All of the chain’s 1,600-plus locations are closed on Sunday, and founder Truett Cathy was never shy about public statements that he sought out franchisees who shared his religious and moral beliefs. Charitable contributions by the chain to anti-gay organizations have been a contentious point among some consumers – and the source of an ongoing if ineffective boycott – for some time.
But Cathy’s son Dan, president and CEO of Chick-fil-A, recently used an interview with the Baptist Press to detail how his personal values are translated into corporate values. For example, he was quoted as saying:
“Our work should be an act of worship. Our work should be our mission field. As long as we are stateside, let’s don’t think we have to go on mission trips by getting a passport. … If you’re obedient to God you are going to be evangelistic in the quality of the work you do, using that as a portal to share [Christ].”
“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.
That’s the statement which sparked Jim Henson Co. to sever a promotional partnership between Chick-fil-A and The Muppets. Mini-Muppet puppets are no longer available with Chick-fil-A kid meals because, according to Business Insider, the Jim Henson Co…
… did “not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors” due to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s admission that he was “guilty as charged” when it comes to his Christian stance on the definition of marriage.
Chick-fil-A responded the next day by offering a very different version of the truth. It said the Muppets were pulled for safety reasons because they kept kept getting stuck on kids’ fingers.
That story was such a departure from the known facts that it almost makes you laugh out loud. Commentators have been accusing the company of lying ever since – not, one would assume, a core Chick-fil-A value.
It got weirder still when Chick-fil-A apparently began an abortive social media campaign to defend itself by allegedly launching a Facebook page that pretended to belong to a teenage girl who liked to quote the Bible and possessed an unusual knowledge of details about the company’s promotional timeline.
Here’s a comprehensive review of the issue, published by MinnPost.
For a number of consumers, Chik-fil-A’s socially conservative position on homosexuality is the big issue.
But for us, that’s really not the point. Chik-fil-A’s owners can choose to run the company any way they like as long as they don’t violate anti-discrimination laws. If they want to risk alienating a certain percentage of their prospective customers, that’s their choice – and it would be hard to argue it’s failed the $4.1 billion company so far.
But now that position may be hurting the company in new ways. In Chicago, the opening of a new location is being stalled by a City Council member based, he says, on unsatisfactory written anti-discrimination policies.
And in Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino issued a public statement saying Chick-fil-A would be less than welcome if it continues to pursue expansion efforts there.
According to one wide-ranging if not necessarily scientific study, Chik-fil-A’s popularity has taken a whopping 40% tumble since Dan Cathy’s recent interview, according to a post at examiner.com.
What is Chick-fil-A’s response? It has decided not to assume the CEO’s missionary position after all. The company issued this statement:
“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… Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
So why write about Chick-fil-A at all? Because it has demonstrated the fallacy of the Cult of Capitalism, which espouses that society’s biggest issues can be resolved simply by turning them over to the money-makers and job creators.
What happened when Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A tried to address what they perceive as a societal issue? They chickened out. They decided that what their religion says about homosexuality – and telling the truth – is less important than what the balance sheet says about the business.
Are you saying “Duh”?
So why does anybody believe the private sector’s pure instinct to amass capital can help us address any other societal issue, such as environmental custodianship, access to health care or preservation of the American Dream?
In a sad sidebar to this story, Chick-fil-A spokesman Donald Perry, vice president of public relations, died suddenly on Friday, July 27. Cause of death was not immediately available. He worked at the company for nearly 29 years.