Religion

The McCarthyite, Anti-Christian Campaign against Chick-fil-A

Containers at a Chick-fil-A branch in midtown Manhattan (Rashid Umar Abbasi/Reuters)
Critics detect a lingering stench of Christianity on Chick-fil-A's tenders. 

The fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is wanted on suspicion of aiding and abetting Christian organizations.

The home of the “original chicken sandwich” was banned from its second airport in two weeks for the offense of contributing to Christian groups deemed anti-gay by its critics. 

The San Antonio City Council voted to exclude the restaurant from its airport, and Buffalo, N.Y., soon followed suit, thus denying travelers the option of juicy chicken sandwiches and waffle fries in the cause of social justice. 

This is about punishing the Georgia-based company for the faith of its leadership. The official bans are anti-Christian, unconstitutional and a harbinger of a larger effort to hunt down and punish any organization that has uncongenial views on sexual morality. 

In San Antonio, the leader of the anti-Chick-fil-A effort, City Councilman Roberto Treviño, explained that, “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.” The irony of discriminating against Chick-fil-A in order to demonstrate the city’s famous open-ness was, of course, lost on him.

As for everyone feeling welcome, it’s not as though Chick-fil-A refuses to serve or hire anyone. It didn’t become the fastest-growing restaurant chain in America, projected to take third place in sales after McDonald’s and Starbucks, by putting obstacles between hungry patrons and its sandwiches (except for on Sundays, when it is closed).

The hostility to Chick-fil-A stems from a controversy back in 2012 when its CEO, Dan Cathy, made statements opposing gay marriage, and the foundation established by the company’s founder contributed to politically engaged social-conservative groups. There was nothing wrong with this, but since most profit-seeking enterprises don’t like controversy, Cathy said the company would back off the gay-marriage debate and focus on the chicken. 

It has, but its critics still detect a lingering stench of Christianity. 

The left-wing outfit ThinkProgress issued a report cited widely in the press and among Chick-fil-A opponents accusing the company’s foundation of “anti-equality” giving. By which it means it donated to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (and a small Christian home for troubled young men in Vidalia, Ga.). 

Needless to say, a lot of other people are guilty of the same offense, given that the Salvation Army raises about $2 billion a year. To consider all that the Salvation Army does — its thrift shops, aid for the homeless, disaster relief, anti-trafficking programs, Christmas gifts to needy children, and much, much more — and reduce the organization to an allegedly anti-LGBT group is perverse.

For its part, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes stands accused of seeking “to spread an anti-LGBTQ message to college athletes.” It’s true that FCA asks its leaders to forswear homosexual acts, but it also wants them to pledge not to engage in heterosexual acts outside of marriage and, for that matter, refuse to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.

According to Chick-fil-A, its donation to FCA supported sports camps and school programs for inner-city kids — not exactly controversial causes. And its gift to the Salvation Army went to youth camps and Christmas presents for thousands of Atlanta kids. 

The latest campaign against Chick-fil-A is based on the idea that it is impermissible for it to associate with any group with a traditional Christian understanding of sex and marriage, for any purpose whatsoever, no matter how unobjectionable or noble. 

Any public official joining the punitive campaign against Chick-fil-A needs a remedial lesson in the Constitution, which forbids discrimination against private companies on the basis of political or religious viewpoint. It is the enemies of Chick-fil-A who are intolerant and out-of-the-mainstream. They desperately need to abandon their tawdry McCarthyite crusade and “Eat Mor Chikin.” 

© 2019 by King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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