NASHVILLE, Tenn. More than 138,000 people have signed up so far to take part in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1, despite the fact that Facebook workers may have censored the event page for about 12 hours Tuesday.
Mike Huckabee launched the idea for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day over the weekend, saying he was "incensed" at the "vitriolic assaults" that have been made at company president Dan Cathy for affirming a biblical definition of marriage. Cathy made the comments to a newspaper and discussed the issue in a radio interview.
On Tuesday, a Facebook sign-up page that Huckabee had launched suddenly disappeared, leaving him and others wondering what had happened. Huckabee posted a note saying he had asked Facebook "to look into this," and about 12 hours later the page reappeared.
"We caught a 12-hour bug, apparently it hits when large numbers of Christians support something and post about it on Facebook!" he wrote, about midnight.
Huckabee went a step further July 25, saying Facebook had censored the page for a short time.
"Yesterday, Facebook decided to censor and delete the entire event page, and it was down for over 12 hours until they finally decided that maybe that wasn't really smart," Huckabee said.
He noted that during those 12 hours, Facebook had left up a webpage sponsored by gay activists promoting a "national same-sex kiss day" at Chick-fil-A Aug. 3. (About 4,700 have signed up for that event.)
"But they were censoring one that said simply, 'Go and buy a chicken sandwich,'" Huckabee said.
As part of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1, Huckabee is asking supporters to visit the restaurant or speak up for it via social media. (More information is available at www.ISupportChickFilA.com.)
Meanwhile, a handful of city politicians continue to speak out against the restaurant chain. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was the first to say he would try and block a Chick-fil-A from opening in his city, and a Chicago alderman, Joe Moreno, followed by saying he opposes a Chick-fil-A opening in his area. Chick-fil-A wants to open a restaurant in Moreno's ward, which would be its second store in the city, the Chicago Tribune reported. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed with Moreno, alleging of Chick-fil-A in a Politico.com article, "They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents."
But Chick-fil-A has received support in some surprising corners. The Los Angeles Times editorial board which supports gay marriage said it is wrong for politicians to block construction of the restaurants. The editorial was written before Chicago's politicians joined the mix.
"Menino suggested that it would be appropriate to block the chain from opening in Boston because Cathy's views amount to discrimination," the editorial read. "That would rightly apply if Chick-fil-A were to refuse service to gay customers; the city has a right and an obligation to prevent discriminatory actions against its residents and visitors. But there's no evidence that any such thing has occurred. ... It was the freedom to express politically unpopular views and to oppose such views that the Founding Fathers fought to establish."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins asked rhetorically on Twitter, "Could you imagine the outrage if a mayor in TX decided to block a Starbucks from opening in her town b/c of their support of SSM [same-sex marriage]?"
Business, though, appears to be booming at Chick-fil-As. About 200 people were camping out in Forest Hill, Md., Wednesday, waiting for the newest Chick-fil-A in the area to open, according to the Baltimore Sun. The first 100 customers were set to receive free meals for a year.
The company issued a statement 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. There are more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide.
Chick-fil-A continues to receive the most heat on the issue despite the fact that other companies have taken the exact opposite position, with little media attention. For example, the same week the Chick-fil-A controversy broke, the video gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) signed onto a legal brief opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Just this year, General Mills, Target, JC Penney and Nabisco all have taken actions in support of gay marriage.
Huckabee said the goal of the Aug. 1 event is "simple."
"Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1," he wrote on Facebook. "Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm
traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.
"There's no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle," Huckabee added. "Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, August 1 or by participating online tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook."