Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Church's Future After Chic-Fil-A Intimidation

I am adding my voice to the Chic-Fil-A firestorm to address the narratives that have erupted in the aftermath: the rhetoric used to shame and silence speech as well as the abuse of political office to punish unpopular thought.

If this type of behavior of intimidation and political punishment is accepted by our society, I fear the same tactics will quickly be used against a church that seeks to open, relocate, or build a new facility or move into a new area while attempting to be faithful to Scripture’s teachings.

Just think of how this whole thing started. 

The article and quote on July 16th from Baptist Press that was picked up by the LA Times on July 18th addressed the company’s operating philosophy and only briefly touched on the issue of marriage and family.  Most of the BP article addressed their history of success, why they’re closed on Sunday, how they support and interact with franchise owners and their sponsorship of sporting events.

The LA Times article ignores all that and instead lifts out what it wants.  It is amazing to read the contrast in tone of the articles and how the LA Times distorts and inflames the issue.  As one example, other than the title of the article which is itself a farce, nowhere in the BP article is there any mention of “Adam and Steve”—that is an insertion by the Times’ writer,

The issue of “traditional family” likely came up in reference to articles like this from Baptist 

Press on March 8th.  It describes students and colleges rejecting Chic-Fil-A from opening a store on campus or in the cafeteria because of the Christian policies and donations of the company and its owner, Dan Cathy.  According to the original article, students and colleges removed Chic-Fil-A from consideration at Northeastern University in Boston and “at least 10 [other] campuses” including: Duke University, Bowling Green University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gainesville State College, Indiana University South Bend, Mississippi State University, Texas Tech University, the University of North Texas and New York University.

What I am noticing that is greatly concerning in the public debate is:
·         You can no longer have a different perspective without being labeled a “Hater”
o   This is marginalizing and dehumanizing not only of the position but of the person who holds the position.  This current debate has carried to the point where the “opposition” is no longer deserving of respect or protection of the law. 
o   This kind of demonization is what immoral governments are good at in fostering a culture of persecution against a certain demographic—see Spain, Germany & USSR against the Jews.  Even the USA has fallen for this at times against Japanese, German, Native Americans or African Americans.
o   This is hardly tolerant or enlightened, nor does it show the strength of your argument.  To paraphrase an old concept, “If you can’t win the debate… intimidate.”
o   In reviewing Dan Cathy’s statements from the original article, the last thing you could claim was that he was hateful or demeaning or disrespectful in his tone or his beliefs. 

The second thing that really bothers me about the aftermath is:
·         Government Officials are posturing and threatening to block businesses from obtaining necessary permits in order to build and operate solely because they disagree with the statements or beliefs of that company.
o   I firmly believe that politicians do this all the time and are just never noticed.  They slow the process, insist on unnecessary or redundant investigations, tie things up in committee or deny permits in order to damage a rival, a political opponent or settle some personal grudge.
o   It’s also illegal.  Even the ACLU thinks what these politicians are implying is illegal:  "The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words," Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, told Fox News. "When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination."—see article here
o   While some are repudiating these politicians, many are supporting and encouraging them.  Here is an example of an article at least saying the politicians shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly and many people are supportive of their consideration.

So again that makes me wonder how long before a church is investigated for certain beliefs and they are denied a permit to build or open in a community.

That kind of thing happened in the early days, before we had a Constitution.  Communities like Boston or states like Massachusetts would prevent churches or ministers not affiliated with the state church from meeting or building a church.  See this history—The First Baptist Church of Boston:

“The Church was formed in defiance of two laws, passed by the General Court: (1) That all persons wishing to form churches must first obtain consent of the "magistrates and elders of the greater part of the churches within this jurisdiction." (2) That "if any person or persons within this jurisdiction shall ... condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants... such person or persons shall be subject to banishment.”

Back then, governments would impose fines and taxes, they would run ministers out of town or arrest the ministers for preaching without a license or illegal distribution of pamphlets with the same kind of justification these modern politicians are using. 

That’s why the First Amendment has all those issues listed in #1—it wasn’t because they couldn’t decide which one was most important, rather, free exercise of religion had been denied in all of those ways listed.  See my larger explanation here.

If this type of behavior by public officials is accepted, then I fully expect a repeat of that early American history.  That in the name of tolerance and diversity, churches that hold to biblical beliefs about marriage, the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus, the insistence of evangelism, that is vocal on public issues and other orthodox beliefs will be denied building permits, projects delayed, denied meeting space or use of public venues, have their tax exempt status revoked, or will be harassed or intimidated by governmental officials.   In the words of Philadelphia Councilman James F. Kenney, "So, please take a hike and take your intolerance with you."

Oh wait… that is happening already in many places.

The article finished with Dan Cathy saying - "We intend to stay the course," he said. "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."

Considering the reaction and how some are trying to keep them from operating let’s hope this remains true.  Be watching for this type of Intimidation and Exclusion happening to churches both now and in the future.

I’ll finish with two quotes.

For Believers, we must understand:
          “Truth cannot be sacrificed at the altar of pretended tolerance.” --Ravi Zacharias

About our Culture:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.
 Both are nonsense.
You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren

For Further Reading:

1 comment:

Kelly Reed said...

To any anonymous persons who wish to leave offensive or violent comments, pretending to be in agreement with me but really trying to make believers look bad, at least show your courage by leaving your name. Otherwise, there's no chance I'll allow the post, even if you're from the Beaverton, OR area.

Because contrary to what you may think, I don't believe anything of the sort of what you suggested.