Is Chick-Fil-A A Person Or A Brand?

Chic-Fil-A logo

by Aryeh Powers

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across the news surrounding the statement made by Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-fil-A, regarding gay marriage (see link for full story). What I find most interesting about his statement, is not his personal dedication and commitment to the sanctity of marriage, but rather the fact that Cathy would choose to use Chick-fil-A as a voice for a religious sentiment, when there was no apparent need or benefit for it.

If you own a business and determine that you do or do not want to see certain behaviors occurring in your place of business, well then that’s your prerogative, as long as you are not being discriminatory toward a particular race of people. If you want to ask people to dress modestly or you want to ask people to refrain from using foul language, than that’s fine and rational educated people would have no reason to take issue with that.

Now let’s take it one step further. If you believe that the institution of gay marriage cannot include same sex marriage, than that is your prerogative (it happens to be my stance as well). And even if you want to say that your business is founded on the principle that same sex unions cannot ever be allowed to be comparable to a union between a man and a woman, than that’s your prerogative as well. But again, my question is, why bring your business into the picture if you do not have to and when you are questioned about it, why are you backing down?

If the entire business of Chick-fil-A was and is founded on Christian principles and the business as an entity is intolerant to same-sex marriage, then that should be the stance that the owners and corporate voice are proudly touting, regardless of the media backlash.

I was a bit confused upon visiting their corporate Web site and viewing the Chick-fil-A FAQ’s. This is what was written:

Q: What is Chick-fil-A’s response to the stories circulating in the media and on the Internet?

A:  Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our Restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. 

I think that there statement was tactful and was probably the best that Chick-fil-A could have done under the circumstances, as they were. It would have been bold and rather interesting had they not backed down from their stance (or Cathy’s stance as it was) on gay marriage.

I think that the take home for other business owners with religious convictions is the following: It is not OK to voice your personal opinions and reference them as the principles upon which your business stand… unless you’re prepared to back it up and stick to your convictions, to the end.

To summarize the principle, of which I perceive is the root of the Chic-fil-A debacle: If you’re going to voice your personal or political frustration’s, either leave your business out of it and keep it personal, or if you’re going to make your business a part of your voice then don’t back down when the media gets tough.

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