I’ve been silently watching and reading as the emotional, heated debate over Chick-Fil-A unfolded this past week on my Facebook newsfeed, TV and Twitter. Until now, I haven’t felt compelled to write anything on this issue because the news that Chick-Fil-A donates some of its corporate earnings to anti-gay organizations is old news. And I’m confused why Chick-Fil-A supporters think this is a freedom of religion issue. No one’s telling Chick-Fil-A to close on Sundays or stop being Christian.
The issue is that customers’ money is funding the harmful and hateful agenda of organizations that are actively denying rights to Americans. Chick-Fil-A is mixing business and politics in the name of Christianity and using the cry of freedom of religion as a smokescreen to get away with questionable corporate donations. Christian ethics and beliefs demand that you love your neighbor as yourself. It doesn’t instruct us to hurt each other and deny each other full equality as men and women. What kind of Christians are the people who run Chick-Fil-A?
What motivated me to finally write about Chick-Fil-A is this opinion piece in The Atlantic by Jonathan Merritt, in which he defends the fast food chain and questions the effectiveness of boycotts in the culture wars. Sure, Chick-Fil-A donates to more worthy causes like education and boycotts of consumer products are sometimes questionable in their effectiveness, but I stopped following Merritt’s argument when he wrote this:
But my bigger question is this: In a nation that’s as divided as ours is, do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed? And is this really the kind of culture we want to create? Culture war boycotts cut both ways and are much more likely to meet with success when prosecuted by large groups of people, such as Christian activists, who are more numerous than gays and lesbians and their more activist supporters.
(bold emphasis is mine)
What! Stop the chicken frying for a second and let’s think about this rationally. Merritt’s question – “do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed?” – has already happened. Yes, Mr. Merritt, the personal is (still) political. Always was, and always will be. Ask any feminist. The daily decisions I make on where and what I should spend my money on is personal and has political consequences, no matter what political party I belong to. If, as a country, we thought more about how the mundane details and decisions of our personal lives connected to and affected larger politics, we’d fully realize our power as voters and citizens and demand real change. Instead, we’re told to shut up, eat the damn sandwich and accused of attacking religious freedom.
Merritt’s second claim in the paragraph is that Christian activists outnumber gays, lesbians and whoever else happens to support them (???). Following this logic, being a Christian activist and gay/lesbian are mutually exclusive. Sorry, you can’t be Christian and gay/lesbian. Oh, and if you’re wondering, there are no Christians included in the “more activist supporters” category for gays and lesbians. If Merritt believes that culture wars like Chick-Fil-A are so damaging and ineffective to our society and country, why is he pitting one group (Christian activists) against another group (gays and lesbians) and betting that the Christians will win in culture war boycotts?
I agree with Merritt that we need more healthy, level-headed disagreements and Facebook, 24-hour news channels/cycles are not the forums to hold them.
Here’s a suggestion: acknowledge and fully realize that the personal is political. Go read Wayne Self’s outstanding piece, “The Chick Fellatio: Stuck in the Craw” for a rebuttal to Merritt and all other Chick-Fil-A supporters. Then ask yourself if you’re still hungry for Chick-Fil-A.