Dan Piepenbring’s op-Ed for The New Yorker called, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” should concern you. The title says it all. It’s another example of what I call “reverse intolerance” in my book, A Call for Courage. If you’re a Christian, you should do more than be concerned about reverse intolerance. Don’t be a chicken when it comes to chicken. You should stand and deliver. But what, exactly, would that look like?
Let’s peruse at a paragraph from Piepenbring’s piece that summarizes his convictions, then we’ll look at a few practical things you can do as a follower of Jesus, whether you like or loathe chicken. Here’s the paragraph:
“New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage. The company has since reaffirmed its intention to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,” but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups.” — Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, April 13, 2018
First, the expansion of a franchise isn’t an “infiltration,” it’s a sign of success. When a business grows, it’s because it is providing quality goods or services. Tell me, Mr Piepenbring, would you write the same kind of thing if the restaurant chain were owned by Muslims? Where is your op-Ed, Mr. Piepenbring, about Islamic Halal food standards being an “infiltration” in New York? Why is it that other religions are welcome to influence the restaurant industry, while not being seen as an “infiltration”– unless they are founded upon Christian principles?
Second, what’s wrong with a business headquarters adorning its walls with Bible verses and imagery of servanthood? Aren’t we all a bit fatigued about the I, me, mine culture of America? Selflessness is exactly what America needs right now.
Third, just because Dan Cathy was accused of bigotry doesn’t mean he was a bigot. A person could accuse you, Mr. Piepenbring, of being unfaithful, dishonest or cruel, but accusations don’t amount to evidence. When it comes to accusations, one must always consider the source. If someone has a problem with people expressing their religious conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman for one lifetime, and doing so respectfully (as Dan Cathy always did), they have a much bigger problem. In fact, their problem is epic. They don’t have a problem with Chick-Fil-A. They have a problem with the Bible and what it teaches about heterosexuality and the very definition of marriage.
“It’s time for a widespread resurgence of truth and love once again — a movement of courageous humility.”
The Amerian motto is e pluribus unum (out of many, one). In America, two people can disagree about sex and sexuality. Diversity of opinions is what our nation is about. But this right to diversity applies to Christians and Christian theology, too, lest we promote something completely antithetical to the motto and spirit of our great nation. We Christians have a right — and an obligation, based on an authority higher than any governement — to embrace and express our views. I’d be damned (no pun intended) if I sacrificed my right and obligation to speak what I believe to be true in the face of opposition.
Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make one a bigot. It simply means there is disagreement — and the ability to disagree agreeably, with tact and mutual respect, is one of the things that makes our nation one of the greatest on earth.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
First, let what I shared, above, sink in. Use what I wrote as talking points in discussions you have with people who practice reverse intolerance against Christians. Use the phrase “reverse intolerance” when you see it in action, so people begin to stand down when they exercise the exact kind of intolerance they say they dislike. Most people don’t realize their hypocrisy when they practice reverse intolerance. Point it out when you see it.
Second, help people remember that the First Amendment is first on purpose, and it is what defines America more than any other part of our Constitution. It protects the freedoms of religion, speech, the press and assembly for every single American. This includes Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and, you guessed it, Christians.
As a refresher, the First Amendment not only deals with Congress, but with the very concept of America, which everyone should respect and protect:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Third, be patient, kind and loving when you point out instances of reverse intolerance. Remember that your battle is not with people, but with ideologies that people may possess. Love people, don’t hate them.
One of the reasons many Christians have gotten a bad rap is not because people have a problem with Jesus or his teachings, but with our seemingly uptight, angry, unsettled demeanor. We’re responsible for much of our own negative “rebranding.” We’re the religion of truth and love. It’s time for a widespread resurgence of truth and love once again — a movement of courageous humility. If that’s going to happen, we Christians need to go back to what we stand for — and what we stand for is truth and love, not one or the other. After all, Jesus dealt with opposing ideologies all the time — while constantly loving the people who wrongly embraced them. He never compromised the truth, and never missed an opportunity to love. Every Christ-follower is called to follow Jesus’ lead.
Fourth, go patronize Chick-Fil-A today, and show them your support. We need more organizations that operate with the same integrity, humility and courage they demonstrate.
Finally, stop apologizing for being a Christ-follower and embracing historic, Judeo-Christian values. The world needs to see real Christians these days, people who embrace truth and truly love people even when those people embrace lies. Be a real Christian, and you’ll help spark the revolution of courageous humility our nation deeply needs.