The owner of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A in the U.S. has sparked a storm of outrage with derogatory comments about gay marriage. But some conservative Christians are now demonstratively professing their support for chicken and milkshakes.
It's all about biblical values, deep-fried chicken and same-sex partnerships. On one side are fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, evangelist Billy Graham and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. On the opposite side, gay rights activists, the mayors of Chicago and Boston, and the Jim Henson Company, creator of "The Muppets".
The slap fight went into its first round in mid-July. Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy, who has been running his 1.600-store chain managed "according to biblical principles," he says, commented on gay marriage in Baptist magazine Biblical Recorder. For him and his company, the "biblical definition of family" is authoritative. In a radio broadcast, Cathy followed up: America risks divine wrath "if we raise our fists skyward and say, "We know better than you what a family is"".
It was actually not surprising. The master of chicken breasts and milkshakes is known as a conservative Baptist. Its stores will remain closed on Sundays. That's rare in the U.S., where the customer doesn't want to give up consumption even on the Lord's Day. But Cathy's comments on gay marriage spread rapidly across social media on the Internet. Liberal America railed at Cathy's perceived homophobia. You would never eat at Chick-fil-A, wrote outraged users. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel now wants to stop a proposed branch. Cathy's values did not reflect the values of the people of Chicago, Emanuel explained.
Even Palin with Hu
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in the Boston Herald that he, too, did not want the chicken store in his city. The Jim Henson Company canceled its cooperation in developing Chick-Fil-A giveaways. They value "diversity and inclusivity," the company explained.
Conservatives push back against this criticism. He will be stopping by Chick-fil-A more often in the future, a leader in the Focus on the Family association, Glenn Stanton, told the Baptist Press information service. Former presidential candidate Sarah Palin had her picture taken with a Chick-fil-A bag.
Talk show host and 2008 Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee declared next Wednesday a "day of gratitude" for Chick-fil-A. The "wonderful" Cathy family is insulted by a "toxic tirade of hate from the left". People of orthodoxy should vote on 1. August at Chick-fil-A eat.
Good prospects for Chick-fil-A
World-famous preacher Billy Graham will join in the fun. The 93-year-old evangelist couldn't go to a store himself for health reasons, but someone would likely bring him something from Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, Graham's spokesman Larry Ross told CNN television. Graham, who declared several years ago that he would stay out of politics in his old age, took a stand at Chick-fil-A: He was grateful to the Cathy family for its stance on marriage, Graham said. Chick-fil-A is one of the "best companies in the U.S.", she said.
Gay marriage and social morality apparently preoccupy the reclusive evangelist: In May, he spoke in favor of a referendum to ban gay marriage in his home state of North Carolina. The Bible is clear after all, declared Graham. Marriage, he said, is a covenant between a man and a woman. Last week, Graham caused a stir with an open letter in which he compared the U.S. to the biblical places of Sodom and Gomorrah. The United States is characterized by "selfish self-indulgence, pride and shamelessness," Graham lamented.
U.S. corporations rarely make confessions in social conflicts. Chick-fil-A, with 2011 annual sales of $4.1 billion, should weather the clash well, however: Most of its stores are located in the conservative southern U.S. – the so-called Bible Belt.