To get away from all the hypocritical rhetoric on both sides of the recent Chick-Fil-A debacle. Of course with a lot of the attention taken off of herself, Ms. Chicken also thought it prudent to get her ass as far away from the frying pan as possible, lest she become a Spicy Chicken Sandwich Delux.
image credit, mine
Yes, I decided to "go there" and talk about the issues at the heart of all of this, which frankly, I think get overlooked amidst all the back-and-forth volleys and accusations of repression of freedom of speech, and hatred towards the homosexual community.
However, before I "go there" I want to make a couple of things patently clear, so that there is absolutely no room to question where I stand on the issue. I fully support the Cathy family to run their company, Chick-Fil-A in any manner they deem appropriate and profitable, so long as they don't discriminate. From all outward appearances, they don't discriminate against anyone, and if I'm wrong about this, please show me otherwise. They also run their business without incurring debt, something I applaud in a day and age where we're being encouraged to run up huge debt and worry about the consequences later. Finally, I heartily applaud Dan Cathy (COO, Chick-Fil-A) and his refusal to back down from his statements and run his business according to his principles. All too frequently we see people who've made statements that probably represent their actual values and ethics, back-peddle or walk back those words when those values are pointed out to be either politically incorrect or go against the grain of the majority.
Cathy has a right to speak his mind, after all, that's a right granted to him in our country.
Having said all that, that's where my approbation ends.
This is where things get heated when I try and explain why I won't patronize Chick-Fil-A and why I think there are several pairs of panties in needless bunches.
All one needs to do is take a look at syndicated posts like this over on BlogHer, and especially the comments (yes, I did jump into the fray) and you can see that there are clearly some very distinct lines being drawn in the sand, where the conversation has gone way past supporting CFA, and into the distinction of what makes a Christian and whether or not someone who supports equal rights for all, can call themselves a Christian. The original writer of the syndicated article, a blogger by the name of Aimee Whetstine (her personal blog is Everyday Epistle) would like you to believe that all the uproar over this is an attack on Cathy's Freedom of Speech rights. Clearly, Whetstine doesn't get it, and her own personal Christian dogma clouds her ability to see the point that people like me are trying to make as she tried to steer the discussion to who the real haters are . . . those like myself, who refuse to patronize Chick-Fil-A, as well as certain elected officials who have made statements in respect to their communities shunning CFA. That doesn't mean that I support those recent statements made by Boston's mayor Menino, and Chicago's mayor Emanuel . I think statements like those I linked to, are borderline discriminatory and verge dangerously close to an Orwellian society that none of us wants.
It's simple really, I don't hate Chick-Fil-A. I don't hate Dan Cathy. Do I think Dan Cathy hates gays and lesbians? I don't know and I'm not going to blindly assume he does. Do I think he's trying his best to live by his own moral standards and code of ethics? Of course I do, and I don't fault him for doing that.
What Cathy does in fact do that pushes me way into the "Nope, not gonna give Chick-Fil-A my money!" category is that they heavily donate to organizations which are openly anti-gay and work towards abolishing even the smallest inroads our country has taken towards assuring that gay and lesbian couples are free to marry and afforded the same civil rights as heterosexual couples. I don't want a single dime of my money supporting a company or organization that seeks to prevent others in our country from enjoying all of the civil rights that I, as a heterosexual enjoy. I don't want my money going to help finance those efforts.
This has zero to do with Dan Cathy's freedom of speech and everything to do with choosing to vote with my money and take my business elsewhere, and I am absolutely sick of hearing people say that I'm a hater or want to trample all over Cathy's own civil rights. That's utter bullshit! This is still a free country and I am well within my own rights to choose to spend my money where ever I want. I simply choose to not spend it at a company who donates some of their profits to organizations whose sole goal is to prevent people like my brother Jacob, who is gay, from having the same rights that I, as a heterosexual have.
Do I think that this debate has turned into an outright attack on Christianity, as some are claiming? I'm not sure. While I certainly feel attacked for being told that I can't call myself a Christian because I support equal rights for all, including our gay and lesbian citizens, I'm not entirely sure the crux of the issue lies in attacking Christians in our country. I've been told that to call myself a Christian while supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians is to cherry-pick what I want to follow from the Bible and disregard the rest. While I'm not sure the uproar over the beliefs of the founders of CFA is a direct attack on Christianity, I do think it's an attack on the intolerance of Christianity. However, I can easily turn that around by virtue of some the comments alone, over the on the BlogHer thread that I pointed out earlier. There are folks over there who are attacking those who are attacking the intolerance that some Christians exhibit . . . see what I mean about things getting a bit convoluted? Go on, read some of the comments, you'll see exactly what I mean.
Certain people are acting like we have no right to voice our opinion of Cathy's stance, or why we won't eat there, that we should just take it up with our local politicians and elected officials. Well hey, we've been doing that and it's organizations like those that the Cathy's donate to heavily, that are there to thwart our every move! Those organizations and groups believe that our nation was founded on Christian principals alone, and that there is no room to allow for the recognition of all families outside of those that are deemed " traditional families" by religion or a church! I thought there was a separation of church and state in our country . . . perhaps I was wrong?
I felt like someone was trying to shush me as I read some of those comments. It was almost as if we were being told, "Shut up and take it up with your Congressperson or Senator, but don't you dare voice your opinion outloud!" So who's the one trying to quash freedom of speech now?
Of course, the same people telling me to hush are the same ones who tell me I can't be a Christian because I support the gay and lesbian community in the efforts to allow them to marry and have those marriages recognized fully by our government. Then when questioned whether they hate those in the LGBT community, they pull out the oft-used yet oh-so-contradictory, "Love the sinner, hate the sin!" card. Can I share a little something with you? Whenever you say that, you're contradicting yourself. I'll explain why.
As I said earlier, my brother is gay. He always has been. He didn't choose to be gay. It's not like anyone is going to be able to pray the gay away! He didn't just wake up one day and say, "Hey, I think I'd like to lead a life where I'm shunned by religious zealots and hated by others, spit at, called queer and fag, and at the end of the day, still not be able to marry the person I love! Yep, that's the life for me!" He's always been gay. Jacob was born that way. Let me repeat that for you in case you didn't get it the first time. HE WAS BORN THAT WAY. So, if you're going to tell me that you love Jacob but hate his sin of being gay, then what you're really telling me is that you hate Jacob. There are no two ways about it. Being gay is as much a part of him as your judgemental mind and tongue are a part of you! I love my brother, so I suppose, again by virtue of your own words, you hate me. And ya know what? That's OK. I accept that I'm not your kind of Christian, hell, I even accept that I'm not a Christian at this point, because let me tell you something . . . the kind of things I'm seeing come out of some Christian mouths, via their fingers, is downright offensive, not to mention, very telling. You dare sit there in judgement of me when that very action is going against the words of Jesus Christ? Here, let me quote him for you, seeing as how you've forgotten some key statements he made:
Romans 14:13 "Therefore, let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Matthew 7:1 " Judge not lest ye be judged."
When all is said and done, this entire debate ought to be a moot point! Christianity has absolutely no place defining the laws of our nation. It never has. Our founding fathers came here out of a desire to escape religious persecution and tyranny, in order to worship as they pleased, or not worship at all. We need to get over this notion that if you aren't Christian then you aren't able to live a moral and just life or be upstanding members of our society. We need to stop making those who don't size up under our religious ideal feel like less than, and finally, we need to stop treating them like second-class citizens because of who they love, and make sure we afford them the same tolerance, and most of all, the same rights that we enjoy. All of the same rights. You don't get to cherry pick those rights just because affording them doesn't fit into your interpretation of the religious dogmas that you follow.
If I sound angry it's because I am angry, and not just because I happen to have a brother who is gay. Hey, Jacob is also human, or have we lost that fact in the midst of all the debate? I've always supported the LGBT community and I always will, and I will always stand up for the fair and equitable treatment of all human beings and not let the confines of religion try and peel away the civil rights that we all deserve.
Finally, I want to leave the people reading this while sitting there clucking their tounges at me while clutching the strand of pearls around their necks and condemning me to hell for my apparent blasphemy - I want to leave you with a little reminder from the Bible . . .
James 1:26 "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is worthless."
Audrey Holden, a writer. blogger and photographer from coastal Maine and upstate NY, has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, and was featured in the Emmy-nominated ground-breaking HBO mini-series documentary, "The Weight of the Nation."
Audrey blogs at Barking Mad!