Chicken Sandwich Theology: Chik-fil-A & Tolerance
To begin with, I must offer full disclosure.
I love me some Chik-fil-A.
I love the chicken sandwiches at Chik-fil-A. I love the homemade waffle fries at Chik-fil-A. I love their shakes, their chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches... heck, I even love their chicken soup.
I also love that when I go to Chik-fil-A the people who work there are polite, friendly, helpful, energetic and actually seem to care very deeply about what they do. What a concept. A fast food chain that actually has hiring standards.
Not to mention the countless charities that Chik-fil-A supports, education initiatives, and much more.
And here's something else I love. I love the fact that Chik-fil-A bears witness to the faith and convictions of it's founder, Truett Cathy, who vowed not to serve chicken, or shakes, or nuggets on Sunday.
Despite the fact that Chik-fil-A is closed on Sunday, despite the fact that it doesn't have have the ubiquity of MacDonalds (which is on every stinking corner of everywhere), their per store revenue is higher than Mickey D's, which leads one to believe that if they were able to plant more stores, they would surpass the fast food giant and sit atop the fast food heap all by their lonesome.
Which leads me to the crux of the matter. When Chik-fil-A president Dan Cathy professed in an interview that his family supported a Biblical view of marriage (as between a man and woman), liberals and gay activists reacted by calling for boycotts of the company. Chik-fil-A had a licensing agreement with The Muppets, which ended as a result of the flak.
The mayors of Chicago and Boston both vowed to keep Chik-fil-A from planting in stores in their cities (the mayor of Boston walked back a bit from that statement, but not much). I've also noticed that some activists are calling for Chik-fil-A restaurants on some college campuses to be closed.
It's fascinating how, in the pursuit of an ideal, people will actually do violence to the ideal itself.
C.S. Lewis believed that our culture is prone to what I would characterize as the "Idolatry of Virtue." It is in our nature as human beings to take what is good (the ideal of Tolerance, for example), make it an idol, worship it, bow before it, and then sacrifice our principles, common sense and integrity at it's feet.
It was for this and all of the many ways that we are broken and separated from God that He sent his Son to reconcile Creation to Himself.
But we do need to call things by their proper names. And what we see evidenced here in this Chik-fil-A controversy is simply the idolatry of Tolerance.
In the name of Tolerance, the folks who are calling for boycotts of Chik-fil-A are sacrificing tolerance itself. What good is a virtue, if it means so little to you that you would cast it aside so easily?
I deeply disagree with the political stances that Ben & Jerry of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream hold near and dear. Yet, they make a good product that I enjoy (too well). I don't agree with some of the stances that Starbucks makes as a corporation, but I faithfully buy coffee from them. I love my Apple products, despite the fact that Apple got dinged for terrible work practices in their Asian factories.
You might call me a hypocrite, or claim that I lack conviction. I would disagree. For the record, I'm not a huge fan of boycotts. I guess it's the latent libertarian in me, but I love liberty, and I value freedom. If you want to boycott a company or an organization because they make a bad product, offer poor service, etc., go for it.
But to do so in devotion to the god of your Virtue du Jour... Meh.
I would daresay that many of the folks who are making noise on the internet through Facebook and Twitter about boycotting Chik-fil-A are probably doing it from their Macs, their iPhone or iPad. If we were industrious we could comb their houses and discover a hundred ways they are violating their devotion to virtues they hold as honorable.
I found it highly ironic that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared that Chik-fil-A's values were not "Chicago Values," yet enlisted Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam to assist in addressing the high crime rate in the city. Farrakhan is well-known for his anti-American, anti-white, anti-Semitic, hate-filled rants. Additionally, Islam is not exactly the most gay-friendly religion around. Farrakhan may very well be able to help Chicago fight crime, but his speech and his actions belie an inherent intolerance that flies in the face of what Emanuel declares as a "Chicago" value.
Some people have organized a counter protest and have declared August 1st "National Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day" and are urging supporters to flood Chik-fil-A stores to buy food and make a statement.
I'll probably participate in this for all of the reasons I stated above--including the fact that I love me some Chik-fil-A. Eating at Chik-fil-A doesn't make you a bigot. Crying and screaming about boycotting it because you don't agree with what the owners believe... well that just might make you a bigot.
Which is ironic. And evidence that we all could use some Jesus.