Can we all just take a breath?
This week's Chick-Fil-A controversy was kicked into non-stop motion by waves of social media-fed, knee-jerk reactions. By the time the skirmish escalated to the level of true cultural phenomenon, seemingly everyone had forgotten how the animosity really started.
Those with the biggest stakes on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate have co-opted the Chick-fil-A controversy. How the company and its executives define marriage isn't — or at least shouldn't be — the issue. In fact, for those looking to make an example of Cathy and Chick-fil-A, making all of this about gay marriage actually lets the company and its president off the hook.
The real question everyone must ask — and the company must answer — is this: Does Chick-fil-A bankroll hate?
What's intriguing about the whole brouhaha is that the quotes from Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy to the Baptist Press first appeared in a story posted July 16, nearly two weeks before the situation made national news.
Here's what Cathy actually said in the story:
"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
Let's start with the second part of that quote. In the New Testament, Paul wrote repeatedly about the responsibilities of husbands and wives to stay together in the name of God. What's more intriguing to me is that the "we" to whom he refers are all men.
As to the first part of Cathy's comment, the story's author, K. Allan Blume (who is also editor of the publication in which it was published) let Cathy off the hook by not asking exactly where in scripture that "biblical definition of the family unit" appears.
Nevertheless, Cathy said nothing particularly inflammatory in the story. In fact, a pretty good chunk of America would agree with just about everything he said.
The initial backlash against Cathy and company began with reports about some of the organizations he and Chick-fil-A support — groups such as the Family Research Council (FRC) and its leader, Tony Perkins. The Southern Poverty Law Center and others have labeled Perkins' organization as a hate group. While some might disagree with that assessment, I would have to believe that some of the statements attributed to Perkins and his group would make most Chick-fil-A employees shutter. At least, I hope so.
Tony Perkins and the Washington, D.C.-based FRC have built their anti-gay platform largely on claims that homosexuals are to blame for most cases of pedophilia in America. An FRC pamphlet, titled Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys, put it this way:
"One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets of a new sexual order.'"
Perkins himself, in a 2010 article on the FRC's Web site, summed up his claims that homosexuality and child sex abuse were linked like this:
"While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem."
Cathy and those in his company (I'd love to see a poll on this one) have every right to state their belief that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. However, supporting individuals and groups who share that belief but express it in the most non-christlike of ways is another matter altogether.
So, to GLAAD and other LGBT activists, here is my plea:
Stop kissing long enough to ask the real questions.