Excuse me if I find the recent Chick-fil-a controversy a little underwhelming. It’s not as if the company’s president, S. Truett Cathy, has suddenly come out as some sort of hard-core Christian businessman. Merely step inside your local chicken eatery, and you are hit with a deluge of corporate propaganda proclaiming the company’s rather strident stand for traditional family values. So, the fact that Mr. Cathy opposes same-sex marriage really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone (anyone who has actual eaten at a Chick-fil-a anyway). However, I do sense a rather glaring inconsistency on the part of the would-be protesters. If corporations aren’t people, how can they hold political opinions?
What is concerning is the reaction (however belated) from the increasingly radicalized homosexual agenda pushers. The mayors of both Chicago and Boston have both proclaimed their intent to use the power of government to prevent Chick-fil-a from setting up shop within their cities, because apparently, the company’s values aren’t the cities’ values. Ignoring the rather obvious negative economic consequences of such narrow-minded thinking, consider the political consequences of such a statement. Let’s assume for a moment that such government coercion of private businesses (or individuals) is permissible. Let’s assume that if a government’s “values” conflict with a businesses values, that government can prohibit the business from operating within its jurisdiction. Does that mean that a mayor of town or city could prohibit a couple of Muslims from setting up shop simply because their religious beliefs conflict with the mayor’s arbitrary definition of the town’s values? I should think not. Such bullying from the government would clearly run afoul of the First Amendment’s free exercise provisions (and arguably, the establishment clause, if one were to view these city “values” as some sort of secular religion). So, what excuses such actions when they are directed against people who happen to support traditional family models?
But such blatant disregard for the First Amendment is hardly surprising. Indeed, on this Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day, the Department of Health and Human Services’ rape of religious freedom took effect. There appears to be a concerted movement afoot to lock (almost exclusively) Christian religious expression within the confines of the church, such that your religious freedoms begin and end on the steps of the local chapel. It is an attempt to change freedom of expression into freedom of worship, an attempt to take religion from the public sphere and confine it to the much smaller individual sphere. It is a rather disturbing trend, as it seems to indicate that only the loudest and most aggressive people will be allowed to enter the public square. Debate ceases to be a battle of ideas and instead becomes a battle of tactics.
In the meantime, the controversy appears to be good for business. Chick-fil-a restaurants around the country were packed with swarms of hungry customers, some waiting in lines that stretched out of the stores and around the buildings. It’s rather encouraging to know that some people refuse to be bullied and intimated by thuggish activists. And kudos to Chick-fil-a for refusing to cede their ground. While it is a kind of sad commentary on the state of American politics that the decision to buy a chicken sandwich is now a political choice, such bravery in America’s corporate citizens is a rare sight indeed.