What You Need to Do Before You Boycott a Philly Chick-fil-A

Check on the beliefs of every other local business owner you patronize.

I need to get my car inspected this week, but first I have to send my mechanic a short survey to find out where he stands on a number of controversial issues. If he disagrees with me, I can’t possibly give him my business. And when I go to the supermarket, I need a grocery list of how the makers of each of the products I plan to buy stand on gun control, abortion rights and immigration.

It sounds awfully silly, but that seems to be where we are heading after the Chick-fil-A gay marriage controversy. Just in case you have been in a bubble or have the good sense not to watch cable news, Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, had the unmitigated nerve to say the following:

“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 … we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

I guess I should be offended because it is clear from that statement the Cathy family looks down on my second marriage. But unlike the Muppets, I don’t care. It is Dan Cathy’s opinion, and he is entitled to it. The Cathy family is so devoutly Christian that I can’t get one of their chicken sandwiches on Sunday. The family observes the Sabbath and keeps it holy, as instructed by the Bible. So my only boycott of Chick-fil-A is on Sunday. Does that count?

The Muppets are going 24/7 with their boycott. The company that created the Muppets has decided to end its business relationship with Chick-fil-A over the restaurant chain’s public stance against gay marriage. I didn’t know until the announcement that the Muppets even had a relationship with the fast food chain. And since Muppets can’t eat (despite the lame acting attempts of one Cookie Monster), I don’t think the Cathys were losing any sleep over not being able to hand out some toy Big Birds.

But Lisa Henson, the CEO of Henson Productions, has as much right to make a public statement about gay marriage as Dan Cathy does. All private citizens and private companies have that right as it is clearly stated in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech …

Several humans have followed the Muppets’ lead in condemning and boycotting Chick-fil-A. Again, it all seems kind of silly since there is no evidence that the company has ever refused anyone either a job or a sandwich because of his or her sexual preference. But aside from the silliness, I have no problem with the boycotters as it is their right.

Politicians in Boston, Chicago and Washington know a groundswell when they feel one and quickly announced that they would keep future Chick-fil-As from opening in their cities. Okay, now I have a problem with that, and you should too, for this is much more dangerous than the ramblings of a chicken king.

Let’s go back to the First Amendment, shall we? The government can’t interfere with commerce because of someone’s religious beliefs or because of what they say. If this is allowed, where does it end? Can council close a business whose owner is against the dream act? Can a mayor keep a church from opening because of its stance on abortion? Both examples are as clearly unconstitutional as the threatened actions against Chick-fil-A by the Chicago alderman and Boston and Washington mayors. (Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has backed off on his threat.)

Chick-fil-A has found itself in the middle of a national chasm that we are all falling into. A recent poll showed that more than race, religion or class, politics causes the greatest divide in this country for the first time in our history. We have become so divided that our emotions over current events trump our core American beliefs.

Eat at Chick-fil-A or don’t. That’s your choice. But remember that the owner did not impose his morals on you, he just expressed them. I suggest you save your anger and your boycott for pandering politicians who feel free to impose their morals on businesses.