Advocacy / Families / Spirituality

Chick Fil-A’s family values are not family-friendly

I’ve known for some time that Chick Fil-A donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009. I should have stopped going there then, but I instead went less often, my conscience troubled.

Then, Chick Fil-A president Dan Cathy’s recent comments that his company supports the “biblical definition of marriage” hit the news media and I realized I could no longer give my money to a company that uses their considerable influence (and tax-exempt foundation) to promote intolerance towards the LGBT community.

Yes, there is freedom of speech and religion in our country, but that should not come at the expense of limiting other people’s civil rights (which is what the anti-gay groups Chick Fil-A supports are trying to do.)

As a business owner, Cathy has taken a position that I and many other people cannot support – personally, or with our continued patronage . To do so otherwise would be turn our backs on neighbors and loved ones. It’s unfortunate, because in other respects, Chick Fil-A has done positive things in their communities, but we can’t cherry-pick what we like and ignore the rest.

I was deeply bothered by Cathy’s statement: “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.” Commendable, yes, but also a dig at families of divorce, as if families who went through a divorce didn’t experience enough emotional pain and judgment already. There is divorce even in the most devout of families; it is a complex issue and Scripture alone isn’t going to keep people together if they are not compatible, or if trust is not present.

I’m divorced and remarried with a daughter and stepson. I operate my wellness business out of the chiropractic office owned by my husband’s ex-wife. We are family-operated and inclusive (although not a partner, I handle the social media and marketing activities.) Together, we have a very supportive relationship and raise my stepson together as part of an extended family unit. We are family-led. We strive to live by the values of non-judgment, compassion and acceptance of others as they are.

However, non-judgment, compassion and acceptance does not mean tolerating harmful actions, words or behavior.

Today, my daughter asked me if we could go to Chick Fil-A after swimming at the pool. I said no, and in very simple terms, explained that the owner of the company has said mean things about other people, and we don’t give our money to people and companies who are not nice to others.

As a parent, it’s important for me to help my children understand that the way we treat each other will contribute to the kind of society we want to live in. I believe in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision of the “beloved community” and this is the message I want my children to embrace: that we support what Dr. King called “the solidarity of the human family.”

Cathy’s position not only targets the LGBT community, it also includes other so-called “non-traditional” families.  That includes my family, and many other families I know. Yet, Chick Fil-A prides itself on being a “family restaurant”, a clean, friendly place with polite customer service staff and cow-themed “Family Nights.”

Clearly, that doesn’t include my family, or the many co-parenting and LGBT families I know.

Chick Fil-A has now ducked behind their PR campaign, putting up a sign in their stores informing customers that the Jim Henson Creature Shop Puppets were recalled “due to a possible safety issue.” It’s fairly obvious that the “recall” is in response to the Jim Henson Company severing ties with Chick Fil-A following Cathy’s statements. When there is a legitimate recall, it is communicated widely as a safety notice via media networks. I searched and could not find a corresponding safety notice.

Their official PR statement also rings hollow:

“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.”

How can they honestly say they treat people with dignity and respect?  Who in the LGBT community would ever truly feel safe or comfortable working for Chick Fil-A or eating in their restaurants now?

If you’re going to live by Scripture, then live by ALL of it, which includes not being dishonest – and most importantly, loving thy neighbor as thyself.

Loving thy neighbor as thyself does not mean “tolerating” other people. It doesn’t mean “love the sinner, not the sin.”

Loving thy neighbor means loving everyone with unconditional acceptance and an open heart, knowing they are all children of God just like you.

Loving thy neighbor as thyself means extending your hand, not exacting your judgment.

Connect with Dana on Google+.

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