The article below was published
on July 21, 2012 by Denny Burk
at www.dennyburk.com [clear /]
Chick-fil-a and the Irony of the Tolerance Police
The irony of the tolerance police never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps you’ve heard about their latest sting operation aimed at Chick-fil-a. It all began earlier this week when Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-a, told a reporter that the company was pro-family. He did not mention gay marriage. Nor did he say anything specifically about homosexuality. Cathy simply said this:
We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. 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.
That doesn’t sound very controversial to me. It just sounds like a Christian businessman answering a question about his faith. Have we really come so far that even these words are intolerable to the tolerance police? Well, apparently the answer is yes. Activists and sympathizers with the gay rights movement are castigating Chick-fil-a and calling for boycotts. Other media outlets have begun digging up past statements by Mr. Cathy, including one from last June about “God’s judgment” on those who wish to redefine marriage. Sensing the rising storm, Chick-fil-a tried to deescalate and released the following clarification:
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
It doesn’t sound all that radical, does it? Actually, it sounds rather conciliatory to me. But that hasn’t diminished the outrage of the tolerance police one whit. No, they are still out in full force calling for consumers not to tolerate Chick-fil-a’s intolerance. Calls for boycott continue, and now politicians are beginning to weigh-in. The mayor of Boston has even gone so far as to declare a ban on Chick-fil-a’s in Beantown. Mayor Thomas Menino in his own words:
Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail… If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.
Apparently, Christian business owners are no longer allowed to express religious opinions in Boston if they run crosswise with the Mayor’s views on marriage. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, I don’t know what will. Again, the irony appears to be lost on the good mayor, who also fails to recognize that nothing Dan Cathy says indicates that homosexual persons will in any way be discriminated against at Chick-fil-a. In fact, Cathy says this:
We’re a business that serves the public, all people are welcomed into Chick-fil-A, and frankly we do not feel called to weigh in on a lot of social activism that’s taking place as it relates to the definition of the family, but we do definitely want to encourage strong families.
Do you see how this is going? You don’t even have to mention homosexuality or gay marriage. All you have to say is that you are pro-family, and certain municipalities will exile your business. Welcome to the brave new world of tolerance.
Denny Burk is an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Please see his post and subsequent comments by clicking here.
BostonChurchPlanting.com has included Denny Burk’s post above seeking comments from our church planters / readers. How do we respond to Mayor Menino’s rant? What do those comments say about the overall Boston / New England culture? Will it only be a matter of time before it is not the Christian business owners being blackballed and banned, but our churches themselves?