ATLANTA, Ga. The president of Chick-fil-A says claims that his fast food chain is anti-gay are false and have been misrepresented in the media. At the same time, he vowed that the company, in keeping with the biblical underpinnings of its business mission, will continue to support programs that strengthen marriage.
Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, made the comments in a Jan. 29 statement he drafted in light of calls for a national boycott against his company. Several gay rights’ organizations initiated the boycott after discovering that one of Chick-fil-a’s Pennsylvania restaurants was providing meals for a marriage seminar sponsored by a group that advocates for traditional marriage.
In addition to the boycott, several online websites are promoting campaigns to remove shops from college campuses.
On its website, the gay advocacy group Georgia Equality boasts a rainbow colored “no” symbol stamped on top of the company’s logo with the words: “Say no to homophobia, say no to Chick-fil-A.
“Gays across the country are calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A for it’s continued support of anti-gay groups and events,” a statement on the website reads. “The chain has deep connections to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, Exodus International, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute.”
The site asks supporters to pressure the fast food chain to pull its sponsorship from the February event with the Pennsylvania Family Institute.
“The Pennsylvania Family Institute has been a leading opponent of marriage equality, and has condemned the expansion of civil rights for same-sex couples,” the Georgia Equality site said. “They've called same-sex marriage a threat to children, argued that same-sex marriage destroys civilization, and said that gay couples hurt families. Is this the type of politics that Chick-fil-A wants to support?”
The boycott campaign prompted Cathy to post an online video discussing the issue on the company’s Facebook page on Jan. 11, but he went even further by releasing the Jan. 29 statement in an effort to counter what it called “misleading stories about Chick-fil-A in the media and on the Internet.”
“In recent weeks, we have been accused of being anti-gay,” Cathy, son of chain founder Truett Cathy, said in the statement. “We have no agenda against anyone. At the heart and soul of our company, we are a family business that serves and values all people regardless of their beliefs or opinions. We seek to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect, and believe in the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself.”
Caring for families
Cathy went on to say his father has long been an advocate of strengthening marriage, a tribute to his own 63-year marriage. The younger Cathy has also been married 37 years.
At the core of that belief, the chain, from its inception, has been closed on Sunday. Although the main impetus for that is the biblical mandate of keeping the Sabbath, company executives also believe its important to provide its employees with a family day each week.
“At Chick-fil-A, we have a heart for helping marriages because we know marriage can be difficult at times,” Cathy said. “Through the years, we have supported our Chick-fil-A staff and franchised operators in their marriage journey, and since the formation of our family foundation, the WinShape Foundation, we have helped others as well.”
No political agenda
The chief executive said it was crucial for people to understand that its commitment to marriage is not to be equated with a political agenda.
“Chick-fil-A’s Corporate Purpose is ‘To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” the executive officer said. “As a result, we will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family. This decision has been made, and we understand the importance of it.
“At the same time, we will continue to offer resources to strengthen marriages and families. To do anything different would be inconsistent with our purpose and belief in biblical principles.”
In addition to is work with marriage enrichment, the chain also supports summer camps for children, 14 foster homes and has provided more than $26 million in college scholarships.
See blog on Chick-fil-A at Christian Examiner blog