Chik-Fil-A

It’s a tricky and fallen world we live in. When I get a craving for a taco (or a chicken sandwich and waffle fries)–it would be nice if I didn’t have to worry that the profit from my business was going to support something I strongly oppose. But good luck with that! Anytime I buy anything, part of that money is going to support something I don’t agree with/condone/support/etc. If I hold to the standard that every company I support with my purchasing power must align with all of my convictions and beliefs, then I’ll never buy anything again. So, what’s a girl with $3 and a taco craving to do?

I could look at it this way: I want a taco. There’s a restaurant that has tacos. I give them money, they give me that taco. Once that exchange is made, the money is no longer mine and the taco is no longer theirs. They can do with that money whatever they wish, and Imma eat that taco! That, friends, is consumerism at its finest. They have something I want, I have the cash. The exchange is made, no strings attached. They prosper from my money, and my belly prospers (more than what I’d care to admit) from their tasty tasty tacos.

Ooh, but is it really that simple? Unfortunately, no.

When I spend my money, and when you spend yours, it goes to all kinds of places and activities we would not contribute directly to if given the choice. That antibiotic I bought for my kid last month? And the migraine medicine you might have bought a few weeks ago? The drug company that produce those medicines are supporting and utilizing stem-cell research. There’s a lot of misinformation about stem-cell research, folks. Did you know that scientists can do stem-cell research using skin from a live, human hand or from tissues taken from the heart or liver? In other words, there is no harm to a fetus anywhere in the process. Oh, well, that’s not so bad, is it? But how do I know that (what was once) my money is going to the okay kind of research as opposed to the not-okay kind? I don’t. And, really, last month when my kid was sick and hacking her head off in the middle of the night and was generally miserable, did I even care about where the money went, or did I just want my baby to feel better? No. And I’d make the same decision over and over again. Why? Because I am a better parent than activist, and rightly so.

But what if it’s even more complicated than that? What if it’s not just a few pennies (of what was once my money) going to a mega-million dollar lobby toward an issue which I’m not certain I completely and fully understand the science behind, anyway. What if the taco company’s founder has opinions that I disagree with, but I recognize that he has done a lot of good work to help his community and disadvantaged people? Do I withhold my money from his company based on his opinions, despite all of his honorable actions? What if the company, not (I repeat, NOT) the man, gave a measly $1,000 to a group that has put out some extremely biased and discriminatory information that I strongly disagree with. A group whose “research” is tainted with their bias and is likely not up to academic nor scientific standards. If I keep getting my tacos there, I am indirectly supporting someone else to put out a message that I fundamentally, deep down in my marrow, disagree with in the strongest possible terms. But if I stop getting my tacos there, it also means that I no longer support the man who founded the company, who holds some opinions with which I disagree, but also who uses his own money to do things that I definitely admire.

Well, I could say that my measly $3 in tacos isn’t going to make a big difference one way or the other. This is true. But is that really the point? What if there are a million others like me who are trying to sort this thing out, too? Or even just, say, 150,000 others. Do we all get a free pass to stop thinking about this issue because our $3 doesn’t amount to much? When you put our $450,000 together, that makes a pretty big statement. So, back into the hot seat I go.

I don’t want to sound naïve and skirt the issue by suggesting that what we really need, rather than boycotts and rallies, is a “Cumbaya” moment where we all get together, talk about our feelings, and maybe share some tacos. Money is power. But you know what else is power? Our words. Our actions. Our compassion. It’s so much easier, isn’t it, to drive through the Chik-fil-a and grab a $3 sandwich to show support for Dan Cathy and his right to speak his convictions. Or, it’s so much easier, isn’t it, to stay at home and boycott Chik-fil-a because of their financial support of the Family Research Council, which has said some horrible things about homosexuals that have had detrimental effects on real people and their families. To buy a sandwich or not by a sandwich?

Boy, if it were only that easy.

What is harder, much harder, is to reach out to friends or family members who seem to sit on the opposite side of the issue from where I am and straight-up ask them what their position is. So here is my challenge to myself and to anybody else who wants to accept it, regardless of where you or I are, whether we agree or disagree, on this issue:

Assume nothing. Ask someone with whom we disagree–with the sincere desire to understand them and their convictions—what they think and why they think it. Put our own convictions and opinions out there for others to challenge. If you, like me, have a personal connection to or experience with this issue, talk about it. Let us not be afraid to talk about our gay parents/children/siblings/cousins/nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles/friends/neighbors/teachers/co-workers. Don’t flatten the issue—complicate it. Don’t be afraid to reach out in order to better understand.

I believe that in this dialogue, most of us will find that that the convictions of others mostly come from a place of well-meaning. Disagreement is extremely uncomfortable to me, but we need to dwell in the uncertainty between the multiple sides of this issue. We can strongly disagree and still avoid condemnation and judgment. We can still acknowledge and lift up the best in each other. We can listen. We can be humble. We can still serve our Lord together, despite the fact that we disagree. When we do this, we become better parents/children/siblings/cousins/nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles/friends/neighbors/teachers/co-workers, and more importantly, better Christ followers. We become bigger than the issue and we start to exhibit that love and unity that sets His people apart from all the others. We can hold on to our opinions and convictions as long as we hold our love for Him, and by extension His love for others, tighter.

This, and not boycotts nor rallies, is what is sorely needed. And for pete’s sake, let us not allow the politicians, the pundits, and the talking heads to speak for us. No disrespect intended, but I can not speak from my own heart with someone else’s mouth, and neither can you. We need to drown out the mega-phone voices, turn off the television and radios, get into our quiet spaces, and pray. Discover what the Spirit is saying to our hearts. Then, speak it in love and do not be surprised or offended if we still disagree. We are, after all, fallen sinners. We must trust that we are all doing our best.

The fact of the matter is my friends and family who supported Chik-Fil-A by buying a chicken sandwich today will not feel any differently because I did not. Nor, did their decision to do so have any real impact on me. We took our positions today, and the heartache over the GLBT issue will continue. Our money and our alliances do nothing, nothing at all, to reconcile us or even help us to understand each other. And I concede that some people have taken their positions on Chik-fil-a after a lot of thought and prayer. That’s great. But the hard work, the real transformative power of our convictions and beliefs comes from the dialogue, the walking it out and talking it out, the relationship. Just like our walk with Jesus.

If we let our money and alliances do all the talking, somewhere down the line we’d be saying all kinds of things we would never utter with our mouths. If we really want to be like Jesus, it’s better that we all do our own talking.

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9 thoughts on “Chik-Fil-A

  1. For me, I know there’s some hypocrisy – I *know* some of my money goes to things I don’t support. Because I think it’s nearly impossible to be 100% consistent – especially with tangled webs on conglomerates. But sometimes, there are some things that are just too much for me. There are some businesses we won’t support. We don’t go to Sea World, we don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A. But I don’t care who else does those things.

    While we currently have a renewed interest in not eating at CFA, it’s a place we’ve elected not to patronize on and off for years. There are the obvious reasons – but there are myriad others. Wanting to eat less fast food. Not loving their franchising policies (they take 50% of net profits – the owner pays all the taxes and they get half the cash). Touting Sundays as family days but still making employees come in to work. Employment discrimination. Some are more personal – like when someone in my family was screwed out of some money when a local Chick-Fil-A owner “didn’t feel led” to pay him for some work he’d done (incidentally, this guy’s wife is a prominent Christian blogger – it’s always *superfun* to see her pithy bits of wisdom posted in my Facebook feed). Now, yes – that’s one person and one restaurant, but that sanctimonious “look how Christian I am!” makes me see red.

    I have had so many conversations about this, most of which baffle me:

    * I’ve been told that “two wrongs don’t make a right”. Mmkay? Business does something I don’t agree with, I choose to spend money elsewhere. That’s not two wrongs. Heck – it’s probably not even one wrong. I’m not suggested we firebomb Chick-Fil-A – I’m not supporting on site protests or kiss-ins either. I’m just saying “hey – I’ll go to the McDonald’s or Wendy’s across the street” (or better yet, eat something healthier at home).

    * I’ve been said that people are supporting CFA not because they agree with them because they want to support the First Amendment. Say what? Dan Cathy has every right to say what he wants! And I have every right to say I don’t agree. I don’t really support what Rahm Emmanuel, et al said – though personally I think those statements were more along the lines of them using *their* First Amendment rights – and not them trying to make laws banning CFA. Again, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use your position as mayor to call someone a jerk – but I don’t think actual bans were being planned or considered.

    * Most baffling (to me!) is the “I’m being persecuted for my faith, so that must mean I’m right” school of thought. Yes – Jesus said we might be persecuted for our faith. But, is anyone really being persecuted here? And taking the gay marriage issue out of it – is “hey – people are telling me I’m wrong, so that must mean I’m right?” really a good basis for making choices? Maybe you’re being persecuted for your beliefs. Or maybe you’re just wrong. I don’t think Jesus’ intent was for us to be jerks in His name. Thankfully, this group seems to be small (though I was told that my views on this were the “craziest thing [I’ve] ever heard”)

    Since this always comes up, yes, I do have gay friends and family members who eat there (and have even worked there!). Some of those gay friends and family are facing some pretty harsh judgement on a regular basis. If you’re worried about your parents hating you, I can understand why you aren’t very worked up about where you buy your lunch. (Sadly, not an exaggeration.)

    I don’t know that me not eating there will do anything. I don’t know if I even care. I just don’t want to spend my money there when I have so many other choices.

  2. Melissa,
    Thank you for your input. Our views are similar on almost every point you make. Because the only CFA in our area is at the mall (a place I go to maybe 3 times a year), I’ve never eaten there. I’m more of a Quizno’s kind-of girl. 🙂 That’s why in this post I used tacos as my example, because if this controversy surrounded Taco Bell, I’d have some really difficult decisions to make! That being said, if we had a CFA here, what would I have done today? The same thing I did do today… stayed at home and blog about it. Because in the end, I think that anybody who ate at Chick-Fil-A today, or anybody who boycotted it today, with a sense of “I showed THEM” satisfaction… their message was pretty much lost. Being one of the masses standing on either side of a gigantic line doesn’t do anything for the issue or discourse. In the end, nobody cares who ate a chicken sandwich today and who didn’t, because it’s inconsequential.

    To me, boycotting for one day is not the same as choosing, as you have done, to not give your business to a company that you are fundamentally opposed to for some reason. I will never ever give a Blockbuster one dollar of business, just for the reasons you said. They chose one to do/speak out on one thing… we responded by making a choice of our own. That’s how it works in business.

    Regarding the argument about 1st amendment rights, I totally get where you are coming from. He can say what he wants, and you can say what you want in response–with your words or your dollars. It’s your choice and your freedom of speech AND your money. Capitalism, for the win! Yeah, I was disappointed with Emmanuel on that. More preaching to the choir…but bad form, nonetheless, because dumber people could actually try to make that happen.

    Your point about people saying they’re being persecuted for their faith. Yeah… that’s a position that I have never been comfortable with. Maybe I’m not on the “front lines” enough… or maybe I’m not paying enough attention… but short of being called a “goody-two-shoes” in high school, I have never EVER felt persecuted for being a Christian. I do not see expanding certain civil rights to individuals who were previously denied them as an affront to my faith. I do not see somebody wishing me “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” as an insult. I hate the idea of abortion, but the fact that it is legal doesn’t grieve me, rather the circumstances that surround it do.

    And my favorite thing you said in your comment is this, “yes, I do have gay friends and family members who eat there (and have even worked there!). Some of those gay friends and family are facing some pretty harsh judgement on a regular basis. If you’re worried about your parents hating you, I can understand why you aren’t very worked up about where you buy your lunch. (Sadly, not an exaggeration!” Yes! Exactly this. Which is why it is so sad that the whole CFA thing was condensed down to eat a sandwich or don’t eat a sandwich. What would have been REALLy revolutionary is if GLTB supporters would have had a “Go eat at CFA day” and see if their critics would be willing to meet them there and have a civil dialogue over some tasty waffle fries. Instead of being reactionary, give the unexpected response and see what happens. That would have sparked a much more worthwhile discussion. Wouldn’t THAT have been awesome?

  3. Dear friend and relative, My mother and JU’s grandmother taught me, “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice”. I believe that to be words of wisdom.
    I also believe we are all children of god. That doesn’t mean I have to agree or disagree if someone acts differently than me. I don’t agree with someone
    who goes out of their way to support or suppress something that is none of their business. By the way, I like the pictures you post.

  4. Hi, Uncle Kenny!

    I believe that there is wisdom in that, too. I used to tell my students that it was much easier to just be nice. When you are generally nice, you don’t have to worry about who is “out to get back at you.” You don’t have to be paranoid that the girls whispering across the room are talking about you because you said something about one of them the day before. Not that this was a foolproof method–it was high school after all. If they seemed skeptical about my advice, then I challenged them to just stay neutral. I was reading the comments on another blog about this issue, and someone wrote something that I also thought was wise. I’m paraphrasing, but it was basically this: We don’t have to have an opinion on everything. We don’t have to have something to say about every issue that comes up–at least not right away. it’s ok to take some time to think and pray about it. — I loved that because it’s so true.

    That being said, I think it is great to support people or issues that you believe in even if you are not directly affected by them. Some people need the help to get their voices heard. Some people in “camps” need to know that not everybody in their tent thinks the same way they do. But again, I think we should be careful if the circumstances dictate that you can only show your support in an either-or fashion, like yesterday’s eat CFA or don’t eat CFA. I could have shown my support for 1st amendment rights by going there, but in so doing, my “support” would have also have been extended to a message that I won’t to knowingly convey, directly or indirectly, if I can possibly avoid it.

    Your point that we are all children of God is at the heart of what I’m trying to say. Not only are those with whom we disagree God’s children, so are the people whose lives are at the center of this controversy. And to see it all reduced down to for-or-against is a real shame, because nobody was edified or lifted up by it. It would be nice to see people talking about all of the issues this controversy touched upon in a civil and constructive way. Thanks for joining the discussion!

    P.S. All the photos on here, including the banner at the top, are taken by me unless otherwise noted. Photography is my stress-buster. I try not to overthink it. I just enjoy it.

    • Melissa – I just now got a chance to read the link you posted. He makes some very good points. The conclusions he draws about Christians are a little more critical than I personally agree with, but his points are valid. My favorite part was this:

      “Once in a while, our culture needs to be surprised by how much we love people–all people. Once in a while, our culture needs to be overwhelmed with joy that we are involved in the greater story. Once in a while, our culture needs to see us being a part of the solution and not the problem. But yesterday? There were no surprises. And no surprises only builds more distrust, not peace, not grace, not hope, and not love.”

      I wholeheartedly agree with that. I also agree with his assertion that Christians need to stop to stop and remember that actions speak louder than words, and that we need to walk along side a person, or walk a mile in their shoes, to understand how they may be perceiving the issue.

      I am always shocked at how easily people can make a controversy about what they want to focus on and ignore everything else. I have no doubt that for many many people, CFA Appreciation Day was all about the First Amendment, and that’s all. They did not stop to think about all the other issues that this controversy touched on because the First Amendment one was most important to them. Now, this is just my personal opinion, but I suspect that one of the reasons why people made it into a First Amendment issue is because the is the least ambiguous of all the other issues surrounding the controversy. Everyone *knows* that we should all have the freedom of speech, so as patriotic Americans, we need to stand up for that (by going to eat at CFA). It’s much less clear to Christians where they should stand, or even how to articulate their stance, on GLBT issues. There is a lot of plurality within the church on GLBT issues, but even that is difficult to find face-to-face in the sactuary and bible-study groups. It is usually a “hot potato” issue in that as soon as you speak about it, somebody will be offended or disagree. You can count on it. So that leaves a lot of Christians out there fending for themselves on how they should approach GLBT issues. We know we’re supposed to “love the sinner” but “hate the sin,” but that leaves some very ambiguous lines. What does that actually look like?

      In light of the ambiguity, people are going to play it safe and take a stand on the clearest issue, the First Amendment.

  5. You write so well, I just ramble on.
    Mr. Cathy has every right to chose church, chicken or charity. There is a difference donating to a charity and a cause. Both are by choice. Mr. Cathy’s choice of donating is a distinct preference. His preference puts him at odds with the opposite choice and he does think he has made the right choice. He thinks he has made the moral choice. Unfortunately it could be argued that the moral choice has been diluted. With current live ins, separations, divorce, and even killing your spouse, certainly has put the moral issue in jeopardy. Do same sex couples arrangements or marriages add to that jeopardy? If he he or she she marry they get a piece of paper. :You can get a piece of paper to become a Mexican citizen, but that does not make you a Mexican. Marriage can be a civil or a religious ceremony (Sorta like when two rivers meet. I had to throw that in. Yes Shirley and I were there. HA! ) I’m not sure how for the government roll is in it. Back to the piece of paper, it does have some benefits. Tax for IRS,maybe health insurance.but for same sex marriages it does not change morals and never will.

  6. It is my understanding that Mr. Cathy may have donated to church, charity, and cause. You make an intersting point about the dilution of the moral choice. We herterosexuals have certainly drug marriage through the mud. Even Christian marriages, statistically, do not look much different than the general population in terms of separation, divorce rates, infidelity, etc. You ask, “Do same sex couple’s arrangements or marriages add to that jeopardy?” In my opinion, no, they do not. I see no reason why same sex couples should not have the same government benefits as heterosexual couples. The idea that two people can live in a long term, committed relationship — or even just be longtime friends — and one not be allowed to visit or help make end-of-life decisions on behalf of their partner or friend is just tragic to me. Same-sex couples taking the tax-benefit for marriage–pshh PLEASE–why begrudge anybody taking a small tax break when there are some people who are hiding literally billions of dollars in foreign banks to avoid paying taxes on it? But that’s a WHOOOOLE other can of worms that we can unpack later. 😉 I agree with your last point that legality and morality are not the same thing.

  7. I am going to change the subject. This years Ukena family reunion was held at the Wood River VFW. There was about 60 people there. I did not count but i’d say there were about 15 kids there about the age of your girls. They were their cousins and they played and were well behaved and might have had more fun than the grownups. Next years reunion will be June 22,2013. It will be at the Roxarena, Roxana IL. One reason it was picked is because it has a large playground. maybe you could mark your calendar and it would work out that your family could come. I am glad to see everyone. I’m going to be 81 and I have one brother and two sisters that are over 90. This year Jennifer was there, but Leslie did not make it and she usually does. I think she went to a ball game.
    Marshal and Diane were there also. Anyway I have given you something to think about. I enjoy my computer, it wasn’t invented when I went to School. I never had one till about 4 years ago, when one was given to me. There is so much that I don’t know. See I told you I ramble on. End of ramble !

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