Courageous ‘Chikin’ Fuels Culture War

By   •   July 30, 2012

It seems that a group of mischievous cows with poor spelling skills—or a lowly chicken, depending on your preferred logo—has become the latest symbol of America’s cultural divide.

When Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, affirmed his stance on the sanctity of traditional marriage, same-sex marriage advocates loudly voiced their opposition and called for Americans to boycott the restaurant.

Days later, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee responded by calling for a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Wednesday, Aug. 1, an action supported by both Billy Graham and Franklin Graham.

In a statement issued July 26, Billy Graham said he supported his “good friends Truett Cathy and his son Dan Cathy, and their strong stand for the Christian faith.

“Each generation faces different issues and challenges,” said Mr. Graham, “but our standard must always be measured by God’s word. I appreciate the Cathy family’s public support for God’s definition of marriage.”

Mr. Graham explained that he has known the Truett family for many years and watched them grow the restaurant chain into one of the top businesses in America while never compromising their values.

In an October 2002 interview with Decision Magazine, Truett Cathy discussed integrating faith and business at Chick-fil-A.  “In the Scriptures we learn how to handle our businesses, how to give customers good service and how to treat employees,” said Cathy.

“I believe that being in the restaurant business is an opportunity to serve people—their physical and emotional needs, and sometimes their spiritual needs. A lot of people come out to eat who aren’t even hungry; they’re just looking for a pleasant experience. We believe that God is glorified in the service that we render.”

When Chick-fil-A moved to its current headquarters in 1982, Cathy and the restaurant’s executive committee established the purpose that drives the company:  “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

They inscribed that motto on a large plaque and placed it outside the entrance of the building. “It’s a constant reminder to me of how I need to conduct myself each day,” said Cathy.

One company stance that’s attracted attention in the past is Chick-fil-A’s policy to remain closed on Sunday.  “It’s probably the best business decision we ever made,” said Cathy. “Our Sunday policy has been a great advantage in attracting the caliber of people whom we like to attract. People are responsive to this—they may not attend church, but they appreciate that we stick to our convictions. I don’t condemn businesses that are open on Sunday, but it’s just not for me.”

Like Father, Like Son

Modeling the values of his father, Dan Cathy, who is now the president of Chick-fil-A, posted this on the family’s website: “I became a Christian when I was 11 years old, and I knew at that very moment that I was forgiven and that I was changed. My heart went from one of indifference to God, to one that wanted to know more about the Creator who made me and loved me so.”

It was Dan’s July 16 interview with Baptist Press that drew controversy: “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.…We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”

The rest, they say, is media history.

The interview quickly sparked the ire of a number of same sex marriage advocates and bloggers. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel each have been quoted as saying they want to prevent Chick-fil-As from opening in their cities. The Los Angeles Times story carried a headline, “Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay-marriage stance triggers online uproar.” The Washington Post included an online poll asking readers, “Will you continue to eat at Chick-fil-A?”

Chick-fil-A issued its own statement on July 19 telling its customers that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that its tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

It also noted that it has applied “biblically-based principles” to business management and will continue to do so.

In the midst of this firestorm, thousands of Americans have supported the Cathy family’s stance, including Franklin Graham.  In a July 25 statement, Graham said he applauds the courage of Cathy and Chick-fil-A to “take a bold stand for the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman in a culture that has grown openly hostile to the Christian faith and its followers.”

Graham said he has known Dan and his father, Truett, for many years: “I respect how their company was founded upon and operates by Christian values.”

Regarding the National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day this Wednesday, Aug, 1, Graham said, “I would like to join with him, and ask that if you live near one of their restaurants, please drop by and let them know how much you appreciate them and their stand.”

If you go, you’ll be joining Franklin’s father, who plans to enjoy his chicken at home. Concluding his press statement on a humorous note, Mr. Graham said, “As the son of a dairy farmer who milked many a cow, I plan to ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ and show my support … Wednesday.”

Partner With Us

We need people like you to support us in prayer and giving each time we proclaim the Gospel. Please donate online today and play a part in reaching hurting people around the world with the love of Christ.