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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I would like to add to Adria's comment a deep concern about the danger of acting on "moral outrage." In my read of history, it almost always leads to violence. Anti-abortion extremists are morally outraged by the taking of "innocent life" and feel justified in killing abortion doctors. John Brown was outraged by slavery and sought to lead a violent slave insurrection. Bin Laden was morally outraged by Western Imperialism and US desecration of Holy Ground in Saudia Arabia.... Hitler was morally outraged by the treatment of Germany in Treaty of Versaille. The gay activist who shot the security guard at the Family Research Council was morally outraged by this anti gay "hate" group.

 

Yes, I think Jesus calls us to propehtically "witness" against evil but with some humility(Judge not lest you be judged) that we could be wrong or simply acting out of "human moral outrage"- what Whittier identified as the "earthquake, wind, and fire"- strong human emotions of fear, anger, woundedness, etc. that we cloak in divinity instead of waiting for the "still small voice of calm"- the True Light.

Martin Luther King Jr. saw the danger of "moral outrage" rooted in human, tribal emotion. Speaking to a group of civil rights workers, he cautioned, "One big danger for us is the temptation to follow the (leadership of the)people we are opposing. They call us names, so we call them names... Let us not do to ourselves as others do unto us; try to put ourselves into one all-inclusive category- the virtuous ones, or the decent ones as against the malicious, prejudiced onese or the well-educated against the ignorant. You can see that I can go on and on- and there is the danger: the 'us' vs. 'them' mentality takes hold and we do, actually begin to run the risk of joining ranks with the very people we are opposing. I worry about this these days."

As with our Quaker ancestors, King understood that the true struggle in this world was not with "flesh and blood enemies but against spiritual powers of wickedness" that had confused whites and tempted them to embrace racism for selfish purposes. Rather than take up armed struggle against the oppressors, King's redemptive and sacrificial love for all humanity sought the liberation of both oppressed and oppressor. He believed that the way of the cross, self-giving sacrificial love, was the path of both justice and reconcilication. It was the path to the future kingdom in which all God's children would be judged not by the color of their skin, not by sexual orientation,  but the content of their character.

 

Maybe, I'm wrong but I see Cathey as attempting to witness to his deeply held belief that the collaspe of marriage and children born and raised outside of marriage(70% for African American chidren and now 40% for working class whites) is a tragedy that needs correction. Amen.

 

Hi Adria, thanks for the thoughtful reply.  I do think Mr. Cathy's speech is hate speech. When I said that people responded out of moral outrage I wasn't implying that I shared that outrage. I don't know of any "homosexual activists" meaning flawed, fearful, and concerned human beings taking up violence. I respectfully think that you are wrong about Mr. Cathy as he was not witnessing. His is the mentality of the type of Christianity (I cringe when I even think that it they can be called Christians) saying that God gave hurricane Katrina to New Orleans because of homosexuals. Show me in scripture where Jesus said this and I will buy into it.

Herb, thanks for your input. The gay activist is not a representative of all gay men and women. Hitler was not representative of all Germans. bib Laden was not representative of all Muslims. The fundamentalist who acts violently toward an abortion clinic, or doctor, is not representative of all fundamentalist, or all Christians. Thank God that John Brown was outraged at the horror of slavery. We all should be today (of human trafficking) but choose the nonviolent path.

The collapse of marriage has more to do with economic and social injustice than to same-sex marriage. I work in the child welfare system in New Jersey and 90% of the clients are not married, there is not a stable home even within the marriages. These conditions ARE NOT due to gay and lesbians redefining marriage. Prohibiting people from being in a loving relationship and taking part in the rights and benefits offered from the civil government is a civil rights issue. Gay men and women are not mentally deficient, not criminals, and not a threat to society. They are exactly as God made them. Just like people of color.

Mr. Carty needs to be given the facts.

Has anyone seen this article.  Refer to the list of tweets received in support of Carty's comment. I wanted to vomit reading them.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/08/ch...

I can also refer anyone to a list of comments made by Mr. Cameron, whom Mr. Carty supports financially, if they want the list.

Just to make clear, I'm not an activist.  I have a conscience that I am in the process of putting under the yoke of the Holy Spirit.

His money and his words are his speech. I see no love in these words.

I don't support any political organization or any organization which discriminates against anyone. I won't take part in that evil. That's just my opinion. I may be wrong, but after coming to Christ, I can't help but see the spirit of anti-Christ in this world - of the buying and selling of the children of God - of the dehumanization that takes place in God's name. I am not much of a theist, but when I accept the language of theism this is what I see in the world. My struggle is with God and not even with spiritual powers of wickedness. Those powers are ordained by God to do what they do - so I'm looking to deal with God who is in charge of it all. That is my relationship with God right now. I trust that all will be well, that all will be reconciled, but I'm at that "place" yet. I can only get square with God in the here and now. My reading in Quaker spirituality and the Benedictine spirituality both of which are a little similar but not in the least identical, but there is something in the practice of silence within (which is where the kingdom of God is) is the path for me.

I thought that for Quakers equality is a spiritual issue. It's one of our testimonies - right? So, if someone is supporting an organization that would deny equality, and using for that support the money they receive from those whom they would deny equality; it's abhorrent, unethical, immoral, hypocritical, and cruel in my mind. Cruelty does not have to be just a physical thing. It can be emotional in a way that robs people of their dignity.

John Woolman wouldn't buy products made of slave labor. I won't eat chicken that the profits from it, are used to support inequality. And what's worse, Cathy proudly went public about it. Cathy deserves what he gets. Like all of us, he suffers the consequences for his actions and choices.

I'm tired of Christians using the Bible to justify their hurtful conduct to others. It's been used for centuries in that way. Just shows me that it is not God inspired. Rather, it is a collection of human opinion - some of it Godly; some of it not.

Hi, Howard! I just wanted to respond to two points you've raised.

1. Just as John Woolman wouldn't buy the products of slave labor, if you feel led not to purchase Chik-fil-A chicken, you shouldn't. But I don't think John Woolman would say that slaveholders "deserve what they get." He went in to the homes of slaveholding Friends, he prayed with them, he talked with them, and helped them be receptive to the Holy Spirit so that they could understand that what they were doing was contrary to Truth. He got in the muck with them, rather than condemning them from afar, because he recognized that they had access to the same indwelling Christ that he did. If he worked with them under the Lord's guidance, he could help them understand that they were wrong, while still loving them as brothers. "They deserve what they get" seems to fall short of the possibilities of such loving, Spirit-guided labors and seems contrary to the  recognition of that of God in all people - including people who may not recognize that of God in others.

2. I don't see the testimonies' primary purpose as a spiritual one. They are a useful shorthand for describing, especially to non-Friends, what makes Friends distinctive. The obedient relationship with God through Christ Jesus is the spiritual core of my faith - not the testimonies. It is easy to separate the testimonies from their context because they are simple one word mottoes. That said, I think that we have different perspectives on equality and on the moral impact of a stand against homosexuality.

For example, I believe murder is wrong. I think that murder should not be permitted in society. Yet I try to remind myself that the fact that a person has murdered someone, or several people, does not make me "better" than him, though it may mean that he should be restrained from killing again, perhaps by prison. I don't believe that this is contrary to what Friends mean by equality.

The fact that someone believes that homosexual behavior is wrong, and that allowing homosexuals to marry ratifies that wrong, does not necessarily mean that that person "hates" homosexuals or thinks he is better than them. If you believe that homosexual behavior is a deep wrong, then it is reasonable to try to restrict its practice as much as possible. In fact, you may have a moral obligation to do so, especially within the church. This does not mean (necessarily) that you do not respect that fact that those who engage in homosexual behavior were made in the image of God or that you think they aren't, in some fundamental way, equal, just like the murderer in the earlier example. It just means that you think that they should be discouraged to the extent possible from engaging in such wicked (in your view) acts.

One may think that this is wrongheaded, false prophecy, impractical or unfair. But it bears remembering that in no YM in the world was homosexuality officially considered something that needed protection under the umbrella of Friends' equality testimony until 35 years ago; all of the others that have made such statements have done so within the past 20 years. In the history of a 360 year old society, this is not much time. It is a view that is far from universal even among Friends (see OYM, FUM and EFI, for examples). I do not believe that Friends who disagree are, by virtue of that disagreement, not "Godly," especially given that most Friends likely did not believe that for most of Friends' history and most Friends in the world today probably do not agree. 

Howard Brod said:

I thought that for Quakers equality is a spiritual issue. It's one of our testimonies - right? So, if someone is supporting an organization that would deny equality, and using for that support the money they receive from those whom they would deny equality; it's abhorrent, unethical, immoral, hypocritical, and cruel in my mind. Cruelty does not have to be just a physical thing. It can be emotional in a way that robs people of their dignity.

John Woolman wouldn't buy products made of slave labor. I won't eat chicken that the profits from it, are used to support inequality. And what's worse, Cathy proudly went public about it. Cathy deserves what he gets. Like all of us, he suffers the consequences for his actions and choices.

I'm tired of Christians using the Bible to justify their hurtful conduct to others. It's been used for centuries in that way. Just shows me that it is not God inspired. Rather, it is a collection of human opinion - some of it Godly; some of it not.
Oh my, I sound worse than my intent. I did not mean the statement as a condemnation of the man. All I'm saying is that he is taking an unpopular moral stand to many, in a public manner. So, he's a "big boy", and should expect a boycott reacton.

I indeed attempted to labor with him via the only means at my disposal- email. Consequences are not bad. They help people rethink their actions. I've had many in my lifetime that have reshaped me. I thank God for them. If they don't happen, things will never change. As John Woolman exemplified, we need both consequences and laboring to help change our hearts.

I am mystified how you can separate the testimonies from spirituality. They are the active result of our spirituality.
Paul was not taking to us in the here and now. I'd opine that Paul a fundamentalist if he were around today and not listen to what he has to say - most of it anyway. I take scripture as it is not the word of God but the words of men (not women either) about God as they understood God. Fortunatelyy understanding of God is different - not better or worse - so i work with that. Remember Paul also supposedly said that the end of going to happen at any moment, that people shouldn't raise families, that slavery was okay, and that women should keep their mouths shut. Aldo his view on homosexuality is irrelevant as we undertake gender and sexual identity are understood today. If one really thinks those who wrote scripture were inerrantly right then they need to erase their minds because no one today is incapable of seeing reality as they did in the first century b.c.e.

Hi, Matteo! Thank you for your response. You know, you may be 100% right about Dan Cathy. He may be  just like those people from groups like Westboro Baptist Church, which has achieved nationwide infamy  (its church website is godhatesfags.com) for demonstrating at soldiers' gravesites with signs intimating that soldiers die because Americans tolerate homosexuality. If that is the case, it is troubling indeed that he should defame Christ's name by hateful views.

The thing that pushed me to write the original post, though, is that people were first incensed by the language he used - not by his financial donations or any actual evidence that he is a hatemonger masquerading as a child of God. And the language he used was the language of prophecy. My concern is that when politicians threaten to use, without public mandate, their power to stifle those who use the language of prophecy, they won't use Friends' time-tested discernment processes. They won't wrestle and pray with the issue of whether something is inspired by the Lord. Even the article you linked to said that "technically" Dan Cathy and Chik-fil-A aren't violating anyone's civil rights [the tweets you refer to, by the way, are great examples of hate speech. To me, they differ in kind, not just degree, from what Dan Cathy said]. However, if the politicians find his statements personally offensive, or if they consider action politically expedient, they will act to stifle them if we aren't vigilant. This presents the concern that, when true, obedient, God-given prophecy that is critical of one of culture's sacred cows is given, the one who gives it will receive the same treatment. Now, I know that we are blessed when we are persecuted for the sake of the Name, but that doesn't mean I think we should encourage such persecution.

I appreciate the fact that you emphasized that you support Dan Cathy's freedom to say things like what he said. But I also note that you say, "Show me  where Jesus said it, and I'll sign on." The apostle Paul is not Jesus, and I disagree with much of what he said. But I don't feel comfortable immediately condemning those who take the words of the apostles as seriously as you take the words of Jesus.

Also, you should be aware that there are many black and brown people who get really angry and offended when people assume that "everyone knows" being gay is analogous being a person of color. I don't find it offensive, but I can understand why others might, especially in light of the fact that sexual orientation is often described by gay-affirming groups and individuals as fluid, changeable and on a spectrum. Race is also on a spectrum, of course, and someone who is "black" in the US may not be in Brazil, for example. But anyone who has been unable to get a cab or has been followed by the cops because of skin color may not easily see the parallels between one's phenotype and who one chooses to have sex with.

Matteo Masiello said:

Hi Adria, thanks for the thoughtful reply.  I do think Mr. Cathy's speech is hate speech. When I said that people responded out of moral outrage I wasn't implying that I shared that outrage. I don't know of any "homosexual activists" meaning flawed, fearful, and concerned human beings taking up violence. I respectfully think that you are wrong about Mr. Cathy as he was not witnessing. His is the mentality of the type of Christianity (I cringe when I even think that it they can be called Christians) saying that God gave hurricane Katrina to New Orleans because of homosexuals. Show me in scripture where Jesus said this and I will buy into it.

Herb, thanks for your input. The gay activist is not a representative of all gay men and women. Hitler was not representative of all Germans. bib Laden was not representative of all Muslims. The fundamentalist who acts violently toward an abortion clinic, or doctor, is not representative of all fundamentalist, or all Christians. Thank God that John Brown was outraged at the horror of slavery. We all should be today (of human trafficking) but choose the nonviolent path.

The collapse of marriage has more to do with economic and social injustice than to same-sex marriage. I work in the child welfare system in New Jersey and 90% of the clients are not married, there is not a stable home even within the marriages. These conditions ARE NOT due to gay and lesbians redefining marriage. Prohibiting people from being in a loving relationship and taking part in the rights and benefits offered from the civil government is a civil rights issue. Gay men and women are not mentally deficient, not criminals, and not a threat to society. They are exactly as God made them. Just like people of color.

Mr. Carty needs to be given the facts.

Has anyone seen this article.  Refer to the list of tweets received in support of Carty's comment. I wanted to vomit reading them.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/08/ch...

I can also refer anyone to a list of comments made by Mr. Cameron, whom Mr. Carty supports financially, if they want the list.

Just to make clear, I'm not an activist.  I have a conscience that I am in the process of putting under the yoke of the Holy Spirit.

Adria thanks for the article and your response. Thankfully I don't share Mr carty's eschatology and I have a love/hate relationship wit Paul warming up to him when I see him through a certain lense. For the record I would defend Mr Carty if he wanted to get a permit to operate in those cities which say he is not welcome. I love him as I love all children of God. I Try to start my coming to god with what Jesus said - or supposedly said- then work my way out to other scriptures. So for me Jesus is more about going than believing. But that's another conversation. I wish people who are so adverse to LGBTs would not say they love them (with gritted teeth) as if they have to but don't and draw the to the church and learn to like them. Then I think the Spirit will speak and things will change ANC oeo
Sorry I hate writing a iPhone. I was saying that people would be more transformed by the Spirit. But asking people to like one another instead of loving them.

Matteo, you're so right about that! People say, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." I think that is a right attitude but only if you actually love the sinner, not just "love" the sinner. You can only do that with people you know and care about!

If your mother does something sinful, you may recognize it but still love her. But when a perfect stranger does something you consider sinful, it is easy to demonize him, exclude him and condemn him. We have to have be willing to build relationships with people, really getting to know them and care for them and draw them toward the love of God - not just "tsk tsk" from afar. If you think homosexuality is wrong, what better reason to make some gay friends? Talk with them, have them over for barbecues, get to know them and care about them. You will be a good emissary for the church and you may be surprised how you benefit from their company!

Plus, one thing I think Paul is spot on about is that we should not spend our time judging people outside the church. I think that doesn't mean ignoring social trends that have implications for society. BUT, we already know that we live in a fallen world. The best thing we can do is to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live righteously and sow the good news of the love of God and the word of Christ in the world, not spend our time moralizing about those who don't claim sonship.

I also want to thank you so much for your participation in the conversation so far! I've found it very thought-provoking  and stimulating, in a way that is often hard to achieve in time-delayed, Internet-based discussions.

Matteo Masiello said:

Sorry I hate writing a iPhone. I was saying that people would be more transformed by the Spirit. But asking people to like one another instead of loving them.

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