I haven’t eaten fast food in many years; however as a new mom Chick-fil-A offered something quite different than other fast food chains: healthy options, freshly made food, clean space, and a great spot for play dates; not to mention the organization’s commitment to the environment. My daughter and I have made many trips to our local franchise in the last year. It became a usual spot for play dates, the go to place for dinner when I was on a time crunch (grilled chicken nuggets, fresh fruit, and chocolate milk has saved the day many times over!), and let’s not forget the perfect option for Baby S to get some play time in while Mommy connected to the free Wifi to get some work done. Yes, Chick-fil-A felt like a mommy’s dream come true.
I am embarrassed to say that I had heard rumors that Chick-fil-A was anti-same sex marriage; but I ignored all the warning signs trying to hold on to the many positives I thought the chicken chain brought to my life. With the recent blow up of Dan Cathy’s response “guilty as charged,” when asked about Chick-fil-A’s support for families led by heterosexual couples, I can no longer turn a blind eye.
Although some have tried to turn this debacle into a freedom of speech issue, Chick-fil-A has indeed participated in discrimination against the LBGTQ community. Yes, we all have the right to say what we think; however actively supporting anti-same sex marriage legislation and providing money to anti-gay groups are acts of discrimination.
Mike Huckabee has claimed that the outrage directed at Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A is intolerance and bigotry against Christians. As a Christian, I am offended. I wonder why some groups think it is appropriate to claim Jesus as their own and ignore the social justice message that has a central role in the Christian tradition. Jesus’ message was radical, about love, embracing one another, and not passing judgment. No where does Jesus call for discriminating against anyone. The reaction of so many to “break up” with Chick-fil-A as a result of Cathy’s remarks and active participation in anti-gay movements is one that represents the social justice mission of Jesus – it is a Christian reaction.
I will miss the play dates, the convenience, and even the food. But as a Catholic feminist, I believe in the mission of social justice and support every person’s human rights. Refusing individuals the right to marry based of their sexual orientation is discriminatory and it is wrong. Although Cathy claims, “as an organization we can operate on biblical principles,” he has ignored the message of Jesus in favor of a political ideal that has incorrectly been attached to the Christian tradition.
Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. is a feminist theologian, ethicist, and activist; she received her Ph.D. in religion at Claremont Graduate University focused in the areas of women’s studies in religion and theology, ethics, and culture. Gina is Director of the Women’s Living History program at Claremont Graduate University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at Loyola Marymount University and Co-founder and Co-director of Feminism and Religion. Gina has authored multiple articles and the forthcoming book Rape Culture and Spiritual Violence. She is co-editor (with Rosemary Radford Ruether) of the forthcoming anthology, Feminism and Religion in the 21st Century and is a contributor to the Rock and Theology project sponsored by the Liturgical Press. Her research interests are theologically and ethically driven, involve a feminist and interdisciplinary approach, and are influenced by her activist roots and experience working with survivors of rape and domestic violence. Gina can be followed on Twitter @FemTheologian and her website can be accessed at http://ginamessinadysert.com.