Politics and the Church – Where’s the Church? [Part 18]

This week we are going to concentrate on a ‘church’ that is not a building but an ‘attitude’.  We need to remember that there are two kinds of churches.  One ‘church’ is a building and the other ‘Church’ is the people who represent God’s Word to the people…some of the ‘Church’ even goes to ‘church’…but we can occasionally observe the ‘Church’ outside of the confines of the traditional building.  Let’s take a look at one of those ‘Churches’.

You can find this ‘Church’ in many of the local malls…we know it as Chick-fil-A.  It must be a Church because so many liberal God-haters can’t stand it. For example, when it was announced that the chicken restaurant would be opening an outpost in New York City the secular battle flags went up.  Militant LGBT activists and liberal lawmakers were in a state of rage, even to the point of protests and urging people to abstain from poultry.  Their leader, NYC Mayor de Blasio called for a city wide boycott.  One city council member accused Chick-fil-A of spreading the message of hate. [Carly Hoilman,”De Blasio Urges New Yorkers to Boycott Chick-fil-A Over Company’s Stance on Marriage”, TheBlaze, Inc., May 4, 2016]. Even if that is not true…not only does it provide chicken and waffle fries and refreshing lemonade, but jobs…good jobs…that doesn’t matter because to Mayor de Blaiso because only full and complete compliance with the LGBTQIA agenda matters.  Hundreds of New Yorkers losing their jobs doesn’t even matter.  Fortunately New Yorkers ignored their ‘anti-poultry’ lawmakers and turned out in record numbers to welcome the business to New York City.  With business values deeply rooted in the Christian faith of its founder, S. Truett Cathy, it was easy for the public to see the “Church’. [Kerry Picket,”Chick-fil-A Succeeds in New York City Despite de Blaiso Boycott”, The Daily Caller, May 12, 2016].

That faith and Christian attitude was on full display in the aftermath of a criminal incident at Mr. Cathy’s Atlanta-area home.  Vandals caused $30,000 in damage in 2008, but of all the damage that was done, what bothered him most was the filthy language preteen girls had written on the walls. [Mark I. Johnson,”Restaurant Founder Dishes Out Punishment to Vandals”, GateHouse Media, August 1, 2008].  Yet, Mr. Cathy asked the police not to prosecute the young vandals as he feared that a criminal history might tarnish their lives and future.  Instead of jail he worked out a deal with their parents.  The girls were banned from watching television and playing video games and the had to write 1,000 times ,”I will not vandalize other people’s property”. [Ibid].  He wanted to show the girls that there was a better way in life.  A ‘Church’ action if there ever was one.

But a little more on Mr. Cathy is needed.  He was a devout Southern Baptist, who taught Sunday school to thirteen-year old boys for more than 50 years. [“Controversial Chick-fil-A Founder Dies at 93”, Catholic Online, September 8, 2014].  (If what he did makes him controversial, then may I be known as such also.)  Beyond closing his business on Sundays, he launched foster homes, summer camps, and scholarships for young people.  When employees needed help, he was there.  Since 1973 Chick-fil-A has given more than $32 million in financial aid assistance to workers…with an emphasis on given. He stated he wanted to be known for keeping his priorities in the proper order. [Ibid].  Any wonder Chick-fil-A became a target to the secular liberals. In 2012 the then president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, told a reporter that the “Biblical definition of the family unit” did not include same sex marriage. A national firestorm ensued, stoked by LGBT activists and liberal lawmakers. Boston and Chicago lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to block new Chick-fil-A locations.  Protesters swarmed restaurants, bulling and harassing workers. In 2015 an LGBT lawmaker in Denver wanted to stop the establishment of a Chick-fil-A at Denver International Airport, fearing profits were used “to fund and fuel discrimination”. [Jon Murray,”Chick-fil-A Location at DIA Paused After Denver Council Cites Chain’s LGBT Stances”, Digital First Media, August 19, 2015].  Here is the case of a politician who has the nerve to think politicians have the power to decide how privately owned companies can spend their money…politics.

The battle over Chick-fil-A then moved to university campuses, with collegiate poultry jihadists declaring that waffle fries made them feel unsafe. Such was the case at Johns Hopkins University where students approved a resolution that called for blocking Chick-fil-A in their dining hall. [Richard Gorelick,”Johns Hopkins Students Oppose ‘Hypothetical’ Chick-Fil-A”, Baltimore Sun, April 24, 2015].  They claimed the restaurant would be a campus “microaggression”.  Whatever one’s opinion on same sex marriage, the JHU student government’s idea was that the mere presence of Chick-fil-A on campus would promote ‘homophobia’ and amount to discrimination against the LGBT community.  This view premised first of all on the assumption that advocates of traditional marriage are devoid of rational argument and inspired only by hatred, and secondly that such a business on campus would be equivalent to the university endorsing that support. [Andrew Guernsey,”The Johns Hopkins Chick-fil-A Ban and the Coming Gay-Marriage Witch Hunt”, National Review, April 22, 2015]. The debate that raged at Johns Hopkins was not so much about waffle fries or chicken nuggets as it was about free speech and religious liberty.

What does all of this have to do with “Church” you might ask.  Unlike a building, it’s the people who go the extra mile to demonstrate the love of Christ.  A few winters ago Chick-fil-A got to display its “Churchlikeness” near Birmingham, Alabama.  It was all brought about by a snow storm that was projected to just be a ‘dusting’.  When the first snow flakes started to fall no one paid attention, but then they didn’t quit falling.  Before long it was too late for anyone to do anything.  Interstates and highways became clogged with cars and trucks and thousands of motorists found themselves stranded with nowhere to go.  But a goodly number of those stranded motorists were able to find shelter thanks to the kindness and generosity of  Chick-fil-A restaurant employees and owner, Mark Meadows. [Jesse Chambers,”Highway 280 Chick-fil-A Took ‘Opportunity to Help’ , Gave Food to Drivers, Others Stranded in Snow”, Alabama Media Group, January 29, 2015].  The store manager was originally going to close up so employees could get home but when that proved too difficult many returned to the store.  By the time the decision was made to open up again, many drivers had been stuck in their cars for nearly seven hours without any food or water.  So the staff cooked several hundred sandwiches and stood out on both sides of Highway 280 handing out free sandwiches to anyone they could get to.  Chick-fil-A refused to take a single penny for the food. [Ibid].  Audrey Pitt, the manager, when asked about the free giveaway responded,”This company is based on taking care of people and loving people before you’re worried about  money or profit.  We were just trying to follow the model that we’ve worked under for so long and that we’ve come to love.” [Ibid]. The giveaways included food that had been prepared for a catered order since it was no longer possible to deliver it. They even went to the point of opening up their dining room for anyone who wanted to sleep on a bench or a booth.  That day and the next the only thing that was closed was Chick-fil-A’s cash registers.  Helping the disheveled was another trait that the management displayed. The whole attitude displayed by this store and its owner, Mark Meadows, is encompassed in the Book of Hebrews…”Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels’. [Heb. 13:2].

And so with this I point out that the “Church” depends on the people and not the people on the “church”.  The “church” is handy but it’s the “Church” that carries God’s message into the community and world.  May the “church” be where the “Church” is inspired and a place where we learn to take a stand in a secular world that ‘worships’ wrong.  Next week we will take a look at the glory of business…that place the progressive world likes to villianize.  I believe that is through our labor that God distributes His blessings.  Could it be that maybe the “church” could do more to encourage fruitful, responsible labor and downplay the ideas of ‘easy money’, the root of which is evil?

– Bob Munsey

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