Why Friends should be nervous after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's Remarks

As some of you may be aware, recently Dan Cathy has made comments that have proven incendiary.

Dan Cathy, president of one of America's largest and most successful fast food restaurants, is a devout Christian. This should not make us nervous.

Because of this, and the fact that he tries to operate Chick-fil-A on biblical principles, this businessman is often interviewed by Christian publication. This should not make us nervous. 

In one such interview, he made the following comment: "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that...we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."  This should not make us nervous.

 

In another interview, he followed up with this comment: ""I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about." This should not make us nervous.

What should make us very, very nervous is the response of many in government to Cathy's second comment.

 


Cathy's second comment, when read in light of certain contributions he has made to conservative Christian causes, is widely believed to be a stand against gay marriage. In the aftermath, many American politicians are saying that Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their cities.

  • Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago: "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values"
  • James Kenney, Philadelphia councilman, called the comment "hate speech"
  • Boston's mayor Thomas Menino vowed to block any attempts to open a Chick-fil-A in Boston
  • Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno said that he would deny Chick-fil-A a permit if they tried to open a restaurant in his neighborhood
  • San Francisco's mayor Ed Lee said that he recommend that Chick-fil-A not try to come  closer than forty miles distant from San Francisco

Friends, we are all in trouble if government officials are threatening a man's business because he calmly and tenderly expounds a view supported by the Bible. Regardless of what we believe God's will to be on this issue, we must never acquiesce to government officials calling comments like Cathy's "hate speech" and threatening to stymie his business as a result of his beliefs. There is NO EVIDENCE that Cathy or Chick-fil-A has EVER discriminated against GLBTQ people. There is NO EVIDENCE that Chick-fil-A denies employment to people in same-sex relationships. The statements above are purely based on Cathy's Bible-supported views of marriage. 

People who find Cathy's statements offensive should be encouraged to boycott Chick-fil-A. But, Friends, let's discourage our government officials from discriminating against Cathy based on his religious beliefs.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

-Martin Niemoller

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Wow, this news about the shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council yesterday by " a volunteer at the D.C. Center, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center in Washington"   shows the danger of labeling groups like Family Research Council "hate groups" Some unhinged person will swallow it whole and do the John Brown thing. Happens too often with anti abortion zealots.

This NYTimes article says that the crime is being investigated as a possible "hate" crime. What ever happened to simple crimes. It seems kind of sad and weird when every group tries to play the "victim" game. What ever happened to justice as opposed to proving victimhood. It becomes pretty meaningless when all sides have a claim to victimhood based on blind hatred and intolerance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/us/shooting-at-family-research-co...

Sorry I'm late to this discussion, but Amen!, Friend Adria! You are right on the money with your observation.

I am with Herb and David. As Friends we can have an open dialogue. We understand that even with inspired speech none of us has been given the FULL measure of light and therefore have little claim to absolute truth. There is room to strive together. I disagree with Cathy's remarks but thank God we live in a country where they can be expressed...theoreticaly without destroying ones livelyhood. But his comments do bother me because they feel so final and without any room for discussion or disagreement. He seems ready for some kind of Godly hateful revenge and not challenging that seems wrong.

ow That puts a new spin on things!

Thanks David for this research. It confirms experience and intuition. It should be noted that both sides of the political culture divide play this game. It's so much easier playing to Tribal identity and fear than patiently discerning what's best for us as individuals and as a people.

The early church in Acts 15 provided a model of discernment in deciding to suspend much of the Mosaic code based on Biblical story(not law), new revelation(Peter's dream of God suspending the kosher law) and demonstrated fruits(all those gentiles receiving the holy spirit but not being observant to the holiness codes.

In our history we provided a similar patient discernment process on the slavery issue. Unfortunately, in my experience, we have adopted the ideological/dogmatic purity and tribal labeling/distortion of the world on sexual issues including gay issues like marriage. We witness from the "earthquake, wind and fire" of human desire, instead of the "still small voice of calm."



David Nelson Seaman said:

I am not certain if what Dan Cathy was alleged to have said, as reported in the Huffington Post, was reported accurately.    Read on:

" The jounalist who intially interviewed the Chic-fil-A executive in early July was K. Allan Blume, editior of the Biblical Recorder, the journal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.  That interview was subsequently picked up by the Baptist Press, which gave the story greater esposure and  provided the spark for the controversy in the mainstream media.   Blume now says that during his interview with Cathy, the resturanteur "said nothing offensive, nothing putting anyone down, and "that the whole thing was distorted....and invented, manufactured story".   Never once during the interview, notes the editor, were the words "gay marriage", "lesbian", or  "homosexual" spoken.

"Also according to Blume, the businessman's "guilty as charged" comment was in response to a question about Chic-fil-A's committment to and support of family values- not a confirmation of, and "anti-gay stance, as conveyed in the Huffington Post story". 

This came from a onenewsnow.com commentary, under the blog identified as citizenwells. wordpress. com., dated August 16, 2012.   

I get that sinking feeling in my stomach whenever I begin to think that the press has misrepresented other people's interviews for which the author writes about, which in this case was the Huffington Post online special section, "HuffPost-Gay View".    K. Allan Blume, who inteviewed Dan Cathy, apparently disputes the Huffington Post version of his interview.   

The only reliable comments we may have are from mayors of the cities who used the Huffinton Post as their source. 

 

In Peace and Friendship- David

 

  

 

 

whoops, I wrote this from Rene's computer(we're visiting grand kids in CT).... Herb

Irene Lape said:

Thanks David for this research. It confirms experience and intuition. It should be noted that both sides of the political culture divide play this game. It's so much easier playing to Tribal identity and fear than patiently discerning what's best for us as individuals and as a people.

The early church in Acts 15 provided a model of discernment in deciding to suspend much of the Mosaic code based on Biblical story(not law), new revelation(Peter's dream of God suspending the kosher law) and demonstrated fruits(all those gentiles receiving the holy spirit but not being observant to the holiness codes.

In our history we provided a similar patient discernment process on the slavery issue. Unfortunately, in my experience, we have adopted the ideological/dogmatic purity and tribal labeling/distortion of the world on sexual issues including gay issues like marriage. We witness from the "earthquake, wind and fire" of human desire, instead of the "still small voice of calm."



David Nelson Seaman said:

I am not certain if what Dan Cathy was alleged to have said, as reported in the Huffington Post, was reported accurately.    Read on:

" The jounalist who intially interviewed the Chic-fil-A executive in early July was K. Allan Blume, editior of the Biblical Recorder, the journal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.  That interview was subsequently picked up by the Baptist Press, which gave the story greater esposure and  provided the spark for the controversy in the mainstream media.   Blume now says that during his interview with Cathy, the resturanteur "said nothing offensive, nothing putting anyone down, and "that the whole thing was distorted....and invented, manufactured story".   Never once during the interview, notes the editor, were the words "gay marriage", "lesbian", or  "homosexual" spoken.

"Also according to Blume, the businessman's "guilty as charged" comment was in response to a question about Chic-fil-A's committment to and support of family values- not a confirmation of, and "anti-gay stance, as conveyed in the Huffington Post story". 

This came from a onenewsnow.com commentary, under the blog identified as citizenwells. wordpress. com., dated August 16, 2012.   

I get that sinking feeling in my stomach whenever I begin to think that the press has misrepresented other people's interviews for which the author writes about, which in this case was the Huffington Post online special section, "HuffPost-Gay View".    K. Allan Blume, who inteviewed Dan Cathy, apparently disputes the Huffington Post version of his interview.   

The only reliable comments we may have are from mayors of the cities who used the Huffinton Post as their source. 

 

In Peace and Friendship- David

 

  

 

 

I wonder if we would be applauding a mayor who spoke out against a corporate owner if that owner had contributed to the KKK, money he had earned in part from his African American patrons who he gladly served in his restaurants.

For centuries people have used the excuse of "biblical principles" to persecute women and African Americans. History has shown that to be wrong, and the current attempt to invoke the Bible to justify persecution of gay Americans is also wrong.

Personally, I find it hypocritical and offensive for Chick-Fil-A to silently welcome gay Americans into their establishments to buy their food, only to take some of that money to perpetuate persecution of those same patrons.

Three cheers for any politician who stands up for those being treated unfairly and cruelly. That's what all of our elected officials should be doing to the fullest extent of the law.

I think those who have opposed the opinions of the head of Chick-fil-A are doing it out of a sense of moral outrage. There is no freedom of religion issue here. It is hate speech and fine, go ahead, but the backlash is not motivated to infringe on religious freedom.  I will defend Dan Cathy's freedom to say or think what he does but they are nothing more than hate speech. If those who oppose it have something to say - as mentioned above - so be it. I don't think those people want to see Mr. Cathy killed like he wants homosexuals killed. I'll defend a Nazi to rant but I won't fire up the ovens for him. Does Mr. Cathy supports individuals to groups the likes of Paul Cameron who has more hate speech quotes than I wish to admit that I've read. Again, more power to him under the law, but, uh, no...no support other than that from me. We should be vigilant of when things like this occur, but also recognize call people on their hate.  I say that because as a Christian like these people, I can say that that speech IS NOT part of my belief system. Tell me where Jesus said it and I'm on board. Until then, well, be careful what you say and think - not out of what any government might do, but where that hate leads you with God.

Thanks for your response, Matteo. I've been silent for a while, trying to sort out my reaction to your comment and the comment, similar in tone, of Howard Brod. I'm ready to share it now. 

My first question is this: would there have been a backlash against Dan Cathy if he had said, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' Every day in this country, people are committing adultery, and even in the church, there are those who say that divorce is  right.  I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about" ?

If there would not have been a backlash (and I don't think there would have been, as he has made similar comments before), why not?

  • It isn't the language. The statement is not any more "hateful" with my boldface type addition than it is without it.
  • It isn't the fact that homosexuality is universally acknowledged to be morally neutral. After all, divorce is much more accepted in our country than homosexuality is - it seems that among demographically significant religions in the US (sorry, Friends, that leaves us out), only Mormons in Temple Marriages are really holding down the fort.
  • It may be the fact that homosexual behavior is not perceived as a choice. However,  I doubt it is that because Dan Cathy isn't speaking about homosexual behavior though he may be speaking about homosexual marriage.

Friends, I believe that the backlash has come because of the very successful political mobilization of homosexual activists. I think this is clear just looking at how often Friends have talked about "hate speech" in response to my original post.

It is worth considering that the original, legal definition of "hate speech" is "speech that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group ... especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to promote violence." (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd Pocket Edition) Do we think that this describes Dan Cathy's words?

 

Wikipedia helpfully informs us that, outside of the law, hate speech is used to mean "communication that vilifies a person or a group on the basis of color, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic." Who is vilified here? The only people Dan Cathy talks about are "I", "we" and God. If it's hate speech, Dan Cathy includes himself in the group targeted. Doesn't that seem odd - if it's hate speech?

 

My second question is the more important one. My post was addressed to Friends (and others on the site) as people of faith. Yet it seems like many of us are using secular, political reasoning to respond.

 

Matteo, you say that Dan Cathy wants to see homosexuals killed. I assume this is because he has donated to groups that have lobbied to keep homosexuality a crime in some African states. However, I myself have donated to the Democratic party, while being against free access to abortion for minors and believing that sexual activity among children and young adolescents should be vigorously discouraged by the state. Would it be fair to say that because I have given money to the Democrats, and am myself a registered Democrat, I believe in these things? Is it more fair to do the same to Mr. Cathy? Howard, do you have any examples of Mr. Cathy or Chik-fil-A treating homosexuals "cruelly"?

What really troubles me is that Dan Cathy's language was prophetic language. "Woe to our generation! Beware lest we tempt our Lord into passing judgment!" Now, we may think that he is wrong, but we  are all in trouble if speaking using the language of Isaiah and Ezekiel is called "hate speech" by people of faith on a faith-based forum.

 

"Hate-speech" is a worldly, secular concept that has its place in courtrooms and political debates. However, if you are a Christian, you might consider Paul's advice to "hate what is evil." Once again, we may disagree with Dan Cathy, and with each other, on whether homosexual behavior is evil. But we should be clear that, for Christians, it is one's duty to hate homosexual behavior if it is evil. And the Bible and the prophets are clear on what happens to those who support evil: the judgment of God will fall down on them.

So if we say that Dan Cathy engaged in "hate speech" by  saying that we invite God's judgment for tolerating what he believes is evil, were the prophets (including Jesus) engaging in hate speech? Jesus wasn't all about loving one another - he also had stern words for many people. For example, he said the people of Capernaum were going to hell because they ignored his teachings (Matthew 11:23). Is that hate speech? He even said, "It will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:24). Hate speech?

I am growing more and more convinced that, as people of faith, in the tradition of Friends, we should be appealing to the Holy Spirit for guidance and not the politics and culture of the world. When we disagree, we should labor with others, as John Woolman did in the case of slavery, not resort to the divisive frames set up by activists. These frames may have their uses in the political sphere. But we should be embodying the mentality of the Kingdom of God, not the "spirit of faction."

If you disagree with Dan Cathy, disagree. I do. But I don't believe that we are faithful to God when we say by reflex that any statement that is not gay-affirming is "hate speech" that should be silenced when it does not break the law.

 

 

Matteo Masiello said:

I think those who have opposed the opinions of the head of Chick-fil-A are doing it out of a sense of moral outrage. There is no freedom of religion issue here. It is hate speech and fine, go ahead, but the backlash is not motivated to infringe on religious freedom.  I will defend Dan Cathy's freedom to say or think what he does but they are nothing more than hate speech. If those who oppose it have something to say - as mentioned above - so be it. I don't think those people want to see Mr. Cathy killed like he wants homosexuals killed. I'll defend a Nazi to rant but I won't fire up the ovens for him. Does Mr. Cathy supports individuals to groups the likes of Paul Cameron who has more hate speech quotes than I wish to admit that I've read. Again, more power to him under the law, but, uh, no...no support other than that from me. We should be vigilant of when things like this occur, but also recognize call people on their hate.  I say that because as a Christian like these people, I can say that that speech IS NOT part of my belief system. Tell me where Jesus said it and I'm on board. Until then, well, be careful what you say and think - not out of what any government might do, but where that hate leads you with God.

My answer to your first question is that it doesn't make a difference to me because he didn't say it. What only matters is what he said and what is behind it.

You write that " the backlash has come because of the very successful political mobilization of homosexual activists. I think this is clear just looking at how often Friends have talked about "hate speech" in response to my original post."

Can we name these activists hiding in the shadows?  They are human beings who have decided to act on their convictions. If they do or say something hateful I would gladly call them on it, but they do have a right to act when they see social injustice, just like those during the civil rights movement. Please don't demonize these human beings by erasing their identities by lumping them into the group of "homosexual activists". Name names if there is any valid criticism to be offered.

Now you give a very accurate definition of hate speech. I think it should also be considered that since money is considered free speech in terms of political campaign contributions in this nation, that definition should be as applicable.
You wrote "However, I myself have donated to the Democratic party, while being against free access to abortion for minors and believing that sexual activity among children and young adolescents should be vigorously discouraged by the state. Would it be fair to say that because I have given money to the Democrats, and am myself a registered Democrat, I believe in these things?"
Yes.
I pay taxes which are funding the killing of innocent people around the world. I also support an economy which dehumanizes people. Yes. I am responsible for that killing.  The blood is on all of us. That might seem unrealistic, but do we live in a world of structures which operate under the spirit of Christ, or Anti-Christ.  Where your money goes therein lie your beliefs. Why would you support anyone who supports something you don't?  I can't buy into the "lesser of two evils" paradigm anymore. I'm too tired and too eager to be in a state of grace with Jesus to buy into that lie anymore.
We can take that all the way back in the history of this country, with all its sins and we are responsible for it all the moment we lay claim the rights and benefits of the society because those rights and benefits were forcibly denied others at some point.
My statement was clear about what I find distasteful and yes hateful about Mr. Cathy's speech, verbal or monetary. He can say whatever he wants and I will defend his right to say it, even if it is wrong. I don't want to silence him.  If his business is boycotted, then let the people speak. I won't be picketing. If I ever see a Chic-Fil-A, and if I have another option to eat somewhere else, then I'll choose somewhere else. If it's the only place in town, I'll eat there and not sneer at the person behind the counter serving me.
I would like to see Mr. Cathy and Paul Cameron and the Family Research Council act more like a Christians (even if they do not support same-sex marriage), but that's up to the Holy Spirit and not to me. To me, his speech does not seem very Christian to me, not when, again, he supports people who want to see homosexuals killed.  

Thank you for your passionate response, Matteo! I appreciate your taking the time to engage seriously, on both an intellectual and emotional level with what I wrote.

Before I respond to the substance of what you said, I want to clarify something. I don't think that the word "homosexual" is an insult. I don't think that the word "activist" is an insult. As a result, when I use the expression "homosexual activists," it is purely to describe, not to demonize or criticize anyone. I have been a member of student gay-straight alliances, written letters of support to GLBT students, been to gay pride parades as an ally (there are even pictures on Facebook!), participated in the Day of Silence, dated a bisexual, and chosen a college roommate whom I knew to be transgender. I am fully aware of the importance of activism for gay rights, and the incredible good it has done to raise the quality of life for bisexuals and homosexuals. What I am saying is this: the language of political activism cannot be and should not be the language used by people of faith to grapple with normative issues. Otherwise, our minds are stuck in the ways of this world and we are not seeking the Kingdom. This issue is not what I was originally writing about, but something that has been troubling me as I have read the responses.

You've asked a question that I would like to respond to : "Why would you support anyone who supports something you don't?" The best answer is the simple one. There is no one on this earth who supports everything I support and opposes everything I oppose. No one. Not any person, not any organization. And yet, I believe in the missions and goals of many organizations and many people that I disagree with on some important things - including my husband! So for me, it isn't a "lesser of two evils" thing. It is the realization that, in words used by a professional mediator I know, no two parties ever have perfectly aligned interests. Now maybe I shouldn't be giving blood to the Red Cross (they discriminate against gays in blood collection) or paying my taxes, but the fact is that if I wait to share my resources with those who agree with me perfectly, I'll never share them with anyone. I don't think that that is a good outcome, but maybe I am mistaken. What do you think?

Also, about the first question, one reason that you might care is to figure out whether we are engaging in a logically consistent, truth-seeking analysis. If his statement wouldn't be hate-speech if we added a sentence, maybe it's only "hate speech" because it addresses a politically charged issue. If that is the case, we are engaging in a political inquiry, and not a truth-seeking one. 

If someone said about black women such as myself, "We are dealing with ni**er b*tches. They are filthy, sensual creatures. Ni**er b*tches will let anyone f**k them, so they should be happy to be raped by a white man, because at least that will  improve their genes," it would be hate speech and it wouldn't matter what contextualizing sentence we put in there. It would still be hate speech.

I am just trying to figure out whether folks think that Dan Cathy's comments were of that nature. If his comments are only hate speech because of his political donations, either his political donations are themselves hate speech, and the words he actually said are not, or he has not engaged in hate speech. At least that's my reasoning; maybe you could share yours?

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