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Christian groups allege threats to religious freedom in anti-Chick-fil-A campaigns
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has discouraged Chick-fil-A from coming to his city.
July 30th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Christian groups allege threats to religious freedom in anti-Chick-fil-A campaigns

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

The nation’s biggest evangelical group said Monday that religious freedom is threatened by American mayors who say Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their cities because of the restaurant leader’s opposition to gay marriage.

“Individuals have the right to decide whether or not to ‘eat mor chikin.’ But no government leader should restrict a business or organization from expanding to their district based on the personal or political views of the owners,” Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said Monday.

“Such evident discrimination and attempts to marginalize those with religious values have no place in American democracy,” Anderson said.

The National Association of Evangelicals is the country’s largest evangelical umbrella group, representing 45,000 local churches from 40 denominations.

9 religious companies besides Chick-fil-A

Last week, a handful of mayors urged Chick-fil-A to stay out of their cities after the chain’s president, Dan Cathy, weighed in on same-sex marriage by saying his company backs the traditional family unit.

"Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, said last week. “They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members."

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee tweeted last week: "Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer."

Evangelist Billy Graham defends Chick-fil-A

Those comments and other criticisms have prompted conservative Christian groups to rally to the restaurant’s side.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has called for a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Wednesday, while former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin tweeted a picture of her and her husband holding Chik-fil-A takeout bags last weekend.

Opinion: Chick-fil-A and free speech

"I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld," Huckabee, a Republican and former pastor, wrote in a Facebook posting announcing the Wednesday event.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

More than 300,000 people have accepted Huckabee's Facebook invitation to participate in the event.

Evangelical groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council have also urged their followers to see campaigns against Chick-fil-A as threats to religious freedom.

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“For the government to engage in viewpoint discrimination is not only bad politics - it's unconstitutional,” the Family Research Council said in an e-mail to supporters last week. “Chick-fil-A may be a private company, but that doesn't mean it has to surrender its beliefs at the dining room door.”

“Under the First Amendment, executives at Chick-Fil-A are just as entitled as any American to speak publicly about their views,” the statement continued.

- CNN's Sarah Aarthun contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Food

soundoff (782 Responses)
  1. Rich

    Christianity is full of hypocrites always crying about there freedoms being infringed upon but yet they are always doing the same with people who they feel are not of God,immoral or unchristian like chrisitans are some of the BIGGEST offenders when it comes to bigotry,prejudice,bias,unfairness,disrespect and intolerance so they have no room to complain

    August 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  2. Rick Levin

    I don't even like chicken but I plan to start eating three meals a day at Chick-fil-A now.

    August 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • midwest rail

      Sure you do. Next.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  3. khurram shahzad

    helo sister/ brother Muslim treads us again and again plz safe us they burnt ours houses and now we want shelter plz tailk to you government about us i live in gojra pakistan

    August 1, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  4. khurram shahzad

    helo sister Muslim treads us again and again plz safe us they burnt ours houses and now we want shelter plz tailk to you government about us i live in gojra pakistan

    August 1, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  5. TN Alpha

    So if Oprah buys a Chic-fil-a sandwich, will Dan Cathy give her money to the Klan?
    It may be his right but it still isn't right.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      All things are permitted but not all are beneficial.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  6. gotta love the anti-religious types

    Nice to see that Rahm Emanuel fancies himself to be a "moral" person.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  7. achepotlex

    Leviticus 11:7And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.

    Chick-fil-A Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit

    Delicious strips of smoked applewood bacon along with a folded egg and cheese served on a freshly baked buttermilk biscuit.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  8. Tony

    Been reading alot of stories lately in the news. Learned a few new things.
    1. To support Family Values, embrace hate.
    2. To support your local church, make a donation to the KKK.
    3. No one wants to bake you a cake or make you a chicken sandwich.
    4.Politicians are liars and Liars are politicians.
    5. Reality is fake, but to be fake is to be real.
    6. If I don't want to see you naked, I can ignore your texts.
    7. I can not enjoy a coke or baby formula in New York.
    8. I will not even mention where I can not curse.
    9. We should close our borders, because we already have enough dumba__es in this country.

    Can not wait to see what I learn next week!!

    July 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  9. W.G.

    What about Liars and Adulterers and theives and all the other sinners ? He who is free from sin let them cast the first stone .

    July 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • niknak

      Hopefully right through your front window.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If you actually read Cathey's statement, he is against those things too.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • midwest rail

      The essential difference though, Bill, is that he is not seeking to codify those things, but he IS seeking to codify his anti SSM stance. Hmmmm, wonder why ?

      August 1, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  10. Reality

    As noted on p. 10:

    Very little to do with religion and a lot to do with money as the CEOs of McDonalds and Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell et al) are probably big donors to Raul's Chicago political machine. i.e. Chick-fil-A would be bad for the bottom line for these other fast food chains..

    July 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Probably? So, you are just speculating?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      speculating? is that the same as "making it up"?

      August 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  11. achepotlex

    I think the time might be right for segregation...let the Christians have their own restaurants, schools, buses, water fountains....might be better that way for everyone....

    July 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • kd2010

      I will not be surprised that people like you will love to take us back to the Soviet era where Christians were presecuted . I believe at that time churches will be shut down becuase they will not bless gay marriages. That is when we can talk about government take over not right now. So go ahead and usher in the communist.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • TR6

      How about their own country. They can have the sothern confederate states

      July 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • niknak

      I second, or third that, or whatever place i am in.
      Make them pay taxes too. I am tired of having to foot the bill for them.
      You want your antena to god, then pay for it like I have to pay for my house's taxes.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Gadflie

      KD, in the Soviet era, not a single country allowed legal gay marriages. So, your "belief" on this is obviously just false.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Should we take all our hospitals, universities and libraries with us or would you prefer to keep the benefits of Christian contribution to western civilization?

      August 1, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  12. El Flaco

    The counter staff at Chick-Fil-A make about $7.50 an hour. That's $15.000 a year if you are never sick and never take a vacation. That's what kind of Christian CEO Cathy is: one who gets rich by underpaying his employees.

    Chick-Fil-A employees deserve a raise and a new boss.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Or they could just market their skills to someone else

      July 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • kd2010

      How much does Mcdonalds and BK pay their workers?. narrow mindedness is a vice

      July 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mike A

      A job for teenagers that requires no experience and no education is a low paying job – welcome to reality buddy

      July 31, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Thom

      So he is less of a Christian because he follows the law of providing minimum wage to underskilled or underexperienced employees? Interesting. Also interesting is the idea that businesses should pay more to these employees, since that would increase their labor costs and likely force job loss through firings to maintain a profitable business. or was your idea they just pay all the money they make from financing the business to the people who have not taken the risk associated with starting and running a business? Your viewpoint is as illogical as it is uneducated. Step one, learn to read. Step two, read and econ book.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Rich

      EL FLACO

      Here something else about the company the food is NOT all that healthy in fact it's no better than Mickey D's,Wendy's,Dunkin Donuts and Taco Bell there desserts have 80 g of sugar the sandwiches bkfast and lunch have 880-1600 mg of sodium well above the daily required amount so they are fattening up,destroying the health of americans just like the other fast food restaurants and he's a man of God??? Oh My God!!!!!! "LOL"

      August 1, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  13. Mildred Gillers

    CFA is a clear example of why religion should be outlawed. Particularly the christers should be put out of business.

    I would never employ a christer to work for me. christers go around admitting they are sinners, and even bragging about it, and all the kinds of sin they do.

    I am not a sinner and I don't want sinners around me. So christers can stay away. They are just vermin. Like the CEO of CFA.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Mildred Gillers

      And now the christ cultists are claiming they are being threatened by chicken sandwiches. Or rather, by people refusing to eat them!!!

      God what a screwed up religion!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yeah we should put them all in camps somewhere and force them to work for free and take all their possessions and give them to people who think correctly like you and me.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • JLP

      I am glad that you have such a open mind and are so willing to accept the views of others.You may wish you were a "Christer", one day.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  14. Dyslexic Dog

    Christians don't care about "religious liberty". It's only christian liberty they care about. Christans are intolerant of other religions, convinced that they are wrong and telling them that they will burn in hell unless they believe what christians believe! Don't whine about "religious liberty" when you want nothing of the sort!

    July 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • El Flaco

      Christians want the right to oppress the rest of us.

      July 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      When were you first oppressed by a Christian? When was the last time?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • JLP

      I guess we feel that way because Jesus said,"I am the way the truth and the life and no one gets to the Father except by me".

      July 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @JLP

      You said, "I guess we feel that way because Jesus said,"I am the way the truth and the life and no one gets to the Father except by me"."
      Did you ever consider that there are a lot of people that really (and I mean really) don't want to get your "father"? Have you ever considered that the whole idea of a "father" is equally ridiculous as the Tooth Fairy?

      Don't get me wrong. You, just like everybody else, are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. You are free to worship whatever imaginary friend you want. The US Constitution provides you that freedom. It doesn't give you the right to expect anyone else to be equally deluded.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mel

      Um Chik-fil-A stated merely a belief. They havent' discriminated against anyone. I guess you don't like freedom of speech? Now, it's ok for you to smack your beliefs but no one else can? Wow, can we say hypocrisy.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mel

      You said, "Um Chik-fil-A stated merely a belief."
      They've done much more than that. They've contributed millions of dollars to groups that actively campaign for discrimination.

      You said, "They havent' discriminated against anyone."
      By supporting the organizations that actively try to deny equal rights, they are, at the very least complicit.

      You said, "I guess you don't like freedom of speech? Now, it's ok for you to smack your beliefs but no one else can? Wow, can we say hypocrisy."
      They are free to say what they want. So does everyone else. They've shown themselves to be bigots. We're just pointing that out.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  15. El Flaco

    I go to Chick-Fil-A all the time, but only to use the restroom.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Which God??

    Ahh PN, but the greed was by men who esposed xtian values. Jackson was a xtian but hated indians. The railroad robber barons were xtians as well.Yes, you are correct. But it was xtians who stole from the poor, and made money on land speculation that made the Rockefellers richer, and other. big names. Xtians are not about god, but who they can fool with their BS'ing from their buybull.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Which God??

      read espoused.

      July 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  17. IndyMike

    Rahm Emanuel can kiss my a$$. Another liberal who can't see the forest for the trees. The people of Chicago ought to be ashamed for putting this fool in office. Another "hope and change" liberal. Ho'w that working for y'all?

    July 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Careful there, princess. You might get Rahm (and yourself) excited.

      July 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • J.W

      It would be working fine, but there are Republicans in the way.

      July 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Mildred Gillers

      Its working great, Princess.

      We'll be in the White House for four more years. Then....Hillary!!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Peace2All

    @mike p. in Atlanta

    Hi -Mike P

    Your _'Argumentum Tu Quoque' _ fallacious response doesn't address the original as-sertion by @Thomas Kimbrell, as to the accuracy of what many evangelicals do.

    Peace...

    July 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      *sorry...meant for @mike p. in Atlanta below.*

      Peace...

      July 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  19. correctlycenter

    God's word isn't PC in today's self-centered society in which many individual's lifestyle conflicts with God, but feel it's OK anyway and refuse to repent and seek the LORD! A verse in the book of Isaiah says that good will be considered evil and evil considered good! Hello...

    July 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Mildred Gillers

      Thats because rational people realize there is no god.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Greg

      God is self evident in all of His creation. Only a fool says in their heart there is no God.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Thomas Kimbrell

    Everytime the evangelicals do not get there way, they are bring out that their religious rights are being ignored. Meanwhile they think nothing of stepping on the rights of those who disagree with them.

    July 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Which God??

      Not only that, Thomas, but they STILL claim that this country was founded on xtian values. Let's see, stoning, r.a.pe, mass murder, g.en.oci.de...all good xtian values, eh?

      July 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      @Which God THis country was founded upon business and greed. Witness the Native Americans. Genocide was practiced upon them so that Europeans could expand according to Manifest Destiny according to Anglo-Saxon racism. Keep in mind that the churches had no armies with which to subdue the Indians – only the gubment.
      You atheists are awakening a sleeping giant: namely, the fact that humans can screw themselves and others without any god at all.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • mike p. in Atlanta

      Everytime the Muslims do not get there way, they are bring out that their religious rights are being ignored. Meanwhile they think nothing of stepping on the rights of those who disagree with them.

      Everytime Liberals do not get there way, they are bring out that their rights are being ignored. Meanwhile they think nothing of stepping on the rights of those who disagree with them.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @mike p. in Atlanta

      Hi -Mike P

      Your _'Argumentum Tu Quoque' _ fallacious response doesn't address the original as-sertion by @Thomas Kimbrell, as to the accuracy of what many evangelicals do as far as their actions.

      Peace...

      July 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Thom

      @ Which God?? – I don't claim to be a good christian and likely never will be, but i like responding to illogical arguments and you happen to have one. So your idea is to take the worst aspects of Christian history and use that as the baseplate for all christians? Could i not do the same for any race or religion? I saw a black man steal something, so they are all theives? I saw a Muslim cut off someone's head so they are all lawless barbarians? I think you are advocating using stereotypes to define people, and that may not work well in the end given that whatever demographic you enjoy, you would likely be painted and repressed for a flawed view of who you are as a person. I guess though, it does follow the logic of hating a man, his views and his religion in the name of not discriminating against anyone, so at least you are consistent in your ideological inconsistency...

      August 1, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Thank you Thom. As a believer, I can say we face this kind of lump condemnation repeatedly. It's nice to have someone with; shall we say, no dog in the religious hunt, point out the bigotry of some anti-religious.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.