A few days ago, one of my friends sent me this article, asking if I’d write a blog post on the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A’s stance on marriage. For those who aren’t already aware, the fast-food chain is well-known for its emphasis on Christian values. Restaurants are closed on Sundays, and the company has made significant donations to organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the WinShape Foundation, and the National Christian Foundation.
I’ve seen a large number of blogs, articles, and Facebook posts expressing outrage over Chick-fil-A’s endorsement of traditional marriage – many of them vowing to boycott the restaurant chain. Obviously everyone has the right to purchase – or refrain from purchasing – whatever they want (except for health insurance, I suppose). I don’t have any problem with people boycotting businesses that don’t represent their beliefs.
I do take issue, however, with some of the language being thrown around. Almost without exception, Chick-fil-A’s critics accuse the company of “hate” and/or “bigotry”. Actress Roseanne Barr even went so far as to suggest that anyone who eats at “S%#@ Fil-A” deserves to get cancer.
Accusing a person (or company) of “hate” is a difficult and dangerous thing, since it presumes to know the motive behind someone’s stance. If someone opposes the legalization of marijuana, for example, it isn’t automatically assumed that they “hate” those who smoke pot.
Reading through the statements made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, it seems far more likely that his support for traditional marriage is merely driven by a desire to promote the biblical definition of the family unit. The company has also issued a statement saying: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender…”
Even more perplexing, however, is the allegation of “bigotry”.
Bigotry is defined by Dictionary.com as: “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.”
Bigotry involves not only negative feelings, but also an unwillingness to discuss – or even listen to – the opposing viewpoint. It involves shutting oneself off from conflicting ideas – often with an attitude of superiority or self-righteousness. Is there any evidence that Chick-fil-A shows “complete intolerance” toward homosexuals? I certainly haven’t seen any.
Although not true of everyone criticizing Chick-fil-A, it’s worth pointing out that many are themselves “stubborn and completely intolerant” of any viewpoint that doesn’t call for the legalization and cultural acceptance of gay marriage. These are the people who seek to shut down debate by labeling those who disagree with them “bigots”. One friend even told me outright that “there shouldn’t be a debate”, and that those who hold more traditional views on marriage should simply “acknowledge that it’s OK to be gay”.
There seems to be a great deal of intolerance lurking behind this liberal facade of tolerance.