Why I Won’t Be at Chick-Fil-A Tomorrow

It’s been a busy (and exciting!) week, and I’ve been giving the blog a rest. However, it seems one cannot properly call oneself a “blogger” at all these days without having an opinion about Chick-Fil-A — and broadcasting it to the world.

So far, over half a million people have announced on Facebook that they plan to attend “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”, an event launched by former U.S. Presidential hopeful and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee. According to Huckabee, this event’s goal is simple:

Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.

My family and I will not be attending Chick-Fil-A Day, and here’s why:

Reason #1 is that it’s not in the budget. I love a Chick-Fil-A sandwich as much as anyone (and probably more than most), but my family budgets our meal money, and this is not a meal we planned to eat out. I think the entire brouhaha about Dan Cathy’s statements on “traditional marriage” is entirely ridiculous, and I flat out refuse to let it dictate my actions one way or another.

Do I “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles”? Sure, but that’s not why I give them my business. I go there (occasionally) because they make a tasty sandwich available at a reasonable price. It’s the same reason I also take my family (occasionally) to eat at local establishments owned by Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, and who knows who else. If they make a product I want at a price I can afford, then we can do business. Granted, I give Chick-Fil-A more of my business than their competitors because I happen to think they have a better business model (including better product, better prices, and better service), but in my mind this is more of an evidence of “Christian principles” than an affirmation of them.

The second — and more important — reason I won’t be participating tomorrow is that I simply don’t see wielding purchasing power as a proper (or effective) means of engaging in the debate over homosexuality, or any other social issue. Yes, the media-fueled negative reaction to Dan Cathy’s remarks has been an extreme example of the intolerance of “tolerance”, and we’ve seen some shocking infringements upon free speech by some prominent American mayors, but is having a “CFA Day” the right response? To me it feels like Christians are really just affirming the unspoken assumption of the media that our choice of where we do business is the proper arena for religious and political expression. I can’t buy that.

Incidentally, before Christians (and particularly Southern Baptists) get too upset about the proposed boycott of a company over the issue of homosexuality, it should be noted that Chick-Fil-A is not the first such target. The Southern Baptist Convention voted nearly unanimously at the 1996 Annual Meeting to boycott Disney — a move that had little to no financial impact on the company before being unanimously ended at the 2005 Annual Meeting.

Earlier this year, many Christians were calling for a boycott of Starbucks because of that company’s stance on gay marriage. On this blog I seconded Russell Moore’s thoughts on the potential boycott, and think it’s worth re-examining them in light of the current controversy:

But we don’t persuade our neighbors by mimicking their angry power-protests. We persuade them by holding fast to the gospel, by explaining our increasingly odd view of marriage, and by serving the world and our neighbors around us, as our Lord does, with a towel and a foot-bucket.

I realize that not everyone going to Chick-Fil-A tomorrow is angry, and I’m not trying to dissuade even those who are. I just don’t want people to think that they must go, as if their position as conservative Christians is at stake if they don’t. And I certainly don’t want anyone to think that if they do go they will have done their part and can then safely disengage from influencing culture. There really is a battle raging, but it’s not what people think, and it’s not going to be won by eating fried chicken.

Here are a few Chick-Fil-A posts collected from the far reaches of the blogosphere that are constructive and/or provocative:

6 comments on “Why I Won’t Be at Chick-Fil-A Tomorrow

  1. Jennifer Greene says:

    Love your blog post and can totally relate to the household budget as a reason for not going to Chick-fil-A today. My only point of disagreement with you is that in our highly consumer-driven society, I do see my purchasing power as a proper and possibly effective tool in making my stance on social issues heard. You do have a valid point about the Disney boycott by the SBC, but there have been many other successful examples of consumers making their voices heard on social issues by supporting or not supporting American corporations.

    For me, supporting Chick-fil-A today is not about whether I agree/disagree with the homosexual lifestyle and/or marriage. It is however about affirming the right of a CEO to express his/her biblical beliefs without being bullied and demonized by the opposing side via our national media. It is a great opportunity to support a company that holds beliefs and values similar to my own on a specific day when my patronage sends a clear message of that support.

    And one super important thing to note here is that the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (www.nglcc.org) certainly works the patronage of certain businesses to THEIR favor in advancing their cause. Take a look at all of the major corporations that belong to that organization – it is eye-opening. I would assert this as evidence (at least for the Gay-Lesbian-Transgender agenda) that purchasing power has been and continues to be a highly effective weapon in advancing social causes.

    I do completely agree with you that the cultural battle will not be won or lost by eating fried chicken, even if it is super yummy! 🙂

    • Jeanie Schwagerman says:

      Good thoughts…Just like we cannot legislate morals, the government will not be able to legislate beliefs that go against bible believing christians

    • John Gardner says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jennifer. I’m a free market guy, and I’m all for people freely choosing to do business with whomever they want, and for whatever reasons. A lot of people chose to do business today with a great company, and I hope Chick-Fil-A made a ton of money.

      Where we do and do not do business certainly can send a message. I just think that the message that was sent today was not necessarily the message most CFA patrons thought they were sending. For every thoughtful, conscientious supporter like you (and I know that today was not the extent of your community involvement and cultural influence), there have been many more who have been saying hateful and hurtful things. Unfortunately, THAT is the message that has been communicated today.

      Personally, I don’t care what the NLGCC is doing. The point Russell Moore was making is that we shouldn’t do things the same way. They are advancing a social issue. We are advancing the Gospel. Yes, that absolutely has social implications, but our message is fundamentally different, so I think our means need to be different, too.

      Whatever the outcome of today, I hope that the Christians taking part will reflect Christ’s love toward homosexuals in their speech and actions, not just today but all the time, no matter how we may be treated in return.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Thanks for the insightful post! I agree that commerce isn’t the place to discuss politics and that protesting often does more harm than good. If nothing else it distracts from the Gospel message and deviates attention to attempts at enforced moralism. I understand some of this was related to the issue of free speech, but that’s something be taken up in politics, not in commerce.

  3. […] should note that most who said anything one way or another to me were very appreciative of my post on why I chose not to attend. A few people disagreed graciously, which was appreciated. Many higher-profile bloggers, though, […]

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