It’s Not my Pleasure to Write This
I’m pretty sure Chick-fil-A sold fewer sandwiches today than it did last Tuesday.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you are likely aware of the new, blockbuster controversy, in which Chick-fil-A, after donating to the Christian organizations Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and The Salvation Army, announced that the company, having fulfilled its stated obligations to the organizations, would no longer be donating to them. Of course, Chick-fil-A has received quite a bit of heat from the “Rainbow Mafia” (HT: Dan Burrell). The Rainbow Mafia, a (likely relatively small) subset of the LGBT movement joined by a number of heterosexual regressives, is dedicated not only to advancing the LBGT movement, but to demanding that every single person, organization, and entity in these United States not only care, but agree with them in their every pronouncement on the subject of sexuality. They will do this at the point of a gun or, in keeping with presidential failure Little Beto, the Texas Totalitarian, at the point of denied tax exemption for gay agenda heretics. Members of this Rainbow Mafia seem as close as anyone to modern-day fascists…and it appears Chick-fil-A caved to their demands.
The optics are thus, in a word, awful.
It looks for all the world as though Chick-fil-A Corporate has folded like a cheap tent, quailed before the threat of losing dollars, abandoned principle and its legion of Raving Fans in order to appease those who will never be appeased. Ben Shapiro was none too happy; Rod Dreher is convinced this is “gutless surrender” perpetrated by the “cowards” who lead Chick-fil-A. A very nasty little man named John Nolte had this to say; he is clearly wrong in some important ways.
For those a bit more objective, Joe Carter had a reasonable take on the situation, as did Russell Moore, who asks, “Should You be Angry at Chick-fil-A?”. Relevant Magazine has a fairly mild take on things as well.
On the other end of the spectrum from those who chose to rake Chick-fil-A over the coals is this colossal adventure in missing the point.
So what to make of all of this, and what to do? Having worked for Chick-fil-A for over nine years, and having been a Raving Fan longer than this, I think I have some qualifications to speak on the subject. And yes, I am concerned. As I said, the optics are absolutely terrible; this on its face looks like little more than capitulation. That said, if there is an organization in this country that might, in such a circumstance, deserve a little benefit of the doubt–temporarily, if nothing else–it would seem to be Chick-fil-A. Further, I’ve decided that I am not going to play the “rush to judgment” game; I’m a lot more concerned with having the right take than I am with having the hot take (I wish others might think the same way). But the question remains, what should we think?
First, I am willing to allow Chick-fil-A’s leadership an opportunity to address the questions that I have which, to my knowledge, have not been asked. Accordingly, I have penned the following letter which I will mail to Tim Tassopolous and Dan Cathy in the morning (and soon, to the operators with which I have been privileged to serve; they should understand the stakes and exert whatever influence they might be able to, in order to ensure that Chick-fil-A doesn’t do what it does simply due to pressure from folks like the Rainbow Mafia):
I write to you as a longtime member of the Chick-fil-A family, first as a “Raving Fan”, and then, for the better part of ten years as a team member. I have had the privilege of working for Jonathan Hollis, Zach Thomas, and Sandeep Kapoor, all of whom I consider to be personal friends. Additionally, I have been quite privileged to work alongside Operators Michael Calloway, Erica Hartfield, Ummara Sajid, and Zach Ayers, as they honed their talents at the Macland Crossing location. During my time as a team member, I had the privilege to meet both Truett and Dan Cathy; their warmth and graciousness, I will never forget. I have long considered Chick-fil-A to be the finest quick-service restaurant in the world in terms of the guest experience, and since leaving employment last year, I have continued to be both a Raving Fan and a supporter of all things Chick-fil-A.
It will not surprise you that I write today out of concern regarding Chick-fil-A’s recently announced decision regarding charitable donations. I want to begin by emphasizing that I write to ask a couple of questions that I feel to be quite germane, and not to jump on the bandwagon of criticism. However, the answers to these critical questions will go a long way toward determining my ongoing support and patronage of Chick-fil-A, as you will understand.
I understand that the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to continue to donate to worthy organizations, “secular” and faith-based; I read this statement from a Chick-fil-A spokesperson: “Moving forward, you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education, and it will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact. These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.” I also know that Chick-fil-A Operators are free to make their own donation decisions (in fact, I was often involved in such decisions during my time at Macland Crossing). I understand that the commitment that had been made to both FCA and the Salvation Army had been completed insofar as charitable donations is concerned.
However, the statements issued leave critical questions unaddressed, questions which I now pose in an effort to understand more fully Chick-fil-A’s decisions and, more importantly, motives in making them; surely you understand that this decision, taken on its face, gives rise to this question: is Chick-fil-A capitulating to the pressure placed on it by some “LGBT” groups, given that both FCA and Salvation Army, as evangelical entities, hold to what might be described as the traditional Biblical understanding of sexuality? And so the questions:
• Given that the Salvation Army does much good work in the areas of “homelessness, hunger and education”, Chick-fil-A’s stated priorities, did the Army’s stated policy on sexuality and relationships play any role in the decision to terminate the donations?
• Will the stated beliefs and practices of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Salvation Army, preclude these and similar organizations from being considered again for donations from Chick-fil-A Corporate? Would a Christian charity be disqualified for holding to traditional evangelical teaching on the subject of sexuality?
I ask these questions sincerely, with a real desire to get past the “spin” and understand Chick-fil-A’s rationale. I ask them respectfully, believing that the answers to them are profoundly important. If the answers to both of these questions are “no”, then I will receive this news happily, and engage in the spreading of it to others.
If, however, the answer to these questions is “yes”, or if there is no direct answer to these two (rather simple) yes-or-no questions, then I will be forced to sadly inform others that this is the case as well. Further, if Chick-fil-A has—to my astonishment, I would admit—chosen to withdraw support from these faith-based organizations for the reason (at least in part) that their Biblically-based beliefs are found to be offensive to some, then I will have great cause to now question Chick-fil-A’s sincerity as to the first three words of its stated purpose—“to glorify God”—and while I will not engage in a boycott, be sure that it will be with no small measure of sadness that I enter a Chick-fil-A, no longer a “Raving Fan” of a restaurant unique for its quality and commitments, but instead only as a customer of just another chicken joint.
Second, I would encourage you to write Chick-fil-A Corporate asking those same core questions. The issue here is what Chick-fil-A is not saying, and it is these questions which they must be prevailed upon to answer. Their corporate statement simply isn’t enough; absent clarification, it’s hard not to see the criticisms being leveled as justified.
Third, donate to the Salvation Army (I did today), and to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. These are Biblically-faithful organizations that do good works; the idea that they are “anti-gay” is, similar to the idea that Chick-fil-A is also guilty, preposterous on its face.
Finally, if this is as some suspect an effort at appeasement on the part of Chick-fil-A, it is bound to fail…spectacularly. Here’s an opinion piece on CNN, for instance, which makes this clear. Every Chick-fil-A operator has the freedom to donate as he/she sees fit, and there are many who will unapologetically support causes like FCA, the Salvation Army, and others; the Rainbow Mafia will never be satisfied.
And neither, if our worst suspicions are confirmed, will Chick-fil-A’s legion of fans.