I’m not going to stop eating at Chick-fil-A for three reasons. First, I like it. Second, if I started avoiding businesses with which I might have a philosophical or ideological difference of opinion, my options would be pretty limited. Third, I believe Christianity would be much better served if Christians would focus more or introducing people to Jesus and less on boycotting restaurants and coffee shops.
But I am disappointed.
I’m disappointed because Chick-fil-A capitulated to political pressure and bullying from the left. The company, whose mission statement since its founding by Truett Cathy is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” evidently decided faithful stewardship is now bad for business or just too much trouble.
I understand that constantly defending yourself against baseless accusations is wearying. I also understand that demonstrators with signs showing up at your business locations is a bad look.
Chick-fil-A has been blocked from opening locations in the San Antonio and Buffalo airports amid criticism for supporting organizations with traditional, Christian views on sexuality. LGBTQ+ protests led to the decision to close a location in Reading, England.
“We’re taking it on the chin,” an anonymous Chick-fil-a executive told the website Bisnow.
In November the restaurant chain announced it is ceasing donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and The Salvation Army, two Christian organizations that believe, among other things, what the Bible says about sexuality and in the biblical definition of marriage – one man and one woman – as if Bible-believing Christians have other options.
Activists on the political left have targeted Chick-fil-A because they believe FCA and the Salvation Army, and Chick-fil-A itself, are generally hostile to the LGBTQ+ community.
Chick-fil-A had already stopped donating to organizations, such as the Family Research Council, that are politically active in opposing same-sex marriage.
FCA and the Salvation Army are neither political nor hostile, toward anyone. I’m not speaking for either but I do know that both organizations – while adhering to the authority of Scripture – believe that human beings are made in God’s image and are not defined by their sexuality. But neither FCA nor the Salvation Army affirms same-sex marriage or gender as a social construct. In today’s world, that makes you a bigot.
The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination that ministers to people of all races, religions and sexual orientations throughout the world. It has never treated the LGBTQ+ community as an enemy to be defeated.
“We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” the Salvation Army stated Monday. “In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk.”
We live in an age when biblical orthodoxy comes with consequences. It always has. Capitulation also has consequences.
“[Chick-fil-A] has abandoned their principles and betrayed the consumers who buoyed their rise from relative obscurity into the multibillion-dollar colossus that it is today,” writes John Hirschauer in National Review.
You’ll get no argument from me. I’m just not all that surprised. Christian universities and churches throughout the country have compromised biblical principles in the name of cultural acceptance. Why not a chicken restaurant?
“As we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Chick-fil-A COO Tim Tassopoulos said.
We all need to be clear about who we are. Professions of faith and mission statements don’t mean much if they’re not reflected in our behavior.
The same applies to Christians who would rather spend their time and energy maneuvering their ideological opponents into checkmate rather than recognizing their dignity as human beings, and understanding that they are coming to the debate from a vastly different place.
The irony here is that capitulation will not be enough. The angry mob, with its pitchforks and torches, will be back. It doesn’t recognize differing viewpoints or acknowledge room for compromise. It will never be satisfied.
The sad thing is that Chick-fil-A seems to have exchanged truth for expediency and cultural relevance.
If we’re honest, we all face the same choice.
Rich Manieri is a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky.