The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that.
But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.
"Guilty as charged," Cathy said when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
"We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that," Cathy is quoted as saying.
Strong feelings of support and disagreement have followed, making Chick-fil-A the top Google trend on Thursday morning as the company's Facebook and Twitter pages were burning up with arguments.
"Hate mongers! Never again! Not another $ from me," Duke Richards wrote on Facebook.
"Goodbye Chikkk-fil-a! your food was delicious, but I can no longer eat nuggets filled with hate!" read a post by Blake Brown.
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"I am truly ashamed of the recent admittance from Mr Cathy about your bigoted company practices. I hate the fact that my money was used for this. I will never support your company (and) will make sure anyone I know does not either," Mikell Kirbis wrote on Facebook. "While I'm not a Christian I know that hate is not in God's plan nor (is) ignorantly picking sections of the Bible to brandish. Good bye and I hope either you change your ways or close down."
But the support for the company was just as vehement.
"Just wanted to say I'm proud that you stand firm in your beliefs. You knew the risks, and still took the plunge. May God bless this company with abundance. Never back down!" said a Facebook post from David Jones.
"Thank you for standing up for what you believe. The truth is not hate. It's just the truth," wrote Sharon R Boyd.
"I love the values that this restaurant stands for and will support it every dang chance I get! Pay no attention to the morons spewing hate!" read a post from Raymond Joy.
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Twitter comments were also divided.
In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, the company said it would stick by its principles, but it tried to withdraw from the heated social media debate over them.
"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," said a statement from Don Perry, the company's vice president of corporate public relations.
The Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, said Wednesday that Cathy's comments gave consumers a clear choice.
“It's strange to say, but it's good to see Chick-fil-A finally admit to their anti-LGBT policies," Michael Cole-Schwartz, the organization's director of communications, told CNN. "Now fair-minded consumers can make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company or take their business elsewhere. As the country moves toward inclusion, Chick-fil-A has staked out a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality.”
Polling shows increasing support for gay marriage in the United States. A CNN/ORC Poll conducted in late May found 54% of respondents favoring the legal recognition of gay marriage with 42% opposed. The poll had a sampling error of 3%.
Let us know what you think about Chick-fil-A's stance in the comments below.
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Frankly I don't care what the owners believe or don't believe – Chick-Fil-A is not my moral compass and if it's yours then it's a pretty sad statement on your life. Seriously. I go there to eat chicken and waffle fries.
The US has splintered into thousands of self-important, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, special interest groups. All pushing their own narrow, bigoted agenda\belief system\demand for rights on everyone else – all the while not giving a damn about the agenda\belief system\rights for anyone else. The common cry is that 'You think different than I do, so you must be an evil hate-monger and bigot
No, the cry is "You support causes that suppress others' rights to have their own beliefs, so I'm not going to support you with my money anymore."
If you're going to quote a cause, at least get it right.
Well said, Joe!
Why is HE/SHE going to visit? Whenever you die, god can take you to heaven if you're not gay (and overlook all your hatred etc) and when a gay dies, god can just let him/her go "wherever." It's stuff like you people are spewing that has made religion a joke in general.
Ewww... 36 grams of fat?!?
I APPLAUDE MR. KATHY'S STANCE FOR BIBLICAL VALUES.
The Chick-fil-A company is based on Christian values. Christian values do not support gay marriage. I applaud Chick-fil-A for standing by all their values. Everyone has a choice, if Chick-fil-A's values offend you, don't make any purchases from Chick-fil-A. But don't ask Chick-fil-A to compromise their values for you. Let's stop trying to make everyone conform to 'politically correct' beliefs and celebrate individuality.
"celebrate individuality"?!?!?!????? so you've decided to stick up for a group of bigots, while suppressing another group of people – it doesn't seem like there's much room for "individuality" in your definition at all! you sound like another narrow-minded-majority looking to keep those that have found who they are as individuals stuck in a corner again. the only thing your supporting is a business to spread hate.
There was NO statement of hate, just their belief. That doesn't make it a hate statement just because we have a different belief. I am proud of what Chick-fil-a stands for and will contunue to support them and encourage others to support them as well.
Their "belief" is that others don't get to have the same rights that they have, because they think their idea of religion should be forced on everyone.
I don't care what they believe. When they gave my money to causes that would take away the rights of others to practice their different beliefs, I got involved.
It's interesting that he said he was married to his first wife. If this was hate-mongering, wouldn't all the divorced people, or those living with their partners be offended? Honestly, it didn't seem bigoted. He was asked about his personal morals.
The road to intollerance is a two-way street. You can not condemn a man (let alone an entire company) for his beleifs and demand that your beliefs be respected and tolerated at the same time. I applaud Chik-Fil-A. let's keep politics out of the food chain shall we?
The message of tolerance is everywhere. However, tolerance seems to only apply when both sides agree. When the group that advocates "tolerance" disagrees, suddenly it's no longer tolerating anyone and the name calling begins.
For example when Christians say, "We won't support Home Depot because of their blatant support of LGBTQ rights." Christian's are considered bigots and intolerant. Yet, aren't the others (not the Christians) now being intolerant?
I will always and continue to support an organization like Chick-a-Filet for standing up for what they believe in, and those who disagree have the freedom in this country to do so. However, it would be nice to see them do it without the name calling, is that really necessary?
I am a gay woman who cares for ur sick and elderly ud never knw I was gay lol but if I was saving ur life would u care? Myself my wife and our daughter loved ur food but are hurt that u would say this. By the way my wife served for ur country.
Ok, you need to calm down.You believe what you want to believe and let him believe what he believes.Just because i dont believe in gay marriage doesnt mean i hate gays.I just disagree with their believes,same way i disagree with republicans, mormons and the mcdonalds menu.ok-so i dont see anything hateful that he said,he simply stated his believes.
If you learned how to spell 'hatred' correctly, maybe someone might think there's a somewhat intelligent person behind this comment. Actually, no.
well well. once again we have a company using God and the bible to justify hate and prejudice..the bible makes it clear we should not eat pork and that divorce is abhorrent to God but does this company only hire people who have not been divorced or take a stand against it? no..because their ignorance and hate is focused on gays....and in america that is ok because there is not liberty and justice for all.
Did they ever say they wouldn't serve gay people? Why do you assume by those comments that they hate gay people? Intolerant maybe, but hate? Why does it always have to be about hate?
Gay marriage, straight marriage.... Actually you gotta be pretty f*ing stupid to get married in the first place.
Is the tax break from marriage really worth losing half your stuff and then having to pay some lazy B* alimony?
I don't see where there is hate in their beliefs. They are just that, their Beliefs and each person straight or gay has their own beliefs. Just because they don't agree with your beliefs doesn't mean they hate you or a particular group of people.
Why do people automatically assume that Chik-fil-a hates gay people by saying they are supportive of traditional family values? I'm a married Christian with a gay sister, does that automatically mean I hate my sister? Not a chance. The real problem here is extremism. Extremist Christians who think they are holier than thou and Extremist Non Christians who think that anyone who believes in God is an Extremist Christian, and people on both sides with nothing better to do than tell everyone their wrong. You have a problem with gays? Don't hang around them. Have a problem with Christians? Don't hang around them.
@Jonathan They donate money to groups that work to get laws put in place to ban gay marriage. I would have little problem if they just believed something and left it at that. They are using their money to motivate the government to pass laws that force their beliefs on others that do not agree. That is what is hateful.