You’ve probably seen the name “Chick-fil-A” mentioned more times in the last week than in all of the other weeks of your existence combined. Therefore, I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with the story of Dan Cathy’s “guilty as charged” comment regarding anti-gay marriage opinions, and the subsequent social and mainstream media backlash and back-backlash that ensued. (If you’re not, read this GetReligion piece or this post from Denny Burke.)

This kerfuffle has lead all sides to invoke ugly, provocative, and self-righteous language, and groups have scheduled events to eat, preachkiss, and protest at Chick-fil-A restaurants in order to demonstrate their love or hatred of the restaurant. Fried chicken sandwiches have become ground zero for the culture wars.

I’d like to add my voice to the growing list of Christians (Jonathan Merritt, Eric Metaxes, Sarah Pulliam Bailey) who argue to varying extents that this entire boycott/counter-boycott method of political activism is unhealthy for our public political discourse and a poor use of our political capital. Specifically, I’m going to try to show how a careful look at the details of this issue reveals what a mess our boycott culture has made of things.

I. How exactly is Chick-Fil-A discriminating?

One of the worst parts about this debacle has been the way that all sides have glossed over or willfully misrepresented how Chick-fil-A discriminates against homosexuals. It seems like both sides are more concerned with winning the war than with its legitimacy. Various sources have claimed that this is all about:

  1. Dan Cathy’s personal views on marriage.
  2. Dan Cathy’s personal views on homosexuality.
  3. Chick-fil-A’s company-wide political stance on gay marriage.
  4. Chick-fil-A’s giving to anti-homosexual organizations.
  5. All of the above.

The correct answer is… #5. Sort of. Let’s work through these options briefly to sort out what’s really at issue here.

1. Dan Cathy clearly stated in an interview published by the Baptist Press that Chick-fil-A supported “traditional marriage” as the “biblical definition of the family unit.” However, he never explicitly states that Chick-fil-A is actively opposed to same-sex marriage. It is also true that, through its charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, Chick-fil-A has worked to support families and keep them together. But other than that, it is not clear from the interview what it means for the company to support the “traditional” family.
Some have claimed that Cathy was merely stating his personal preference here, not the company’s political stance. Most notably, Mike Huckabee, the man behind the extremely popular Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, has stated that Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, is discriminating against Chick-fil-A because of its CEO’s personal beliefs by not allowing the company to establish a business in his city. (However, a look at Mayor Menino’s letter to Dan Cathy shows that his objection is primarily to the company’s policy.)

2. Confusing matters further, Cathy also gave a radio interview where he claimed that the US was “inviting God’s judgement” by supporting same-sex marriage. However, in this interview, Cathy does not appear to be speaking on behalf of the company. It’s reasonable for customers to express their disapproval of a company’s political stance, but it’s quite another to hold the company accountable for the beliefs of one of their employees, even if he is the CEO.

In that same letter to Cathy, Mayor Menino quotes this radio interview, suggesting that either this interview has been conflated with the one published by the Baptist Press in which Cathy was speaking about the company’s stance, or Menino believes that it is appropriate to judge the company based on Cathy’s values.

3. On the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Facebook Page, Huckabee calls on Christians to support a company whose “executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values.” But are they really taking a stand?

After Cathy’s interview began to start making waves, the company released this statement on their Facebook Page (emphasis mine):

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

It seems like Chick-fil-A has realized that the best place to take a stand on traditional marriage is not over fried chicken sandwiches. But both sides seem intent on seeing Chick-fil-A as taking a bold stand for traditional marriage.

4. Nearly all the reports which mentioned that Chick-fil-A gives to anti-homosexual organizations cited a recent report from Equality Matters which claimed that “in 2010 alone, Chick-fil-A donated over $1.9 million to anti-gay causes.” But what constitutes an “anti-gay cause”? Here’s how Equality Matters breaks down the numbers:

WinShape [CFA’s charitable arm] Gave Over $1.9 Million To Anti-Gay Groups. In 2010, WinShape donated $1,974,380 to a number of anti-gay groups:

  • Marriage & Family Foundation: $1,188,380
  • Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000
  • National Christian Foundation: $247,500
  • New Mexico Christian Foundation: $54,000
  • Exodus International: $1,000
  • Family Research Council: $1,000
  • Georgia Family Council: $2,500

Kinda sorta trueish maybe prolly not actually (okay, a little bit).

The majority of the money went to Marriage & Family Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and National Christian Foundation. According to Equality Matter‘s report, Marriage & Family Foundation is anti-gay primarily because it has ties to anti-gay groups and individuals; Fellowship of Christian Athletes is anti-gay because they believe people have been “freed” from homosexuality and that the gay lifestyle is impure; and National Christian Foundation (a “grant-making foundation”) is anti-gay because some of the charities it supports are anti-gay (of course, many others are related to poverty and personal development, and I don’t think we actually know which of these charities WinShape’s money went to).

If “discriminating” includes associating with people who think gay sex is sinful, then we need a new word for what used to count for discrimination.

The only groups here that are primarily and explicitly focused on anti-homosexual or anti-gay marriage agendas are the last three, which received a total of $4,500 in donations. Most of the company’s donations do not necessarily go towards promoting an anti-gay agenda, at least not according to the evidence provided by Equality Matters. That said, it is true that Chick-fil-A has supported anti-gay marriage organizations to some extent, and so it is reasonable for those in favor of gay rights to want to boycott them as a result.

So, to recap, Cathy clearly stated that Chick-fil-A supports a biblical definition of marriage and this statement is backed up by their giving. However, many people are wrongly angry at Chick-fil-A over Cathy’s personal views and the $2 million figure given by Equality Matters is probably greatly exaggerated or at least a very rough estimate.

II. Boycott Chick-fil-A for Supporting Boycotts

Some of my favorite CFA propaganda.

One of the quirks of boycotts is that whenever a company is the subject of a boycott, they or their supporters recognize fairly quickly how unjust it is. When you are on the receiving end of a boycott, it is always coercive, fascist, and bullying. When you are the boycotter, however, it’s an exercise of free speech and the free market. Inevitably, once an issue inspires boycotts, hypocrisy springs up on all sides, as I showed with the Komen/Planned Parenthood fiasco (See “Two Can Play at That: What Komen Can Teach Us about Boycotts”).

So, it shouldn’t surprise us too terribly much that Chick-fil-A has supported a group that boycotted a company for its stance on gay marriage. Seriously.

In 2010, WinShape donated $1,000 to the Family Research Council (whose VP is a particularly shady character). Earlier this year, the president of FRC implied that a boycott would ensue if Starbucks did not stop supporting same-sex unions in Washington state. In 2008 the FRC used a boycott to force McDonalds to stop supporting the “homosexual agenda.” FRC is now urging Christians to join Huckabee’s counter-boycott, presumably so that Chick-fil-A will continue to support FRCs boycotts.

There is a culture war and this is what it looks like: Kafkaesque, economic coercion to support further economic coercion. And in the end, the side with the most power — not the side with the just cause — will win. Today that might be Chick-fil-A and their Christian fans. But tomorrow?

III. Imaginary, Marginal, Voting with your Dollars

When you consider how much time, energy, and money has been spent on this proxy culture war, you would expect that Chick-fil-A’s impact on the same-sex marriage debate would be significant. But if you look at how much money they are actually spending that could potentially go to support gay marriage opponents, boycotts seem rather petty.

Whatever your intended goal is, a boycott like the one against Chick-fil-A produces marginal results. If you ate there once a week for a year and spent $5 per meal, you will have spent $260 by the year’s end. Chick-fil-A’s anual revenue is around $4 billion, and in 2010 it donated approximately $2 million to groups considered to be anti-homosexual. That means they gave 0.05% of their revenue to these “offensive” groups. Which means that your year-long patronage generated $0.13 for anti-homosexual groups.

Thirteen cents.

Puppets vs. Chicken. Not a high point in US political dialogue.

If you decide to support Chick-fil-A in order to help the traditional marriage cause, you’d have twice the impact by just donating 26¢ a year directly to some anti-same-sex marriage group. In other words, boycotting or supporting a business in order to further a political agenda is a very inefficient method of activism. I’m not arguing that there is never a place for boycotts, but I do think we ought to use them very sparingly and with a great deal of prior deliberation.

Making Chick-fil-A the symbolic battleground for the definition of “marriage” is a poor use of our resources. Are we making a public statement by supporting or boycotting Chick-fil-A? Sure, but only in a coercive and circuitous way. Rather than deal with the issue directly, we’re devoting resources to coerce a company to adopt our values. This method of political activism leaves almost no space for public discussion about the issue, since our “activism” is comprised of buying or not buying a chicken sandwich. The purchase doesn’t convince anyone of the rightness of our cause, just the extent of our power. If we want healthy public political discourse, we need to be encouraging charitable dialogue, rather than economic arm wrestling.

In addition, these kinds of public statements get drastically diluted by regular commerce. Will the boycott of Chick-fil-A communicate to Cathy or the world that same-sex marriage is a right? Maybe, but probably not. That’s the problem with proxy cultural battles: political statements lose their force by being mixed in with non-political messages like, “I just want a chicken sandwich” or (in my case) “I think Chick-fil-A is kinda meh.” On the other hand, actual voting, or writing letters to editors, or talking to your neighbors about same-sex marriage directly addresses the subject.

So please, wherever you stand on same-sex marriage, don’t boycott or support Chick-fil-A for their marginal political stance. Give a few quarters directly to a charity. Talk with your neighbors about the issue and why you believe the way you do. If you spend a fraction of the time and money you would have spent boycotting, you will accomplish a lot more and help cultivate a healthier public square.

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out his graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.


  1. Very insightful! Thank you for encouraging people to always go to the primary source instead of getting all their news (and views) from sensationalist and instigating sources (both liberal and conservative alike)!

  2. Thanks for another great article, Alan. I appreciate you getting beyond the heat and noise and to the real facts. That should be commonplace in a news story, and an unexpected delight in an opinion piece. But news stories read more like opinion pieces, and here I am turning to an opinion piece to get the news. (I guess like Randy Stonehill said, it’s a “Great Big Stupid World.”)

    Did you see Glenn Greenwald’s article about Rahm Emmanuel’s statements on this controversy?

  3. Did you see Glenn Greenwald’s article about Rahm Emmanuel’s statements on this controversy?

    And here it is.

    I have no problem being notified by organizations I favor about actions corporations take in my community. That’s just life in the public arena. All corporations and businesses have PR to polish up their image. Cathy trashed a section of the buying public and people responded, for and against.

    Unless businesses break laws, I agree with Greenwald, gov’t entities shouldn’t play favorites.

    “It’s always easy to get people to condemn threats to free speech when the speech being threatened is speech that they like. It’s much more difficult to induce support for free speech rights when the speech being punished is speech they find repellent. But having Mayors and other officials punish businesses for the political and social views of their executives — regardless of what those views are — is as pure a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech as it gets, and beyond that, is genuinely dangerous.”

  4. Interesting, well thought out article. I would however push back on the $0.13 idea, i.e. its so insignificant you are better off doing something else than boycotting or supporting by purchasing. By that same reasoning, you should in fact not bother voting, at least when just looking at the Presidential election or statewide positions. In the 2008 election 132,653,958 casted their vote nationwide. Your one vote is a mere 0.0000007538%, hardly more significant than $0.13, if you can compare apples (votes) and oranges (money). But of course there is no national election, you vote for electors in you state which then cast their votes in the electoral college. So, if you reside in the state with the smallest absolute turnout, Wyoming, you would cast your vote with 256,034 (add one for yourself) other people. Which means your one vote is 0.000390572% of the votes cast in your state, only going downhill in percentage as you move to more and more populated states.

    The other problem with the $0.13 idea is Chick-Fil-A, like every business, has a combination of fixed and marginal costs. Whether or not you go to the eat their at a particular time, they are still paying employees to be there, not to mention still paying rent, etc. So, if you don’t buy that $5 sandwhich, they will lose a lot more than $0.13 that can be directed to donation And if you do eat there, they will have a lot more than $0.13 to donate. If Chick-Fil-A or any business suddenly (over a year) made say half of what they normally make in a year, they would certainly have less than half of what they donated previously avaialbe to donate, all things being equal (e.g. same number of locations open the same hours as before).

    That’s not to say boycotts might not be a good idea, but to argue against them because your individual impact is so insignificant is a slippery slope towards being inactive concerning all causes. Not to be cynical, but to be realistic, the vast majority of peole won’t change the world by their actions, even if they vote, right letters, make well crafted tweets and comments like this one, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try because if everyone takes that viewpoint society breaks down with a disinterested citizenry.

  5. Greg,

    Good point. I guess i would add that It’s not the insignificance of the contribution alone that makes boycotts in general a poor form of political activism, but it is part of the problem with them.

  6. If the intent is to support a political movement for traditional marriage – then I might side with you.

    If the intent is to support a company that you love when its being bullied – then your conclusion is irrelevant.

  7. What a safe approach. Cast yourself in the role of “rising it above it all” and then pronounce everyone guilty of failing to achieve your level of sophisticated thinking.

    Mr. Noble, I challenge you to climb down from your detached ivory tower and get your hands dirty.

    And, go buy some Chick-Fil-A sandwhiches and let them know you support Mr. Cathy’s RIGHT of religious freedom and RIGHT of free speech.

    Enough with this kind of tepid approach.

  8. Rev. Paul,

    Hands dirty? Don’t you mean greasy? ;-)

    But seriously, how am I rising above it all or failing to get my hands dirty? I’m advocating that people get their hands dirtier by going out and doing the messy work of entering dialogue with neighbors and loved ones about issues like same-sex marriage. That strikes me as much dirtier than buying food.

    In any case, if I came off as condescending, I apologize. I know that many people on both sides of this issue are more willing to work for what they believe in than I am, and I admire that. I’m just asking them to do it more effectively.


  9. Seriously? “They didn’t give too much money so that makes it okay” is essentially the crux of this article. What’s the magic number $100,000? $1,000,000. Because it’s only $4500 it shouldn’t count against them. Is that what I teach my son? “You only partly lied to mommy and daddy so everything is fine”. It’s okay to lack integrity up to a point. just don’t cross the line? That’s just silly.

  10. Nonsense, Alan.

    All that going out on the street to do “personal ministry” and giving directly to charitable causes is just a smokescreen. It’s a cover for people who lack the courage and conviction to purchase chicken sandwiches and re-share posts on Facebook. Are you seriously proposing, Sir, that talking to your neighbors can have the same (or even greater) moral force as eating waffle fries and drinking a cup of that yummy lemonade?

  11. I’m not sure I entirely understand your point, but to boycott or not in general seems to miss the forest for the trees. This Chick Fil A thing is a plumb line to where we are and where we’re swiftly heading as a culture. Cathy didn’t say anything that was personally degrading or even scandalous. He simply asserted his worldview when asked. Problem is, his is no longer an acceptable worldview, thanks to the raging, aggressive spirit of this age.

    Twenty-five years ago where we’re at as a culture would be unthinkable, even among the professing godless. But mindsets in the last decade have been fiercely shaped by the spirit of “Tolerance” with an absolute intolerance for opposition – so much so, that the majority of people might and probably agree with CEO Cathy (as even the blue state of California demonstrated not long ago with Proposition 8). But the people who agree *secretly* agree, because they’ll lose friends and be designated as haters and who wants that?

    There are things that society is demanding to call acceptable that Christians simply can’t. And here you have some yahoo, facist politicians saying they won’t give out a business license to the company. How long do you think it will be until those who are interrogated like Cathy and quietly speak the truth are thrown into prison? Look at the venom that was spewed on Miss California. It’s all spiritual, but it’s manifesting as political. But aside from whether one believes that, those who see this strictly as political should realize that this spells out an end to liberty, so far as freedom of speech and freedom of religion is concerned. So, while there’s liberty to boycott or patronize, I guess proceed with the measure of faith allotted? ;) But either way…pray for this nation.

  12. Alan: Time to wake up. Of course, you happen to work at an institution what has gone out of its way to distance itself from orthodox Christianity, so….you probably need to deal with that first.

    I am not impressed with your position, in fact, quite disgusted by it.

    When a faithful Christian is being persecuted simply for speaking his mind in defend of truth, it is a disgrace for people like you to criticize.’

    Man up, but then again, you won’t win friends in academic circles and you may jeopardize your future position as some kind of professor somewhere.

    When you go to your grave, in the long distant future, you will have to look back on your life and ask yourself the question, “Did I take the easy road?”

    Consider that.

  13. Alan: thoughtful, well-articulated post. You make several good points, especially since you’re a Baylor Bear. Go Bears. Oh, and by the way, if we want “healthy” public political discourse, we should probably boycott Chick-fil-a until they stop selling fried chicken.
    (“If we want healthy public political discourse, we need to be encouraging charitable dialogue, rather than economic arm wrestling.”) Just sayin’.

  14. Rev. McCain,

    It appears that you missed the point of the post. The point is whether or not boycotts are a good use of our “political capital”, not whether or not Cathy’s rights are being trampled. I’m pretty sure that Alan Noble likes Chick Fila. He just doesn’t think that a chicken sandwich shop is the best place to fight and win hearts and minds. See Chris Todd’s comment if you need help understanding that point.

    And why do you have to question the man’s integrity to boot? Bad form. You can do better I hope.

  15. Rev. Paul,

    Just to be clear, the “hard road” in this scenario is the one where I buy a fried chicken sandwich and the “easy road” is the one where I enter into public discourse about extremely controversial issues with the intent to lovingly win over opponents?


    Yeah, fattening food. And I wonder about the advertising, which, other than billboards I have not really seen. Do they entice or intentionally stir up an inordinate desire for food? But that’s way off topic.

  16. I agree with the author that name calling, picketing and slogan slinging is no way to change hearts and minds. Agape is the only thing that changes people. At the end of the day will we be able to say we were agents of shalom and reconciliation by loving our homosexual neighbors, or were we mud slinging Pharisees- eager to point out the speck in another’s eye with a log in our own? Love your neighbor as yourself. Loving your neighbor is much more costly than waving flag or a picket sign.

  17. Rev. Paul T. McCain appears to be compensating for something.

    (But thanks for taking the time to clarify you’re a Rev. in your blog-post name! It accentuates you’re hypocrisy and anti-christian demeanor much more than if you had just put you’re “person” name. I respect rude, unnecessary name calling *much* more when it’s coming from a reverend!)


    An outsider looking in

  18. Chick-fil-A is not the primary target. The idea is to take down a company that holds christian values and in doing so demonstrate that secular ideas are superior. After they destroy Chick-fil-a they will go after someone else.

    Their goal is to convince the public that their value system is superior and that the Christian value system is dangerous to society and should not be tolerated.

  19. Good wisdom Emily, Good courage Alan, thank you. Praying with you. Love very much.

  20. I just have to say one thing. I do not agree with the CEO of the companies stance. But I will not boycott on the fact that it could lead to people losing jobs. Its a tough economy out there. Working at a fast food joint was probably the last place most of these workers wanted to do. But it was the onluy place that would hire them. So by boycotting you are hurting the little man more then the big guys. Boycotting will do nothing to Dan Cathy. Thats who these people really want to hurt.

  21. Business patronage is earned by quality products, economically priced, delivered in a courteous manner in a timely way, in a comfortable atmosphere; not an automatic entitlement for simply opening the doors.

  22. Great post Alan, thank you for taking the time to illuminate the holes in this sad tapestry

  23. Rev. Paul…Cathy is being “persecuted” for his statement? Hmmm. I’m wrestling with that.


    Thank you for the post. If someone likes CFA’s service, product, and CEO’s views, eat more chicken and enjoy. If you don’t like them, the don’t eat there. Why all the Facebooking, and posturing, and bumper stickers for either side? To somehow justify our opinion to the world and feel like we’ve accomplished something?

    I agree, do something that might be more worthwhile and take more work. Ask questions, listen, talk, take time for others. Let’s make a difference with what we have right where we are.

  24. I appreciate the opinion of Alan Noble and some of the others on here. Instead of attacking Alan or those who attack Alan, write your own opinion on the subject, and resist judging the opinion of others. Let people judge for themselves weather they agree or disagree with someone elses statement. The different perspectives may help cement your own beliefs or even change some or all of them. Most issues are not black and white as peoples’ opinions make them out to be. After already reading an array of statements from various sources, I plan to take all my confusion to God and ask Him to help me understand and know what to do about it. I trust His judgement.

  25. Alan,

    You know I disagree with your findings here. I find the Cathy’s to be discriminatory, and their charity work, well, deplorable. But thanks for laying it all on the ground. No one ever has the last word, and that’s a good thing, because there is no such thing as objectivity (I’m sure of that!). Seeing the kind of crap you get from taking a pretty measured position (as our friend Carson strives to do, etc) gives me a little bit of extra respect for you. :)

    Though I still don’t give a rip about CFA’s “stance.” They’re a discriminatory family company that pulls out big-shit statements like “We’ll give ANYONE a sandwich, even if they have sex with other guys.”

  26. I think part of the issue is that if the company wants to give to “charitable” organizations then maybe they should donate their money to something tangible, like providing money to the starving families in our country or helping the impoverished – you know, kind of like what God and Jesus tells you to do. If you’re a true believer then why would you not do what he asked of you? Sure, a company has the right to do what they want with their money but what good does Marriage & Family Foundation ($1,188,380) do with that money? What true results can they show and how are they making our world a better place? They aren’t. There’s nothing to measure except intolerance and hate which is what is preached against. I would suspect there’s a lot of overhead within the organization too because where is that money going?

    As a former member of the Methodist faith I have to say that there was never a huge significance over the gay issue. Instead my church focused on acceptance and helping other people. The issue of gay vs straight doesn’t even belong in the church, no more than preaching about gluttony or any other “sin” in the eyes of Christianity. Christians now claim they are persecuted but the thing is that you’re bringing it upon yourself with these polarizing views and the attempt to save everyone and convert them to your thinking. Take a look at other religions and ask yourself how much they try to change others. Then again, Christians today don’t think there’s any other true religion than Christianity. Develop some understanding and acceptance and leave things that have nothing to do with you out of your minds and your churches. Homosexuality exists in the human and animal worlds and has for hundreds of years. Guess what, the world is still here and it’s held together by people with ethics and who have morals. You don’t need a significant religion to believe in having morals and treating others as you want to be treated. Morals are more than sexuality… so much more.

  27. Clearly smart companies don’t donate money to charities, that way no one can find fault with them. They give their money to whom it really belongs, the shareholders. Businesses shouldn’t be in the business of charity, they should be in the business of business, the business of making money. Let the shareholders decide what they do with their dividends. Most corporate charity is just another way of advertising anyways.

  28. Greg, if most corporate charity is just another way of advertising anyways, then isn’t that well within the bounds of being in the business of business, the business of making money.

  29. Rev. McCain, you speak with such hate in your heart. Dialogue with ones neighbors is always a better solution than a simple knee jerk reaction. Be better than the darkest parts of your religion, attempt to be the loving messenger and not the angry zealot.

  30. Seth, absolutely. So why are we freaking out over a company’s advertising? Eat chick-fil-a because you like their charitable advertising, don’t eat chick-fil-a because you don’t like their advertisements. We’ve got bigger chicken to fry in this country than a company’s advertising.

  31. First, thanks Alan for a thought-provoking article. I write this as I am on my way to my neighborhood Chick-Fil A. I’m hesitant to go because I really don’t like crowds. I’m sure the lines will be long and it will be an entire evening affair. I’m going to show how silly boycotts are and to show I am repulsed by the half-dozen politicians who tried to make political hay from Mr. Cathy’s words. I agree with the published stance of Chick-fil A that this is a topic better handled in political discourse. I hope the large crowds in the stores will make activists think twice before they organize another boycott.

  32. Yeah, you’ll show US by eating your artery-clogging chicken. How dare we pretend that LGBTQ people should not be marginalized?

    Boy, I hope you enjoy your polyamorous chikins…

  33. asdfghjkl; … you might want to look further into the entire scope of CFA’s charitable giving. Most of it does in fact go to efforts with tangible benefits, just as you suggest.

  34. Scott — it isn’t CFA who lacks integrity in reporting the amounts it gave to various groups. I haven’t seen CFA backing away from the numbers.

    What I have seen, repeatedly, is activists and so-called journalists treating an aggregate amount — some say $5 million, some say $2 million — as if all of it went to the Family Research Council, probably the most odious of the “anti-gay” groups on the list (it’s listed as a hate group by the SPLC), when in fact the FRC received only $1,000.

    It certainly was ill advised for CFA to give any amount of money to the FRC, and there’s nothing wrong with taking CFA to task for it. So if the amount of money doesn’t matter, why is it necessary to exaggerate it by as much as 500,000 percent? Maybe because you can generate more outrage by screaming about $5 million than you can by screaming about $1,000. Whatever the reason, it isn’t CFA who’s being dishonest here.

  35. Here’s a little dilemma I’m having, speaking of corporate executives and free speech. The following was posted to Facebook by the chairman and former CEO of the company I work for:

    Boycotting Chick-fil-A is pointless – no one’s minds are going to be changed on either side.

    That said: purely from a marketing angle, the kind of conservatives for whom gay marriage bashing is the default position should take just a wee bit of time to consider if “Biblical Family Values” is really what you want to associate yourselves with.

    Yes indeed, there are two sentences in the *entire Bible* condemning homosexual acts. However it’s more what is not only *allowed*, but frankly *rewarded* by no less than God himself throughout the Bible that isn’t so, well, family friendly:

    • Polygamy (Genesis 4)
    • Incest (Genesis 19)
    • Offering Your Daughters Up to Be Raped (Genesis 19)
    • Adultery (Genesis 25)
    • Prostitution (Genesis 38)
    • Selling Your Daughters (Exodus 21)
    • Enslavement (Exodus 21)
    • Child Murder (Exodus 21)
    • Ritual Animal Slaughter (Leviticus 12)
    • Torture of Women (Numbers 5)
    • Rape (Deuteronomy 21)
    • Mutilation (Deuteronomy 25)
    • Child Abuse (Proverbs 23)
    • Cannibalism (Ezekiel 5)

    Oh, and sins that are co-equal to homosexual acts (being a homosexual or marriage between them isn’t even addressed): eating shellfish, wearing garments made of more than one kind of cloth, and tilling all four corners of your field. It’s all in there!

    AND HERE’S THE THING: if you’re going to cite the Bible as the font of some moral position or other, you DON’T get to ignore all of the other unsavory stuff in there – that’s a smiting offense after all. It also makes you look at best dumb and at worst a calculating coward.

    Peace, love, and fried chicken.

    So, he posts something that is in some points half true, in others highly misleading (nothing in Gen. 19 condones, approves of or rewards Lot’s actions in any way … and if you know who the Moabites and Ammonites were, you understand the very negative implications of the story which claims that those nations originated with Lot’s incestuous daughters; the cannibalism in Ez. 5 is presented as punishment, i.e., one of the extreme consequences of disobeying God; etc.), in others patently false (there’s nothing in Gen. 25 about adultery, and nothing in Ex. 21 about child murder), and in all points highly tendentious … and evinces a complete unawareness of hermeneutics, then insists that his way is the only way anyone should interpret Scripture.

    Do I call him out for posting such bigoted bullshit, or keep quiet out of fear that someone who’s stupid enough to post this is also stupid enough to misuse his position as a corporate executive against employees who disagree with him?

  36. Boy, that’s a tough call, St. Ralph.

    I don’t know the size of the company you work for, but is it possible to speak with the CEO directly? (I work for a small company and I speak with the CEO nearly every day.) Do you know how approachable he is?

    If it was my CEO, in my position, I would probably talk to him privately over lunch. But I realize not everyone can do that, so I can’t give you advice.

    My guess from the list he gave is that he copy and pasted it from some anti-Christian website and probably didn’t try to verify any of it. That is foolish, but unfortunately I see it all the time.

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