Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and Arkansas governor, has announced that August 1 will be “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” His Facebook post begins: “I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld.” Huckabee says that “no one is being asked to make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate.” Rather, he simply wants people to eat at Chick-fil-A on August 1. He made it clear that the company is not proposing or promoting the day.
What are these “vitriolic assaults”? Why has Chick-fil-A been targeted?
The company was founded in 1946 by Truett Cathy. His son Dan is now CEO, leading 61,000-plus employees and 1,608 restaurants. Last year their sales exceeded $4 billion. In a recent interview, he explained their company strategy: they are “based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make.” Cathy leads employees to give customers “second-mile” service (Matthew 5:41) and believes that “our work should be an act of worship. Our work should be our mission field.”
When asked about his company’s support for traditional marriage, Cathy said, “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.”
Their stance has generated the criticism to which Gov. Huckabee is responding. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston.” Northeastern University has refused to allow the franchise on campus. The group behind “the Muppets” has “notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.” And “National Same Sex Kiss Day” has been planned for August 3, to be staged at Chick-fil-A’s around the country. Asked about their critics, Cathy responded: “We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Can you imagine such a controversy even ten years ago? How should Christians defend biblical truth in a culture like ours? It seems to me that Dan Cathy’s response follows scriptural guidelines: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16). The right stance in the right spirit—how will you demonstrate both today?