Earlier this month, the President of Chick-Fil-A admitted to a number of things which included more than only being an advocate for heterosexual marriage, but that his company actively gave millions to anti-gay organizations multiple times. This wasn't a surprise to some, but enough people were caught unaware that it created somewhat of an internet firestorm, prompting Jim Henson Company (and their Muppets) to cut ties with Chick-Fil-A, and doing so rather publicly. In turn, some Chick-Fil-A restaurants displayed this message, claiming that a toy Jim Henson toys (ones that passed all safety inspections) was being voluntarily recalled due to kids getting their fingers stuck in them.
This is generally referred to as "lying for Jesus".
It's been public knowledge for quite some time that the southern-based fast food chain is largely Christian, or at least has strong ties to Christianity. They stay closed on Sundays for just that reason. This was an inconvenience to some, but certainly no moral or social issue. Companies can open and close at their own whim for whatever reason they'd like, it's not as though they were forcing other restaurants to close on Sundays. What wasn't known was that the business itself was pushing a social agenda (a very negative social agenda), and using their profits to do so.
As such many people, myself included, are calling for a boycott of Chick-Fil-A. This call has received mixed responses, some quite favorable, and others highly critical. I will be presenting some of the criticisms and responding to them in kind so that people understand, even Christians who may currently support Chick-Fil-A, that it is a good idea to not frequent their stores.
Criticism 1: Can't people have opinions anymore?
The idea behind this is a mix of claiming a boycott unfairly punishes free speech and that it is unfair to hold a company accountable for one person's beliefs.
The former part of the argument completely misunderstands free speech. People are of course free to speak their mind, and the government cannot put them in jail or fine them for it. This is why I don't support Boston mayor Thomas Menino in his attempt to ban Chick-Fil-A restaurants in his city. However the public is free to act according to their beliefs and boycott a company whose actions they disagree with. Free speech is free to all, but not free of consequences. I can dislike you for the things you say, and I can dislike the Chick-Fil-A President for his statements.
This leads us to the second part of the criticism, that it is wrong to punish the whole for the beliefs or actions of one. This I actually whole-heartedly agree with, but it doesn't apply to the boycott. Were it simply the President of the company funding groups, and holding positions I don't like, then I wouldn't be calling for a boycott. I'm not going to delve into the personal lives of every board member of every company whose products I buy. However, if the company decides to take actions, then I can base my buying decisions off of those actions, and such is the case with our chicken selling neighbors to the south. It isn't just the President, but the company itself that donates money to groups that are specifically against what I believe and actively lobby government to prevent people from doing things I personally believe they should be allowed to do. Every dollar I give them increases the chance that they will donate further money towards an agenda that I dislike, so why should I be compelled to ignore that fact?
Criticism #2: Chick-Fil-A doesn't discriminate against homosexuals, so they aren't anti-gay.
Not in their business practice, sure. They will take the money of gay people as easily as anyone else, but they'll use that money to further the cause against them. Is this supposed to be better?
Imagine if there was a restaurant that took a portion of their profits and put it into a group who actively lobbies the Government to ban all Christian prayer, public or private. Yes, such a ban would be a terrible idea and completely unconstitutional, but they are still pushing for it, even going as far as to lobby to amend the constitution to allow such a ban. Would you say that they aren't anti-religious because they will let Christians eat at their restaurants? What if they gave Christians a 10% discount, would that convince you that they aren't anti-Christian? I would hope not. Would you honestly frequent their establishment, especially if you thought that they had a chance at succeeding? I certainly wouldn't, and I'm an atheist who has no need for prayer.
Criticism #3: So you're going to boycott OPEC gas and every other company that is bad to homosexuals?
Well no, not entirely, but this is a clear case of comparing apples and oranges. Overall I do try to avoid gas from the Middle East, but it sometimes can't be avoided. Chick-Fil-A can be avoided, and quite easily. I've actually been avoiding them for quite some time, but for different reasons. A few years ago I saw they were putting Veggie Tales DVD's in their children's meals. Veggie Tales is a children's show that goes over various bible stories with anthropomorphic vegetables playing the characters from the Bible. To my knowledge, there was nothing to indicate to the parents buying the meal that it was religious material without a close examination of it, meaning parents may be unknowingly giving their children religious material.
You may think that's perfectly acceptable, but let me ask you how you'd feel if it was a Muslim company giving children's videos about the Qur'an? Had that been the case, and all other factors were identical, there would have been a firestorm of outrage so large as to make the one about Chick-Fil-A seem like an impolite burp at a tea house, but I digress.
The point is that Chick-Fil-A is easily avoidable, and by advocating that people avoid them we have a chance for them to change their policies and not do harm to innocent people just trying to marry the person they love. It is an opportunity, and with all of the public attention on it, a very good opportunity. You are not required to boycott everything you disagree with on every level, but if you see the opportunity to make a difference, you shouldn't have to be stop because you don't feel you are up to making that difference at every conceivable level.
Could you imagine if we actually held ourselves to that standard? We'd never be able to do anything that wasn't entirely self-serving. Oh, you want to give your friend a ride? So you're going to give all of your friends rides to anywhere they want to go now, even if it's a much more difficult endeavor, right? Well if you're not, then you shouldn't give your friend a ride at all, you're not being very consistent otherwise.
Truth is, this is a live and active battleground. Some states are passing legislation to allow gay marriage while others are passing legislation to ban it. It is important for our social progress to ensure that gay marriage becomes something socially acceptable on a large scale and a legal scale.
Why, you might ask, should that be the case? Perhaps you don't believe that gay marriage should be allowed due to your religious beliefs or some other beliefs?
I challenge you to provide a secular reason why gay people should not be allowed to marry. Something not based in your religion. If all you have is a religious claim, then that claim should only apply to your particular religion. If religion is to be the deciding factor in who gets married, then you must also allow religions that are okay with gay marriage to marry them. Your individual religion doesn't get to dictate what the country does. So either the State can marry gays, or religions that are okay with gay marriage can. Either way, there is absolutely no reason to ban gay marriage overall, other than to control the lives of others in ways that has absolutely no affect on you.