Chick-Fil-A just can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight. Over the summer, CEO Dan Cathy told a tiny publication that he supported traditional marriage (marriage between one man and one woman) and a national debate arose out of it. People from all walks of life and spectrums of opinion weighed in on the subject.
The incident sparked a buycott and a kiss-in, brought 15 minutes of fame to one drive-thru worker, and introduced a whole lot of people to tasty ‘chikin’ and waffle fries. It also introduced a lot of people to the concept of free speech – because this fight has little to do with what Dan Cathy said and everything to do with protecting his right to say it.
One of the grousers in this whole ordeal was Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who said that he would block the opening of a second Chicago store in the “increasingly trendy” Northwest Side ward. He said that he wouldn’t support businesses that made political statements by making a political statement that had nothing to do with the purpose of the business – to provide food to people willing to pay for it.
Don’t try to make sense of it; it’ll just give you a headache.
Anyway, Mr. Moreno emerged triumphantly last week and announced that he had forced Chick-Fil-A to succumb to his agenda and change their practices and policies in order to open the restaurant in Chicago. Moreno said that the company had amended its corporate guidelines to include non-discrimination language, as well as promised not to support any charitable groups that promote traditional marriage, like Focus on the Family.
But wait! Not so fast, Mr. Moreno. Dan Cathy told conservative commentator and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee that his company’s compliance with the alderman’s request do not go so far as to quit charitable giving to family-oriented organizations. He said that there had been some sort of misunderstanding, and that Chick-Fil-A had not "changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago."
Moreno claims that company executives gave him a letter earlier this year promising not to support political agendas with its non-profit arm, the WinShape Foundation. He called upon the CEO to confirm the documents that had been provided to him by Chick-Fil-A executives. In a statement, Moreno asked, "It's pretty simple, Mr. Cathy. Do you acknowledge and support the policies that your executives outlined to me in writing or do you not? Yes or no?"
It’s a whole lot of he-said, she-said right now, and I’m not sure what to believe. Chick-Fil-A has never been discriminatory toward gays (it’s illegal to be anyway – something about civil rights) so it’s very possible that it updated its corporate guidelines to include specific non-discriminatory language.
As for the WinShape thing, I think it’s sad that a politician would ask a company to stop providing scholarships for thousands of kids each year to attend camps where they are motivated spiritually and intellectually to expand their horizons, nurture their relationship with God, and just have plain old fun. If teaching kids that Christ’s love calls you to love everyone, regardless of their sin, is anti-gay … well, I don’t know what to say to that.
Jesus never said, “Love everyone but the gays.”
If Dan Cathy promised to not support WinShape, and if those documents exist, then the burden of proof is on Joe Moreno. Show us the documents, Alderman. Or do the sensible thing and drop it. If people don’t want tasty chicken, they won’t eat there, and they’ll go out of business. Problem solved.
Image via ACaDeMiK/Flickr