I really didn’t want to go here. I really didn’t want to get into the whole Chick-Fil-A thing. I really wanted to just join Jen Hatmaker in her wonderful-sounding basement, and wait for this whole thing to blow over.
But I can’t. Because I’m tired of all the vitriol and venomous accusations. And I’m particularly tired of one side (pick whichever one you want–both are equally guilty) assigning motives to the actions of the other.
Chick-Fil-A uses some of its profits to support organizations that oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. Personally, I disagree with the aims of those organizations; given the fact that we do not live in a theocracy (nor do I want to, even as a faithful Christian), I cannot see any legitimate reason to deny same-sex couples that right. The Jim Henson Company also disagrees with the aims of those organizations, and they decided to end their partnership with Chick-Fil-A and donate the proceeds they’d enjoyed from that partnership to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
All of that is fine. Chick-Fil-A can use their profits as they see fit, and so can the Jim Henson Company. And both can choose to partner with whomever they want for whatever reasons they want. Or not to partner. They have that right.
But the owners of Chick-Fil-A have been described as hateful, evil bigots who only want to deny rights to those who don’t believe as they do, and are trying to use their money to establish theocratic rule in this country. I don’t think that’s fair, and it certainly isn’t supported by facts.
Yes, they hold to a ‘biblical’ definition of marriage (though that claim itself is dubious, given the fact that there are many definitions of marriage in the bible, many of which are not considered acceptable in this day and age. But that’s a whole other post.) Yes, they support organizations that work to make their accepted definition of marriage the only legal definition of marriage. But that’s not all they support.
Let’s look first at the partnership with the Jim Henson Company. The Jim Henson Company has never masqueraded as a biblically conservative company. As they proudly stated on their Facebook page, “The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years.” Their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness was not hidden from Chick-Fil-A, yet Chick-Fil-A still chose to enter into a business partnership with them. Yes, they stood to benefit financially, but if they were willing to compromise their principles for the sake of profits, then they’d be open on Sundays, so I dismiss that as their primary motivation. Basically, despite the difference in politics, Chick-Fil-A wanted to be affiliated with the values that the Jim Henson Company stood for. How does that fit in with their image as hateful, evil bigots out to mold the world into their own narrow conservative image?
I also know that they donate a sizable amount of money to the Public Broadcasting Service. How do I know this? Because between the shows my kids watch on PBS they are subjected to a few non-commercial commercials for Chick-Fil-A (as well as Earth’s Best Baby Food–since when are there commercials on PBS??!!). If you haven’t watched the children’s programming on PBS recently, let me assure you that it’s not advocating conservative Christian values to the sippy-cup set. Those shows advocate the same diversity, inclusiveness, and tolerance that the Jim Henson Company does. Yet Chick-Fil-A believes enough in their mission to give them lots of money, despite their different politics.
Chick-Fil-A also funds college scholarships, foster homes, summer camp programs, youth leadership programs domestically and abroad, as well as marriage preparation, enrichment, and crisis intervention programs.
I don’t agree with everything they choose to do with their profits, but they’re clearly not the hate-mongering bigots they’re accused of being.
Neither the right nor the left are all good or all evil. Can we please stop assigning motives that make it easier to dehumanize each other? If you don’t like how Chick-Fil-A spends their money, then by all means exercise your right to boycott. But don’t demonize them, or the people who support them. They don’t deserve it, any more than you do.