Home Top Stories UPDATE: Chick-fil-A Responds to Criticism Over Gay Marriage Opposition

UPDATE: Chick-fil-A Responds to Criticism Over Gay Marriage Opposition

By Todd Starnes

Chick-fil-A responded to growing criticism from gay rights groups over comments made by company president Dan Cathy that he opposed same-sex unions.

Following the statement posted on the Atlanta-based company’s Facebook page:

“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.

“Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

“Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

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The president of Chick-fil-A said his company is “guilty as charged” when it comes to supporting traditional marriage and warned that gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

Dan Cathy, the president and chief operating officer, told Baptist Press that the company founded by his father was unapologetically in favor of traditional marriage.

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 “Guilty as charged,” he said. “We 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.”

In a separate interview on the Ken Coleman Show — Cathy suggested that the nation could face God’s wrath over supporting gay marriage.

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“I think 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,’” Cathy said. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Cathy’s comments contradict a statement he made last year indicating the company was not getting involved in the political debate.

Chick-fil-A has 1,608 restaurants with sales of more than $4 billion – and a value system that is deeply rooted in the Bible.

“We don’t claim to be a Christian business,”  he told Baptist Press. “But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. sot hat is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical princples, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”

 But not everyone shares those values. Cathy’s comments brought condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign.

“Chick-fil-A is swimming against the tide on the issue of marriage equality,” spokesman Charles Joughin told Fox News. “American companies learned long ago that discrimination is bad for business and with a majority of Americans supporting marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, they risk being further marginalized.”

Joughin also criticized the company’s charitable foundation for supporting Christian ministries that adhere to the traditional definition of marriage including the Family Research Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“The fact they are publicly and proudly supporting groups with an anti-LGBT agenda shows just how out of touch they are with mainstream America,” he said.

Lorraine Devon Wilke opined about Chick-fil-A’s coming out opposed to gay marriage in a column titled, “Chicken With a Side of Bigotry: Chick-fil-A’s Ungodly Business Plan.”

“Mr. Cathy can believe as freely as the next person, I do not begrudge him that (regardless of my antipathy),” she wrote. “But as the president of a company that feeds the public – the big, unwieldy, melting pot public – his stance against gays and lesbians is not only distasteful, it is stupidly counterproductive to business (and what could be holier than the bottom line?)”

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain has also come under fire on college campuses. In February, Northeastern University cancelled plans to put an outlet on campus and a New York University student launched a petition drive to close their campus Chick-fil-A franchise – the only one in New York City.