A Bunch of Filler Over Chick-Fil-A

A Bunch of Filler Over Chick-Fil-A

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When the CEO of Amazon puts down a cool $2 million to support gay marriage, his advocacy is championed. When the founder of Chick-Fil-A does the same in support of traditional marriage, his advocacy is seen as hateful. Is this debate less about intellectual integrity than it is about picking convenient sides?

When Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos decides to put down over $2 million to defend Washington state’s gay marriage law, most within the national media see the move as a decision to put one’s money where one’s mouth is to support his beliefs.

When it’s Chick-Fil-A’s Dan Cathy doing the same in support of traditional marriage, it’s a move that is decried as being “against our values” across the nation, even in places that don’t have gay marriage laws in place.

One is considered an expression of free speech in defense of what he believes. The other? More like a position of hatred based on his affiliation with a church born out of the Greatest Love of All.

It makes one wonder: is this debate over Chick-Fil-A and religious beliefs a matter of double standards and media filler as much as it over the legitimate advocacy efforts some have engaged in over the issue of gay marriage?

In America, as long as religious beliefs are not stifling the freedoms and equal status of others, it is protected under the First Amendment. Yet, in a nation whose founders were overwhelming Christian, it is, in a very interesting way, seen as more discriminatory to spend money to uphold traditional Christian beliefs concerning marriage than it is for those to spend money to oppose those centuries-long tenets.

Regardless of my religious belief in the concept of traditional marriage (and the secular need for legal protections – via civil unions – for committed same-sex couples), I concur that the advocates pushing for gay marriage throughout America have the legitimate right to promote their beliefs. They must have protection under the law to promote their positions lawfully. There must be a place within the law where committed American couples should have protection of their private property and “pursuit of happiness” secured as promised in the founding documents of this nation – even if the sacrament (i.e., the institution) of marriage remains traditionally recognized in America.

Yet, it seems as though the argument against Christians’ defense of traditional marriage is increasingly a combination of concerns based from first-hand experiences from same-sex couples, leverage of civil rights examples via past Jim Crow racism, and the modern-day philosophical filler that corrupts political debate today.

The arguments for trumping advocacy for a religious belief (as is the case with Cathy’s comments and on-going support of traditional marriage) with a position such as gay marriage come across with the same, self-serving filling from liberals that Christian conservatives are accused. This holds true for both sides when the silence concerning “oppression through religious expression” in other realms of this nation is observed.

For example, the general silence from both sides of partisanship (including progressives) including the de facto subservience that many traditional Muslim women live in America through contrasts with the current rhetoric stating that Christian beliefs hinder equality. This clear standard of inequality is often overlooked as a “religious expression” of immigrants and converts alike. As well, in the sub-cultures of America where it is customary for women to show their inferiority to men within the family structure by sitting separately from men and often walking behind men, religious beliefs and practices may prove to be as supportive of inequality as Christians are accused of. Yet, this is merely seen as an expression of religious freedom as afforded by the Bill of Rights.

If these actions are not egregious enough to cause outrage, why is the expression of a belief – and First Amendment support of this belief – so much worse, especially when secular protections are still available for legal relief?

Of course, this is not to defend discrimination, inequality, or hateful acts of any kind. Hiding behind religious beliefs to injure others – physically or materially – is simply wrong. Using religion to steal from or strike another is intolerable and, thus, should be abhorred by Christian conservatives and progressives simultaneously. However, when the issue of supporting religious beliefs – whether it is monogamy (also a tenet of traditional Christian marriage) or traditional gender balance within marriage – comes up in America, it becomes intellectually sloppy over time to define the legitimacy of one’s advocacy based on the opponent’s views alone. People in our nation should be able to disagree on various positions through debate without engaging in an exercise that ignores the hypocrisy of condoning some religious beliefs and practices while condemning others – all done for the sake of winning a specific argument.

This is not a dynamic that is only done on the progressive left by any means. For example, there are plenty of Christians that champion religious freedom via the Constitution but hollowly and rigorously oppose peaceful Islam in their communities without cause. Yet, there seems to be little understanding for Mr. Cathy – a man whose organization closes on Sunday in a clear reflection of his Bible Belt, Southern Christian roots – to be able to fund his life-long beliefs with the same passion and conviction that advocates for gay marriage (a relatively-new social concept within societal dynamics) do, including Mr. Bezos. There should be a level of civil respect and understanding for Cathy’s right (and perhaps his position), even by those that completely disagree with him.

The inability to grant Mr. Cathy his right to express his religious beliefs – as long as he is not discriminating against those through his hiring practices or providing of services – seems to be a short-coming, especially during an effort of asking for tolerance, understanding, and legal support for a new social construct. Even if we do not respect the positions within this issue, we have to make sure that the right to debate the perspectives is respected.

Anything less only fills our discourse with fluff that does not enrich the nation in the long run, even if it fills the airwaves with rhetoric that is pleasing when we first take it in.

LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 featured on outlets including CNN Newsroom, CNN’s “Early Start”, Current TV “The Young Turks”, and XM Radio. His new book, “Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today’s America” is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny’s “The McAllister Minute” on The American Urban Radio Network this week and other latest via the new LennyMcAllister.com website.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s see… I read your whole article twice ,d sure did not see one thing: Any attempt on your part to describe or express the point of view of the Chik-Fil-A contingent as being an expression of love or an expression of freedom. Maybe I missed it, correct me if I’m wrong. All I have ever seen of the Chik-Fil-A point of view is fear, hatred and the inequality of the humanity of homosexual people. Maybe that’s why the Chik-Fil-A point of view is looked at as hatred and the Bezos point of view is looked at as love…

    • Why is love for the teachings found in the Bible concerning Christianity seen as hating homosexuals? Heck, can't being against gay marriage but having Christian love for homosexuals as fellow children of God be nothing more than disagreeing on the definition of marriage/support of traditional marriage?

      "The inability to grant Mr. Cathy his right to express his religious beliefs – as long as he is not discriminating against those through his hiring practices or providing of services – seems to be a short-coming, especially during an effort of asking for tolerance, understanding, and legal support for a new social construct." – when considering that others' PERSONAL beliefs are legitimized on the other side of the same debate.

      • Mr Mcallister you're right we don't like the sin but we love the sinner because it's in the bible and the teachings of god.I don't know why people make things into a controversial topic when there's no basis for it.And as for Mr Cathy he wasn't discriminating against any one he was telling where he stands and the where the people stand on the topic and we have a bunch of people being stupid.They're the one that are being intolerant not the christians nor the people that support the francise.

  2. Yep i agree with FRED. Lenny your pov is wrong as ChikFilA was wrong in business as a CEO you keep your personal viewpoints to yourself of course unless you are making a political statement and in politics as in love all is fair bro!

    • What's the difference between Cathy bringing up his points of view (which, in your view and Fred's view, is wrong) and Bezos' bringing up his point of view (which supports gay marriage)? Shouldn't both have the right to do so under the American form of democracy?

  3. I agree with the above said comments. The refusal to support equal rights is what has people up in arms, not the refusal to support traditional marriage. No one is against man and woman marrying but in light of some straight people crapping on the institution of marriage themselves, who is to say gay marriage is wrong?

    It's legal for celebrities to marry to heighten their fame, drunk people to go to Vegas and marry for the hell of it, homophobic lawmen marry women and cheat with men, so why if our gay and lesbian citizens want to dedicate to a committed relationship, should it be unlawful.

    I find people with this conception have imaginations that take them into the bedroom every time someone mentions gay anything, but my gay and lesbian friends carry on regular lives, work, pay taxes, raise children and do everything other citizens do, so what the fuss?

  4. I think you nailed the issue which is the right we have to express our views which others might not agree with. The issue Is civility in public discourse, which has been lost. One of the primary reasons is lack of tolerance for the ideas of others as issues are debated. This leads to narrow mindedness regardless of your position. I Applaud you for your column.

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