Chick-fil-A Flag Raising

I firmly feel that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want.

If you believe that the world was created in 7 days and that the omnipotent creator of the universe allowed his only son to be sacrificed to redeem the sins of humanity, good for you.

If you believe that a pantheon of gods and goddesses directly oversee many aspects of life on earth, such as seasons, tides, weather, the harvest and death, more power to you!

If you believe that the universe was sneezed out of the nostril of a giant space goat, I suppose that’s just as valid as any other theory. I’ll come back to this.

Chick-fil-A is a restaurant where Sara and I take the kids when we don’t want to cook, don’t have any left-overs and don’t feel like cleaning up. As far as fast food goes, it’s the only place we go and there are several reasons for this, beyond the fact that McDonald’s is disgusting.

The stores themselves are very family friendly, offering healthier choices in kids meals, such as apple sauce and white milk. Most of them have play places to keep children amused and, during the summers, several of the stores have people making balloon animals and doing face painting for children and very short adults.

This company has done many good things that are in line with conservative Christian dogma. While they are against abortions, they waged a vigorous campaign in favor of supporting adoption.

Chick-fil-A Adoption

Not too bad, right?

The company itself run the WinShape Foundation, which runs 11 homes spread throughout the Southeast United States that serve as foster homes for children who are “victims of circumstance and need a secure family environment.”

If one were to boil down the teachings of Jesus to a simple idea, it would be to love and support everyone, especially those less fortunate. This aspect of the WinShape Foundation appears to be a wonderful example of people inspired by the teachings of Christ to do good in the world. Chick-fil-A should be applauded for this.

Chick-fil-A family

The only “family” I found on the Chick-fil-A site.

Today, I read an article that states that the president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, told a Baptist web site that his company supports families as long as they are “the biblical definition of the family unit.” This, in spite of the fact that the only “family” picture I could find on their site seems to be a single mother with her son.

Ignoring the idea that, in spite of what Mitt Romney says, companies are not people and cannot support anything, (only the people who run the companies can support things) I find this statement upsetting.

The rest of the WinShape Foundation time is spent on “enrichment retreats to refuel healthy marriages as well as counselling to help strengthen troubled marriages” and offering camps and courses to local young people to teach them the ways of Christ.

I won’t go into the fact that Jesus never mentions homosexuality at all in the New Testament, or any of the contradicting rules that lie therein (oops). If Dan Cathy believes that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry, that allowing such would be shaking our fist at God and “inviting His judgement,” then he is more than welcome to hold those beliefs.

If he wishes his company to stand for those values, then he may certainly take it in that direction.

I, however, will not be coming along for the ride. Neither will my children.

As a parent, I feel a major part of my job is to teach my children about the world, how to survive in it, and how to help others survive. I know that there is hatred and bigotry in the world. I know that intolerance exists and will always rear it’s ugly head.

Many parents wish to shelter their children from the unpleasantness in the world. They don’t want them to know suffering, or teasing, or hate, or fear. I think this is foolish and short-sighted. Rather than shelter my daughters from the awful things in the world, I hope to teach them that such things do exists, and how to cope.

Intolerance makes me sad!

No matter how a person lives their life, they will disliked, ridiculed, teased, taunted and abused. It is up to us to decide how we deal with adversity. Will we cower in the corner, shouting anger at the world that mistreated us, or will we stand up for ourselves and live the lives we want to live?

I want my children to know that there are people who are made uncomfortable by, dislike, or even outright hate people who are different than they are. This is simply a fact of life and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and prejudices.

Because of this, I will also be teaching my children that we do not have to support those who make decisions based on fear and anger. If Chick-fil-A wishes to oppose gay marriage as a corporate stand, they are allowed to do so.

I will not, however, use my money to support a company that makes decisions based on hatred, bigotry and intolerance. There are simply too many other places to spend my money.

While I strongly disagree with their stance, I will not scold them for having it. I will simply make the statement that they have lost me and my family as customers.

Continuing to support their business would be sending the wrong message to my children, whom I wish to grow up as tolerant and loving individuals.

(This story originally appeared on Justin’s blog)