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:
- MSM & Chick-Fil-A: Sometimes the Internet Honors Stupid Stories — Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s post is still the best I’ve read on the topic.
- The New Puritanism: Chick-Fil-A and Boycotts — Matthew Lee Anderson’s perspective on our culture’s propensity to rush to moral judgment is also worth a read.
- In the Basement — In a lot of ways, I share Jen Hatmaker’s frustration with the way this debate has gone, and her desire to sit this one out. However…
- Can Christians Hide in the Basement During the Gay Marriage Debate? — I think Denny Burk offers a good counterpoint to Hatmaker’s argument. He doesn’t entirely disagree with her, but he’s right that shrinking back isn’t really an option; he urges us instead to “face the issue in the right way with the right mindset”. Amen.