Attack on TV Couple Recalls a Chik-Fil-A Story of Solidarity

As I clicked through and read the outrage-mongering BuzzFeed article that launched the sham controversy over the personal beliefs of Chip and Joanna Gaines, co-hosts of the show “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, I was transported back to 2012, and another event that prompted national outcry against the alleged enemies of diversity, tolerance, and open-mindedness.

On August 1, 2012, I accomplished a feat that is, to my knowledge, unparalleled in human history, and certainly unrepeated in my own. That day, I managed to spend a little over 3 hours—split between lunch and dinner—waiting in line to purchase food at Chik-Fil-A. That’s right; on Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day, I ate at Chik-Fil-A twice. Or should I say I tried to eat there twice. By the time we got in the door at dinner, they had sold out of all actual food, and we had to buy gift certificates for a future visit.

Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day, as you might recall, was a one-day movement of free speech loving conservatives called for by Mike Huckabee in response to threatened demonstrations by LGBT activists, themselves responding to Chik-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s having failed, when given the opportunity, to affirm as true, good and beautiful all that the LGBT community’s social and political agenda so affirms.

I did not intend to eat at Chik-Fil-A twice on that day, I just failed to pay sufficient attention to my wife when she laid out the details of a proposed meet-and-eat. A failure, I must confess, which I may have repeated a time or two since then. Anyway, she said dinner, I heard lunch, and by the time I called her and got it straight, I figured I might as well just stay in line and have a chicken sandwich.

As you would expect, when like-minded strangers band together for a common cause and then promptly spend hours standing uncomfortably close to one another while waiting to (hopefully) eat, there is bound to be some conversation to pass the time. Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day was no exception.

Most of the conversations centered on how ridiculous it was that the LGBTers were persecuting Dan Cathy and targeting his restaurant chain just because he spoke his mind. Or how ludicrous it was that the mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. had come out and all but vowed to ban Chik-Fil-A from their fair cities over Mr. Cathy’s comments. Several folks said it was getting harder and harder to recognize the America of the Founding Fathers these days, and the mainstream media also came in for its fair share of criticism for its role in stoking the fires.

I expected all of that, and joined in right along with my fellow line-standers. Nothing noteworthy there. But what was truly eye-opening, and frankly rather distressing, was the fact that, in conversation after conversation, at two separate Chik-Fil-A locations, that was—thematically speaking—as far as people’s objections went.

What I mean is this: In every one of the conversations I had that day, I would point out what was, for me, the most outrageous aspect of the whole affair—the hypocrisy of the supposedly tolerant, open-minded LGBT movement.

It is ironic that these LGBT agenda drivers and their liberal PC partners in media, government, academia, and entertainment continue to march under the banner of tolerance and open-mindedness, when they are obviously not the least bit tolerant or open-minded. They claim for themselves these new highest virtues of the secular orthodoxy, and yet blatantly fail to live up to their own supposed standard.

Conservative Christians in the public eye, like the Cathys or Gaineses are accused of being bigots, and intolerant, and close-minded toward those in the LGBT community, and yet when a semi-public figure dares to simply state his personal beliefs about same-sex “marriage,” or attend a Church where the pastor preaches against it, what do we get from the left? Howling outrage, vitriolic ridicule of conservative Christians, shrieking calls for bans and boycotts, name calling, religion bashing and wall-to-wall media coverage in support of it all.

So, as I stood in line at Chik-Fil-A four years ago, I asked my fellow parking lot patriots, where is their tolerance of Dan Cathy? How open-minded are they about his personal convictions on the subject? Are they celebrating the diversity of his opinion, as compared to theirs? Does it sound like they want Mr. Cathy, and those like him, to just be left alone to live their lives, according to their values? If they are so tolerant and open-minded, why are we all standing here having this conversation in a Chik-Fil-A parking lot?

As I unspooled my little rant to these innocent bystanders, I was fully expecting simple agreement, something along the lines of, “Yup, that’s what I’ve been saying,” or “Exactly! That’s why I’m here, too, someone has got to call them on their hypocritical BS.”

The reaction I got, instead—and this happened every single time—was the slow-spreading, eye-widening look that says, “Wait a minute, so you’re saying… Oh my gosh, that is totally true! I never thought of that before!”

That was an eye-opener for me. Until that day, I had not realized that many, many good, freedom-loving, conservative folks, people with rock-solid moral and political principles, may have never had anyone lay out for them the nuances and subsequent effects of some of the dangerous ideas that lie just beneath the surface of the noisy nonsense of our media-driven PC culture.

Quite frankly, it shocked me a little bit. I had assumed, I guess, that everyone there had seen through the spin-doctored sound bites and bumper sticker clichés the LGBT movement makers hide behind. I took for granted that we had all realized that the movement behind that rhetorical curtain was just as bigoted, intolerant and close-minded as it could possibly be.

Which brings me back (finally, I know) to Chip and Joanna Gaines, and this most recent news cycle. In the years between Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day and the recent Buzzfeed propaganda piece, I don’t sense that much progress has been made on this front. But this is a genuine opportunity.

Once again, our opponents in the culture war have overplayed their hand. Once again, they have thrown caution to the wind, in an attempt to capitalize on a perceived opportunity to take down a conservative Christian who slipped past their defenses, and onto the public stage. Once again, the hyper-hypocrisy of the intolerant, bigoted, close-minded PC thugs who forge and fuel the LGBT movement is on glittering display.

So, in the wake of these attacks on Chip and Joanna Gaines, let those of us who have seen through the façade seize the day.

My suggestion? Gather a group of your well-intentioned conservative friends who might not have connected all the dots yet, and take them out to Chik-Fil-A for a sandwich and a little enlightening conversation among compatriots. I’ll see you there.

Steve Greene

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Steve Greene is Director of Kino Catechetical Institute at the Diocese of Phoenix, and co-host, with his wife, Becky, of The Catholic Conversation radio show, which airs on Immaculate Heart Radio in Phoenix, and is podcasted on iTunes and at www.phoenixcatholicmedia.org. For the past 13 years, he has taught Catholic theology, philosophy and ethics, as well as St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, for a variety of institutions.

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