By Ben Shapiro | November 21, 2019
This week, Chick-fil-A, the immensely popular Christian-owned chicken sandwich giant, caved to the cultural left.
For years, the left targeted Chick-fil-A, dating back to the 2012 revelation that Chairman and CEO Dan Cathy supports traditional marriage — and, horror of horrors, that charities given donations by Chick-fil-A support traditional marriage.
This prompted paroxysms of outrage in the media, who quickly demanded that Chick-fil-A toe the Democratic Party line, despite the fact that then-President Barack Obama did not officially endorse same-sex marriage until May 2012.
The rage of the cultural left led to unsuccessful boycotts — Chick-fil-A’s business expanded from $1 billion in 2001 to $5 billion in 2013 to $10.5 billion today — but successful hijackings of local government.
When the cultural left can’t achieve what it wants through public mobilization, it simply uses the power of government to blackmail those it dislikes.
So, despite the fact that Chick-fil-A had never discriminated against gay customers — it would sell a chicken sandwich to anyone — then-Boston Mayor Thomas Menino promised to ban the franchise from the city. Then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly followed suit, pledging to support an alderman’s plan to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant at Chicago O’Hare Airport. San Antonio recently blocked Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant at its airport, and the airport in Buffalo, New York, followed suit. San Jose, California, pledged not to renew Chick-fil-A’s lease when it ran out.
Chick-fil-A has continued to receive blowback — and the blowback has widened, helped along by a hostile media. So Chick-fil-A decided to back down and announced publicly that it will no longer donate to traditional Christian charities such as The Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos explained, “as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are.”
Well, now they’re clear. They’re chickens.
Our First Amendment culture is endangered when local governments are given the capacity to block businesses from operating, not on the basis of business discrimination but on the viewpoint of the company’s founders alone. That’s precisely what’s happening here. If giving to Christian charities now bars you from opening a restaurant at the airport, our culture is beyond the point of no return.
But there’s something even more troubling going on here. In a free country, of course we get to choose which businesses to patronize. But is it good for the culture for us to segregate our business based on examining the politics of those who own our companies? Do we really want a country where we shop based on political affiliation? Where every decision, every day, is rooted in partisanship?
America’s social fabric is already fraying. Politics has invaded everything from education to sports, from movies to fashion. Should politics now determine where we buy a chicken sandwich? A country that punishes restaurants because its founders don’t openly celebrate same-sex marriage is a country destined to bifurcate. And that’s pretty fowl.
(Ben Shapiro, 35, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller “The Right Side of History.”)
Chick-Fil-A, Your Compromise Is Demoralizing
Daniel Davis / @JDaniel_Davis / November 19, 2019
Chick-fil-A wants out of the culture war.
News broke Monday that the fast-food chain would no longer donate to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two organizations that hold traditional views on marriage and sexuality. Instead, the Atlanta-based chain will now focus its charitable giving on three causes: education, hunger, and homelessness.
Chick-fil-A says this streamlined approach will provide more “clarity and impact” in its giving. But the company’s president and chief operating officer, Tim Tassopoulos, recently revealed what is likely the real reason for the shift: Chick-fil-A wants access to new markets, and bad publicity is getting in the way.
In a recent interview with Bisnow, Tassopoulos acknowledged that Chick-fil-A had been “taking it on the chin” for years, and that recent headlines made it difficult to expand. Now, he says, they want to be “clear about who we are.”
Amid backlash from conservatives, Tassopoulos said that “no organization will be excluded from consideration” in charitable giving, “faith-based or non-faith-based.” But that’s little consolation since the signal had already been sent: Chick-fil-A wants “new markets” to know it’s made a change.
Chick-fil-A’s expansion efforts have run into obstacles in more progressive parts of the country. Just this year, Chick-fil-A lost franchise deals in San Antonio and in Buffalo, New York, and most recently in England, over its past donations to groups that hold traditional views on marriage.
The reality is unavoidable: Being known as a conservative Christian brand is bad for business in liberal cities.
“When there is a tension,” Tassopoulos said, “we want to make sure we’re being clear.”
In other words: “We’re turning a page. We’re not bigots, so please, buy our sandwiches.”
Not surprisingly, many loyal Chick-fil-A supporters feel betrayed, and they’re letting Chick-fil-A know.
Let’s Remember How Chick-fil-A Got So Big
Support Chick-fil-A Day was a critical flashpoint in all this. The company’s founder, Truett Cathy, had spoken out against gay marriage, and the progressive backlash was fiece. Gay couples staged kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country in protest.
That’s when Chick-fil-A received a groundswell of support from sympathetic customers. Cars wrapped around blocks as loyal supporters, like myself, waited their turn to buy food and express their appreciation.
Chick-fil-A took on transcendent meaning that day. It proved to us, and to the world, that Christian conservatives could band together and help each other succeed in the face of ugly taunts and bullying. It proved that we didn’t have to submit to progressive orthodoxy on sexuality. We could be true to our convictions and still succeed.
Chick-fil-A’s courageous stand earned it millions of loyal customers. That year, 2012, was pivotal for the company’s earnings. Despite the “bad PR,” Chick-fil-A sales soared by 12% and then by 9% the following year.
Today, Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast-food chain in America. It turns out being true to your convictions doesn’t have to be a business killer.
That raises the question why on earth Chick-fil-A thought ditching its convictions could ever be a good idea.
If Chick-fil-A made this decision for business reasons—and that’s undeniably clear from the president’s statements—it reflects an abysmal miscalculation. Chick-fil-A apparently thinks it can part with its convictional past and win the favor of progressives without losing its loyal base.
What naiveté. If there’s any basic rule of the culture war, it’s that the left will never love you if you have held to traditional Christian values. Their affection is fool’s gold.
GLAAD, one of the nation’s leading LGBT organizations, says Chick-fil-A’s new giving philosophy should be met only with “cautious optimism” because after all, it still has a long way to go. Chick-fil-A must fully repent of its sins by “unequivocally [speaking] out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents.”
There is no mercy for bigots. Only perpetual demands for self-flagellation and the disavowal of former convictions.
Chick-fil-A thought it could straddle the culture war. Its naïvete is backfiring.
God and Mammon
Chick-fil-A, like all companies, exists first and foremost to make money. That’s not an evil thing. It’s perfectly valid, and it’s a fact of life. Profit is king in the business world, and any conviction that doesn’t translate into dollar signs inevitably becomes a liability.
Chick-fil-A has reached a juncture where further expansion will have to come at the price of conformity to the values of new markets. That means it will have to choose its master: God or mammon. And as the Scripture says, you cannot serve both.
Chick-fil-A’s choice—mammon—is particularly disappointing because there was no need for it. Chick-fil-A had slain the fast-food dragon. It had won.
What message does its caving to pressure send to smaller, less powerful Christian companies? If Chick-fil-A can’t thrive while giving to traditional Christian ministries, what other business can?
And what message does it send to LGBT activists and agitators? It tells them they can win, if they just bully Christian organizations for long enough.
Also, consider that Chick-fil-A’s decision comes at a time when other corporations are actually going beyond their consumer base and pushing truly radical ideas. Consider Sprite’s recent advertisement that glorifies gender transition.
Or consider Mattel’s recent release of gender-neutral dolls for kids. Or Converse’s new line of pride-themed gear featuring LGBT youth and a child in drag. Or the litany of other companies supporting Pride Month.
I don’t think the market is driving these trends. These companies aren’t chasing the sexual revolution; they’re driving it. The higher-ups in the Fortune 500 world want to out-virtue-signal their friends in other companies, and they’re getting way out ahead of the market to do so.
Why can’t Chick-fil-A be half as bold?
A Dimming Light
To me, and to many other Americans, Chick-fil-A means more than a great chicken sandwich and waffle fries. It means more than sweet lemonade on a hot day, a warm greeting, and “My pleasure” at the window.
Chick-fil-A means that in a dark world, Christian entrepreneurs can make it if they create a good product, build trust with their customers, conduct themselves with honor, and stand nobly by their convictions—whatever may come.
With every retreat, Chick-fil-A will lose a piece of what’s made it so special, and the light it has been will dim.
So, Chick-fil-A leaders: Please, realize what you’re doing. Realize the stewardship role you have in a darkening culture. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. We need you to remain a lampstand in our world.
Chick-Fil-A, Your Compromise Is Demoralizing