(RNS) It could get pretty crowded at Chick-fil-A this week — and not because of the fast-food restaurant’s famous waffle fries.

Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to appear at Chick-fil-A locations nationwide after the company’s president strongly denounced same-sex relationships.

The Cathy family inside a Chick-fil-A store.

The Cathy family inside a Chick-fil-A store.

The restaurant chain with Christian roots — “closed Sunday,” it proudly proclaims — is run by owners with conservative values. Now company President and CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a nationwide food fight by saying he is “guilty as charged” for supporting traditional marriage.

“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,” Cathy told the Biblical Recorder newspaper. The article was reprinted by Baptist Press on July 16.

Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a nationwide food fight by saying he is “guilty as charged” for opposing same-sex marriage.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spearheaded “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’’ and, as of Tuesday (July 31), more than 500,000 people had pledged on its Facebook page to show up or give support to the restaurant via social media on Wednesday.

“People are outraged that someone who expresses a view that is shared by most of the country is being bullied by hate speech and intolerance from the militant gay groups that are trying to disenfranchise his right to a personal opinion,” Huckabee told Religion News Service in an email.

“CFA doesn’t turn away people as customers or employees on the basis of sexual orientation and that’s the only way this could be an issue,” Huckabee added.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spearheaded ?Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day?? and, as of Tuesday (July 31), more than 500,000 people had pledged on its Facebook page to show up or give support to the restaurant via social media on Wednesday.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spearheaded ?Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day?? and, as of Tuesday (July 31), more than 500,000 people had pledged on its Facebook page to show up or give support to the restaurant via social media on Wednesday.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, plans to buy more than 200 of the restaurant’s sandwiches for its students, faculty and staff on Wednesday and famed evangelist Billy Graham has promised to “Eat Mor Chikin” — Chick-fil-A’s catchphrase — at one of the restaurants that day.

Meanwhile, opponents to Cathy’s stance have spearheaded “National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A” on Friday — the anniversary of the day the Episcopal Church elected its first openly gay bishop.

Organizer Carly McGehee said it will be up to rally participants whether to buy food or not.

“Some have said they will ask for a water, some have said they won’t buy anything,” she said. As of Tuesday, more than 8,400 people had signed up for the “kiss-in.”

In several locations, people have planned to place kissing booths outside the restaurants, with proceeds going to local gay rights groups. Heterosexuals supporting the kissing event plan to appear and kiss loved ones, she said.

“People will simply walk into the restaurant, kiss someone of the same sex and take a picture or video, then leave and post it on Facebook for all the world to see!”

Some think the food fight is misplaced.

Double drive-thru Chick-fil-A.

Double drive-thru Chick-fil-A.

“Let your food disagree with you the traditional way — after you eat it, and not before,” argued blogger Alexandra Petri in a Washington Post commentary.  “Mixing food with politics, as anyone who has attended a Thanksgiving dinner can tell you, is seldom a good idea.”

Chick-fil-A’s Cathy says his chain is not a Christian company. But its website says that the decision by his father and founder Truett Cathy to close on Sundays was “as much practical as spiritual.” Dan Cathy has also said that “as an organization, we can run on biblical principles.”

Dan Cathy’s online bio also notes that his passion is to fulfill his company’s “corporate purpose”: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Emotions are high on both sides of the gay marriage controversy.

“The hard part for me, especially, is this assumption that there are Christians and there’s LGBT people and that there’s absolutely no overlap between the two of them,” said Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values for GLAAD, a gay rights organization that is supporting the kiss day.

Ross Murray - Director of Religion, Faith & Values at GLAAD.

Ross Murray – Director of Religion, Faith & Values at GLAAD.

He said statements like Cathy’s are “very harmful to the LGBT people who identify as Christians.”

Huckabee said he doubts the event that follows his by two days will move people from one camp to the other.

“I’m not sure that a display of same sex kissing will win converts to their point of view, and they are free to do it unless they violate a law or a stated policy of a mall,” he said.

 

17 Comments

  1. The silly “kiss-in” will only serve to further alienate the GLAAD sector. The great majority of Americans do not want that kind of public display of affection contaminating public places (“Mommy, why are those two men/women kissing each other?”).

  2. You’ll have to explain to me how Cathy’s comments – the ones in the Baptist Press article and not any of the ones before – “strongly denounced” gay marriage. He made no such statement. You can infer it from his previous statements and donations, and that’s what everyone who ginned up this controversy online did, but that’s simply not what he said.

  3. Thanks, frequentwind.

    We were referring in that graph to not only Cathy’s Biblical Recorder comments, but also the later interview in which he said, “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.’”

  4. Thanks, frequentwind.

    We were referring in that graph to not only Cathy’s Biblical Recorder comments, but also the later interview in which he said, “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.’”

  5. Ate at Chick-fil-A today in Royersford, PA and the place was packed to the gills with a line going out to the parking lot. It was great to see!!!

  6. Went to the Sawmill Road Chick Fil A in Columbus, Ohio. It was packed!! It brought tears to my eyes when I saw so many cars! Americans are not ready to give up their country yet to the radicals. However, I looked in vain for any satellite trucks. Wonder if it will get any local “news coverage”!!???? It will be interesting to see how this is played out in the so called “mainstream” press.

  7. That’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing, Deborah and Stombut.

    Did you guys happen to take any pictures that we could share on our website?

  8. Just left Chic-fil-a on Camp Wisdom. Wow, there were at least 200 people inside waiting on food. Not one person was cross or ugly ! We all chatted and laughed about the out pour of support for the company. It took 35 minutes to get out order. I would have waited another 30 minutes !

  9. I wish there were a Chick-fil-A in or close to Rhode Island. The closest one is north of Boston. I am there in spirit, though… Of course the news media won’t cover the millions of people country wide today supporting marriage between a man and a woman. I give Mr. Cathy credit for standing by his Christian values.

  10. Heck, why would anyone expect Dan Cathy to even spell the name of his restaurants correctly. People who use the bible like a history or science text are doomed to be very broadly illiterate.

  11. Went to one of the three Chic-Fil-A,s in New England. Burlington Mall-Burlington, MA,
    Pheasant Lane Mall-Nashua, N.H. and the one nearest me North Shore Mall, Peabody, MA One hour in line, ther were no incidents, food was greatand had great fellowship.
    Terrific!

  12. In North Little Rock we had a traffic jam 3 miles long for the “stand alone” location, although I’m sure some of them were going to other places too, and the mall was crazy even at 2pm – there was a line out of the store! If the g/l had left it alone and not made their fuss Chick-Fil-A would have done normal business today. I think we need to thank them for mobilizing support for free speech even though that wasn’t their intent!

  13. Thanks folks for standing up for decency, I just wish we could have a Chick-Fil-A around Seattle so we could support an honorable company. With so many companies working foe moral decay, we would like to support the good guys. Thanks again!

  14. Went to one CFA in Evansville, IN, mall – PACKED! for the hour we were there the 4 lines NEVER slowed down, in the mall food court by my unscientific count nearly 90% of the food on tables or in bags was CFA. I have never seen the food court so packed. God Bless CFA! {I do have a picture (iPhone) of the crowd in front of the mall CFA. Moderator should have my e-mail so e-mail me if you want it, it is yours.}

  15. Is that legal? To demonstrate on private property. If 8500 people showed up at an abortion mill ,not to buy their services, but to block entrance and disrupt the business, would the police step in and disband the crowd? Just asking’

  16. Does anyone else think that the progressive left overshot this one? I feel like a lot of the people who jammed CFA yesterday were not necessarily Christian conservatives, or even anti-gay marriage. But they didn’t like what they perceived as bullying from the media and then certain city governments (I’m looking at you, Boston and Chicago).
    @Larry: If the anti-CFA protesters are asked to leave by management, then yes they would have to leave. It is trespassing. But you might have walked into a McDonald’s on the road just to use their bathroom, and no one’s said anything. To be successful, the protests would have to be designed to be so quick that management won’t be able to stop them.
    @Daniel Burke, thx for the clarification!