Though I would much rather focus my attention on the drama and inspiration of the Olympics underway in London, I am distracted (as is my country) with the controversy surrounding these comments: “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 what constitutes a marriage.’” These words could have come from anyone. ‘Cause Lord knows there is deep-seated discontent over gay marriage in this country. But it just so happens, these words came from the mouth of Dan Cathy, president and Christian in Charge of a company whose products reach the mouths of the common man. And just like every other issue that has served to divide our country, this one has blown up.
In one 24 hour period, those in Cathy’s camp, evangelicals and customers who either support his views or support his right to free speech, have arrived in droves at Chick-fil-A’s around the country. In the following 24 hours those same restaurants saw swarms of gay rights activists and those incensed by Cathy’s comments protesting outside the restaurants’ doors. Then various elected officials weighed in, including the mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, who, among other things, discouraged the southern-based Chick-fil-A from setting up shop in the more liberal north or the coastal regions. There were even threats to block—to the extent possible—the restaurant chain’s access.
What we have here, ladies and gentleman, is a culture war, one that has sure enough finagled its way into our politics. What a conundrum. On paper, the United States is committed to the separation of church and state. In practice however, we really don’t observe the division, do we? When did this happen? Has it always been this way? When did having solid values become the sole domain of the religious? When did it become okay for those in power to threaten those whose religious opinions (or “values”) differ?
I have problems with what Cathy said because I have no place in my life for such intolerance. But just as discouraging to me is the further loss of that which makes my country great: freedom. Freedom to live as we wish to live, without malice, without prejudice, without fear. What’s happening out there is scary. To use religion to effectively exclude is reprehensive. To use a political platform to do the same? We should all be concerned.