Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture


A cultural game of chicken

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich. Suddenly eating at Chick-fil-A has become a political statement regarding gay marriage — with people literally lining up and puckering up to make their positions known.  Some thoughts:

1. I can understand some of the resentment gay people have toward some Christians who seem to think it’s their business to tell them they’re going to hell.  One thing I think the Bible is pretty clear on is that presuming to judge the eternal fate of other people is not our place.

2. That said, most Christians, like most gays, just want to be left alone.

3. Here’s  what Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy actually said: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” adding “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”  That’s his opinion.  As far as I know, Chick-Fil-A serves and employs anyone — without regard to sexual orientation.  So, labeling the chain as “anti-gay” seems to be a bit of a stretch.

4.  I, personally, don’t have a chicken in this fight. I’m on record as saying that the state should get out of the sacrament business and leave the definition of marriages to individual churches, synagogues and mosques  to be decided according to their own values. I wrote: Why can’t the federal government issue civil unions that would have nothing to do with sexuality (a private matter)? Such unions would extend legal, financial and insurance rights to partnerships involving both gay and straight couples, as well adult unmarried siblings, relatives or friends who could benefit from such legal arrangements. They really don’t have to have anything to do with who’s having sex with who — again, none of the government’s business.

In other words, this is a fight we don’t need to have, except that we seem to want to have it.

5. All that said, it is possible for a person to be against legalizing gay marriage without being “anti-gay” or, to use a term that is thrown around way to easily, “a hater.”  Do we believe that people who argue against cigarette smoking (even to the point of making  the practice illegal) hate cigarette smokers?  Even as a non-smoker, I believe anti-smoking activists sometimes cross the line into bullying and harassment — just as gay marriage opponents  sometimes do.  They often will argue that they actually have the interests of  smokers (and society at large) at heart.  Sound familiar? Of course, extreme positions against smoking are virtually never equated with hate.
6.  The idea that mayors of major municipalities like Boston, Chicago and San Francisco would actually ban an entire enterprise from doing business in their city because of its CEO’s stand on a political issue is truly worrisome. Freedom of speech is not something to be thrown under a city bus. Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not usually shy about regulation, wisely says “You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That’s just not government’s job.”

7. Speaking of bullying and harassment, regardless of how you feel about Cathy’s statement, browbeating  a defenseless employee who’s just trying to make ends meet is uncool.

Update: I deleted from his space a widely-circulated YouTube posting of the incident described above (apparently originally proudly recorded by the harasser himself). I did so after reading that he not only lost his job due to his obnoxious behavior but that he and his family have been subject to harassment and threats themselves by people on the other side of the issue. That’s uncool too. Also, I believe, unChristian.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11



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