At the risk of adding to an already over-crowded Internet conversation about Chick-Fil-A, here are a few scattered observations, rife with irony:
Irony #1: Freedom of Expression?
The most common reason that many “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” attendees gave for their participation was that “it was about free speech”. I have therefore found it ironic that many Christians who expressed reservations about this particular event have been accused of being “Liberals” or “non-Christians” simply because they choose not to take part. It’s as if, for many, expressing solidarity with a fast food chain (which never actually asked to be “defended”) became a necessary action to prove one was on the “right” side of the “culture war”. Failure to participate results in the questioning of one’s conservative credentials. The freedom to dissent is not recognized. Doesn’t seem much in keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment to me.
I 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, took a lot more flack. See, for instance:
- Barnabas Piper, who responded here to intense criticism of his article for World magazine in which he called CFA Day “a bold mistake”.
- Stephen Altrogge took a beating in the comments on this post, to which he responded with this one (which is tremendous).
- Matthew Lee Anderson wrote a pair of very thoughtful articles on the subject (see here and here), and then tweeted this Thursday evening: Despite eight years of defending traditional marriage online, today I was accused of selling out..because I didn’t go to Chick-Fil-A.
For the record, all three of these men attributed good motives to the vast majority of those who attended (and I think they’re right). I hope that more people will listen to them, as they are asking the right questions, whether or not everyone agrees with their answers.
Incidentally, if Mike Huckabee and others are as serious about taking a stand for religious freedom as they say, maybe we can expect to see a great outpouring of support for the Muslims who are still being denied access to their mosque in Rutherford County due to concerted efforts over the last two years to prevent construction and occupancy through vandalism, intimidation, and political pressure?
Irony #2: The Huckabee Report
Am I the only one who sees the irony in this event — a response to protests based on the investments and viewpoints held by a corporate CEO — having been organized by an employee of Rupert Murdoch?
Irony #3: Business as Usual
It’s not lost on me that caught in the middle of all this are the thousands of Chick-Fil-A employees around the country. Theirs were not the actions that sparked the outrage nor the response. But in store after store, these workers managed to serve unprecedented numbers of guests — including, in many cases, unfriendly protesters — with professionalism and grace. In countless instances, chain-wide, there have been reports of Chick-Fil-A employees serving with a smile no matter whether they were dealing with long lines, angry protesters, or organized homosexual “kiss-ins”.
I had my reasons for opposing “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”, but my appreciation for the company and the way they do business definitely increased as a result of what happened on Wednesday. It is truly remarkable that with all the intense media scrutiny and high traffic, there has not been one single reported instance of any Chick-Fil-A employee speaking an angry word to anyone! This speaks very highly of Chick-Fil-A as an organization, and is the fruit of an unorthodox business strategy of prioritizing integrity and relationships in the hiring and training of employees, which is one of the foundational principles of the Chick-Fil-A business model. (For more on this, check out Truett Cathy’s book, Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People — my review.)
This is one aspect of this week’s events that has been sadly under-reported. I tip my hat to the organization, and particularly to Ben Prine and the great staff of the Cookeville store, which shattered previous record sales. All this talk of chicken has given me a hankerin’, and I’m sure I’ll be in for a visit soon!
Some shots from Wednesday in Cookeville: