If you use social media, own a TV, or read or hear news anywhere, chances are you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the fast food chain Chick-fil-A. If you do not know what I am talking about, allow me to offer a little back story:
The controversy started about six weeks ago when Dan Cathy, the son of Chick-fil-A’s founder and the company’s current president and chief operating officer, told a radio talk show host, “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.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” Then, two weeks later, the Baptist Press published an interview with Mr. Cathy, in which he said, “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Following Cathy’s comments, the Jim Henson Company announced that it was ending their licensing arrangement with Chick-fil-A. Until then, Chick-fil-A had been offering Jim Henson toys in kids’ meals. However, after the Jim Henson Company ended the deal, Chick-fil-A attempted a little spin control, telling customers that the toys had been recalled.
Here is the text from a sign reportedly found in a Plano, Texas store:
“We apologize for any inconvenience but as of 7/19/2012 Chick-fil-A has voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal Toys due to a possible safety issue. Please be advised that there have not been any cases in which a child has actually been injured, however there have been some reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets.”
Now That We’re All Caught Up
Let me state that I do not agree with Mr. Cathy, nor do I think he is acting in the best interest of the company he runs, but regardless of my feelings, the man has the right to say what he said. His words may well be ignorant and close-minded, but it is how he feels and he is entitled to say so when asked about it. For those familiar with Chick-fil-A, Mr. Cathy’s stance on this issue shouldn’t be surprising. The Cathy family and the company as a whole have never been shy about their religious beliefs and that they run their company in accordance to those beliefs. For instants, the company has always been closed on Sundays so that their workers can go to church and spend time with their families.
I’ve heard some people say that the media and liberals are making too big of a deal out of this. Sure, if you know much about this company, you’re probably not shocked with Mr. Cathy’s stance on gay marriage. However, I think the reason why this has become such a national story is that there are significant parts of the nation were few or no Chick-fil-A restaurants exist. To people in these parts of the country, they may know nothing about Chick-fil-A or the Cathy family.
It may not be the best business decision for the head of a company to take stances on major political issues. However, Chick-fil-A is a private, closely-held company and therefore, as COO, Mr. Cathy doesn’t have public shareholders to consider. What he should have considered, in my opinion, is the franchise owners in his company. Chick-fil-A does not own it’s 1,600 plus stores; franchisees do. Men and women who have put up tens of thousands of their own dollars to open a Chick-fil-A franchise. These businesspeople may share Mr. Cathy’s views on gay marriage. Then again, they may not. Either way, protestors are forming outside of their restaurants and boycotts threaten the businesses that they have built using considerable time and money, all because of Mr. Cathy.