How proud former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee must feel. His “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day,” turned into record sales for the fast food company. Supporters of the chain and its president, Dan Cathy, have also been flocking to Facebook to tout their love of all things chick-filleted. The thrust of their comments usually goes something like this: “I just ate at Chick-Fil-A and stood up for Christian values and freedom of speech.”
Well, bully for you. But you just don’t get it.
The outcry over Cathy’s stance against gay marriage isn’t about freedom of speech. Cathy can say whatever he likes about the issue. That’s his constitutional right. If he finds gay marriage abhorrent due to his religious beliefs, he has the freedom to express that opinion. And while I find his take on homosexuality troubling, it’s not nearly as troubling as the hoards of people who felt driven to rush out and buy a sandwich to show their support for a homophobe. Because let’s face it—that’s what this was all about. It wasn’t, as Mike Huckabee said, an effort to defend a business from Americans who “don’t like [Christian] voices.” Absurd. Travel a mile in any direction in this country and you’ll find a Christian church. America is predominately made up of Christians, so don’t give me this bullshit about how poor Christians are being oppressed.
However, Huckabee’s words bring up an interesting point. Just what is the Christian voice? The long held view, that same sex marriage is a sin, is changing. The Episcopal Church has approved blessings for same sex couples. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has allowed openly gay men and women in same sex relationships to become ordained ministers. I am not suggesting that these decisions have been easy to make–the differences of theological interpretation on homosexuality have split apart the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches. Fundamentalist congregants believe that homosexuality is a sin in the same way the Vatican does, in the same way Dan Cathy does. But these differences of biblical interpretation reflect that there is no Christian “party line.” There are many Christian viewpoints, depending on the denomination, the church, or the individual you ask.
Listening to Cathy say that he hopes God will have mercy on those who “have the audacity to define what marriage is all about,” you would think his is the only true Christianity despite a variety of Christian attitudes on the subject. Seems to me Cathy’s pretty audacious in making that claim. Just who does he think he is, anyway? God?
When someone places himself (or herself) upon a pedestal of piety, looking down on all of those who don’t believe the same way, he’s asking for criticism. And that’s what Cathy got. Gay rights groups spoke out about his judgmental views and they had every right to do so. Just as they have every right to boycott Chick Fil-A because they don’t want to support a company who is anti-gay and donates money to hate groups like the Family Research Council.
Hate. That’s the crux of this issue. Ask yourself: do you really think that all those people who stood in line at Chick-Fil-A to show their “appreciation” would have done so had the tables been turned? If it was the gay community showing its support because Cathy endorsed gay marriage? No way. What we have are sections of America so repelled by homosexuality that they will band together in greasy fast food franchises for some sort of perverse communion to make themselves feel better about their prejudices.
A friend of mine wondered how all the gay children, whose parents attended the chicken party, might feel. Good question. Not a great message of compassion, is it? In fact, Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was a downright cruel and unfeeling demonstration, showing not a whit of caring for anyone who might face the challenge of being gay in such an unwelcoming environment.
And what about that guy these so-called Christians all claim to follow? Who told us to love one another? Had he been around, I have a hunch he would have bypassed Chick-Fil-A and gone for sushi.