Just when you thought that the political discord in this country could not get any more ridiculous a chicken franchise rears its ugly head.
Yes, you heard right, a chicken franchise! Amidst all of the enormous problems that we have in this country a chicken franchise has grabbed center stage in our political debate.
You have probably heard the story by now.
Chick Fil-A is national fast food chain whose owners hold a wildly publicized commitment to their Christian beliefs. Their stores remain closed on Sunday’s to celebrate the Christian Sabbath. Their mission statement reads in part: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us.”
The Chick Fil-A firestorm was ignited by an interview published in the Baptist Press. In the interview Chick Fil-A Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy expressed the company’s support for the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage. The Baptist Press portrayed Cathy’s comments as “anti-gay.” CNN, which picked up the story, did the same. Pro gay protesters began to congregate at various Chick Fil-A stores encouraging the public to boycott. They were met in kind by an anti-gay crowd. It wasn’t long before lines were drawn in the sand and host of elected officials were weighing in on both sides…including the mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sent a letter to Cathy which read: “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel allegedly suggested Chick Fil-A should take its business elsewhere because the company does not share “Chicago’s values.”
When we left the carnage, local officials were threatening to impede the company’s expansion through zoning restrictions and withholding permits.
This is truly a “Jump the shark” moment.
First of all Mr. Cathy has the right to express his religious beliefs. He has the right to run his company in accordance with those beliefs as long as the company does not discriminate against gays in terms of in terms of whom they hire or who they serve. People have a right to disagree with Mr. Cathy and peacefully boycott his stores if they so choose. And government needs to make certain that the rights of both sides are protected.
But when we allow government to use religious and political beliefs to decide who can and cannot do business within a community; we have crossed the Rubicon.