I hadn’t really intended to do a post on Chick-fil-A because I regard it as a fairly unimportant sideshow, but a couple of things came up. A buddy of mine was hoping I’d address it, and Tipsy included some thoughts of mine in a piece wondering if anti-Chick-fil-A sentiment had its roots in “Christophobia.”
I never spent a lot of time thinking about Chick-fil-A. When I go to fast food joints, I never care much for chicken sandwiches, so it was never a store I was going to seek out in the first place. I had a vague understanding that the company had staked out a position in the culture war. Closed on Sundays, but not just closed, but closed so its employees could honor the Sabbath. That assumes a whole lot about your employees and your relationship to them. But, hey, whatever. None of my business, really. Hobby Lobby was more distasteful to me because of their even more rampant commercialization of their Christian-tribal affiliations. They, honest to God, sell “Test-a-Mints.”
But, then I became dimly aware that the owner of Chick-fil-A said something negative about whether our gay citizens should have equal rights. And, again, dimly aware that some big city lawmakers started showboating by threatening to use legal authority to impair the company’s ability to do business in their cities. And then very aware that conservatives were showing their solidarity by eating fast food chicken.
Meanwhile, I responded on Twitter to the event by being a smartass in the back of the classroom shooting spitballs. So, I can certainly understand Tipsy thinking I had stronger feelings on the subject than I actually do.
First, based on what I know, I can conclude that the city lawmakers are out of line; legitimately creating First Amendment concerns among those who care about such things. Second, I think gays and those who support them are acting in a perfectly rational and defensible way when they choose to oppose Chick-fil-A’s position and to seek to do the company economic harm through boycotts or whatever. Company owners aren’t inertly believing something in a vacuum. They’re taking profits and directing them to organizations and candidates with political influence which, in turn, help ensure that laws and policies harmful to gays remain on the books. You can pick a side, or not, depending on your policy preferences.
So, if you pick the side of the gays over the side of Christian culture warriors, does that make you Christophobic? No. For me, even though I don’t happen to believe in the divinity of Jesus, I’ll still happily attend the fish fry of a local church to raise money for the local homeless shelter. Some of my gay friends are devoutly religious, and I don’t shun them for that. Which, I think raises a central point in this debate: neither side of the culture wars has a monopoly on Jesus. This point was made rather well, I thought, by those taunting the Chick-fil-A solidarity people by pointing out that many of those who would routinely ignore the plight of the homeless and hungry rushed out to eat fast-food chicken in order to show their support for gay rights antagonists.
A business owner with strong religious beliefs causes me no concern; but commercializing the culture wars for political influence catches my interest, particularly when I’m opposed to your policy preferences.