BreakPoint: Opening Closed Minds The Chick-fil-A Way

Friendship, not Confrontation

A new fast-food restaurant on campus should have been a no-brainer. Sadly, closed minds don’t work that way.

Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”!

Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court.

Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.”

So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups.

But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open.

“Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’”

There was no marginalizing here, no destruction of safe spaces, even as Dan Cathy made no apologies for his beliefs, while conveying respect and a peaceable witness to Windmeyer. I wonder whether those Duquesne students might gain a new perspective about Chick-fil-A—and about Christians—upon reading that article. Even better, what might happen if Christians like Dan humbly came alongside them and became, not a debating partner, but a friend?

Let’s face it, folks, convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy. Through long years of indoctrination in academia and popular culture, their minds have been closed to a Christian worldview. Sadly, they really do think we have horns and tails.  But we don’t, and we’ll need to more consistently emulate the patient, loving approach of Dan Cathy if we’re ever going to change their minds.

To get started, come to BreakPoint.org for some helpful resources, including the Huffington Post article by Windmeyer and a link to Chick-fil-A’s charitable giving. Because although the sky isn’t falling when it comes to Chick-fil-A, it would be nice to have some facts at hand to prove it.

 

Further Reading and Information

Opening Closed Minds The Chick-fil-A Way: Friendship, not Confrontation

Respect and a peaceable witness, as Eric suggests, help believers develop relationships and promote understanding, even with those with whom we disagree. To read more about Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A’s example, check out the links below.

 

 

Find a BreakPoint radio station in your area–Click here.

Resources


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  • Nancy

    Great story. Thanks for sharing. Important lesson we all need to apply to our lives.

  • Phoenix1977

    “convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy”

    Probably because that is exactly what Christians have done for the better part of 2 millennia. Christians have a very poor track record when in comes to tolerance and allowing others to live their own lives. And it doesn’t matter if you’re LGBT, Muslim, Hindu, scientist, philosopher or whatever: as soon as you refuse to comply to the Christian way of thinking / life you were opposed and, in a lot of cases, you would suffer for it.

    Only now, when Christians are met with open en, quite often, powerful opposition, Christians are calling for tolerance, understanding and open minds. Since Christians (and other religious conservatives) are confronted with the fact their views are no longer dominant in today’s world they claim people should allow each other to live their lives and respect each other. When the American LGBT community begged to be left alone within their own community conservatives, many of them Christians, turned up the persecution a little and raided more and more gay bars. They did everything to beat the LGBT community into submission but they never counted on the LGBT community deciding it has gone far enough. They never expected the Stonewall Riots, the APA removing homosexuality from the DSM classification system, the Supreme Courts ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas, etc.

    In less than 50 years the LGBT community broke free from Christian oppression. Many of you don’t agree with the term “oppression” but that is what it felt like and, to many LGBTs, it’s exactly what it was. And most LGBTs have no interest in tolerance towards those who refused to be tolerant towards us. Some conservative Christians I know are blaming the LGBT community for a thirst of vengeance. And they are right. Christians have hurt the LGBT community for centuries and created a lot of bad blood between us. There is too much anger and distrust in the LGBT community to let it go. Cause for the first time in forever at least we stand a chance.