Freedom of Speech and Marriage, and Sandwiches…

I made a Facebook post today about freedom of speech. I said, “Publicly supporting traditional marriage is not a hate crime. Supporting organizations that work for the cause of traditional families is not bigoted. Aggressively attempting to ostracize people who do the above is bigoted. An America where one is actively persecuted for gently expressing one’s beliefs is not a worthy America.” One friend took issue with it and challenged me to look at it differently in the Chick-Fil-A case. I was trying to keep it broader than that one case, but obviously it was the reason for my statement coming at this time. I was basing my comments on the rather tame recent comment by Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A which was originally quoted in the media to the effect that the business supported the traditional view of the family and that they were a family business who tried to live out the values in their family. That was enough to set off a firestorm. I still say that shouldn’t be.
Yet, in the meantime, other information has come to light about the company and its political involvement. A friend made me aware that at least one of the groups they have donated to, the Family Research Council, has a great sounding name, but some questionable tactics “…which has been identifed as a hate group by the SPLC for publishing inaccurate claims which attempt to link homosexual men to pedophilia. the SPLC has been considered a resource for hate crime research by the FBI since at least the George W. Bush administration (George W Bush being a president who attempted to pass an amendment defining marriage the same way Dan Cathy/Chick Fil A would like). So there is some relatively objective evidence that their money has, in fact, supported hate crimes.” Then, I saw Dan Cathy went on to make other more bold statements in public settings and previous statements came to light. As an individual, this is fine. But it starts to change when he begins making it a public agenda item as a CEO and giving company money to more radical groups. And this is a very tricky subject area. But Christians can end up shooting themselves in the foot if they start trying to make their own conscience the law of the land. Even Jesus did not run for political office. In fact, he avoided it saying His kingdom was not of this earth. I think he meant not limited to an earthly political domain. He didn’t go around telling non-believers how they should live. He spent more time trying to draw them toward God’s love, while telling believers to clean up their act! He thought it was better to win the hearts and minds of the people, rather than just seeking to change laws.
What followed on Facebook was a great discussion with some friends from High School, one of whom agreed with me about my moral convictions on marriage and the other who didn’t, but handled himself in such a positive and respectful manner that it was a beautiful sight. I concluded along the way that Chick-Fil-A is completely awesome at making sandwiches and running a business where Christians are a little freer to live their conscience of worshiping on Sundays. But the blurry lines about business funds and personal convictions come into play. And in the end, I can’t fully support them. I’m glad they’re Christians who have conviction, but that doesn’t automatically get my vote. How we live that out matters, both for me and for Dan Cathy. I have been able to fully support his sandwiches however. I’ll be watching closely what they do in the next few months. Hopefully, I haven’t had my last chicken sandwich with a Diet Dr. Pepper. (Why doesn’t anyone else have Diet Dr. Pepper?). But, even though I’m a conservative Christian, maybe I have…

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Posted on August 2, 2012, in Spiritual Formation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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