Monday, July 30, 2012

Larry Mendte is wrong about Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A

My Philly Post colleague Larry Mendte says this morning that people who boycott Chick-fil-A over Dan Cathy's stance on gay marriage are probably being hypocrites.
I need to get my car inspected this week, but first I have to send my mechanic a short survey to find out where he stands on a number of controversial issues. If he disagrees with me, I can’t possibly give him my business. And when I go to the supermarket, I need a grocery list of how the makers of each of the products I plan to buy stand on gun control, abortion rights and immigration. 
It sounds awfully silly, but that seems to be where we are heading after the Chick-fil-A gay marriage controversy.
Well, no.

The reason Mendte doesn't know about the political positions of his mechanic or grocers is because those folks probably haven't actually publicized those positions.  Dan Cathy, on the other hand, sat down for an interview with the Baptist Press that was explicitly designed to promote the link between the business and "Biblical values."

Here's part of the rest of the interview:
Cathy believes strongly that Christians are missionaries in the workplace. "Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community," he said. His goal in the workplace is "to take biblical truth and put skin on it. ... We're talking about how our performance in the workplace should be the focus of how we build respect, rapport and relationships with others that opens the gateway to interest people in knowing God."
Now, there's something kind of admirable about this. There are plenty of Sunday Christians who leave their sense of morality and ethics in the sanctuary when they go to work the rest of the week; Cathy isn't one person at church and another at the office. So, you know, great.

But: Cathy has also made it his mission to publicize the thread between his faith and the way his business operates.  He has made "Biblical values"—and, specifically, "traditional marriage"—part of the Chick-fil-A brand.

That's his right. It's also the right of consumers to decide they don't care much for that brand. (It's not the right of government to punish Cathy's business for that stance, however.) It's not hypocritical for them to decide they'd rather spend their chicken sandwich money elsewhere.

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