Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
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.
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.
Another parrallel case has been spawned by the ACLU, which is representing the Klu Klux Klan in Georgia after the state of Georgia refused a application from the Klu Klux Klan to participate in their "adopt-a-highway" program, which would enable the Klu Klux Klan to do road side clean up and assist with maintaining a section of Georgia highways. I think all of us here are sensitive to the use of words and the inflammatory outcomes which they produce. The ACLU, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, are privately funded organizations which place constitutional protections on free speech as one of their missions, and here we have both organizations taking somewhat opposite supporting stances for issues that intersect free speech and civil rights. My fear is allowing government to set standards for limitations on free speech, and while such speech is offensive and unwelcome to others, laws enacted at the behest of one group seeking to silence the views of another takes us on a path with outcomes neither group would desire placed upon themselves. I opt for the protection of free speech and the civil liberties associated with the free exchange of ideas. While me may not like the ideas of others and the words used to express them, something more sinister is more certain to come about when these rights are taken away.
In Peace and Love- David
As a woman who was born transsexual, and who therefore knows that it's like to really be forced into the margins of society by prevalence of religious fundamentalism -- I probably find Dan Cathy's remarks a bit more threatening than some others here do.
I'm not saying that Dan Cathy's freedom of speech should be taken away, no matter how much I disagree with it -- because I know what doing that would open the door to -- I know that doing so would tread upon a slippery slope. It would mean that someone would have to be given the power to arbitrate what speech is "acceptable" and what speech is "unacceptable" -- and the power I give such a person today to prevent Dan Cathy from making his anti-LGBT remarks can tomorrow be turned against me, preventing me from renouncing them as a blatant distortion of scripture.
If a government agency is given the power to stop Dan Cathy's remarks today --- how do I know that tomorrow the same government agency won't stop *me* from quoting the Bible where Jesus reprimands the Pharisees for placing burdens on the people that they themselves don't face --- and pointing out how they give gays and lesbans the burden of being unable to marry the gender they can actually be attracted to while they as straight people don't have that burden -- or give transfolk the burden of having to live in a gender-role that is psychologically destructive to them when they themselves (as cis-gendered people) live comfortably in a gender-role that fits them? Frankly, if Dan Cathy is prevented from saying what he has to say -- I might tomorrow be prevented from saying this response of mine.
I agree with Adria that I have much to be nervous of if Dan Cathy's freedom of speech is taken away. But to make the leap and say that Dan Cathy's speech itself shouldn't be a cause for me to be nervous? I wouldn't go that far. Because frankly, his speech *does* make me nervous.
Dan Cathy's speech makes me nervous because it makes it invokes every time that I was just starting to make friends --- only to have that derailed because venue-of-choice of the social circle I was starting to make headways into decided not to give me safe restroom access.
It calls to mind every time that I was prevented from forming normal female-to-female friendships on the basis of religious reasons.
It recalls how I was unable to even go to school during the five years of my transition -- because the school administration wouldn't allow me safe restroom access.
Also --- I'm sure there are gay and lesbians out there who read Dan Cathy's remarks, and remember their life-partners dying in the hospital, and being unable to spend their last minutes together because of the attitudes that he declares the intent to perpetuate.
So sorry - but Dan Cathy's comments *do* make me nervous. Very nervous. And they are nothing short of an all-out assault on the brothers and sisters of Jesus based on a blatant distortion of the Bible.
However --- I don't trust the government to the the arbitrator of this fact that I just mentioned. And that is the reason - the *only* reason - why restricting Dan Cathy's freedom of speech makes me nervous too.
I do not find his view to be at all respectable - not in the least bit. I just don't want some government Department of Censorship to be the one to determine this.