Is giving away chicken sandwiches an act of homophobic bigotry? According to certain homosexual groups and websites, it is: when you give away sandwiches to people attending a conference on marriage. You heard that right. Gay-rights groups are slandering and boycotting the well-known national fast-food chain Chick-fil-A-you know, the one that says we should "eat more chicken."
That's because one of its restaurants decided to donate some sandwiches to a February marriage conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposes so-called gay "marriage."
That's it. There was absolutely no attempt to exclude anyone or to engage in gay-bashing. Responding to the boycott and the attacks, Chick-fil-A, which according to the The New York Times is "among only a handful of large American companies with conservative religion built into its corporate ethos," says that it serves and values all people and treats "everyone with honor, dignity and respect." I know that's the case.
But that's not good enough, say the critics, who have redoubled their efforts to pillory an American success story. The Times reports that a headline in one college newspaper ran, "If you're eating Chick-fil-A, you're eating anti-gay."
Is this an example of the more respectful civil discourse we are all supposed to adopt? Unfortunately, homosexual activists are attempting to punish someone who holds an opinion different than their own. This kind of attack against a company whose officer's are prominent Christians undermines the freedoms we all enjoy.
Yet two can play at this ugly game. Just for example, the Human Rights Campaign, which works for marriage rights for homosexuals, bisexuals, and the "transgendered community," lists a large number of corporate sponsors, many of which are household names. Here are a few: Starbucks, Microsoft, Nike, Google, Dell, American Airlines, and a whole lot more. Imagine what would happen if Christians, who have at least ten times the numbers of the homosexual community, were to start boycotting them?
Is it the American way to muzzle every group that supports something with which we disagree? That's what happened, incidentally, with our Manhattan Declaration, which stands for traditional marriage. Gay-rights activists apparently convinced Apple to remove our app from its iTunes store.
I, for one, support the expansion of freedom, not its suppression. We must protect free discourse for all-even Christians! As the historian Henry Steele Commager said, "Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion."
And while we Christians are free to exercise discretion as to where we spend the money God has entrusted to us, I believe we should use the blunt instrument of the boycott only in the rarest of cases. While I heartily disagree with Apple over its censoring of the Manhattan Declaration App, I haven't urged anyone to throw away their iPhones, and I'll continue to do all I can to convince Apple to reverse itself. Whenever possible, let's win the difficult debates we face with facts and with love, not with coercion.
Here's a modest suggestion for Christians to exercise our own freedom: Go out and buy a Chick-fil-A sandwich-or two-or three!