Last week, I came across this Huffington Post story from Shane Windmeyer, Founder and Executive Director of Campus Pride. Campus Pride organized the boycott of Chick-Fil-A due to the company’s support of organizations that are considered anti-LGBT. Shane shares the beautiful story of his recent friendship with Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy.
The Chick-Fil-A boycott generated tons of media attention, and the responses to it were interesting. Most of it I found ridiculous, especially when being for/against Chick-Fil-A was turning into a core belief for many.
This has bothered me with Christians. We turn menial things into absolutes with following Jesus. When I was an intern at Westside Church, we did nothing to associate ourselves with Disney due to the Southern Baptist boycott. I heard more about boycotting Disney than being implored to do many of the things God calls Christians to do.
I like Chick-Fil-A. I’ll go out of my way to eat there, but it’s a fast food establishment. Eating there is not part of the Christian faith.* I didn’t like how supporting Chick-Fil-A was being equated with enduring persecution and “carrying one’s cross” by some.
*Of course, people would say, “Well, no one is saying that!” No one is saying it explicitly, but the actions say otherwise. It’s like how Nebraskans don’t explicitly say they worship Husker football, but their actions say otherwise when their lives revolved around it.
It was bothersome to me that eating at Chick-Fil-A was considered part of the Christian faith for a short time. Some conservatives would frame it as this, “Hey, are you going to go support Chick-Fil-A today against the homosexual agenda?” I found myself staying away, at times, because of the over-the-top support by others.
The flipside being those who were against Chick-Fil-A. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to pile on companies we don’t use. I thought one of the best things someone said, when sharing how they were boycotting Chick-Fil-A, was how they didn’t want anyone to ask the founders of In-N-Out what their stance on marriage is. They revealed they liked In-N-Out, and hinted they wouldn’t be as inclined to boycott them.* Of course not. We’ll tolerate a lot with products/services we like.
*Best example of this? Apple.
One of the things Shane’s story highlights was the ongoing dialogue he had with Dan behind the scenes. Dan and Shane didn’t change any of their beliefs, but the dialogue Shane and Dan had bridged a divide. They came to understand the other better, and their motivation behind what they did. Dan and Shane became friends, and risked scorn from their peers over that. It was awesome to read about.
The boycott shined a light on how Chick-Fil-A business practices appeared to a segment of the population as offensive. This can sometimes be troublesome for Christians to grasp. It’s something I’ve learned about in recent years, and have tried to change. Christians don’t realize how certain words and actions can come across to LGBT individuals as offensive. (I didn’t for the longest time.) Christians may think, “Well, it’s Biblical!” Maybe, but you know what’s even more Biblical? Jesus. Loving others. Sharing the good news. Being a light and hope to the world. We can change our tone and actions without compromising our beliefs. This is important when we live in communities with others that have differing beliefs and values.
What is the value we are putting forth to our communities with our actions and words? Jesus, or eat at Chick-Fil-A because they stand against the homosexual agenda?
Reading about Dan’s approach to the controversy, from Shane’s perspective, was a clinic in how Christians should approach/interact/love others who vehemently disagree with them. Chick-Fil-A changed while not compromising their beliefs. As Shane said:
Instead, they chose to be patient, to engage in private dialogue, to reach understanding,and to share proof with me when it was official. There was no “caving”; there were no “concessions.” There was, in my view, conscience.
This is why, after discussions with Dan and Chick-fil-A, Campus Pride suspended our campaign. Like Dan, we had faith. It took time to be proven publicly.
Now it is all about the future, one defined, let’s hope, by continued mutual respect. I will not change my views, and Dan will likely not change his, but we can continue to listen, learn and appreciate “the blessing of growth” that happens when we know each other better. I hope that our nation’s political leaders and campus leaders might do the same.
A few days ago, my family and I drove to Kansas City to spend some time with my sister and her family. When we arrived in KC, we picked up some Chick-Fil-A. I had a funny and interesting first thought. “It’s nice to be able to enjoy Chick-Fil-A again without the silliness.” I wasn’t trying to make a pro-conservative, Christian culture statement by eating there. I just wanted to enjoy some waffle fries and sweet tea.*