Does My Free Chick-Fil-A T-shirt Say that I Hate Gay People or Love Religious Freedom?

Just a few short weeks ago, my wife and I took our three small children on an 18-hour car trip to Destin, Florida.  Amongst many other pit stops (both planned and unplanned), we happened to pull through a Chick-Fil-A in Athens, Georgia, where we were greeted by the most delightful staff.  Upon hearing that we were “northerners” who had never visited a Chick-Fil-A, they showered us with all manner of gracious gifts, including: peach shakes, cookie sundaes, little stuffed cows, and even five t-shirts as a way of remembering our time with them.  As I said, the most delightful and friendly staff I have ever encountered.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us at the time of our visit, Chick-Fil-A had become embroiled in an enormous controversy that quickly polarized the masses.  In the weeks that preceded our vacation, Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy made a series of public statements in which he argued that proponents of same-sex marriage laws were “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”[1]  And so, as the controversy continued to unfold, lines were drawn, “hate speech” was decried, calls to protect religious freedom and speech were issued, and in true American-fashion, public protests on both sides of the issue were organized.  All of this, of course, left me with one simple question.

What is one to do with a free Chick-Fil-A t-shirt?

The Bryant family at Chick-Fil-A

Is the right response to recognize the spirit in which it was given and wear it around with fond memories of southern kindness?  Or do you adopt the cynical approach and assume that it was given merely to bolster public relations amidst a brewing controversy?  Does wearing the t-shirt necessarily mean that one endorses the company?  Or can you wear it without implicitly advertising that you are against same-sex marriage laws?

Before you answer these questions, I would urge you to consider the other things you tend to purchase and wear as well.  Does clothing that bears the Nike swoosh automatically mean that one is calloused to the labor of children in sweatshops?  Or what about the use of an Apple iPad, an Amazon Kindle, a Sony Blu Ray player, a Microsoft X-box 360, or just about any PC manufactured by Dell or Hewlett Packard?  Does the use of these products mean that you don’t stand in solidarity with the abused laborers at Foxxconn?[2]  Bear in mind, many of these products that we regularly use  do not merely carry the residual “stain” of the private beliefs of a corporate officer.  Many of these products are actually manufactured through abusive practices.

Ultimately, this is why I am admittedly confused by the various protests that surround these companies, when issues such as this arise.  Scripture is clear when it talks about the principalities and powers of this world.  And while many seem to think that Ephesians 6:2 is limited to talking about spiritual warfare, an honest reading of the text leaves no doubt as to the scope of what the Apostle Paul is calling out.  This world is comprised of systems, governments and corporations, all of which tend to prey upon the weak and the oppressed.  And while it may make us feel momentarily good or morally righteous to know that we are standing up for our beliefs, advocates on either side of the fence are nothing less than naïve if they truly think that they are leaving a morally neutral or even righteous footprint through their purchases and their lifestyles.  By the very fact that we have not withdrawn from society as the Amish have done, we knowingly participate in theses systems and structures , and in so doing, we knowingly participate in the oppression of others.  And sadly, on most days, when it’s not our issue-of-choice in the spotlight, we could care less about those that suffer for the purchases we make and the lifestyles we lead.

So what do you think?   Do I wear the t-shirt or not?    

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17 Responses to Does My Free Chick-Fil-A T-shirt Say that I Hate Gay People or Love Religious Freedom?

  1. Jan says:

    Nope. Don’t wear it. Give it to me. I’ll wear it!!! 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Will you wear it as you run marathons in your Nike cross trainers and log your mileage on your iPhone app? 🙂

  3. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    You cannot wear it; the fries are just that big of a disappointment.

  4. Richard Armour says:

    Well Scott, it looks like you have have two ways you can go with this. Either run through the streets naked proclaiming I have harmed none, repent and you shall be saved………..Or just wear the shirt while mowing the lawn and if anyone notices and asks you about it share your faith as you do so well on this site. I recommend option 2.

  5. Linda B-K says:

    Wear the t-shirt, Scott in celebration of the time you spent with your family on vacation, the joy your kids felt upon receiving the generous gifts from Chic Filet, and the spirit in which those gifts were given. And if someone asks about it or makes a comment, use it as an opportunity to share your experience with them and to share your faith.

    • It’s not the ones who will ask the questions that concern me. A good conversation is always worth it.

      The ones that concern me are the ones that won’t ask the questions. They’ll simply assume that Chick-Fil-A equals restricted marriage laws; and that protesting same sex marriage laws equals the “Christian” view on the subject.

      I think in today’s culture wars, we often forget that there are wounded, made-in-the-image-of-God individuals that are bleeding out as a rsult of our attacks. And some of these people may not have the courage to ask the question. They’ll just walk away believing the cultural rhetoric that Jesus hates gay people, a la the folks at Westboro Baptist church.

  6. Pete says:

    Wear the shirt: Chick-Fil-A makes a decent sandwich that people like. Or so the campground in front of the Chick-Fil-A that just opened by me would make me believe.

    On the other hand, I’m disturbed that people either cannot or won’t distinguish between a man speaking his own view on faith, which I think we have here (but I refuse to look into the matter as it doesn’t merit my time), as opposed to a man speaking on behalf of his employer. I’m disgusted that select television personalities have latched on to this to play on people’s faith to make money for themselves and their employer—it seems cynical. I’m disgusted that select politicians have latched onto this to beat Chick-Fil-A with the violence of the state—it seems self-serving and opportunistic.

  7. Chris Cartney says:

    My T shirt fits like I love Chick-fil-A a bit too much.

  8. Bill says:

    Wait a month or so, then wear it like any other advertising shirt.

  9. Richard Armour says:

    BTW, I went to Bible college in Pensacola and honeymooned in Destin back in the 70’s. That’s the finest strip of beaches on the American mainland. You can pick a beach with all kinds of activity or go down the road a bit and enjoy a beach practically to yourself. All pure white sugar!

    • You are spot on, Richard. Destin was beautiful, all the more so because it was relatively empty. We had no problem setting up beach chairs with absolutely no one blocking our view of the ocean. The crowds were that thin. Just gorgeous!

  10. Mary DeVries Yager says:

    If you wear it, you will be immediately identified as a gay-basher. So, if you want the label that CFA has been given (earned or UN-earned) wear it. My take on all of this has always been the same. “How does my response to the CFA issue helped non-believers? Do my actions propel non-beleiers toward the kingdom, or cause them to run screaming from it?” My take on most Evangelical behavior these days is that it sends people fleeing in the opposite direction. Kind of like the Pharisaical behavior in the 1st Century must have made people uninterested in that Jesus dude…until he started acting in very non-Pharisaical ways hanging out with the sinners. Funny. It may be possible that Jesus the great evangelist was the most UN-“Evangelical” person I know!

  11. popesicle says:

    Regardless, it’ll be a great conversation starter.

  12. lamehousewife says:

    It’s just a shirt.
    My question for you: Does the media control how LOUD the volume gets on something like this because it seems to me that those companies who have the opposite opinion of Chick-fil-A get negative feedback when they show their support of gay marriage or whatever the topic is for the day, but I never see it get so LOUD like this one. Why is that? Is it a different level of anger or a different kind of anger? Just wondering.

  13. Mark Notestine says:

    Before the controversy I probably would not have worn it. After the controversy began I would probably be more inclined to wear it to make a statement. After all, the facade of the controversy is about Chick-fil-a and marriage, the core of the controversy is really about Jesus.

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