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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, just as you are expressing yours. 

Watts August 09, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I have been protesting Chick-fil-a since the first time that I ate at one, all based on how bad the food was. All that anybody knew about this chain before was that they were closed on Sundays and the only thing that has been added to the collective social knowledge base about this company is that the COO doesn't believe in equal rights for everybody and that they contribute a ton of money to groups with oppressive agendas. Maybe these guys should work on the crappy quality of what they serve and maybe someday they will actually be known for what restaurant chain should be known for...its food. Right now, most people don't know anything about this company except for their religious based social and political agendas. Is that really what a fast food restaurant is supposed to be known for?

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