Focus on the Family”. Simple. So for me this is morally wrong.
Now many of my Christian brethren disagree with me: even if they’re on the fence regarding same-sex marriage, they “respect” Chick-Fil-A for standing behind their beliefs. And I maintain that this is untrue. The company stands behind its beliefs regarding the importance of Christian morals only when it is convenient: when it helps maintain the strict paternalistic control that the company has for its franchises.
An example: soon after this whole thing blew up, on July 20, The Jim Henson Company pulled their children’s meals from Chick-Fil-A, posting on their Facebook page: “The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors…” All well and good, and I would have respected Chick-Fil-A if they’d taken the blow to their corporate ego and recognized this as a reaction to their religious perspective… which they knew they would have. But Chick-Fil-A responded (a week later) that they “…made the choice to voluntarily withdraw the Jim Henson Kid’s Meal puppets for potential safety concerns for our customers on Thursday, July 19.” (Also on Facebook.) If they decided to remove them on July 19th… why was there no mention of that decision (anywhere) for a week? Safety is a pretty big issue. Sounds to me like a… falsehood.
So here’s my question: isn’t honesty one of the big Biblical Values from both Testaments? I mean, the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) reads: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. (Or is Ronald MacDonald not your neighbour, Mr. Cathy? I think Jesus might have something to say about that.) So they keep the fourth commandment, about the Sabbath, “strictly” (Yale University), but the others they just toss out the window? And they criticize liberals for only keeping the parts of the Bible that they like?
This is not just a “little white lie”. The statement claims that the Kid’s meal is unsafe. That would be serious… if true. Which it’s apparently not. Much though I respect someone who tries to keep to the Law and the Old Testament, I think their outlook as a Christian is a bit faulty. Scripture is pretty clear that it’s an all or nothing thing. James 2:10 is direct: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
Hate to tell you this, Mr. Cathy, but I think you just stumbled. And so you’re “guilty of all”.
There’s one more wrinkle to all this. Truett Cathy, is “quoted in a 2007 Forbes profile stating he would probably fire someone who has been sinning” (The New Civil Rights Movement, referring to Forbes). So here we have an example of where the company has been caught “sinning”: not only lying about the situation, but with the spiteful intent of hurting a company they’ve worked with in the past, trying to hide the real reaction. You said you would “fire someone” who did such a thing in his personal life, Mr. Cathy. How are we to react to the corporate equivalent?
The first post in this series is also available.
This is a repost of an article I posted on Gather