Chic-Fil-A Aftermath: Objections and Responses

WOW.

Thank you so much for the overwhelming support. People are reading and learning. That’s what The ReBoot is about: looking at common trend of thought in Christianity and holding them up to the light to see if they honestly reflect Christ. To wrap up, let’s look at some common objections to the pushback on Chic-Fil-A in general and my blog in particular. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post yet, take a look here.

1.) The Southern Poverty Law Center is a left-wing group that inappropriately labels groups as hateful.

The SPLC states clearly on their site that a group isn’t labeled as a hate group for maintaining that homosexuality is unbiblical. I also mentioned that in my post.

In looking at the organization’s site, I assumed that someone could brush it off as simply a  “liberal” site.  Since that was the case, I enacted one of the oldest rules of journalism: confirm through two or more sources. I knew that if these were legit sources, they would appear elsewhere. If you type in the names of those quoted on in Google you’ll find them in other places besides the SPLC. Besides, even if the SPLC is overtly liberal, it doesn’t negate the content and meaning of the quotes from the Family Research Center.

To save you some trouble, here is a pamphlet. It was quoted a couple of times on the list in yesterday’s post. Google entire quotes and see what pops up. Sure, some of the sites may not be reputable, but a lot are. Research various medical organizations and look at their opinions concerning the various issues that I addressed. Also, if you find one where the Family Research Center recants on their stance of homosexual men being pedophiles, let me know. I haven’t found one yet.

It’s appalling and sad to me that so many people (especially blacks and other minorities) can read false facts of a group of people being scientifically linked to harming children and shrug it off as not hateful. In that case, is the Klan still a hate group today? They aren’t killing folks anymore, at least not in massive numbers. If Burger King gave money to groups that called black men porch monkeys and said they were naturally prone to be lazy, poor fathers, and sexually deviant because of their blackness, i’m sure the conversation would be different.

2.) LGBT people are playing the victim.

I discuss my problems with the term “anti-gay” and express my concern about city governments banning Chic-Fil-A on shaky legal grounds. I know that some people representing and advocating for the LGBT community are behaving incorrectly concerning this issue. There are extremes on both sides of the argument.

For example, I strongly disagree with the plans for people to go into Chic-Fil-As this Friday and go on a kissing spree. It’s countering one extreme with another, and that helps no one. It also confirms negative stereotypes about gay people, that they are sexually driven and inconsiderate about flaunting their sexuality.  I would be equally upset if a pro-gay group tried to ban the Bible.

However, two wrongs don’t make a right. I believe that as a nation are so polarized that we automatically demonize another point of view without using the good reasoning skills that most of have us to fully understand a point before disagreeing. Does someone calling you a bigot because you disagree with gay marriage make it okay to empower hate speech or unfair treatment of a whole segment of society? I don’t understand how one incorrect action gives the other permission.

I also think people are lacking empathy in this situation. If you wanted some recognition and someone put forth time, money, and effort to make sure that didn’t happen, wouldn’t you be upset? If someone were spreading mistruths about you to support their efforts to block your recognition, wouldn’t you be upset?

Lastly, it’s common practice for a majority group in power to accuse the minority group of “playing the victim” when they campaign for more rights. But that is for another post.

3.) LGBT community is hindering free speech. I support this hindrance with my post.

At the risk of being too forward, this situation cannot be about free speech because free speech was never the issue in the first place. The point of my post wasn’t to argue against Dan Cathy’s stance (although I disagree with the way he frames God’s judgment), but to highlight why a large portion of people have an issue with Chic-Fil-A as an organization. Cathy donates coperate funds to organizations that 1.) Actively work against rights for gay people and/or 2.) Have dubious reputations. Thus, the LGBT community is upset and wants to bring awareness.

Dan Cathy was never kidnapped, silenced, killed, or otherwise bullied by the government. That’s what the first amendment protects you from. If you express an opinion that I don’t agree with, I also have the first amendment right to publically disagree, and you have the right to publically disagree with my disagreement. Yes, I know there is some suspect dealings with Chic-Fil-A openings around the country, but it doesn’t affect the organization at large.

Let’s be honest here. Chic-Fil-A Appreciation Day was to support Cathy’s message, not his right to free speech, since that right was never on the table to begin with. Personally, I’m appalled that prominent Christian leaders are saying that it’s a matter of opinion. That statement is incredibly misleading. Just make sure you understood exactly what Cathy said before you throw your whole weight behind his stance. Check out this article by the Huffington Post to get some clarity on that. I don’t deny Cathy his right to express himself, because it would also jeopardize my own.

4.) There are more important things to talk about

I understand that point of view, however, it doesn’t fly all the way with me. I believe in the fair treatment and uplifting of EVERYONE. The black kid in the hood. The white poor family in the trailer park. I’m concerned about gun laws and student loans. A lot of people are, and so are people in the LGBT community. Funny thing is, a lot of the other issues that people point to as “more important” than this one are the very ones that harm us all, regardless of sexual orientation or religion. But again, the extreme polarization in our society hinders us from seeing that.

I’m leery of saying that one form of hate or destruction is worse than another. It is all bad. Unfortunately, I can’t write about everything in one post.

So, why speak up at all then? I’ll close with this quote attributed to Martin Niemöller, who was a German pastor and social activist:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Chic-Fil-A and The Real Reason People Are Saying “No More Chikin.”

When Dan Cathy, the COO and president of Chic-Fil-A, was asked if he supported the traditional idea of marriage, he stated that he was “Guilty as charged” (you can read the full article and see a video here).

Of course, these comments caused a firestorm on the web. LGBT advocates hammered down harsh criticism of Cathy’s stance, while supporters of traditional values concerning marriage took to the eatery’s defense. Inevitably (and unfortunately), things got nasty. Heat and vitriol fired from both sides.

In my opinion, the media has done an awful job of detailing the situation. I have some issues with the usage of Anti-Gay as a label. In theory, if a group doesn’t agree with homosexuality they are “anti-gay;” however, the word carries the connotation that groups are against gay people. Every group that does not agree with homosexuality does not approach it the same way. Some will say that it’s a sin, but advocate rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation. In my opinion, the label carries too many assumptions and it only serves to make an already murky terrain difficult to wade through.

I want to highlight a portion of the issue that I don’t think is getting enough attention. I admit that I’m speaking mostly to the Conservative Christian side of the aisle; the side that is in support of Chic-Fil-A, traditional marriage, and believes that homosexuality is against God’s created order. From my observation, there’s a key component that we’re missing and if we don’t address it, it threatens our already dwindling witness.

The outrage directed at the company isn’t so much about Dan Cathy’s stance, but the about organizations that Chic-Fil-A donates to. These groups have come under scrutiny not because of their religious beliefs, but for the manner in which they discuss them and for the damaging viewpoints that some of them propagate.  Most of the groups that Chic-Fil-A donated to actively campaign against same-sex marriage (and consequently, the governmental perks that and protections that come along with it).  One group in particular, the Family Research Center, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization classifies groups as dangerous based on the presumed facts that they share, facts that have been almost unanimously proven as false by medical organizations and studies across the board. The SPLC notes on their website that “viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”

These are some quotes that have come from the leadership of the Family Research Center, a recipient of funds from Chic-Fil-A (taken from SPLC):

“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
— Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999

“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.”
-1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys.

“[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”
— Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

Note: These quotes can be located elsewhere online. Their pamphlets are also online as for your own reading. The other reports and studies of the researchers that the FRC supports can also be easily found, often restating the same assertions about the homosexual community.

That, readers, is the core of the issue.

It’s not Mr. Cathy’s status. While many disagree with it, he is well within his first amendment rights to express his point. And honestly, local governments that are campaigning to block Chic-Fil-A restaurants from opening are dancing dangerously close to violating free speech themselves (read more about that here). Yes, his points may be hurtful to some. But are his words harmful?

Alise Wright comments brilliantly on how failing to differentiate between hate speech and hurtful speech makes the policing of hateful words much more challenging. She writes that labeling an opinion that we disagree with as hateful cheapens the term, causing legitimate hurt to get lost in the midst of “emotionally charged language” (you can read the rest of Wright’s excellent blog here).

However, before we dismiss this entire issue, like too many have done, let’s not just look at what Cathy has said. Let’s look at what Chic-Fil-A has done. Look at some of the words that are pulled from the FRC quotes again.

“Gaining access to children.”

“Pedophiles.”

“Adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”

“Disproportionate overlap between the two…[pedophilia] is a homosexual problem.”

Chic-Fil-A gave this organization funds. If you happen to have any loved ones who are gay, they were talking about them. And in particular, the studies focus on gay men. Apparently, gay women aren’t even worth the scrutiny. Hate and an odd form of patriarchy, hand-in-hand.

This is why people are angry. This is why people are pushing back and lashing out. Dan Cathy might not have said these things, but the money you spend on chicken sandwiches goes to finance a group that presents this information as if it were scientific fact.  These harmful stereotypes have been disproven for years, yet are still at the forefront of the argument (see some information about that here).

If you are a Christian that believes everyone should have the same rights, then you should strongly consider not patronizing Chic-Fil-A. The money that you spend there will go to groups that actively work against something that you believe in. Just as one wouldn’t expect a Republican to willingly give money to the Democratic Party, you should spend your money elsewhere.

If you are someone who is appalled by the comments of the FRC, and have serious concerns about the groups that perform “restorative therapy” on people who have same-sex attraction (a practice that a prominent ex-gay ministry now rejects as harmful and unrealistic), then you want to spend your money elsewhere. Again, Chic-Fil-A gives money to a cause that you don’t agree with.

If you still eat there, does that make you hateful? Perhaps not. But as Chic-Fil-A’s decade-long history of finance shows, someone else will be paid to be hateful for you. At the very least, if you are going to take a public stand in a situation such as this, perform the due diligence to research all of the facts. Don’t simply do what seems to be the Christian thing to do, because you may be encouraging something very un-Christian in the process.

Or are we so quick to rush to our default sides of the argument that we don’t stop to see if we trampled someone to get over there?

I strongly urge and humbly plead with believers that hold to a traditional view of marriage and sexuality to be very careful. I’m not writing this to convince someone to drop his or her religious beliefs.  I’m simply highlighting the truth that we are also called to hearken to the voice of the damaged and broken. If we aren’t careful, it is easy to let our beliefs about people’s conduct hinder efforts to bring liberation, justice, and full recognition of humanity to all. When that happens, we allow our theology to implicitly allow tyranny. When we participate in dehumanization, we become less human ourselves.

If someone is claiming that his or her basic human rights, liberty, and dignity are threatened, shouldn’t Christians at least look into it?

Shouldn’t the claim of someone seeking justice override our taste buds?

Shouldn’t we put just as much effort into researching a situation that may be causing harm to others as we put into correct and sound doctrine?

Are we going to let our theological differences become a hindrance for honest justice and an enabler for pain?

I certainly hope not.