Home-style Chikin Fellowship

Leaders of Chick-fil-a, I first want to extend my sympathy towards you after the loss of your vice president of public relations, Don Perry.  Public figures are often targets of hateful attacks, even in their deaths, and I am saddened to hear that there are so many people spewing hateful rhetoric in the wake of his death.  There is no reason to dance on the grave of anyone.

I also hope your claim is true that it was not anyone in your PR department who created fake Facebook profiles using stock photos of teenagers in order to booster your company’s reputation.  I believe your denial that you did so, although we would hopefully agree that whoever did so was guilty of lying and deceit.  I hope that your denial, which represents a denial that you would stoop to such a low place, encourages other people and organizations not to use stock photos to represent people who do not exist.

Leaders of Chick-fil-a, although you operate as one of the many fast food chains in this country that we frequent too often, you do present food that is an adequately healthier alternative to many other fast food, steakhouse, and fry-everything restaurants.  Your chicken-only menu promotes eating of healthier meats among Americans, who are notorious for eating too many meats to begin with.  And although your food is not the healthiest available to the public, it is fairly cheap, and therefore affordable to the poor.  I do wish your wages for your workers was greater.  Is there a possibility you can improve it?

I do hope that you are not guilty of serving meats that contain chemicals linked to causing cancer, as you have been accused of, and so I pray that the matter is resolved soon, that you are found to be innocent of this charge, and that if found guilty you will comply with federal food service laws in the future.  I also hope that you pursue even further innovations to make your food even healthier to the public.  I’m confident that a family-friendly business like yourself will remain conscious of the potential hazards of certain prepared foods that could cause illnesses that devastate families.

I am also thankful that you sponsor the Kyle Petty Charity  Ride Across America, and that your spokeperson, Truett Cathy, is involved in supporting foster homes, giving scholarships, assisting education and other initiatives.  I hope that your efforts inspire companies all over, including yourself, to further consider how you can use your business to contribute to reducing poverty and suffering in the world.

Your spokesperson, Truett Cathy, believes the company exists “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” and I hope you pursue other opportunities to do that with the food you serve, and how you serve it.  I also encourage you to look to the foodservice models of such restaurants as Panera Bread, who uses preservative-and-antibiotic-free chicken and even offers a “pay for what you can” restaurant in some locations, for inspiration in fulfilling your Godly commitment in even more ways.

Mr. Cathy also desires to “have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”  I am glad that you are willing, then, to serve anyone from any and every background, and do not discriminate to anyone who comes to you wishing to buy food and enjoy your atmosphere.  I am glad that you do not openly have any stated policies that prohibit hiring anyone on the basis of race, religion, or gender orientation, despite what a recent hoax of fake “now hiring” flyers says about you.  I am also glad to see that your chicken-only policy is a friendly gesture to Jewish, Muslim and Hindu patrons.

I am especially thankful that your restaurants are closed on Sundays, not to mention the religio-civic holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  As Mr. Cathy himself says, “I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business.”

In this society, it is ever important to boldly demonstrate a fearless commitment to the concept of a “day of rest”, of taking time to rest from the hustle and bustle of trading, and set aside time for things more important than making a profit, of giving a rest to our bodies, our tools, the land, and our souls, so that we can “quiet” our day.

It is often the habit of us Christians, when not hosting meals among ourselves as a spiritual family, to exit our worship gatherings on Sunday and conveniently go to a restaurant where others serve us food.  I admire your example, for as Mr. Cathy himself has said, “I don’t want to ask people to do that what I am not willing to do myself.”  If he does not want to work on Sundays because it may interfere with the time he has set aside for spiritual gatherings, he does not want to expect his employees to work either.

I hope that more businesses follow that example, and that more Christians in return reconsider making a habit of frequenting restaurants on Sundays and instead making and eating meals together.  It is important for families to make and enjoy meals together at home, especially on a spiritual day of rest, and so of the closing your restaurant on Sundays is the most pro-family gesture you make.

I have been inspired by your example of closing on Sundays to understand more fully that, when it comes to eating food, Christians can best exhibit the traits of a strong, defined family by preparing and eating a common meal together as a community, outside of the marketplace of food and instead within the hearth of their own homes and worship settings.

To those who may be confused, irritated, or even upset by one or more of the public statements made by Christians that develop out of our belief, we invite everyone to come share with us the community of faith we strive toward.  We invite you to share a meal with us sometime soon, and if you’d like, engage in a dialogue with us about the Way that we seek.  Our path is not meant to be easy, and we are no perfect travelers in this path, but we are committed to it, and it is a community open to everyone.  If we understand our own Word, we know that we would prefer to invite you to be with us as we share food and Gospel, rather than resorting to shallow gimmicks of corporate patronage that so often end up rubbing our beliefs in your faces.

Each of us in this Way takes on sacrifices as a result of the covenant we make in this spiritual community, and these sacrifices and commitments are  not always received well by others.  That is understandable.  We hope that this does not prevent you from seeking out our communities.  We are bound to be welcoming and loving to you, as well as unwavering in our commitments to the burdens we are called to bear in our community.  If you find us unwelcoming and unloving, you have every right to shake the dust off your feet and leave us.  In such cases, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

And now a funny video about Chick-fil-a by Tim Hawkins:

6 responses to “Home-style Chikin Fellowship

  1. Many good thoughts.
    “And although your food is not the healthiest available to the public, it is fairly cheap, and therefore affordable to the poor. I do wish your wages for your workers was greater.”
    Funny you should mention that. Seriously. Mr. Guard, you do realize that wages and prices here are directly related, don’t you? Higher wages => higher prices. The employees have to get paid somehow.

    • That is actually a very good point that I am glad you brought up. From a capital gains standpoint, of course an increase in wages would mean an increase in prices if the business does not want any loss. But as we see, the business is willing to close one day of the week, which is a potential threat to market gain.

      If the business is barely gaining overhead and no profit on behalf of the owners and top leaders, then there would be no room for raising wages without balancing it out somehow. However, the apparent success of the company, as well as the record of public donations from Dan Cathy, shows me that he and others make quite a bit of profit. A sacrificial move could be to raise wages without increasing prices, with the top leaders and owner taking the only loss.

      A lot of the family-centered foundations Cathy contributes to seem to be more focused on reproducing middle class values and perpetuating social capital, some of it involving Christian morality, some of it involving middle class American WASP morality. Some of them have also been known to perpetuate questionable statistics on family and sexuality in the US. What if striking those donations was also part of the loss, thus channeling that into raised wages, helping families economically rather than through supporting these media foundations?

      Also, their business model to begin with can also be criticized for not fully representing family values as much as they could. Their business perpetuates the Big Ag industry, their food being made cheap, though less healthy, by factory farming. The “local” initiative is more supportive of families in this regard, although as a result food is more expensive. But under the Christian model of family, families should not just buy food for themselves, but share meals with each other, thus redistributing food capital. Food can be purchased and prepared in bulk, the wealthy families bearing a greater burden on their own initiative to share with poor families, as witnessed in the book of Acts and in the letters of Paul.

      Maybe instead of patronizing food corporations we should be patronizing local, family-owned and operated food ventures and inviting low income and LGBT people to the meals we prepare. I believe that is more of a “pro-family” measure than what I have seen this week, coming from my identity as a Christian. Hence why I brought up all these issues in my post, everything except what was on everyone’s minds.

      I welcome any further critique of these points, however. I am glad you brought up that point, because I think it exposes values about our system of material and social capital that exists in America today and how it effects our decisions and speech acts.

  2. Great article, Caleb! Having worked in the food industry myself for many years, and being really grateful to have worked in a restaurant that was also closed on Sundays, I too agree that Christians should reconsider eating out on Sundays. I have grabbed some fast food on Sunday nights from time to time, but I usually try to avoid eating out after morning services. I had a friend who surprised me by being disappointed that our restaurant wasn’t open on Sunday because she wanted to eat there. I said that if it had been opened, I would have surely been asked quite frequently to work a shift that would keep me from worship, so I appreciated that the owners were NOT open on Sunday. I said almost exactly what Mr. Cathy said, that if I do not want to work on a Sunday, instead spending time in worship and fellowship, I would not want to ask someone else to work then. Sundays (as a day of rest and worship) are not as sacred as they used to be. 😦

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