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Chick-fil-A, Tolerance and You

Tolerance (adj.): a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

In case you’ve been living under a news blackout rock, let me fill you in on the Great Chicken Flap. Chick-fil-A, a family-owned fast food chain headquartered in Atlanta, inspired a vigorous wave of protests due to its opposition to gay marriage rights and financial support of pro-hetero marriage groups.

Supporters of same sex marriage — including the mayor of the city of Boston — howled in protest after the company’s president told a Christian news organization that Chick-fil-A supported the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Those who oppose same sex marriage responded by flooding restaurant locations with long lines and appreciation days.

As regular readers know, I’m . If you’re gay and you want to get married, that’s just fine with me. I think our society should support loving, committed relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. I think that “pray away the gay” counseling is insulting and silly. And we have way bigger things to worry about as a nation than whether or not Elizabeth and Amy can join in state-sanctioned matrimony.

Nevertheless, real “tolerance” comes in many forms. And I can’t help but notice that people who claim to love tolerance are tolerant only of those people who agree with their own views.

You’re pro-gay-marriage? Great, join our kiss-in! You’re an evangelical Christian? Go eat a processed-chicken sandwich and have a heart attack, you evil, hate-mongering bigot!

The people on both sides of this debate are unlikely to change their views anytime soon. But I suggest that the best way to encourage tolerance among those who oppose your view is by demonstrating tolerance yourself.

Let’s keep in mind that organized religion and faith in God — whomever you believe Him to be — has been around for thousands of years. Faith has provided the backbone of existence for generations of families in our nation and beyond.

Faith is patient. It is slow to accept change. Its bureaucracy does not respond easily to even abhorrent allegations – as a Catholic, I can tell you that firsthand. The fact of the matter is, even if same sex marriage supporters put Chick-fil-A out of business, that won’t alter a religious conservative’s viewpoint — in fact, it may result in deeper entrenchment and bitterness.

Also, let’s not forget, civil rights are for everyone, not just social liberals! The Cathy family has every right to send money to political groups that support their beliefs. S. Truett Cathy, the company’s founder, was a deeply religious man. Dan Cathy, his son, has always expressed his opposition to same sex marriage. This isn’t even the first time that same sex marriage supporters have demonstrated against Chick-fil-A.

If you support same sex marriage and it bothers you that Chick-fil-A sends some of its profits to pro-hetero groups, send a message with your dollars and eat elsewhere. Alternatively, demonstrate peace and love by taking the venom out of your actions. Spewing socially liberal bigotry via grandstanding letters, vandalism and hate-filled Facebook posts only demonstrates your own intolerance for religious freedom, and mobilizes those who oppose you into action.

But most importantly, remember that the Cathy family is expressing its Constitutional rights, as you are expressing yours. 

John Mainhart August 08, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Certainlly, we should be tolerant of opposite points of view because all souls should be respected. Equally as important in any discussion is a clear understanding of the terms we use. Traditionally the definition of marriage has cultural,social, and political implications. It is the smallest unit in society naturally designed to improve the love and understanding of the man and the woman who commit themselves to each other for life. The children that are produced as a result of that union should benefit from the long term love of those two people also. Society can suffer great harm if we are not clear what we are tying to change bythe political decisions we make.
Dr. Robin Appleby August 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Lisa, you state that if "You're an evangelical Christian ? Go eat a processed chicken sandwich and have a heart attack, you evil, hate-mongering bigot. " Did you really mean this ?
aimee August 08, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I think the writer said this statement: "You’re pro-gay-marriage? Great, join our kiss-in! You’re an evangelical Christian? Go eat a processed-chicken sandwich and have a heart attack, you evil, hate-mongering bigot!" as an example of how the non-supporters of Chick-Fil-A are not being tolerant of those with opposing views.
Ryen August 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Marriage wasn't invented/started/instituted by "the state", Lisa. Comprehend the significance of that statement? That statement itself undermines your entire position. Where are "reasoning skills" in this country? Marriage came from Nature. Nature came from God. Whether you believe in God or not, marriage is "natural"; a biological reality that "makes sense" only between a male & female. That's a FACT. Any act/behavior/practice that doesn't meet key points & the essence of the FACTUAL reality of a traditional marriage is simply NOT marriage; it's an attack upon & misuse of the word! Like me claiming that I'm going to "marry" my cat/my horse/some perennial flowers I just adore. Same reasoning: absurd. The mental "gymnastics" that anti-marriage persons engage in! You can call them TRADITIONALISTS, conservatives, or "anti-gay" as much as you like. That won't change history, nature, FACTS, or the Bible. Heterosexuality was before homosexuality.(If it weren't for heterosexuals & traditionalists in religion-marriage, then homosexuals wouldn't EXIST nor have the freedom NOR the POPULATION to practice deviant/abhorrent/alternate behavior choices!) Only "ANTI" party here's the disrespectful/decadent/dishonest/nihilistic/politicallycorrect/fascist, anti-traditional persons who try to COMMANDEER marriage. GET UR OWN word & ur OWN tradition! YOU are the bigot & the attacker & the "anti" person & the anti-position! Stop attacking others practices, religions, & sacraments! GET YOUR OWN!!!
Ryen August 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The anti-marriage, fascist, brave new world, politically correct gay militants are the ONLY intolerant ones here. As usual, the liberals and the liberal media and the unreasonable wackos have the whole issue turned on it's head! Traditional, natural, biological marriage from nature through (later) religion was here FIRST. That is where the word comes from! Even the wacko Episcopalians refer to "man" and "woman" and "he" and "her" in their Book of Common Prayer! And they are the most supportive of gay unions. But those of us who are in traditional marriages and religions and have any reasoning skills realize this is an all-out ATTACK on traditional marriage and misuse of the word for a variety of reasons that are unethical, decadent, economic, and unreasonable. As I have said elsewhere: GET YOUR OWN WORD! Get your own church! Get your own tradition! Stop trying to commandeer and change OURS! INSANE! Wake up people! Before you are living in a "1984" where language and all freedoms are meaningless! You are headed that way!
Kevin O'Connor August 08, 2012 at 07:45 PM
You're confusing the word marriage with mating.
Kevin O'Connor August 08, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Why is that important? Ryen is implying that the word marriage is only properly used when the terms of the conditions meet the same criteria for mating. He even stated himself that regardless of religion marriage only biologically makes sense between a man and a woman. What is biological about marriage? His post describes mating, which biologically does make sense between only a man and a woman. Would that mean that marriage where one of the parties is sterile is biologically lacking sense? May I also remind you that the word marriage varies in context. Marriage for each and every religion is different and has different traditions. You can get married lacking any religious tradition and yet by Ryen it's still fine so long as its between a man and a woman. There is a failure in that logic though, people who get married lacking any religious tradition get married solely based on the legal definition of the word, which roughly is just a social contract between to parties that forms kindship. That's all. Nothing religious or biblical about it. Nothing biological. There is nothing natural about a social contract. My point is that the word marriage is has nothing biological to do with it. It may under your respective religious definition, but that doesn't mean that definition applies to all religions. Marriage is already a shared term of various religious and cultural traditions.
Lisa Bigelow August 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Thanks to all for reading and commenting. Kevin, you make some very interesting points. And Aimee, you are correct -- Dr. Appleby, nothing to fear. Just making a point. Lisa B.
Kyle Johnson August 09, 2012 at 03:49 PM
The fact is that "God" created gay folks. I challenge you to find a gay person who will agree with your assumption that it's a lifestyle choice. The whole issue boils down to this fact, you can't pray the gay away anymore than you can pray your blonde hair away. Most Christians wouldn't be caught dead talking to a gay person so they just assume it's deviant "alternative" behavior because it's easier for them to explain it that way. As Kevin says, mating IS natural to the species as a whole, but there is no natural law that says all creatures must procreate. Homosexuality can be found throughout nature, birds, mammals, even CHICKENS. It boggles my mind that millions of people stood in line for hours waiting to purchace fried chicken to stand in solidarity with their belief that gay people they've never met and don't want to even see in public are evil and should be shamed back into the dark ages.
Dr. Robin Appleby August 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Lisa, you are correct, I am not afraid. As a Libertarian, I FOR Gay Marriage. If gay folks want to get married, they should have the freedom to be married. Indeed, it was a wonderful, kind gay couple that, more than anything, helped me get into medical school. However, in these terrible economic times, with folks losing their jobs, homes, struggling to provide for their families....gay marriage is not at the top of my priorities. Libertarians are for FREEDOM and Liberty, not Big Government and the Nanny State trying to control your every move. I think you meant the article to be for tolerance. However, it was poorly written and clumpsy. You don't need to insult Chrisitans to make a point. If a gay person said that about heart attacks and being a bigot, etc. (I have a lot of gay friends and relatives and never hear them speak this demeaningly), you would use quotation marks. By not using them, it implies that it is you speaking.....which I know is not the theme of your article. I wrote to you asking for clarification, not sarcasm, since I believe that your article was sincere.
Karel Kolchak August 09, 2012 at 05:06 PM
"TOLERANT"...I am SO tired of that overused, hypocritical, big empty red balloon of a word. Anyone with eyes and ears and enough courage to be COMPLETELY honest about it, even in the face of the screaming LGBT community, knows that its societal meaning has been kidnapped by the liberals and redefined to mean, "free speech (you remember that, don't you? You know...the bill of rights and all) that is in ANY WAY, critical of the LGBT will not be tolerated, and will now be branded as being criminal (hate speech). Talk about your ridiculous, hide in plain sight, redefining of what free speech is...WOW!! It used to be that with free speech we were all equal, but the LGBT community was MORE EQUAL! Now it pretty much means that LGBT is equal, and the Christians are all unpatriotic, evil criminals! PERIOD!! ...and yes, that brings us back to the word "TOLERANT". What was once NOT tolerated because of the pesky constitution, is now tolerated. To what am I referring? It should be perfectly evident...I am referring to "HATE SPEECH" (so called) against Christians being tolerated. So, just to be sure we have the new Bill Of Rights correct... > Hate speech (so called) against anything to do with LGBT is not to be tolerated. > Hate speech (so called) against anything Christian IS to be tolerated (and celebrated). Yes, I think it is now WAY past bed time for the word "TOLERANT", let's put it to bed and restore the Bill Of Rights (warts and all).
Howard Lasser August 09, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Though I feel strongly about this issue, I have refrained from comment. But the last posters remarks shout out for a response. I offer the following from George Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island August 21, 1790: “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”
David Propper August 09, 2012 at 10:18 PM
For me, gay marriage is a big deal because when there are people out there who enthusiastically want to repress the rights of a class of citizens, that we run the risk that another class of people can have their rights repressed. Last year, The Brookfield Theater for the Arts showed "The Laramie Project". The Westboro Baptist Church threatened to come and protest that play. I saw members of this community come together (lead by our BHS students) through the peaceful Angel Action (in a torrential downpour) to show that we stand for tolerance. It made me proud to be a citizen of Brookfield.
John Mainhart August 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Mr. Proper, I do mot believe it helps anyone to redefine truth. We must accept the truth whether we agree with it or not and then teach all souls to love each other with their shortcomings. If I have a fault then you should respect me as a human being. It does not help me if you redefine my fault as a good thingi iif you know it is not beneficial for me to continue that behavior
Ryen January 25, 2013 at 03:20 AM
@ Kevin Marriage is not a "legal" term. "Marriage" began as a sacred tradition or ritual bonding a man and a woman. It was ALWAYS spiritual--not "legal" in the sense of courtrooms and "laws on the books" today. In NATURE (creation versus non-creation is a different argument), mating was a sort of basis for marriage--between a man and a woman. Has nothing to do with social contract? Do you even know what social contract means historically?? Does not seem like it. And we are talking reasonable and "reason"--not "logic". What you are calling mating was a precursor to marriage in anyone's book--and it was between a man and a woman--pure and simple. You cannot run down the road a few centuries and change that to something different--that is NOT LOGICAL or REASONABLE.
Ryen January 25, 2013 at 03:23 AM
George Washington was NOT talking about homosexuality--he was talking about spirituality (religion).... That is a fact.
Ryen January 25, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Marriage is not a "right".

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