The term "#chickfila" was a top Twitter's Trend List Wednesday, as supporters of the fast food chain turned out in droves across the nation to scoop up chicken sandwiches and waffle fries in what has turned out to be a battle over the freedom of speech, religious expression and traditional marriage.
Former GOP presidential nominee and evangelical Christian Mike Huckabee declared two weeks ago that today, Aug. 1, would be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The former Arkansas governor sought to rally support for Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy, who received severe backlash for confession that he's "guilty as charged" when it comes to being a proponent of biblical marriage.
"I ask you to join me in speaking out on Wednesday, August 1 'Chick fil-A Appreciation Day.' No one is being asked to make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate. The goal is simple: Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick fil-A on Wednesday, August 1," Huckabee wrote on his oficial website.
Although not all independently-owned Chick-fil-A's agree with Cathy's faith beliefs, Americans have turned out to show support -- Rain or shine, traffic jams or long lines, as photos and videos shared online reveal.
Brandon Marlow, a Florida native who is a "Christ follower and youth leader" and "loves Chick-fil-A," shared a composite photo of consumer turnout at a Chick-fil-A restaurant:
Lawmakers also joined in Wednesday, as Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) of South Carolina's Third Congressional District revealed. The Republican politician, who desribes himself as a "Christian, husband, father, former small business owner," sharied a photo with followers on Twitter of what he and his staff had for lunch.
Another lawmaker, Florida Congressman Rep. Dennis Ross (@RepDennisRoss) also tweeted a photo, writing: "Celebrated the 1st Amendment today in the DC office."
When Twitter user "lifedictionary" posted the following image to his Instagram account with the caption "Please help me understand #ChickFilA," a debate ensued among users, reflecting much of what has been said in the national discourse concering the subject.
"Most valid point on this whole discussion that I've heard!" said Twitter user "simplyconnie" in reaction to the image.
Others chimed in, noting that Chick-fil-A doesn't discriminate against gay and lesbian customers or ban homosexuals from eating their food.
Another commenter said its was upsetting when people "think [you're] being 'homophobic' or racist just because you don't share their point of view on homosexuality."
Twitter user "lindenhill," retorted, saying that as long as Chick-fil-A's corporate owner chooses to support organizations that fight to protect traditional marriage, the company was indeed discriminating against homosexuals.
"The point is not having your beliefs. The point is actions and words not matching. Don't say you are not discriminating when the money you donates clearly goes to causes that do. That is the issue. Yes, believe what you want. But don't be a hypocrite," wrote "lindenhill."
According to Mike Huckabee, the "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" campaign was "not being launched by the Chick fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it."