I missed this post from Get Religion’s Terry Mattingly last week when I was on vacation, but it’s making the rounds today and now I’m more confused than ever about why Chick-fil-A is suddenly on the cultural radar. Let me walk through this as I understand it; stop me when I get something wrong. Fact one: Chick-fil-A’s owners are outspoken Christians and are widely known to be so. The franchise actually shuts down on Sundays for the Sabbath notwithstanding the lost profits from weekend business. Fact two: Per Dave Weigel, it’s also no secret that Chick-fil-A’s owners oppose gay marriage. The company’s charitable arm has been hosting events along those lines for years, apparently. Just recently, in fact, COO Dan Cathy said, “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.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we can try to define what marriage is all about.” And yet, those aren’t the comments that (initially) got Cathy in trouble. Per Mattingly, these are:
The company invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation (WinShape.com). The name comes from the idea of shaping people to be winners. It began as a college scholarship and expanded to a foster care program, an international ministry, and a conference and retreat center modeled after the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
“That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries,” Cathy added.
Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “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 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.”
Turns out he can’t quite share his values everywhere, but lay that aside for now. Simple question: Why did a famously Christian guy delivering a doctrinaire Christian take on marriage result in a sudden “awakening” that Chick-fil-A is a famously Christian company with Christian views? Did people somehow just … not know? Or, as Mattingly suggests, were his “guilty as charged” comments taken out of context in press accounts to make them sound more condemnatory of gays than he intended? (His other comments, about God’s judgment being visited upon America for messing with marriage, are far more condemnatory.) I’m guessing that, contra conventional wisdom, a lot of people actually didn’t know of Chick-fil-A’s Christian roots, if only because it’s exhausting trying to keep track of which companies tilt which way politically and ideologically. For instance, here’s a bit from Dana Milbank’s new piece begging Huckabee not to turn this into some partisan/religious cause:
[N]ow Chick-fil-A seems destined to climb to the top of the left’s boycott list, already crowded by, among others, Wal-Mart, Target, Bayer, Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Peabody Energy and United Parcel Service. Conservatives “buy-cott” such enterprises to counteract the boycotts, while observing their own long boycott list, including: AOL, Planet Hollywood, Nike, Southwest Airlines, General Mills, JCPenney, Starwood and Whole Foods.
This may be my RINO roots showing but I honestly didn’t know that we were boycotting any of those companies at the end. And, given how Wal-Mart and Target and those dastardly ol’ Kochs are doing these days, I’m also not sure why anyone bothers with boycotts anymore. I suspect one or two percent of people on one side of the aisle care enough about politics to actually participate in a boycott, another one or two percent on the other side of the aisle care enough to react by engaging in a “buy-cott” to offset the boycott, and the other ~96 percent or so can’t be bothered. Maybe this is the next wave of partisanship, as red/blue media preferences spill over into red/blue retail preferences generally, but I don’t grasp the timing. Why boycott Chick-fil-A now instead of the first time they started doing anti-SSM charitable events?