Keep your political opinions out of my restaurants

Published 7:56 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You’ve heard of the separation of church and state? That phrase is used to define the concept that Americans have accepted that belief in a particular faith should not be coercive as it relates to our governmental decisions. In other words, one does not have to be a Christian, or a part of any other faith, to enjoy the benefits of Uncle Sam.

I’ve got another concept I would like to propose today. How about the separation of politics and restaurants? Let me explain.

I like fried chicken in all of its many shapes and sizes. After all, I am a pastor and one of the little known prerequisites of becoming a pastor is the absolute love of the deep fried holy bird. How many remember the Nike commercial that featured super athlete Bo Jackson? You know. The one that created the phrase “Bo Knows.”

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Well I “knows” fried chicken and one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the good, ol’ USA is the one that comes from Chick-Fil-A. No one could make me quit eating at Chick-Fil-A.

Many across the country, though, are proposing just that. They are proposing that all of us boycott Chick-Fil-A restaurants. It’s not that the corporation is going into hen houses or chicken coops in the middle of the night and taking innocent little chickens away from their homes to be used and abused by those who seek the immediate gratification of a perfectly fried chicken breast between two pieces of bread.

No. The call for boycott comes on the heel of an interview given by the president and CEO of Chick-Fil-A where he said that he was guilty of supporting traditional family values. Many of you may ask, “What’s wrong with supporting traditional family values?” Good question.

It wasn’t too long ago when an interview or article written about a successful businessman whose company was considered an American success would have been ho-hum and hardly mentioned. Not too long ago a discussion about traditional family values would have put most of the country asleep.

However, things have changed. Now, if someone is for something, even as positive and irreproachable as good, old, traditional family values, then, by a kind of “opposites-day” logic, the same person must be against any other value that would differ.

Dan Cathy is the president and CEO of Chick-Fil-A. He was asked about his company’s support of family values by a Christian denomination’s news magazine. Cathy was quoted as saying “guilty as charged,” emphasizing that his company was proud to stand for those family values espoused in the Bible. I don’t know what got him in trouble, but I think it was his combination of family and Bible.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said. His comments, as positive as he could make them, created a firestorm within the mainstream media and other places where the traditional view of the family has been supplanted by a more liberal view.

There is a new word or phrase describing a statement or act that gets communicated in so many places and in a very rapid way. The phrase is that the statement or act “goes viral.” That means that just about every part of the media: television, radio, social media sites, and so forth, puts in its two cents worth on what has been said or done.

Mr. Cathy’s innocent, in my opinion, statement of support for traditional values was kidnapped by the progressive media, gay groups, and individuals and turned on its head. Instead of being a positive statement “for” something, it was turned into a negative statement “against” something.

After Mr. Cathy’s statement went viral, he was changed from pro-traditional to anti-gay. It did not matter that the word “gay” was never mentioned in the interview. Mr. Cathy never said anything about same-sex marriage. He only espoused support for the traditional marriage of the Bible. Oh, I understand that Mr. Cathy does not support same-sex marriage with the resources of his company.

My point is not that Mr. Cathy is a saint. I don’t know him. All I know is that his company was founded by his father who made it a point to not open on Sunday so that his employees could have the day off. I’m sure that his father hoped his employees would go to church.

His company also has a foundation that does admirable work in promoting healthy families by offering marriage enrichment seminars, supporting eleven foster homes, providing scholarships for college students and more.

The critics have called Mr. Cathy a bigot, a man of hate, discrimination, and intolerance, living in the past, and really painted him negatively. The mayor of Boston has said that he will do his best to keep Chick-Fil-A out of his city. A celebrity I have never heard of said he will never eat there. Just today, the Muppets withdrew their partnership.

What’s next? A boycott of McDonalds? After all, the name of their signature sandwich, The Big Mac, suggests an insensitive attitude toward all people who are carrying around an extra pound or two!

What about my proposal to separate politics from restaurants? Or perhaps this might work. If you don’t want to eat at Chick-Fil-A, don’t. And don’t feel that you have to tell me your reason.