Chick-fil-A Backpedals Bigotry After Backlash

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy
Just a few days after their CEO made anti-gay remarks you'd expect to hear from Pat Robertson, Chick-fil-A posted a note to their Facebook page affirming their commitment to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." Chick-fil-A claims this is part of their "tradition." Right.

Here is the message in its entirety:
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. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Two things:

1. You can bet your sweet fried ass that Chick-fil-A would never have posted that note had the public response to CEO Dan Cathy's comments been overwhelmingly positive. The words ring hollow, like the plaintive voice of a young child who has angered her parents, and who will say whatever she has to say to regain their favor.

2. If Chick-fil-A truly intends to "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," they will not funnel one more dime into SPLC-designated hate groups such as the Family Research Council. They will not support the ex-gay ministry Exodus International. And they will open up their camps and retreates to the LGBT population (not that many would want to go). Anything less amounts to a hill of beans.

Chick-fil-A, to be sure, is free to run their business as they please. This is America. And the great thing about America is that we have the freedom to vote with our pocketbooks and to call out bigotry in the public space. But until they have proven that they are not actively participating in the discrimination of human beings based on their natural traits, they can expect the boycotts to continue, and they can expect to live with the repercussions of their public comments.


Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy Super-Sizes Anti-Gay Rhetoric In Latest Interview

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy confirmed earlier this week what many of us already knew: Chick-fil-A really doesn't like gay people.

The story gained a lot of steam yesterday as bloggers and news sources reported Cathy's "Guilty as Charged" response to the company's Biblical, anti-LGBT stance.

Where most companies would be in damage-control mode after such public revelations, Cathy has upped the ante.

Appearing on The Ken Coleman Show, Cathy stated the following:
"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,'" Cathy said. "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."

"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 want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that," Cathy said.

"We need to be more faithful to depend on a God who does love us and wants to have a relationship with us, and wants to give us the desires of our hearts … We intend to stay the course," Cathy said.
"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," Cathy explained.


When Religious People Call Scientology Weird

In the wake of the recent split of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, there has been an increase in column inches devoted to Scientology. (The split also prompted some Twitter nastiness from Rupert Murdoch).

A recent Us Weekly article speculated on Tom Cruise's Scientology superpowers:
Having practiced Scientology for 30 years, Cruise has traveled the so-called "Bridge to Total Freedom" to achieve, through intense "auditing" sessions and other practices, a rarefied sense of enlightenment. Scientologists mark the path to the "Bridge" with ascending grades or stages, and, Janet Reitman's Rolling Stone story reports, Cruise is at the very advanced "OT VII" stage. Operative Thetans, Reitman says, have "have total 'control' over themselves and their environment. OTs can allegedly move inanimate objects with their minds, leave their bodies at will and telepathically communicate with, and control the behavior of, both animals and human beings." The more advanced Cruise and other Operating Thetans become, Reitman reports, they reach a God-like state: "At the highest levels, they are allegedly liberated from the physical universe, to the point where they can psychically control what Scientologists call MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time.
That's certainly some pretty weird stuff. Especially since there is no evidence whatsoever for psychokinesis. Magician and skeptic James Randi has offered $1 million to anyone who can produce a paranormal event, such as psychokinesis, in a controlled, mutually agreed upon experiment. Other organizations have come forth to offer prize money totalling $2.6 million for evidence of the paranormal. That money has been sitting there unclaimed, and I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon.

So yes, we all get a good laugh out of Scientology, just as many of us get a good laugh out of Mormonism. A lot of what drives the skepticism and ridicule is the fact that these religions are based on dubious narratives and extraordinary claims for which there is no evidence.

Why, then, are adherents of other religions so quick to call Scientology kooky? Don't they embrace some fairly outlandish beliefs as well?

Part of what seems silly about Scientology is its newness (not to mention the fact that the founder was a science fiction writer). Humans also are heavily influenced by tradition, and many of us are born into our religions. Something can't be that kooky if it's been around for 2,000 years and if we were born into it, right?

That depends on your perspective. To those who do not entertain supernatural notions, religions are all different shades of unbelievable.

A Tom Cruise-related story over at Discovery touches on this observation:
Though many elements of Scientology theology (written by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard) seem strange, it’s fair to note that many religions include paranormal or supernatural beliefs including virgin birth, walking on water, miraculous healings, garments and amulets that protect the wearer from harm, and so on. One man’s miracle is another man’s superstition.
Plus, there are many reasons for religious people to call Tom Cruise crazy without goofing on his religion.

Chick-fil-A CEO: We're Not A 'Christian Business,' But We Operate On 'Biblical Principles'

It's a well-known fact (and the source of many barbs) that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sundays. And it's a fairly well-known fact that the chain is a supporter of anti-gay organizations.

What's the deal with the whole Chick-fil-A Christian thing? And is it okay, as a supporter of equality and church-state separation, to eat their delicious chicken sandwiches?

The short answer? Quite a lot, and no.

Chick-fil-A president and CEO Dan Cathy spoke to the Baptist Press.
"We don't claim to be a Christian business," Cathy said in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, "There is no such thing as a Christian business."

"That got my attention," Cathy said. Roach went on to say, "Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me."

"In that spirit ... [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are," Cathy added.

"But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us."
Most people don't have a problem with the political or religious ideologies embraced by their eateries, so long as it does not affect their dining experience. (And to be sure, many Christians are more than thrilled that companies like Chick-fil-A are vocal about their religious beliefs.)

There are very good reasons why so many businesses go out of their way to stay out of religious and political debates -- they risk alienating a large part of their clientele. Customers at a Chick-fil-A are not likely to see bible verses on the walls, or to be asked by the fry-cook if they know Jesus, but one doesn't need to look too hard to know that Chick-fil-A is an organization deeply committed to promoting Biblical principles. This includes supporting anti-gay marriage initiatives and allegedly discriminating against its own employees who don't share their beliefs.

Cathy is very clear about Chick-fil-A's mission:
Cathy believes strongly that Christians are missionaries in the workplace. "Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community," he said. His goal in the workplace is "to take biblical truth and put skin on it. ... We're talking about how our performance in the workplace should be the focus of how we build respect, rapport and relationships with others that opens the gateway to interest people in knowing God.

"All throughout the New Testament there is an evangelism strategy related to our performance in the workplace. ... Our work should be an act of worship. Our work should be our mission field. As long as we are stateside, let's don't think we have to go on mission trips by getting a passport. ... If you're obedient to God you are going to be evangelistic in the quality of the work you do, using that as a portal to share [Christ]," he said.

When asked if Chick-fil-A's success is attributed to biblical values, Cathy quickly said, "I think they're inseparable. God wants to give us wisdom to make good decisions and choices." Quoting James 1:5, he spoke of how often he asks God for wisdom.
So, okay, Cathy doesn't necessarily want his employees testifying from behind the register, so what's the big deal? There are a tons of companies with Christian CEOs and Christian values, right? Sure. And this is America, where people are free to believe what they want.

The problem arises when highly successful companies like Chick-fil-A start using their muscle to support initiatives which are discriminatory.
There was a time when the Atlanta college football bowl game, which is now named after Chick-fil-A, was called the Peach Bowl. The annual bowl features teams from the ACC and the SEC. It struggled for a long time. Then 15 years ago the Chick-fil-A organization got involved. It was rebranded as the Chick-fil-A Bowl and has been incredibly successful with 15 consecutive sellouts.

"We are the only bowl that has an invocation. It's in our agreement that if Chick-fil-A is associated in this, there's going to be an invocation. Also, we don't have our bowl on Sunday, either," Cathy said.
So if you attend a Chick-fil-A bowl, you better be ready to pray to Jesus. If you're Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or a non-believer, then, well, suck it.

Chick-fil-A also invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation, which offers scholarships, camps, retreats, and foster homes.

In order to be eligible for a WinShape scholarship, one must sign a contract which includes Christianity-based rules, and commitment to a fundamentalist Christian lifestyle.

Gay couples are not allowed at WinShape retreats.

WinShape gave $2 million dollars to anti-gay groups in 2010, including the gay 'conversion therapy' organization Exodus International, and the Family Research Council, which has been designated a hate group by the SPLC. The company also gave $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009.

Cathy is absolutely unrepentant regarding his company's support of anti-gay organizations:
"Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

"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 operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that," Cathy emphasized.

"We intend to stay the course," he said. "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.
So, there you have it straight from the horse's mouth.

Many Christians might agree with Cathy in his assertion that Chick-fil-A is not a Christian business. A Christian business might actually refrain from actively contributing to the denial of others' rights.