Chick-fil-A and Hate Speech

'Chickens' photo (c) 2011, Richard Elzey - license:

Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A had an interview with Baptist Press where he confirmed that he is a Christian. And that his stores are closed on Sundays. And that he opposes marriage equality.

But this isn’t new.

Nevertheless, the internet got its panties in a wad over this.

And this is definitely not new.

Now I totally understand why my LGBT and LGBT-supporting friends are upset by some of Cathy’s statements. Being reduced to an issue rather than a person is demeaning and I can appreciate that it is frustrating to see your life and your relationship debated in the public square. I hate seeing my friends being turned into an academic or theological exercise.

Too often we hear things that are upsetting, like Cathy’s remarks, and we go a little crazy (I am the chief of sinners of this). We start using our own language that is inflammatory and extreme. We get into arguments with people who we like. We start saying that comments like, “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,” are hate speech.

When we do this, we do the conversation disservice. We cheapen that phrase “hate speech” by applying it to people who say things with which we disagree. Legitimate hurt gets lost in the midst of emotionally charged language.

We can acknowledge that there is a difference between hurtful words and hateful ones. We should acknowledge that.

But, what also gets lost in this is the actual hate speech that is going on, not with Dan Cathy, but with Chick-fil-A.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that money is speech and is protected under the first amendment.

One thing that Chick-fil-A has done is to donate corporate funds (not Dan Cathy’s private money that he earned from his job, but rather money from the corporation itself) to a hate group.

In 2010, Chick-fil-A made a small donation ($1000) to Family Research Council. Family Research Council (FRC) has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A hate group. Like the Ku Klux Klan or White Aryan Resistance. 

The folks at FRC engage in hate speech. For example:

  • “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.”
    -1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys
  • “Now, back in the 80′s and early 90′s I worked with the state department in anti-terrorism and we trained about fifty different countries in defending against terrorism, and it’s, at its base, what terrorism is, it’s a strike against the general populace simply to spread fear and intimidation so that they can disrupt and destabilize the system of government. That’s what the homosexuals are doing here to the legal system.” -FRC President Tony Perkins, Washington Watch, April 2011
  • “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.”
    -FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

They lie about the LGBT community and they spread hatred. Not mere disagreement, but actual hatred.

This is a group that Chick-fil-A, the company, not Dan Cathy the person, has supported financially.

It is a small contribution. I understand that. In the grand scheme of things, $1000 is a puny amount. But if they donated $1000 to Westboro Baptist Church, I would be upset. If they donated $1000 to the KKK or the Aryan Nations, I would be upset. The amount is not the issue, it’s to whom the donation was made.

Money is speech and Chick-fil-A used money to promote hate.

This is why I, and many others, choose not to patronize Chick-fil-A. Not because we disagree with the owner’s views on marriage equality. Not because we believe that denying marriage rights means that you hate those to whom you are denying those rights. Not because we believe that Dan Cathy’s statements constitute hate speech.

But because Chick-fil-A has funded a hate group.

When people dismiss folks who have chosen to boycott Chick-fil-A for this reason, they perpetuate the idea that genuine hatred is acceptable when dealing with the LGBT community. Not because they actually believe that hatred is okay, but because they either mock those who acknowledge it, or they turn a blind eye to the hatred itself.

And this, like choosing to ascribe inflammatory language to mere disagreement, is hurtful. It causes pain and cuts off dialogue.

But I believe we can have a fruitful discussion.

I don’t think we’re going to agree. Not about whether or not to eat at Chick-fil-A. Not about marriage equality.

But we can ask for forgiveness when our words cause pain. We can acknowledge where there are genuine concerns. We can acknowledge ways to move forward together to stop actual damage.

We can move beyond hate speech into something that is pleasing.

Let my words and my thoughts
    be pleasing to you, Lord,
    because you are my mighty rock
    and my protector.

Psalm 19:14


How do you help keep perspective in the midst of hurt?

  • Andrea Cumbo

    So well said, Alise.  I am boycotting Chick-Fil-A, now, because of their funding choices, also, but I was boycotting them simply for their position.  I take seriously that my dollars speak for me, and I don’t want them to speak to an organization that does not support gay marriage.

    That said, I think people and companies should be able to express their perspectives on anything they’d like – that’s free speech as well – and I do not think that this position by Chick-Fil-A, as you said, is hate speech. I disagree, but I don’t think the intent is hateful.  Painful, hurtful – yes. Hateful, no. 

    Still, I want my dollars to go to organizations whose perspective I agree with – at least as much as I am able. Because of free speech, others can do the same, too.

    Thank you so much for this post.

    • Alise Wright

      I have no problem with people choosing not to eat at Chick-fil-A or shop at JC Penny or whatever because of their political choices. I don’t like Hardee’s because of their really appalling advertising choices. I’ve not eaten at CFA since I first heard about their anti-gay stance about a year ago. But the FRC thing is BIG to me and it becomes a little less of a personal choice and more of something that I want to speak out about when we start talking about funding hate groups.

      • Andrea Cumbo

        Absolutely, Alise. I’m if it seemed I was suggesting you were saying people shouldn’t boycott, I apologized I figured you were fine with that. I was simply trying to talk through my own logic.

        I’m with you altogether on the hate speech element of this whole situation.  Speech is hurtful, and it can also be very dangerous . . . as the conversation about homosexuality and it’s intentional but fictional linking to pedophilia shows.

        Thanks so much for this.

    • james

      have fun eating mcdonalds and wendys fatass

  • KatR

    Chick-fil-a’s $1000 donation to FRC is a drop in the bucket of the donations total that they’ve given to anti gay groups.

    This whole dust up has exposed a big weakness among some so called “gay friendly” Christians. They are willing to grant gay people some level of civil rights, but deep down they don’t see them as equals. They still expect them to tolerate treatment they themselves would never put up with. 

    • Alise Wright

      Oh, I totally agree. They fund a lot of anti-gay stuff (some more pro-family than anti-gay, but all anti-gay nonetheless).

      I hope that I don’t in any way indicate that I think this language or their actions are acceptable or that the LGBT community has no right to be angry at these remarks or the funding choices of CFA. 

      But yeah, it’s hard for me to see “love the sinner” when you blow off the severity of a company donating to a hate group.

      • KatR

         No, sorry, I wasn’t referring to you in my comment. :) I was thinking of two articles (and various other comments) I’ve read in the past week from Christians who were telling people that their anger at Chick-fil-a was somehow ridiculous.

        • Alise Wright

          Gotcha. Yeah, I think there are elements of over-reaction (I still can’t see Cathy’s statements as hate speech, even the stuff in the radio interview that is a little more annoying that what I quoted above), but the dismissal of it is also frustrating to me.

      • Kate

        We need to also consider boycotting companies that donate to Planned Parenthood, remembering that they are also a  hate group against babies and spend millions funded by us on killing them right in their mommy’s womb.

  • Jo

    There is a movement among psychiatrists to redefine and decriminalize pedophilia.  That isn’t “hate speech”, that’s just a fact.  Surprised so many people are not aware.  It started about a year ago by a group of psychiatrists called B4U-something.  Sorry, I’ve forgotten the rest.

    • KatR

      What does this have to do with what we are discussing? 

    • Alise Wright

      From what I can see, the B4U act is not seeking to decriminalize pedophilia, but to allow folks who are attracted to pre-pubescent children to seek help before they hurt a child. It’s not about redefining anything, but rather offering compassion to a group that has an attraction that CAN hurt others. From what I can gather on a very cursory glance, this is about stopping the harm before it happens by allowing people to seek help more openly.

      Regardless, none of that has anything to do with homosexuality. When we equate child molestation with homosexuality, that IS hate speech.

    • Psychologist

       As someone with a PhD in clinical psychology, who is deep in the mental health field and involved with the psychology and psychiatry trends, I can say this is absolutely not true. The group you are talking about is a splinter group of pedophiles masquerading as scientists. That is not a “movement” any more than the Westboro Baptist church is any kind of “movement.” It’s a small contingent of wackjobs.

    • katherine

      Though they are denying it, I believe there IS a movement among psychiatrists to normalize pedophilia. In fact, it seems to be a prevalent attitude with judges. Don’t believe it? Check out how many judges are letting admitted and convicted child sex abusers off with very little punishment. Including repeat offenders. 

  • Carmen

    I appreciate this Alise. Thank-you. 

  • Mkrabill

    Good points all Alise. So well said.

  • Knox McCoy

    Great thoughts as always.

    I would urge you to look closely at SLPC and Morris Dees though if they are going to be the prism through which you classify and identify companies.

    It’s only fair to apply the same scrutiny to them as you do to CFA.

    • Alise Wright

      Is there something specific that deserves scrutiny? Please don’t read snark into that – I just don’t know. The primary problem that I see with them is how much they bring in as compared to how much they use to fight for civil rights, but I’m unaware of problems with their designations.

    • Pat938

      Considering that Alise also cited what actually MAKES them a hate group and not just SPLC, I’m not sure what point you could be trying to make.

      • Knox McCoy

        Thanks Pat938. I appreciate the time you spent in making a well-thought out contribution to the discussion. I thought the point was pretty clear. 

        • Pat938

          Is that supposed to be sarcasm?
          My well-thought out post is barely shorter than yours, and makes a pretty good point itself.
          She didn’t just trust the SPLC designation, she *proved it right*. So, even if SPLC is unreliable, it wouldn’t actually matter. She provided the evidence for their claims directly.

          • Knox McCoy

            Great thoughts, Pat938. Thanks for taking the time to add your insight. The Internet is a much better place now.

          • Rubik321

            I’m not even interested in being part of this discussion, other than to say: Knox, have you got a bug up your butt or something??

            ( I put a lot of time and thought into this post)

          • Knox McCoy

            Nailed it.

  • Larry Carter

    I know that we disagree on this entire issue, but when it comes down to it, I don’t really care what the companies I buy things from do with their money. I buy Starbucks and they give money to causes I disagree with. I watched Mission: Impossible and my money flowed to Scientology. I follow you and read you and disageee with you.
    If I owned Chik Fil A, I would see coupons for free food to the mayors of Chicago and Boston. I would take food and drink out to the protestors. I would examine more closely FRac and see what their values are and see if I ever wanted to support them again. I would continue to give money to other groups that support traditional marriage. I wouldn’t stop being who I was because of any of this.

    • Alise Wright

      I don’t worry about disagreement either. Really and truly. But there are some stands that I feel like *I* need to take. Supporting a hate group, even just a little bit (and I do recognize that $1000 is not very much in a multi-million dollar company) is something that I personally can’t tolerate. 

      I mostly would just like us to be able to talk about the whys of stuff like this a little more calmly. Myself 100% included.

      • Larry Carter

        Sure, I understand. One place of possible disagrement is whether I accept the SLPC’s definition of this group as a hate group. Just because they label the KKK as one doesn’t mean that I will go along with it. I kind of had that idea well before anyone told me. That doesn’t mean I don’t think this group isn’t a hate group. It is possible that Chik Fil A doesn’t know every hateful thing a group says. They may be ignorant of that. They may never give another dime to them after learning more. We don’t really know.

        • Pat938

          SPLC’s definition is strict. They actually have to lie, a lot.

          Just existing for the sole purpose of harming a minority population–which I’d certainly call a hate group–isn’t enough.
          There are plenty of hate groups that aren’t SPLC official Hate Groups.

          So no, you don’t get to disagree with that.
          That’s a fact. It’s true. They are evil. Their sole purpose is to be evil. They don’t DO anything that’s not evil, so it doesn’t really matter how much you know about them. If you know one thing about them, that thing is evil.
          And if they didn’t know much about them, they probably shouldn’t have made those donations in the first place, so even if it WERE an excuse it still wouldn’t be an excuse (if that makes sense).

          But then you disagree with the right of a minority group to be treated equally, and you call that “supporting traditional marriage” even though those words wouldn’t MEAN anything if they WEREN’T codewords, which proves that you know it sounds bad if you actually describe it.

          • Larry Carter

            But I do get to disagree with that. If I don’t recognize SPLC as a group that I fundamentally agree with, then I can disagree with them and their labelling a group as a hate group all day long. Just because they label one group a hate group and I agree doesn’t mean I agree with every group they label as a hate group.

            But the disagreement goes much further. I view homosexuality the same as I view adultery, gluttony, lying, murder, pride, drunkenness, or any other sin. Here, though, is something I do agree with homosexuals on: I do believe they are born that way. What I mean by that is that we are all born sinners and fundamentally flawed. My sin nature manifests in many ways, but there is one major way it manifests (I have a pretty good idea which way that is). Homosexuals sin in many ways, but manifests in one major way in homosexuality. Yes, I know homosexuals will rip me for that. That’s ok with me.

            The only hope I have is the fact that Christ has saved me and through the process of sanctification (which I won’t pretend to understand very well) He moves me into what He wants me to be. And that’s what I want for everyone.

            So, fundamentally, my worldview is different than the SLPC, and most people, so I do get to disagree with them.

            As far as giving donations, companies give donations to people and groups all of the time without knowing everything about them. I’ve seen my own company give money to groups without doing a tremendous amount of due diligence. I’m not defending that. I’m just saying that happens.

            Then we could could take the level of disagreement to whether we agree on a group being a minority group. From my worldview described above, no, I don’t. I don’t think of people with sinful behavior as a minority group.

            As far as calling it traditional marriage, I actually think that is stupid. Marriage is marriage. It doesn’t need an adjective. Anything else isn’t marriage.

            I know most people that you, Alise and most people that read Alise won’t agree with all of this. That’s ok. I’m a big boy and I can live with that.

          • Pat938

            You don’t get to disagree with facts.
            That’s not how debates work.

            And you most *certainly* don’t get to use your religious beliefs to restrict the legal rights of others. We have this thing called “religious freedom” here.

            But seriously, as a Christian myself… this strong desire to harm others you have? Not a good thing. Have you tried, like, thinking about it? Seriously, some reflection may in order here.
            The belief that God made some people wrong and wants you to take it out on them so He can brush that fact under the rug is actually completely incompatible with Christianity, not a required part of the belief system.

          • Larry Carter

            I believe that what you are calling facts are something to debate. For example, I don’t necessarily consider the SLPC a legitimate group for which me to base any fact upon.
            I’m sorry. What strong desire to harm others do I have? You lost me there. I don’t recall having a strong desire to harm anyone. I’m not sure what I need to reflect upon. You certainly did not make that very clear.
            I believe what I said was that everyone had a fundamental flaw. This is that we are all born sinners. This is due to Adam and Eve and the Fall. Each person is a Sinner. Being a sinner manifests itself in many ways in all of us and I think we have a primary sin. Some are adulterers. Some are gluttons. Some are homosexuals. I don’t think that creates a class of people called homosexuals, anymore than it creates a class of people called gluttons. And I don’t think that is something to base civil rights on.

          • Jodi

            The flaw in your argument, Larry, is that if homosexuals weren’t a separate ”class” then we wouldn’t have this debate at all. They would already have the right to marry legally, just as adulterers, gluttons, and drunks do.

          • Larry Carter

            Ok, that’s a great point. We’re all equally bad. Where does the idea of marriave come from then? Because without some basis, we might as well not marry or be polygamous or polyamorous?

          • Danie Love

            If homosexuals were just people who happen to be sinning then this would not exist.


            Sinners don’t live in the world of second class citizens.

            I find it hilarious that you feel the rights of someone else are up to you to debate – that somehow your beliefs are more justified in this world than mine – even when your belief causes untold pain and suffering to those you are supposed to care for. You do realize that your beliefs on homosexuals has created is a world where people are afraid to walk down the street, afraid to go to school, afraid to speak up, afraid all the time, not of themselves but of the society you have helped create for them? That people are killed in this country for being gay? You do realize that gay people have violence and rape enacted upon them on a consistent basis by straight people? You know this, right?

            What a hate-filled world your religion makes of my love filled one. Not only do you judge but you sentence – Sinners you say! Your sentence kills people every day. Kids kill themselves because of your beliefs.

            The saddest part of it all is that you are completely sanctimonious about it. How nice it must be to be in the majority. How nice it must be to be so sure that you are better than those horrible sinners – sinners that were bad at birth. How nice it must be to be hetrosexual and to know god loves you and you get to go to heaven while all the gays get to burn in Hell. How nice it must be to believe that you truly are right, all the time without regard to anyone elses ideas, beliefs, or values.

            How nice it must be to not even see the destruction of your beliefs on the lives of so many – or to feel so above it that you don’t even care.

            You are no better than the bigots of the past and while you may not see it, and your children may not see it, your children’s children will see it and they will be ashamed of you. Just like I am ashamed of my great-grandparents for being racists.

          • Jeff

             Well said, Larry. Though I’ve not read this last post with a “fine tooth comb” I believe you’ve stated my feelings very well!

          • David

            Larry, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth. Well written.

  • Nathaniel Friend

    I have to say, I was thrilled to hear you use your distinction of hate speech vs hurtful speech. I read an amazing book in highschool called Freedeom for the Thought that We Hate. Have you read it? I definitely thought it was good. Great post. I loved to hear more clarity about this topic in a longer form. The only question I’m left with wondering about is… how many other companies have used their own corporate money to sponsor things that are downright awful? I know that’s why (while I grew up) my family boycotted Target and such. 

    • Alise Wright

      I think it’s an important distinction to make. I’m prone to hyperbole myself, but if I call something that is just disagreement hate, I don’t have a word for folks who are genuinely hateful. 

      And there are definitely other companies that sponsor stuff that’s pretty awful. To the degree that we can, I think it’s important to be informed consumers, but of course we’re going to miss stuff and there are going to be some things that are really hard to avoid supporting. 

      • Pat938

        If the disagreement is about minority rights, civil rights in general, people’s right to exist while different…
        That IS hatred. What we’re disagreeing about is hate vs. not-hate. Politeness doesn’t matter when the position is, by definition, hatred.

        • hillsideslide

          Alise isn’t equating harmful speech with impoliteness. 

          I think “hurtful” is an accurate way to talk about it.

          We have no insight into the emotional drive behind Mr Cathy’s comments.  Is it hate?  Is it fear?  Is it disgust?  Is it loyalty to his interpretation of his faith?  Is it the desire to contribute to the betterment of society, as he understands it?  I don’t know.

          I do know that his contribution to a group that’s landed on a “Hate Group” list b/c of their deceitful & demeaning tactics contributes to harm. 

          Prejudice is harmful.  And really nice sweet people can still harbor a pernicious prejudice that is a blind spot for them.  They may not hate me, but they’ll cast a ballot against marriage equality because they like the  sound of “standing up for traditional values.”  That sounds like a good thing. The intention to do good can result in harm.

          That’s why I choose to describe such actions as ”harmful” rather than “hateful.” 


          • Pat938

            I’m not saying she’s equating impoliteness with hatefulness.
            I’m saying she’s giving that prejudice a pass because it’s polite. I don’t think that’s okay.

            Ideally I’d like to be both polite AND good, and the people around me should be, too. But if I’m only given the two choices, I’ll choose rude and good over polite and evil any day.

    • Joy in this Journey

       I agree — this was a really helpful distinction.

  • Laura

    I am one of the rare folks that believes sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong (regardless of orientation), yet would vote to support gay marriage/civil unions/whatever you want to call it.  I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a while, and while I don’t always agree with your perspectives, I always appreciate them.

    And I thank you for this thoughtful, eye-opening post.  This is the first persuasive argument I’ve heard as to why Chick-Fil-A’s actions have been hurtful.  I was vaguely familiar with the FRC, and personally considered them overly fundamentalist and annoying.  But I had never heard about the appalling statements you quoted in your article, and I now completely agree that it was inappropriate for Chick-Fil-A to support them!  I don’t have a problem with companies supporting conservative, “pro-family” groups that disagree with homosexuality, but I do have a problem with supporting any group that crosses that line into hate speech (as FRC clearly has done).

    Thank you for shedding light on this nuanced issue with grace, intelligence, and solid facts instead of emotional hysteria. :)

    • Alise Wright

      I will say that I see some difference between pro-family and blatantly anti-gay. That’s no doubt some justification on my part, but I appreciate groups that may not support marriage equality but actually work to strengthen marriages as opposed to groups that talk about being pro family but spend all of their energy fighting marriage equality (National Organization for Marriage leaps to mind). I won’t support groups like NOM or FRC or AFA. They aren’t helping – they only hurt.

      And I had to hold back on responding right away so I could get past some of the emotional stuff, which is almost always my first response. ;-D

      • Pat938

        “Pro-family” is a code word for anti-gay.

        This is not a secret. Has any “pro-family” group ever done *anything* supportive of families in general at all?
        You’ll probably find a few examples that they did just to reference, but that’s about it.

      • Ladybugjewel

        Thank you for stating that you see a difference between pro-family and anti-gay. Everyone has a right to their own convictions and beliefs. Because they happen to be different from someone else’s doesn’t make them hateful. It makes them different.

        I will say that I don’t get the marriage equality debate, though. The main thing I have been seeing for the past five-10 years, is the push to change the definition of marriage. Coming from a Judeo-Christian worldview (and how our country’s foundation was created), the institute of marriage was designed by God thousands of years ago. It was his plan for a man and woman to have children and populate the earth. I guess what I’m saying is if when a gay couple and a lesbian couple can get their partner pregnant and have a child, then they can have what’s called a marriage. 

        What doesn’t a civil union give them that a marriage certificate would? Where I work employees can sign up their partner (gay or not) for all the benefits that I have. What would be different if they had a marriage license? Is it to be more accepted? I don’t believe giving them a marriage certificate would make them more accepted to those who already don’t accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle. … and why would the government issue marriage licenses? Isn’t that the church’s position? Isn’t that in conflict with “separation of church and state?” (of course I know that term is not in The Constitution,) The government concerns itself with legal matters, not religious matters. Since marriage has been in existence for thousands of years and defined as one man and one woman, why are homosexuals trying to get our legal system to change the definition? Does anyone else think about these things?

        I try my best to love others as Jesus loves them – sin and all. After all, I have my own share of sins that Jesus has forgiven me for … and continues to forgive me for. No one is perfect, but when Christians who believe God’s Word, and do their best to live it, are slammed for their beliefs, belittled, called names, and deal with violence, isn’t that intolerant and hateful? While I don’t believe people are “born” homosexual, I will not deny their belief that they are. I just believe that God makes men and women as he ordained, and he doesn’t make any mistakes. I know this is going to be hard to read, but I believe homosexuals are heterosexuals living a gay lifestyle. 

        • Danie Love

          The difference between pro-marriage and anti-gay is the difference between slavery and segregation.

          One might be a bit better than the other but they are both fundamentally harmful.

    • Pat938

      If an organization disagrees with Black, do you have a problem with that?

      Disagreeing with a minority group–not with anything they said, but the fact that they exist (I’m not sure the word “disagree” is really applicable here)–is the definition of “bigotry”.

      There is evil that is not bigotry, but there is no bigotry that is not evil. It’s a subset of evil.
      Not distasteful, not unpleasant, not “I disagree”–evil.
      It’s not a subjective point, objectively evil.

      And why should your position about sex outside of marriage be rare? You have a standard, but it’s not a double-standard. That’s how standards are actually *supposed* to work. They’re actually not standards at all if you apply them unequally.
      (And heck, you could actually be an evil bigot who hates gay people, but still value religious freedom and the law following the constitution and therefore support civil marriage rights.)

  • Eddy Damas

    In a couple of years, the “boycott” against Chick-Fil-A will be long forgotten. We have to remember that we are a split country when it comes to Christian and Coventional marriage. Nobody will ever agree on anything. Besides, even with this boycott, gays will most likely stll walk into Chick-Fil-A, order their food, and either dine-in or walk-out.

    • Gwyn McVay

      I’m sorry, but what is your last sentence supposed to mean? Is there some other way of obtaining greasy, salty chicken from Chik-Fil-A? Armed robbery, maybe?

      Also, the “Nobody will ever agree on anything” part is both depressing and contradicted by history. Today a majority of the US agrees that black kids should be perfectly able to learn next to white kids in schools. Ask Ruby Bridges about a time when that attitude was not, in fact, common. Yet now… people (i.e. not “nobody”) seem to agree on that issue.

      • Eddy Damas

        Gwyn, what I am saying is that despite the fact that this company is against gay marriage, there is postively no way to decipher/guess/prove that a same sex couple is married. Not unless you go up to the counter person (or any person) and state “We’re married.”
        It’s not the counter person’s position, nor will they ever, ask two men/women “are you married?” Frankly, they don’t have the time for chit-chat, nor do they probably care.

    • Alise Wright

      I’m really not calling for a boycott – I’m only explaining why I and some others are choosing not to spend money at CFA.

      I think a lot of the split is that we’re not talking very well about the issue of marriage equality. I hope that we can get to a place where we have a less emotionally charged (not unemotional, but maybe not directed by emotions) conversation. But that doesn’t get votes or television ratings. Of course, that’s a post for another day. I figure the title to that is, “Alise’s hate-filled rant about how the ‘news’ is ruining everything.” ;-D

      • Debbie

        God clearly commands Christians to love your neighbors as yourself.  We don’t always get that right.  But, should it be any kind of surprise for a secular organization to agree with biblical principals?  Here’s an article that isn’t very complimentary of the Southern Poverty Law Center.   SPLC was founded in 1971 as a law firm to handle anti-discrimination cases and won notice for fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. But conservatives say the group has become nothing more than a liberal money-raising machine, and even some liberals have accused it of financial mismanagement and misleading fundraising practices.

        So, the vicious cycle continues.  

        • Pat938

          If conservatives stopped defining bigotry as conservative and leaping to bigots’ defense, maybe anti-bigotry organizations would stop being so “liberal”.
          Seriously, I *want* there to be *at least* two legitimate choices. Really, there need to be more. I *want* “conservative” to mean “conservative” instead of “evil and crazy,” but I’m not the one who redefined it.

  • Kirsten

    Such a thoughtful and well written piece! I was foggy on the details & was glad to see what actually happened. I will not be giving the corporation my funds to be used to fund hate. 

  • Gholter

    For many years I have made a very deliberate and conscious decision to take my business to organizations that I know will support certain stances on social issues. Issues that that are important to me. Because of this decision I have not been a customer at CFA for many years. There are several other businesses that I have chosen to avoid also. This has been a personal choice and I have not called it a boycott. But I cannot and will not support a business that supports something that does not align with my own sense of humanity and my own beliefs, no matter how small my own impact may be.

  • Tony J. Alicea

    Wow. This is a VERY insightful post, Alise. I appreciate you differentiating between hurtful and hateful. That’s what grieves me the most about all the backlash.

    But whoa, I totally see your point about FRC. I don’t have any problem with people that refuse to patronize Chick-Fil-A or any business because of something like this.

    Still the whole boycotting and public outrage culture that we’ve created is pretty out of control these days.

    • Alise Wright

      I absolutely agree – we get riled up all too easily. Of course, hearing primarily from the most extreme voices over and over, it gets easy to believe that things are REALLY TERRIBLE and we need to ACT NOW. Crap, even waiting like 4 days to post this almost certainly hurt my blog stats. We have to be first, and first almost never has all of the information, or even much of the information. But having more hits doesn’t really help if I’m adding to the frenzy. And I’d much rather see a conversation happen than just make things louder.

  • michael j. kimpan

    appreciate your careful and thoughtful words on this, alise.  thank you.

  • Joy in this Journey

    I really appreciate your clarify on this topic, Alise, and that you expressed yourself with a level of calm that I haven’t seen much this week.

  • Joe Sewell

    I’m going to assume here that my earlier comment was lost because the firewall at work and Disqus don’t get along very well with each other. If that’s not the case, then I apologize in advance.

    Sorry, Alise, but here I don’t agree with you at all. While I do not agree with the FRC statement that links pedophilia exclusively with homosexuality, I do not agree that the statement makes FRC a “hate group” any more than someone pulling out one of the Bible verses that warn against same-gender “knowing” (to use a KJV-ism).

    The problem with LGBT is that many self-identify with one of those terms but put themselves on one of many points along a spectrum of  beliefs. Many self-identify as “gay” simply due to same-gender attraction or temptation. Temptation is not itself sin; if it were, our hope in Christ is eternally lost, since His temptation would’ve meant that He sinned. As one who has panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, clinical depression, and I suspect some form of acute stress disorder, I understand how the hormones mess with your mind. I can accept a hormonal vector causing such an attraction.

    I take no pride, though, in my panic & anxiety, my depression, my obesity (which some claim “must be gluttony” and therefore a sin, not to mention disqualifying me from any sort of handicap consideration for any reason), my former hatred of my father, nor my heterosexual temptations or what I have done that is truly sin in that area in my past. I do not march down the street with other fat people, demanding rights I perceive that I have. (OK, bad example, because my obesity, combined with lower leg edema triggered by a hypertension med, makes it hard for me to walk for very long at all. :) ) I do not demand that people accept what I did “naturally” as a result of any of that.

    Yes, there have been plenty of hurtful comments. Yes, there have been some hate-filled comments. Whenever one stands for God, the world should show its hatred, since its father hates God.

    To make connections from random statements that conclude “hatred,” though, is not hurtful. It’s spiteful. It’s hateful in itself, or often comes off that way.

    It’s wrong!

    And it certainly isn’t very Christ-like.

    I do agree that those who identify and/or prove to be LGBT need to be loved. I do not agree that they need to plow marriage under just to show there’s “nothing wrong with them” or that their choices should be accepted. (Note: I have already granted the benefit of the doubt regarding the parts that many claim are not choices. Many do make choices beyond that, though, and those are what I mean here.) I don’t expect a Godly individual or community to welcome me as if nothing is wrong if I were an adulterer, a pedophile (even a hetero one!), or a predator. Neither should those who choose to demand that God honor their choices of any sin.

    If that’s “hateful” to you, then so is God, as far as I can tell.

    • Pat938

      “Many self-identify as ‘gay’ simply due to same-gender attraction…”
      Congratulations. You have successfully identified a definition.

      You kinda missed one with FRC, though.  Yeah, they exist for the sole purpose of harming members of a minority group, which fits any definition of “hate group” I’d use. The SPLC uses a much stricter definition. Regularly lying is, I believe, absolutely required. Even under their narrow definition, FRC is absolutely a hate group.
      This is a thing called a “fact”; you’re not really allowed to say you disagree with it. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you gotta use the same facts as the rest of us when supporting them (and, really, you’re supposed to use those fact things when [i]forming[/i] them, too, which seems to be an issue with you).

      How come when gay people make the [i]exact same[/i] choices as straight people, you judge them differently?
      See, judging the same thing differently would be exactly what hatred is.
      And yes, I am aware that you’re calling God hateful. You’re claiming that nobody should expect any better than this (objectively evil) behavior from a Christian. As a Christian, I am rather offended.
      Stop taking God’s name in vain, and bearing false witness about everybody in sight, please (those are actually in the Big Ten AND covered by Jesus’ words summarizing the entire thing–unlike the passages that might condemn gay people if you squint at them wrong).

      • Joe Sewell


        There is no further discussion here. Reread what I wrote, rather than what you insist I wrote.

        That’s it. Alise, if you read this, I’m outta here.

        • Pat938

          Nope. I understand you just fine.
          Maybe you should reread mine? It might be good for you!

  • Brian

    Are you familiar with NAMBLA? If the comments of FRC referred to members of that group, then I can understand where they’re coming from. 

    • Pat938

      So, what you’re saying is that they’re lying.

      Uh, yeah.

  • Yourmoma

    I had breakfast at chish-fil-a this morning.  It was wonderful. 

  • Miles O’Neal

    I’m going to be contrarian and answer your question instead of joining in the other discussions. 8^)

    I remind myself that when people say hateful things, or something in a hateful manner (two different things), it says something about them, not me. So I hurt for them, for their brokenness, rather than for me. This took revelation and work, but I recognized it as truth, and it was (and is) worth the effort.

    The flip side of that is being careful not to just assume anything I don’t like or disagree with or feels like it could hurt is hateful. A soft answer doesn’t always turn away wrath, but it often helps.

    Now, this being the internet, there’s a good likelihood that someone is going to read more into this than is there. I simply answered the question. I’m not saying this any given person or group involved in the issue that drove this blog post is or isn’t doing this. I am not addressing that at all.

  • Pat938

    Saying that members of a certain minority group are not as equal as everybody else is hate speech.
    Saying that they do not deserve and can not be allowed to obtain equality under the law is hate speech (and if they have any sway it’s unconstitutional, but that’s another discussion).
    If they use coded language to disguise what they are saying (Oh, he “supports the family”? Um, you do know that that doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of support, and it’s only relationship to families is to [i]CRUSH THEM [rawr][/i] if they’re the wrong kind, do you not?), we don’t pretend to believe the lies but acknowledge that, yup, it’s still hate speech (as for that “biblical definition” hogwash–first of all, the Bible is not a dictionary and it doesn’t define words, and secondly, most of the families [i]in[/i] the dang thing don’t even [i]fit[/i] that supposedly-biblical definition).

    Finally, that’s not what Cathy actually said that got called hate speech. That was the fist of God stuff.

    • Pat938

      “…I think we are inviting God’s judgment on
      our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than
      you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our
      generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we
      have the audacity to define what marriage is about”

  • Sharideth Smith

    To answer your original question, I keep perspective by going back to the basics.

    Love God and love others.  The Bible makes no qualifications on who those “others” are, so neither do I.

    I haven’t sorted out all my thoughts and determinations on gay marriage and I’m not sure I ever will.  I won’t march in a gay pride parade (I’m totally sketched out by assless chaps), but I also won’t tolerate hate for the gay community.

    I have many gay friends who accept my hesitancy because they understand that at the end of the day, I love them still.

    For me, that’s all that matters.

  • Jessica Buttram

    My hub and I were late to church this morning because he had the dumb idea to bring it up ten minutes before we were supposed to leave. 

    I’m not sure why anyone was shocked when Dan Cathy said he was against homosexuality. He’s been pretty clear about his traditional faith. This is such a one-spark issue – that’s all it takes for it to explode. 

    I maintain the position that you can be fundamentally against homosexuality and all for marriage equality within our secular equal-rights government. Why this is even a conversation the Christian community is having within a non-Christian environment is…unnecessary.

    You’re the besssssst.

  • Vawright

    i working on a blog that is highlighting the same issues. i’m glad that you’re talking about it. keep doing what you’re doing. 

  • RawFaith

    I’m amazed at the media firestorm all this stuff has created. I appreciate your take on the situation. For me I have such deep grief that once again such an important topic involving real human beings has turned into another fight… building even bigger walls between the gay and christian communities, instead of working to have meaningful dialog and building bridges. Once again I feel like it’s turned into the whole… “you’re a doo doo head…”  “oh yeah, well you’re a bigger doo doo head” thing.

    I am not fond of CFA and haven’t been for several years. The thing that troubles me so often in the christian community is that in it’s quest to do the “right” thing and believe the “right” thing we lose sight of the fact that Jesus himself chose to show up in a time of great political unrest where people were expecting a political messiah, and he chose instead to spend his time with the broken and outcast and the disinfranchised. He said we were to love our enemies and he offered forgiveness, mercy and redemption to a broken world that needed it.

    While we are busy boycotting or eating a bunch of greasy chicken, there is a whole world we have the opportunity to reach. I loved the video on Rachels blog today about the little girl who died while trying to raise money for wells to supply much needed water to villages in africa.

    A cynical person could say that the CFA owner’s comments were the best marketing he could have ever done, knowing full well what it would set off and that he would get a ton of business from the conservatives.

    For people who want to support his right to free speach, but not their giving practices I would suggest making a donation to an organization that really was making life better for people somewhere instead of using it to buy lunch at CFA. They could even write them and let them know about their giving and suggest CFA looks more closely at who they are giving to and maybe to consider giving to different organizations.  In the mean time I don’t want to allow the CFA to drain my emotional energy or take my eyes off the bigger picture which is the bridge building I know I’m called to do.

  • Debbie

    God clearly commands Christians to love your neighbors as yourself.  We don’t always get that right.  But, should it be any surprise for a secular organization to disagree with biblical principals?  Here’s an article that isn’t very complimentary of the Southern Poverty Law Center.   SPLC was founded in 1971 as a law firm to handle anti-discrimination cases and won notice for fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. But conservatives say the group has become nothing more than a liberal money-raising machine, and even some liberals have accused it of financial mismanagement and misleading fundraising practices.
    Thank you for explaining what the supreme court has declared. But I believe first we must read and understand what God has declared.
    So, the vicious cycle continues.  

  • David R. Block

    Free speech is meant to
    protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection. The way to combat speech you don’t like is with more speech. The book 1984 was meant as a cautionary tale, not an instruction manual. Not happy with the thought police on either side. 

  • Agni Ashwin

    Whether the FRC engages in “hate speech” or “hurt speech” might be debatable. What isn’t debatable is FRC’s attempt to justify legal discrimination against sexually active homosexuals. That’s not only un-Christian, but even *anti*-Christian. From the FRC website:

    Homosexuality Is Not a Civil Right

    “This pamphlet clarifies certain misconceptions about the meaning of “discrimination” (some forms of which can’t-and shouldn’t-be eliminated) and of “civil rights” (distinguishing those which limit government power from those which limit the rights of others). It also explains why homosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior.”

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  • audball

    FYI, the Supreme Court has never ruled that “money is speech.”

    The Court did rule, in 1976, not 2010, that the right of speech includes the right to spend money on speech.

    The 2010 Citizen’s United case simply said that the source of the speech doesn’t matter – speech, and spending money on it, cannot be regulated. And it did nothing to change the limits on donations to candidates, by the way, which are still in place.

  • Chris Oakes

    I would like to know if you vet the funding choices of every single restaurant and retailer which you patronize. That seems like an incredible, near impossible, task. I would be saddened to know you chose to criticize CFA’s $1k contribution to FRC, without doing due diligence with every single other business which you engage with.

    Do you really have/take the time for that?

    • Chris Oakes

      A response would have been nice – my question was a very serious one. Is your choice to not patronize Chick-Fil-A a result of your lifestyle of vetting establishments with which you do business, or is it just a nice coincidental finding that helped you fall on one side of this current issue?

      I’d like to believe you (and others) really live this out daily. I’m interested in interaction with people like that. I need to get better at it in my life. However, I find it hard to believe that someone can check $1k contributions from Ford Motor Company and Texas Roadhouse and Wal-Mart and CVS and that local eatery downtown and, well, you get the picture.

      Your subsequent post was nice. Thank you for challenging people to turn their attention to poverty by donating to a good cause.

      • Brian

        How’s this for a response? The CEOs of all those other companies aren’t doing radio interviews that draw attention to their donations. I didn’t have to research Chick-fil-a, that’s kind of the point.

  • Steve Martin

    Could you imagine how many innocent people could be hurt, all across this world, if people who disagreed with something that the owner believes, boycotted all those businesses?

    Stay away if you will, but leave others out of it.


  • Ed W

    Can you give links to the articles or documents from which you are quoting the FRC? I am curious about how and why they would link homosexuality to pedophilia. I am also curious how you have determined it to be a lie… is their research flawed or do you dismiss them on principles?

    Loved your post. It’s nice to see someone that understands tolerance requires disagreement. I will be subscribing.

  • Jenny Bennett

    Thank you so much! This is perfect.

  • Elizabeth Mercier

    What do the letters LGBT stand for?  Is the B for Bi sexual?  Do you also believe that multiple partners can be considered as “Christian”? Have you considered that Family Research Council did not fabricate their reports?  They “researched”.  Some homosexual people DO actually have the agenda FRC described.  Does it make FRC a hate group because they reported the results of their findings? 

    • Brian

      Bisexual doesn’t mean multiple partners, so you’re already losing there.

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  • Slacey11

    I am so thankful i read your post. Planned on eating at Chik for the first time ever today because I wanted to support the right to speak what you believe without it ruining what i hear is a very good business and an awesome chicken sandwich. I had no idea they supported financially a group that promotes hate. As a believer and follower of Christ, I can not support anything that is not love because God is love. Can you share how you know Chik financially supported the FRC? Is it more fuel to crush someone’s opinion and business or is it truth?

    Before I began to dig into this issue, I felt last night that I didn’t want a chicken sandwich. Why am I going to buy a chix sandwich? Something (God, you know that feeling)made me take a closer look at my actions. Confusion of not knowing the whole issue stops me. I’m a health coach and don’t eat fast food so why go.

    It’s not about your people or my people, it’s about people right. I LOVE my friends who lead a gay lifestyle and I LOVE Jesus.

    I read the FRC is doing bad things but how do you KNOW?….

  • Rowan TwoSisters

    Well said.

  • Terri Persico Rimmer

    I have a relative who’s gay and that is why I do not support Chick-Fil-A. Now I have even more reason to not support them. What is even more hurtful is I have friends and family who do support this company. It is especially hurtful to me that I have a sibling who does not support our relative who is gay and flagrantly posts her support of this company.   

  • inletcampus

    The Southern Poverty Law “Center” is a guy with  fax machine and a website. The organization is Leftist and has been discredited by their wild claims such as the one you cite. Did you not notice that one of your examples of “hate-speech” was a direct quote by a gay advocacy organization? The FRC is spot on. Get to know some gay men and you will immediately be sickened by the cult of youth that sees a potential sexual conquest in younger and younger boys. Come to South Florida where parents know better than to let their teen boys talk to single men. It’s is rampant. You need to learn something about the world before you go calling an organization like FRC a “hate group”. How absurd.  

  • Drastrozoom

    Thanks for this post. It gives me pause.

    I wonder: you reference a $1k donation to the FRC in 2010. Do we know if there have been subsequent donations?

  • Guest2050

    I might point out that Afghanistan has plenty of people who quite literally hate the U.S.A. and wish (and make efforts to cause) death upon its citizens….  And the U.S.A. gives Afghanistan BILLIONS of dollars.  How is that not funding a hate group?

    The funding amount and the notoriety of the group are an issue that shouldn’t simply be glazed over…  Did anyone ever point out to Chick-fil-A that they ‘funded a hate group’?  And what was the response?  Based on the name alone, “Family Research Group,” I could see why such a donation might be made.  And to that end Chick-fil-A should be criticized.

    But really…
    It just makes me furious that so often these rights issues all seem to be based around money.  Be it welfare, social security, or insurance rights…

    In the context of “marriage” I don’t really think it should be up to the government, (or businesses for that matter), to decide or restrict whom we can or cannot share finances, insurance, medical conditions, and entire lives.

    Vote with your money.  Vote with your feet.

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  • T.r.

    A poem for you:

    You are the bully you decry.  You are the hater you curse.  
    You are the prevaricator you denounce. 
    You are the intolerant you loathe.

    And some remarks…

    Please stop invoking Christianity and the name of Christ.  It’s an insult to those who truly follow Him and have given their lives in service to building His church.

    For you to pronounce judgement and define the motives of others as “hate” simply because their conscience, moral code and the long- and widely-held position of the diverse body of Christ on sexual behavior guides their response to an assault on their beliefs and values.  It is, perhaps, the most un-Christian behavior one can exhibit.

    If these were New Testament times, the Elders would admonish you to repent and submit to the body of believers.  Failing that, they would exercise something we know nothing of today:  church discipline.  They would ask you to leave their body as you would be an unwelcome influence in their midst.

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  • Monkeywoman

    Is there forgiveness if they realize that was a bad donation and stopped giving to them?  It’s been 2 years. 

    • headscratching

      When a high-profile person or business makes a mistake that becomes public, it is their duty to publicly admit it was a mistake if they no longer want to be associated with it. Just changing their giving plan is an attempt to avoid future criticism, but it is hard to accept it as an admission unless the person or group says, “we were wrong.”

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  • Kent

    OK come on people…not that I’m am for nor against “gay” marriage (what people do is their own business)…but to deny rights to people that are life partners is wrong…that is the bottom line…But has anyone bought girl scout cookies? I’ll bet my last dollar that the girl scouts promote the biblical meaning of marriage…Same with the goodwill and salvation army….and when was the last time anyone checked who said what and when and if it was inflammatory to any class of people before you donate money to that organization????
    The Family Resource Council sounds like it would be a nice positive organisation to donate to if you did not know their history… And just because Chick-fil-A donated $1000 to them does not mean they are supporting them or what they stand for… I’m more than certain the FRC solicited them for a donation and like any corporation they have X amount of money they donate every year for a tax write off ans because they still had money left in that “fund” they donated to them…
    The world needs to get over the fact that some people share your beliefs and some don’t and just because your views on things are different it does not mean that one person or group is attacking the other!!!
    And to quote the late Rodney King “Can’t we all just get along?”