Had homosexual activists wanted to do a big favor to Chick-fil-A, they couldn’t have picked a better strategy than the mass boycott they called to protest comments the restaurant chain’s president, Dan Cathy, made a couple of weeks ago in favor of Christian values and traditional marriage. To counter the attack, former Arkansas Gov. and radio talk-show host Mike Huckabee called on Americans to show their appreciation for Cathy and the company by making August 1 a special Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
To call the response enthusiastic would be an understatement, as countless thousands of happy customers showed up at Chick-fil-A restaurants coast-to-coast to have a chicken sandwich and say thanks to the chain’s owners, managers, and employees for responding to the attack with grace and integrity — and for standing by their convictions throughout.
While company officials have not said how many individuals made it a point to dine at one of their restaurants on the appreciation day, by the morning of the national event over 650,000 people had signed up on the special Facebook page Huckabee had created for individuals to show their appreciation and say they would participate. At many of Chick-fil-A’s more than 1,600 locations across the country, customers waited patiently in long lines for more than an hour to be served — even though “they could have driven down the road to McDonald’s and been in and out in five minutes,” reported Baptist Press News of a Chick-fil-A location in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“In Clarksville, Ind., the parking lot was packed, and cars were parked in the adjacent Lowe’s lot,” reported the BP News. “In Kansas City, Kan., a line of at least 50 people stretched outside the doors. That was also the case in Nashville, Tenn., and Ontario, Calif. And in Chicago, Ill., where local politicians had spoken against the restaurant, dozens stood outside the doors, waiting just to get inside. At some Chick-fil-As, such as in Dyersburg, Tenn., the number of people in line outside the doors was 100 or more.”
Huckabee explained that the day of appreciation for the restaurant had little to do with the battle over same-sex marriage — which is why homosexual activists and their supporters had begun attacking the restaurant chain in the first place, taking offense at Cathy’s warning that America was in danger of God’s judgment over its embrace of homosexuality. Instead, Huckabee said, the event was an opportunity to take a stand for the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and religious liberty enjoyed by all Americans.
“We’re finding out that people in America still believe that every American … has a right to an opinion,” Huckabee said. “You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to like it. But you ought to respect that people have that wonderful right. You don’t have that in North Korea. You don’t have it in Iran. And I guess if the mayors had their way you wouldn’t get it in Boston, Washington, Chicago or San Francisco.” Huckabee was referring to promises by the mayors of those city’s to work to ban Chick-fil-A from their communities.
As reported by The New American, homosexual activists and “gay marriage” proponents launched a boycott and media attack on Chick-fil-A in mid-July after Cathy was quoted in Baptist Press News as saying that he and others at the helm of the restaurant chain “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 give God thanks for that.”
Cathy noted that his views on family “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.”
Later a radio interview surfaced in which Cathy had warned that “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 should have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
Huckabee called the Chick-fil-A appreciation event to counter the vitriol and intolerance spouted by “gay” activists and liberal proponents of same-sex marriage in response Cathy’s comments. In the end, the positive exposure the company received far outweighed any negative press prompted by the attacks from the Left. The atmosphere at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the nation was nearly carnival in nature as people waited in line, chatting and sharing a sense of camaraderie over the event. “It’s festive, everybody’s upbeat — very kind,” Focus on the Family president Jim Daly told CitizenLink.com as he waited in a long line at a Colorado Springs Chick-fil-A to pick up 650 chicken sandwiches for members of his organization’s staff.
Various news outlets collected comments from participants throughout the day. “I believe what the Bible says [about marriage],” one customer standing in line told Fox News. “So I came out here to support Chick-fil-A and the movement.”
“I applaud this man’s courage to stand up for his convictions by speaking up for Christ’s teachings,” Baptist Press quoted another supporter as writing on Facebook about Cathy. “More people need to be so bold.” Another Chick-fil-A fan wrote to note that “a godly man like Mr. Cathy has awoken the Christians to make a stand. We have been silent too long. God will bless his company.”
Several politicians made appearances at their local Chick-fil-A locations, Tweeting and posting on Facebook later. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) posted a picture of himself on Facebook eating at Chick-fil-A, writing, “As a long time Chick-fil-A fanatic, I stand with Chick-Fil-A.” Similarly, “Republican Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma also tweeted his Chick-fil-A meal, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was spotted outside one of the restaurants,” reported CBS News.
While none of its members was seen at Chick-fil-A on August 1, even the ACLU came to the restaurant chain’s defense over Cathy’s comments. CBN News reported that in response to suggestions that the restaurant may be banned in Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere, Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, pointed out that the “government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words.” He added that while the ACLU “strongly supports” the legalization of same-sex marriage, “if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage.”
In response to the controversy over Cathy’s comments, Chick-fil-A released a statement saying that it is committed to treating “every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” That attitude appeared to be on display at a New Hampshire Chick-fil-A, reported Boston.com, as the manager of a Chick-fil-A in Nashua said he would donate chicken sandwiches to an upcoming state festival “celebrating gay rights.”
The restaurant’s manager, Anthony Piccola, pointed to Chick-fil-A’s tradition of treating everyone with “dignity and respect” in his decision to provide food at the festival. Boston.com said that Piccola’s announcement “followed a statement he made last week that said the Nashua restaurant at the Pheasant Lane Mall has gay employees and serves gay customers ‘with honor, dignity and respect.’”
Photo: AP Images