The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


August 12, 2012

Cathy's free speech finds support with conservatives

The Dothan Eagle on Chick-fil-A politics:

If, in 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had possessed the sort of influence evident by the overwhelming national response to his “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” initiative Aug. 1, he might have become president.

Reacting to the gay marriage controversy stemming from remarks by Dan Cathy, president of the fast-food restaurant chain, Huckabee urged those who share the “traditional values” held by the company's management to show support by eating at a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

The turnout was greater than many imagined. But then so was the original furor, which, frankly, looks a lot like an ambush.

Chick-fil-A was incubated in Atlanta by Truett Cathy, Dan Cathy’s father, who delivered the chicken sandwich to the fast-food industry. Anyone who knows anything about the elder Cathy knows he is a deeply religious man. Even those who know nothing about the origin of the restaurant or the beliefs of its founder might have noticed that Chick-fil-A restaurants — all of them — are closed on Sundays, which should be a strong hint that there’s a matter of faith involved in closing when one’s competition is open.

Recently, a writer for Baptist Press, a news service dedicated to Christian Baptist news, wrote a profile of Dan Cathy and the company’s adherence to biblical principals — and belief in the biblical definition of the family unit.

It’s not as though Dan Cathy actively declared war on homosexuality. It was a passive affirmation of a Christian value system that has guided the Cathy family and its chicken empire since long before the business was hatched.

The reaction has been an interesting study in sociology. There are those on both sides of “the issue,” although what's at the center of the maelstrom isn't quite clear. Is the conflict over Christian/traditional/conservative beliefs? Is it about gay marriage? Is it about free speech? Is it — forgive us — a clever campaign to get folks to “eat mor chikin?” ...

No, we suspect that the criticism of Chick-fil-A struck a raw nerve in a Wiregrass whose embrace of conservative values mirrors that of the Cathy family, and who have gotten a bit weary with attacks on Christianity, whether real or imagined. Couple that with our stubborn resistance to the inference that one cannot freely speak one’s mind, an organized day of support and the opportunity to buy a fine fried chicken dinner, and we'll turn up in droves.

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