Chick-Fil-A’s religious views are out of the coop and causing quite the cluck. Though the company has always openly operated on religious beliefs — each restaurant closes every Sunday — C.E.O. Dan Cathy’s personal views only recently became a part of the national spotlight.
In a quiet interview on July 17 with the Baptist Press, Cathy announced he was “guilty as charged” on being in favor of “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Simply put, Cathy announced he was against same-sex marriage.
Three days later, the Jim Henson company announced on Facebook that they would no longer be partnering with the fast-food company to serve Muppet toys with the kids’ meals after they took offense to Chick-Fil-A’s opposition to gay marriage. This caused an uproar — not only from children with toy-less kids’ meals, but also from gay rights activists.
Due to the controversy and media cloud surrounding the restaurant chain, among other reasons, East has decided to discontinue their partnership with Chick-Fil-A in the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser this upcoming basketball season. Our school plans on continuing the fundraiser but has not yet decided on a new system of donating.
The Harbinger supports the decision of the school. As a public school, we should do our best to stay out of the political spotlight and not support a side on social issues,
and instead support the student body as a whole. Students’ reservations about spending money at Chick-Fil-A should not interfere with their desire to participate in the fundraiser. Because East has a Gay-Straight Alliance club as well as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes club (officially an anti-gay marriage program, though that’s not their mission), it would be wrong for the school to get involved in this battle of the First Amendment. Our school must be careful and considerate about the message we send to both students and to the public, and using an anti-gay marriage business as a channel for a fundraiser sends a negative message.
As a newspaper, we fully support Cathy’s right to the freedom of speech. Regardless of our position on gay marriage, we do recognize his right to state his. It’s important to understand that the company does not discriminate against gays, as it serves and employs minorities and majorities equally.
Chick-Fil-A’s charity foundation, WinShape Foundation, claims to focus on “making winners” by developing young Christians through camps, retreats and foster homes. They also, according to a 2011 report in Equality Matters (a campaign for LGBT rights), have donated over $1 million to “anti-gay” groups, such as the National Christian Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ and more. Like Cathy, these foundations are against gay marriage due to religious beliefs.
Many activists have classified these foundations as “hate groups”. While it’s impossible to speak for everyone involved in the foundations, it must be recognized that disagreement over an issue does not necessarily equal hate towards the people involved.
Though Cathy’s views and the WinShape Foundation may cast a negative light on Chick-Fil-A as a business, it’s their right to run their company on whatever standards they deem appropriate.
The Harbinger commends East for avoiding getting directly involved with Chick-Fil-A. Though the students as individuals can choose whether or not they still eat at and support Chick-Fil-A, our public school should not plead “guilty as charged” in publicly taking a stance on such a sensitive issue.