Intolerant Chicken: Chick-fil-a Spices Up Campus Debate

When I attended Virginia Tech I loved having a Chick-fil-a on campus. Sometimes you have a craving for a Chick-fil-a chicken sandwich and nothing else will satisfy. Apparently, some college students don’t feel the same way. Taylor Cotter of Northeastern University in Boston spent a year gathering 300 signatures – about 1.5% of the student body – to keep Chick-fil-a off campus. In March, the student senate voted to end negotiations to bring a franchise to Northeastern. The school’s administration supported the senate, saying, “We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all.” Chick-fil-a has faced similar opposition at Duke, Bowling Green University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gainesville State College, Indiana University South Bend, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, the University of North Texas, and New York University.

What has Chick-fil-a done to incur such academic wrath? There are few restaurants as friendly and inviting as Chick-fil-a whose employees hand out waffle fries with a smile and a “my pleasure”. The problem these schools have has nothing to do with Chick-fil-a itself but with its charitable affiliations through the WinShape Foundation. The goal of WinShape is to help shape winners. It accomplishes this through a college program, camps, retreats, projects to strengthen marriage, and homes for children who are victims of broken families. Some of the organizations WinShape supports in its mission are accused of having an anti-gay agenda. These organizations include the National Christian Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Serving Marriages, Alliance Defense Fund, Christian Camp and Conference Association, Campus Crusade for Christ, Georgia Family Council, and the Family Research Council.

These offending organizations are labeled anti-gay largely because they remain biblically Christian. According to the Equality Matters Blog, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is bad because they say homosexuality is a sin and dare to allow the testimonials of homosexuals who left the lifestyle. The Alliance Defense Fund is bad because they defend Christian groups shut out because of their beliefs on sexuality. The Christian Camp Association is bad because they maintain homosexuality is wrong. Campus Crusade for Christ is bad for holding events promoting only heterosexual marriage. I could go on, but you get the idea. For maintaining Christian convictions on human sexuality held for 2,000 years and for strengthening traditional marriages these organizations and the WinShape foundation are labeled bigoted and anti-gay. Chick-fil-a is also assigned the bigoted and intolerant label; all without refusing service or employment to anyone.

Donald A. Perry, Vice President of Corporate Public Relations at Chick-fil-a, insisted that none of the organizations has an anti-gay agenda but as Christian groups they do uphold and support traditional marriage. He went on to say, “I want to assure you that the historical intent of our foundation and corporate giving have been toward compassion, principally by serving youth and families.”

Chick-fil-a’s problems on campus portray a new reality unfolding in the United States.

First, historic, biblical Christianity is no longer acceptable in many parts of our cultural landscape. For its entire history, the Christian religion has held that marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:4-6, Eph. 5:31) and all sexual activity outside of marriage – including homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9) – is sinful. Much of our culture can no longer agree to disagree on this issue. Those who hold to historic, biblical Christianity will be shunned, banned, and labeled no matter how lovingly they hold their convictions. If they are willing to ban the best chicken sandwich on the planet, there is no limit to who might be next.

Second, the new “tolerance” is surprisingly intolerant. I wonder if the administration of Northeastern realized the irony of their statement approving the student senate’s decision to end negotiations with Chick-fil-a. They said, “We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all.” How can a decision to ban an organization from campus because of its views be considered inclusive, diverse, and respectful? The Win Shape foundation reflects the convictions of millions of American Christians yet those convictions are banned because they are not acceptable to a minority of students and the administration.

Third, America is becoming increasingly polarized. The thought behind this witch hunt is “if you’re not totally for us, then you’re completely against us.” Such a mentality toward those we disagree with is destructive. It assumes the worst about our neighbors and undermines the entire American multicultural experiment. This nation cannot survive if people label any individual, group, church, ethnicity or company that disagrees with them a hateful bigot. Those on both sides of an issue must listen to those they disagree with and not seek to condemn, label, and ban.

What should followers of Christ do with these new realities? First, hold unswervingly to the truth no matter where the cultural winds blow. Don’t abandon what God has said in His Word in a vain quest to be liked. Jesus said in John 15:19, “…because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.” Second, love those on the opposite side of issues and model true tolerance. True tolerance isn’t blindly accepting every view, but respecting those you disagree with, allowing them to live as they desire, and supporting their freedom to do so. Some may hate us for opposing them, but we must love and pray for them as Christ said in Matthew 5:44, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Third, vote your convictions and defend your rights. We live in a democracy where we can influence culture, hearts, and minds. This must be done graciously whether we win or lose the debate. Remember, this is not our home (John 18:36) so we are free to speak our mind and be content with the results.

Finally, go buy a sandwich from Chick-fil-a. They’re delicious! The cows will love it. The chickens will hate it. But you can’t please everybody.

-Brian

(image credit)

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11 thoughts on “Intolerant Chicken: Chick-fil-a Spices Up Campus Debate

  1. In fairness, I can definitely see how it would upset some people that Chick-Fil-A was allowed on campuses because of their support for groups that denounce homosexuality and homosexuals in general. These people aren’t any more evil than you or I are, perhaps as Christians we should be striving to spend more time with these people and embrace them just like Jesus would have done. My opinion, of course.

  2. Just like everything that the “left” embraces and presses for; this attempt to force Chick-Fil-A off college campuses will not succeed. The reason is that the founder, Gordon Cathey was a strong Christian man who held to the teachings of God’s word and refused to deviate from it even if it meant losing Sunday business. Now they face losing the building of one more store on a college campus – so what – there are many more places that would be glad to have anew store. Bravo to the administration of Chick-Fil-A to stck by it’s convictions and refuse be bullied by the left wing zealots who are out to promote the”anything goes” mentality. God and His word will prevail no matter what! Eat more chickin’……………..God is not dead!

    • Dear Wanda Reed:
      All these schools either stopped Chik-fil-a from opening on campus or they got the store closed: Duke, Bowling Green University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gainesville State College, Indiana University South Bend, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, the University of North Texas, and New York University.

      God is not as intolerant of others as you are. We are made in his image and likeness.

  3. Anonymous, I don’t think you read the article. That’s exactly what it says. These groups don’t “denounce” homosexuals. They simply support the Biblical view of marriage and do their best to help everyone see the dangers that exist when we violate the laws of a loving God who wants the best for us. A homosexual would be welcomed at any of these groups venues but they would hear truth in love.

    • That may be true with a few of the groups he listed, but this backlash is due to the extremely outspoken political and legal agenda pursued by many ultra-conservative religious, and political leaders. Many Cjristian leaders have supported, and followed hateful sounding right-wing groups which do not “simply support a Biblical view of marriage…” No one says Christians, cant have church related marriage ceremonies exactly the way they please–they have freedom. But these same Christians want all Americans, whether Christian or not–to be forced to adhere to their particular doctrine–so they are intolerant. Students on college campuses, do not agree.

      • Hello Bogey. It sounds like you have thought through your comments. For that I am grateful. I hope you will thoughtfully read my response.

        First, you assume Christians should not impose their views on others. Do you believe this about all Christian views? Should we not impose our view that racism is wrong on others and allow them to discriminate based on skin-color? Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted the laws of the land to reflect his Christian value that all were made in God’s image. Read his speeches! Was he wrong to force this on society? Do you have a problem with Christians imposing their ideas about caring for the poor on the way our tax code is structured and our entitlement programs are run? It sounds like you are only concerned about Christians enforcing their views when they are conservative and not liberal.

        Second, you assume Christians should not be hated for righteousness; that all unbelievers should love us. Jesus said in John 15 “As the world has hated me, so it shall hate you.” Are there some Christians who hate gays? Sure, but I have only met a handful and they are betraying the gospel. No matter how “loving” we are, they will still hate us for disagreeing. Most Christians love and care for their homosexual neighbors. By throwing other Christians under the bus you expose your own self-righteousness; that you believe you are superior to most Christians who have it so wrong.

        Third, your argument has nothing to do with the thesis of my article which is: in banning Chick-fil-a because of its views on traditional marriage, colleges are actually being intolerant by banning views they disagree with from their campuses. Your comments do not interact with the argument of the article, but rather pass judgment on a generation of Christ-followers who didn’t do it they way you think they should have and then you seem to rejoice in the fact that they are now receiving their just desserts.

        You may be surprised to know that I agree with much of what you have written! I do not like it when Christians wield political power in ungodly ways and when they align themselves with hateful groups to achieve political goals. Any hatred Christians have directed to the gay community is wrong. I am also not ignorant of the last 20-30 years and more familiar with it than you assume. I just don’t think anything you’ve written justifies colleges from banning views they don’t like from campus; whether those views are from the gay community or the Christian community.

  4. It stops being “just an opinion” when you donate 2 million dollars to organizations that seek to undermine LGBTQ equality and denounces it as “sick”.

    People would not be having this “debate” if it were a company that backed racist and sexist companies.

    Such hypocrites.

  5. I’m pretty sure that Exodus International (which I might add has terrible success statistics) is pretty anti-gay. Also, did anyone notice that the Northeaster Student Body Senate voted down the proposal to have Chic-fil-a on campus? It wasn’t just 300 signatures, it was the student body senate with voting delegates from all across the campus that voted it down. Check it out:http://www.northeastern.edu/gsg/?p=1129

  6. Brian, and I am a Christian–and former Minister for 20 years, the problem is that for many years now, evangelical Christian leaders have sought to pursue a strong political agenda. They support conservative political talking headslike Rush Limbaugh. They stir up church members to speak out in their own hateful sounding, intolerant rhetoric. Christian leadrs and adherents speak out very publicly, and attack efforts by gay and lesbian individuals to have equal rights under State and Federal law–not just in the eyes of the church. I think this was a mistake, is a mistake. They have been, somewhat self-righteously outspoken—that American laws regarding marriage should conform to Conservative Christian doctrine. So now begins a backlash which will affect a host of Christian groups, even missionary groups. I think this is a direct result of churches, and influential leaders, and their followers misguided alliance to “ultra-conservatism..”, and “ultra-conservative” secular groups. Your summary and comments seem one sided, and does not take an honest, objective, truthful look at what has been happening here in America over the past 20-30 years. You promote an advesarial spirit in your article, rather than trying to understand the real problem. Conservative Christianity has cast itself as intolerant, even hateful toward gay/lesbian issues, abortion issues, other women’s issues–and they wanted the LAW to subject all citizens to the same religious standards, and in doing so they lost sight of their primary calling and created an intolerant back lash to Christian outreach groups.

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