All of this Chick-Fil-A controversy has left me in a bit of a pickle. See, I love their food. I mean, REALLY love their food. So do my kids. But I feel like a hypocrite if I stop eating it now.
See, I had never heard of Chick-Fil-A and did not immediately jump on the bandwagon when they opened two stores in my area. Quite frankly, I didn't (and still don't) get the whole cow "Eat Mor Chikin" promotional campaign. But I stumbled through the drive-through about two months after they opened and tried the 8-count nugget meal with the waffle fries. As a fan of McDonalds and their nuggets, I was prepared for it to be okay but over-rated. Boy was I wrong! Those nuggets tasted like REAL chicken! And those waffle fries were to-die-for! I introduced them to my kids shortly after that, and they too thought they were yummy! WooHoo - we were hooked!!
Then a few weeks ago I started hearing about the commentary from Dan Cathy, their company President. In an interview with the Baptist Press, Mr. Cathy acknowledged that their company backs "families led by a man and a woman". Between 2003 and 2009, a LGBT advocacy group concluded that Chick-Fil-A donated more than $3 million to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. Since this article and information was made public, Chick-Fil-A corporate and individual locations have been protested, made fun of by almost every mainstream and social media outlet and been rejected by the Muppets.
I am a supporter of gay rights. Let me say it again so there is no confusion - I am a supporter of gay rights. I have friends who are gay, family members who are gay, and I believe that there should not be different rights for different people in this country. I am grateful that I live in a place that I not only have the freedom to choose what I want to support, but also the right to actually say it out loud. Mr. Cathy lives in that same place. He has the right to believe and say what he wants as well.
Here's my issue and why I am feeling out of sorts. Mr. Cathy has always had those beliefs. This is how he runs his company. I knew that Chick-Fil-A was closed on Sunday because they were a "religious" company. Am I smart enough to know that the majority of the religious community and the gay rights community don't go hand in hand? Yes. Did I ever bother to check on their "official" stance on gay rights prior to handing over my $5 for those tasty nuggets and waffle fries? No I did not. To be honest, I didn't even think about it. How many of us REALLY look at the companies that we give our money to? And I'm not talking about charitable donations - I'm talking about every dollar that you spend on products at the grocery story, your local big-box store or mall. I certainly don't. What causes are passionate to you? Animal rights? Women's rights? Purchasing local? Do you research the companies whose products you buy and only purchase those that align with your personal philosophies? My guess is that there are only very small portions of people in this country who can answer yes to those questions. As I learned watching the documentary, Miss Representation, women have 86% of the purchasing power in this country, and yet we are still bombarded with images telling us that we aren't good enough, pretty enough, young enough, or thin enough. Clearly we are not sharing our disdain for this with our dollars. My point is where we choose to spend our money is a powerful thing, and we are taking it for granted! Instead of just jumping on the bandwagon of who's in the media doghouse for "screwing up" this week and protesting the hell out of them, maybe we should look at this as opportunity to evaluate where we spend our money and on what. Be thoughtful. Be informed. Make decisions for yourself and your family that align with your beliefs and values. Compromise when you feel you should. Don't stand in judgment of others making different choices for their families. The definitions of Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech don't mean you are free to follow the same things I do or you are wrong. It means we all get to CHOOSE.
I don't know if I'll ever visit a Chick-Fil-A again. Despite loving their food as much as I do (and I'm drooling thinking of those waffle fries right now), now that I am conscience of where they stand I feel like I am a jerk if I go. If I am honest with myself, I can acknowledge that there isn't any difference in how I feel about their food today in comparison to before all of this information became public knowledge. I don't have an answer right now, but I'm grateful I get to make the choice. I think the bigger lesson I've learned is to ask different questions of the companies that I give my money to BEFORE it's handed over. Not just the "is it healthy?" or "is it good for me?" questions. What about you - what do you think?