This whole Chick-Fil-A hullabaloo is so ridiculous. I really wanted nothing to do with it…. but then I went and drove by one today (the unofficial Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day)–in the middle of the afternoon–to see a person outside DIRECTING TRAFFIC so that the 60-70 cars waiting for chicken would know how to snake their cars around the building. And into the parking lot next door. Sigh….
When I heard all the hubbub over Dan Cathy’s comments about supporting “the Biblical definition of the family unit,” I didn’t really consider it that big of a deal. I was like, “Well, duh–A Southern Baptist billionaire believes gay marriage is wrong. Stop the presses.” Then, as seemingly everyone on Facebook took sides, I (somewhat uncharacteristically) stayed out of the fray (for the most part) and watched as people found yet another reason to be even more divided than they already were. I was really moved by THIS AWESOME LETTER to Dan Cathy that was written by Bert Montgomery (a contributor to Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians Blog) to remember to think of this in terms of loving our enemies. It’s inspiring to see someone love when you’d expect them to be angry or even hate–Almost as inspiring as it is frustrating when Christians just add to the dysfunctional noise that separates us while numbing our our senses. It is a noise that dissolves our idea of TRUTH into something as frivolous as opinion, and it wears down rational discourse until it just sounds like more noise.
So, like I said, I tried to stay out of it–I tried to keep from adding more noise–But seeing hundreds of people waiting for hours to “show their support” for Chick-Fil-A today…. It hurt something deep inside of me. I just imagined being a gay person driving by and seeing people lined up around the building to “show their support” for a person who owns a company who got some bad press because he came out of the closet (so to speak) as being against gay rights, and linked it directly to his faith in Jesus. And let’s be truthful–That is exactly what they were showing support for. This wasn’t about “supporting free speech.” It was about supporting speech that you agree with. None of the people waiting in line today would have been out there in Mr. Cathy had used his free speech to come out in support of marriage equality. It also wasn’t about “supporting religious freedom.” I guarantee you that none of the people shoving antibiotic-filled chicken into their mouths today were out in support of the local mosques people are trying to keep from being built (If someone can prove me wrong, let me know–I’ll buy you a chicken sandwich). This was a giant STAND UP IF YOU THINK THAT BEING GAY IS SINFUL, and the church turned out in droves.
And I understand thinking that way–It is what so many people have been taught since before they could speak. I was taught the same thing. It is understandable to be unsure about an issue like “What should Christians think about gay marriage?” But the issue over Chick-Fil-A is larger than that. They did more than just supply free food to a couple anti-gay marriage seminars, support provenly harmful “Pray the Gay Away” ministries, and donate money to Focus on the Family. They gave millions of dollars to lobbying groups that oppose legislation that would even give gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people equal workplace protections under the law–Groups like The Marriage & Family Foundation and even The Family Research Council (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has rightly designated as a hate group). It’s hard to say that you don’t discriminate against GLBT people when you give money to think tanks working to discriminate against GLBT people. This is something significant. If they were giving money to organizations attempting to limit the civil rights of people of color, that would be a big deal, right?
So, to act like there is nothing for people to be upset about is more than a little dismissive. It’s dishonest. It would be like a company saying that they got rid of Jim Henson toys because of safety concerns, when really they severed their relationship with you because they think you are run by bigots. But here I am, just making more noise again…. Dang it. It’s so easy to do.
Here is a serious question: What do people think they accomplished today by going to Chick-Fil-A? Same sex marriage is already illegal in our state. And it’s not like the gay folks in town didn’t already know you don’t approve. All that you did by going and “showing support for Chick-Fil-A” today was to drive an even bigger wedge between you and a people group that you genuinely believe are going to burn in hell unless they get saved. Is this your plan for “saving their souls?” Alienation? God, it makes me so, so sad. The lines were around the buildings…. And for what?!? Imagine if that many people took that kind of time and money and used it to try to love the people you think are heading to hell. Or taking those sandwiches to the homeless. Instead of putting some more money into the pocket of millionaires and billionaires. Imagine if the church was known for rational conversation and crazy love, instead of the opposite.
So I’m crying right now…. And I think it’s because I’m so sad for the Church. Sad that the world gets yet another example of equating Christians with bigotry and hypocrisy. Sad that it seems like most people can’t have something like a level-headed conversation with people who think differently than them. Sad that people would wait two hours for some chicken just so that everyone knows they think being gay is wrong. But mostly I’m sad that all this hate, as well as all of our dysfunctional noise, gets watched by a world full of people who are desperate for something true and good, and they put all of this garbage on Jesus. When really it’s all on us.
So I don’t know if I’ll go back to Chick-Fil-A or not. There a lot of reasons to go back. I have gone there with my wife and my kids literally hundreds of times for their “Family Night.” It is awesome! I really do think it’s wonderful that they are closed on Sundays. I have friends who work there who are terrific people. We have even become friends with people we’ve met at Family night. I also love the way MSG tastes…. I don’t know. I didn’t boycott BP after the Gulf oil spill–I figured if anyone needs the money right now, it’s BP. I’m not a big boycotter. If people start boycotting every place that sends money to shitty lobbyists or opposing political parties, we had all better start growing some big gardens. The whole world could swear off Chick-Fil-A forever, and Dan Cathy would still make more money off of the interest in his bank account than I will probably make in my life. I don’t think it really matters….
I’m just really sad.