“We’re in full support of Chick-Fil-A and the stance they took for Christian moral values,” said Neal Fowler, pastor of Sanctuary Church of God on Fall City Road, as he waited in line in Jasper.
National Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, an event initiated by radio host and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, saw more than 638,000 people sign up to participate.
The controversy over the restaurant began with president Dan Cathy’s appearance on “The Keith Coleman Show” in early July. Cathy spoke about the emotional disservice done to children who live in a home without a mother or father, and he 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 restaurants in their cities. And one Facebook group calling for a boycott of the chain has 10,649 likes.
Many progressives say the issue is not over Cathy’s comments, but his company’s support of organizations that rebuke same-sax marriage. The liberal blog ThinkProgress.org released an article stating that from 2003 to 2010, Chick-Fil-A donated more than $5 million to groups like the Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International and the Family Research Council. The nonprofit civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council as a hate group.
Despite the outcry from groups supporting same-sex marriage, Chick-Fil-A restaurants across the nation saw results similar to those in Jasper. Newspapers in Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia reported franchises inundated with customers on Wednesday. Birmingham-area conservative talk show hosts devoted hours to the topic, with callers checking in from Chick-Fil-A locations throughout the state.
Brenda Lambert stood in the line at Jasper’s free-standing Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday and said she fails to see the controversy over Cathy’s statement.
“I think he has the right to freedom of speech,” she said.
Wanda Wilder also framed the debate as a First Ammendment issue as she waited in line at the Chick-Fil-A in the Jasper Mall.
“I think anybody has the right to say what they believe even if they have a company,” she said.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced recently that National Same-Sex Kiss Day will take place on Friday at Chick-Fil-A locations across the country.
Organizers of the event, which is also known as Kiss More Chiks Day, say the celebration was created on July 19 and is not a response to Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. They are, however, encouraging all same-sex couples who participate in the event to post pictures of their kiss on the event’s Facebook page.