Thursday, August 2, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XXXII

Playing 'Chicken' With the 1st Amendment

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features "Buying the White House." Of course, they are concerned about big Republican money, overlooking of Soros money as they lament the demise, as they see it, of the 'small' donor ($5 - $10).

But the small donor is alive and well. They are the individuals who contribute to groups like Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity. They are the ones who show up for Tea Party events and are making their mark in politics, most recently in the Texas primary! They are the ones TIME is casting as irrelivant! They ARE the First Amendment today! They showed up yesterday!

Yesterday's events surrounding Chick-fil-A nationwide were not about Homosexual rights or chicken sandiches so much as about basic Human Rights as expressed in the First Amendment: Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech; and they were about the G-d given duty to be true to one's core convictions.

The crowd at Chick-fil-A in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Core Convictions and the Cost of Conviction

Every Olympic year I dust off that old classic: Chariots of Fire and watch Ian Charleson's beautiful portrayal of 1924 Olympian Eric Liddell. Liddell was the Scottish runner who's convictions about keeping the Sabbath led him to not participate in his best sprint event. He won gold in the 400 meter race and died in occupied China doing missionary work. I mourned when Charleson, who was gay, died of AIDS.

Samuel Truett Cathy is also a man of convictions. A member of the Jonesboro Baptist Church, he has taught Sunday School there fo fifty years. He, like Liddell, has strong convictions concerning the Sabbath. Beginning with his Dwarf Grill, founded in 1946, Cathy began the practice of closing his business on Sundays. At Dwarf Grill, Cathy created a chicken breast sandwich as an alternative to the ubiquitous hamburger. His Sons Dan and Bubba helped out in the grill and Dan eventually became CEO of the Chick-fil-A corporation that grew out of that first venture. Chick-fil-A still closes on Sundays.

Banned in Boston

In an interview with a Baptist news publication, Dan Cathy affirmed the company's support for families and Biblical values. Homosexual activists took Mr.Cathy's comments and created a firestorm, calling for a boycott of the chain. The Mayor of Boston issued a statement that he would bar the chain from opening stores in his city. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also said he would ban the chain.

But Michael Sherer, who writes for the 'other' weekly news magazine reports: "No evidence has been presented to suggest that Chick-fil-A discriminates against gay or lesbian customers or employees. There is nothing to suggest that the company has broken the law in any way. In his comments to the Baptist Press, Cathy did not even mention same-sex marriage. He simply said that he and his company supported traditional marriage. The only issues at play are the personal view of the owner of the restaurant chain and the philanthropic efforts of the private company."

The discussion was no longer about legitimate issues such as legal protection for non-traditional families; it became an effort to destroy a good business. Efforts to hurt Chick-fil-A ignored the chain's actual practice of treating all people with dignity and respect...a courtesy not returned by critics like Roseanne Barr, who directed a string of expletives toward the chain. Former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August First. There was an outpouring of popular support for the business. The crowds were friendly and celebrating American liberty.

But we've been dragged here before. Consider the case of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization who own a pavilion in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Following the Biblical beliefs they hold, they did not allow a same-sex ceremony to be performed in their pavilion. In 2007 they were stripped of their tax-exempt status by Neptune Township for that. In Massachussetts and Illinois, Catholic Adoption Agencies were forced by legislation to either close or offer services to same-sex couples, against their beliefs. They chose to close.

Closing Catholic Charities

The elimination of Religious institutions that provide an important service is tragic, particularly when same-sex couples have other alternatives available. History shows us that these institutions often stepped up to provide services when government couldn't. Consider the flood of immigrants in the Nineteenth Century. Catholic Charities were there first, providing assistance and schools.

A number of Liberal-leaning journalists and the ACLU have come to the defense of Chick-fil-A. Apparently they are well aware of the fundamental liberties at risk in this. Perhaps it is time to put aside all politics of destruction and have an honest discussion about real issues. Same-sex couples DO have legitimate concerns about legal recognition when it comes to hospital visitation, shared property and medical directives. While they should not be able to rashly legislate their views over those with Religious convictions, society must always treat all with the dignity conferred by Imago Dei.

Cars waiting to enter Chick-fil-A in Waynesboro, Virginia.


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