Chick-fil-A, Tolerance and You

Tolerance (adj.): a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.


[Editor’s note: On Tuesday, 'Patch In' columnist Heather Borden Herve presented about the Chick-fil-A controversy; today, 'Patch Back' columnist Lisa Bigelow offers a counterpoint opinion.]

In case you’ve been living under a news blackout rock, let me fill you in on the Great Chicken Flap. Chick-fil-A, a family-owned fast food chain headquartered in Atlanta, inspired a vigorous wave of protests due to its opposition to gay marriage rights and financial support of pro-hetero marriage groups.

Supporters of same sex marriage — including the mayor of the city of Boston — howled in protest after the company’s president told a Christian news organization that Chick-fil-A supported the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Those who oppose same sex marriage responded by flooding restaurant locations with long lines and appreciation days.

As regular readers know, I’m . If you’re gay and you want to get married, that’s just fine with me. I think our society should support loving, committed relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. I think that “pray away the gay” counseling is insulting and silly. And we have way bigger things to worry about as a nation than whether or not Elizabeth and Amy can join in state-sanctioned matrimony.

Nevertheless, real “tolerance” comes in many forms. And I can’t help but notice that people who claim to love tolerance are tolerant only of those people who agree with their own views.

You’re pro-gay-marriage? Great, join our kiss-in! You’re an evangelical Christian? Go eat a processed-chicken sandwich and have a heart attack, you evil, hate-mongering bigot!

The people on both sides of this debate are unlikely to change their views anytime soon. But I suggest that the best way to encourage tolerance among those who oppose your view is by demonstrating tolerance yourself.

Let’s keep in mind that organized religion and faith in God – whomever you believe Him to be – has been around for thousands of years. Faith has provided the backbone of existence for generations of families in our nation and beyond.

Faith is patient. It is slow to accept change. Its bureaucracy does not respond easily to even abhorrent allegations – as a Catholic, I can tell you that firsthand. The fact of the matter is, even if same sex marriage supporters put Chick-fil-A out of business, that won’t alter a religious conservative’s viewpoint – in fact, it may result in deeper entrenchment and bitterness.

Also, let’s not forget, civil rights are for everyone, not just social liberals! The Cathy family has every right to send money to political groups that support their beliefs. S. Truett Cathy, the company’s founder, was a deeply religious man. Dan Cathy, his son, has always expressed his opposition to same sex marriage. This isn’t even the first time that same sex marriage supporters have demonstrated against Chick-fil-A.

If you support same sex marriage and it bothers you that Chick-fil-A sends some of its profits to pro-hetero groups, send a message with your dollars and eat elsewhere. Alternatively, demonstrate peace and love by taking the venom out of your actions. Spewing socially liberal bigotry via grandstanding letters, vandalism and hate-filled Facebook posts only demonstrates your own intolerance for religious freedom, and mobilizes those who oppose you into action.

But most importantly, remember that the Cathy family is expressing its Constitutional rights, as you are expressing yours. 

Lisa Bigelow August 09, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Carter, Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm not sure how my public support for same sex marriage puts me on the wrong side of history. But don't you think that protestors and advocates would better spend their energy and funds on working with legislators? Spray painting franchise locations and implying that people who follow generations-long religious beliefs are ignorant is, in my view, its own form of intolerance. Lisa B.
Susanne Krivit August 09, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I agree with Carter. The Chic-Fil-A, same sex marriage issue is not about two sides with equal possibility for intolerance. Sure, anyone with a viewpoint can behave badly and with intolerance, but this discussion like many other “social issues”, is actually about intolerance, much of it unfortunately done in the name of religion. This debate should not even be about gay marriage per se; instead it should be about our right to tell other people how to live their lives. Do I have the right to tell my neighbor how to live, if they are not impacting me (for example the way having a rooster that wakes me up every morning backyard might)? Should the government? For me the answer is a clear NO.
Lisa Bigelow August 09, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Hi Susanne, Thanks for stopping by the comment board. I agree, it is unfortunate that many who are intolerant do so in the name of religion. That's why I support same sex marriage, as I state in the piece. However, one cannot deny that matters of faith are legally protected. Vandalizing a franchise location is not. Let me ask you, if your neighbor was a member of NAMBLA (in my view, a child predator), or was amassing a small arsenal, is that your business? Lisa B.
Murphy August 09, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Cathy is not telling anyone how to live their lives, It's simply his point of view! How you guys can compare this to the civil rights movement is beyond me, he's not turning customers away because they are gay. I hope the Chick Fil A fiasco is a wake up call for the gay community that they perhaps need a new game plan, screaming down opponents is not working.
Carter Magi August 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM
ugh. Are you really going to act like I said your support for same sex marriage puts you on the wrong side of history? That is clearly not what I was saying. Read my comment again, and try hard to figure it out. Also, you can look up moral equivalence if you don't understand what it means. Are you saying that gay activists aren't working with legislators? Many, many do that. Many also protested Chick-fil-a's position peacefully. An extremely small minority vandalized a handful of locations, yet you want to paint the entire response that way. Wow . . .


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