The gay vs. the chicken: How to fight Chick-fil-A and look good

Posted on February 6, 2011


Gay marriage groups don’t like Chick-fil-A’s recent donation of its slap-yo-face-good sandwiches to an anti-gay-marriage group for a seminar. Instead of a PC apology, the southern chicken sandwich chain responded by reiterating their convictions about marriage but with the sweetness of their famous iced tea. Video of that below.

I get it: The Atlanta-based company is expanding into the Northeast. It’s taking its beliefs and practices and attempting to plant them in a part of the country that lives by different rules. They’re stretching their reach, so they should expect scrutiny. But before gay marriage equality groups again go on the offensive, I have some tips.

It’s been a while since my name has been on a church membership roll. But I’m an evangelical in Texas who believes in gay rights. (Yes, we exist.) Chick-fil-A is an institution down here. It’s the only chain anything that still closes on Sundays, which is counter-cultural anymore. It’s where soccer teams, church groups, families and just about anyone goes who likes Ice Dreams, sinful (wink wink) milkshakes, chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.

The company treats their workers great compared with other fast food restaurants and provides better-than-average pay and benefits. I have NEVER walked into a Chick-fil-A and it not be packed to fire code with patrons. Never stingy with the condiments – anything you’d want, from BBQ sauce to boysenberry jelly to honey mustard is set out and available for the taking. None of this two-packs-of-ketchup-unless-you-beg-for-more business. I have also never been to a Chick-fil-A that looked dirty or in violation of health codes and I’ve never received anything but friendly, easy service from its fairly diverse workforce.

Don’t treat Chick-fil-A like an “enemy”. If you’re not careful, you will look desperate and ridiculous going after them. No vilifying. Respect the fact they’re a private company with the private rights of such. No biting language that equates patronizing their restaurant with gay-hating. You’ll make them stronger, not make them relent. Their corporate culture really does have more heart than most, so appeal to that. A boycott is just fine — that can be effective. But turning the tide of a conservative, southern institution takes patience, and it takes manners. Chip away at them in a conciliatory, peaceful way. The way Jesus would have.

It’s a page from the Civil Rights’ very successful playbook: “Heaping coals of fire” on your opponent’s head. Persistence and peace. Peace and persistence. There’s nothing that makes we Christians feel worse than when an ‘outside’ group acts more like Jesus than we do.