The chain of fast-food chicken restaurants has been the target of both praise and condemnation for its chief operating officer’s comments about same sex marriage.
Walker Baptist Association member Fred Lackey said the group chose to eat at Jasper’s Chick-Fil-A to show support for the COO Dan Cathy.
“He’s a Christian man who’s operating his business on Christian principles, and that’s what we’re all about,” he said. “We are not here against anyone or to protest anyone.”
The controversy over the restaurant was sparked by Cathy’s appearance on “The Keith Coleman Show.” Cathy spoke about the emotional disservice done to children who live in a home without a mother or father and went on to say, “I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Several organizations have decried Cathy and Chick-Fil-A since the comments, including the Jim Henson Company, which announced that it will no longer make toys for the chain. The mayors of Boston and Chicago also vowed to stop Chick-Fil-A from opening a restaurant in their cities.
One Facebook group calling for a boycott of the chain has 10,649 likes. It also cites the liberal blog ThinkProgress.org, which released an article stating that from 2003 to 2010, Chick-Fil-A donated more than $5 million to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. Those groups include the Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International and the Family Research Council, which was designated as a hate group by nonprofit civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cathy and Chick-Fil-A have also received support from celebrities like former presidential candidate and radio host Mike Huckabee, who is calling for a national Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day on Aug. 1.
A Facebook page for the appreciation day has received 3,854 likes, and more than 460,000 people have indicated they will participate in the event.
At Jasper’s Chick-Fil-A on Monday, Keith Hudson, pastor of Blooming Grove Baptist Church, said the members of the Walker Baptist Association certainly agree with Cathy’s support of traditional marriage.
“We do believe we ought to support people who take a stand like that,” Hudson said.
Mahlon LeCroix, pastor of Cordova First Baptist, said the groups opposing Chick-Fil-A are being hypocritical by denouncing the restaurant. He said it would be hard to imagine, for example, the public outcry if city leaders stopped a restaurant that openly supported gay rights from establishing a new location.
“I don’t think people should be attacked for their free speech,” he said.