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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. Thinker

    Where are all of these socalled religious organizations when pastors lead the attack on gay and lesbian rights. If they are not boycotting some company for hiring a gay spokesperson, they are boycotting because the company is sponsoring a pride event. Where is all the out rage then? None of you chic fillet people are really serious about protecting anything. If you were serious about civil rights you would be suppoerting gays and lesbians against these attacks.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • dave

      No. Because those are aboninations.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • joe

      Because private people boycotting an establishment is their right, however is it right for the government to step in and ban a business based on its owners moral values, whatever they are? I think not.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @joe

      Hey -joe...

      " is it right for the government to step in and *ban* a business based on its owners moral values, whatever they are? I think not. "

      Has any of our government stepped and and ordered a *ban* exactly on Chic Fil A ?

      Peace...

      July 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • joe

      A group of mayors is trying to use their political clout to prevent these establishments from opening in their cities. Thats a lot different than a group of people exercising their right to choose where or where not to eat. Emanuel is Obama's old crony, remember how "you didnt build that business by yourself, the government helped you." It's the same idea of the government enforcing their own morality on the populace 1984 style. I'm not pro or anti either side, but when the government starts to pick and choose who they prefer based on the business owner's views, that's when fairness and equality in the eyes of the law goes right out the window.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  2. Fallacy Spotting 101

    False and that was not the real Fallacy Spotting 101.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. joe

    You guys are missing the point of the article, it says politicians are trying to stop a restaurant from coming to their city based on the moral/religious beliefs of its owner. That is the same as if politicians, the government, attempted to ban a certain establishment because the owner is gay. Get the picture? Government trying to ban any business based on the owners beliefs, whatever they are, is wrong.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  4. anonimus

    Ohhh you mean the Book of Life? The Living True? Well indeed goes even deeper but It is written that not everybody understand...because the natural man can't understand the issues from the spirit...you need revelation not from a scientific but from the Creator! If you like to be "educated"...you can look it for yourself,,,see what The Bible say.
    Everybody have the option to choose...and I actually well "educated"... in sciences, but I do not believe in science more than in God! I'm not against people but against the one that try to mess up the people, as God creation.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • James PDX

      Your God is imperfect. The imperfection of his creations is proof.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  5. dave

    Maybe Hitler had it right, this melting pot sucks.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Who me?

      Always refreshing when a right-wing christian shows the true colours.Nice work!!

      July 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  6. Scott

    I have to say, I don't agree with the restaurant, but I don't agree with the government browbeating them either. They do have a first amendment right to say what they like without government oppression or conflict, but that doesn't extend protection from consumer outcry. If someone is angry with the CEO or the entire company, they can choose to not eat there. Consumers are free to boycott, protest, and so forth; but the government should stay out of it.

    The government is supposed to be here for the people, not to choose sides between the people. That being said, a lot of these "Christian Groups" shame us Christians severely. We have become that which Jesus was against the most, and I we should be ashamed of it.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • daisypearldesigns

      Well said. Jesus would be disappointed in those who claim to follow him but do not heed his teachings.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  7. Fallacy Spotting 101

    And thank you, Snow.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    boohoohoo!

    we're prejudice h.omophobes and people are calling us out on it.

    boohoohoo!

    July 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  9. Tally

    Boo hoo. People discriminating againt people/businesses who driscriminate. How is anti-gay any different than racism? Discrimination is discrimination, and shouldn't be tolerated in a inclusive melting pot like the USA.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  10. Jonathan N

    And there is the 'o Christian temper tantrum yet again. Don't get your way? Scream you are oppressing my religion. I wonder if that could have worked as a kid. I want candy. WAHHHHH you are oppressing my religion. I want to stay up late. WAHHHHH you are oppressing my religion!!!

    July 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  11. johnny

    There is a bar here in NYC called The Manhole. I don't think it hires straight men.

    Re: Tyrese Johnson
    Name one major business that refuses to hire straight people.
    THAT is why Chick-Fil-A is unwelcome. Because of discrimination.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • James PDX

      Interesting to hear that you consider a gay bar to be a major business. I take it you frequent this establishment?

      July 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Christian P.

      There is no discrimination in evidence, nor has any taken place. Chick-fil-A has not gone on record and said that it does not hire gay people, nor is there any evidence to demonstrate that they discriminate in their hiring practices. All that has been said is that the company supports a particular position on an issue.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Way to waffle Christian P.

      Bet there's a gridiron on your butt. Try some syrup on it next time.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • James PDX

      The COMPANY supports discrimination against a certain group of people and their civil rights. Agreeing to hire someone who you want to oppress isn't really all that good of a thing, Christian P.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Who me?

      It's a freakin' gay bar named the Manhole in New York that discriminates against straight folks.Fancy that..

      July 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  12. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    The long time head of PR for this sorry company died last Friday. Better to go to Jeebus, than face the music.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-chickfila-perrybre86q1g3-20120727,0,6695009.story

    July 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  13. Nietodarwin

    I've read Xstians are %90 of the pop. %76 of the pop. This is from PEW and USA Today, via the ffrf website;

    America’s “Nones” — the nonreligious — are at an all-time high, now comprising nearly one in five Americans (19%), according to a new study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press. The 19% count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted by the Pew Research Center throughout 2011 and reported by USA Today.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Michelle

      Did you just call me a 'none,' you little twit?

      July 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  14. James PDX

    Shame on you people for discriminating against a company solely because they discriminated against others. You have no right.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • M. Stark

      How have they discriminated against anyone? Mr Cathy simply said what he believes as a Christian. For anyone to label that "hate speech" is hateful in itself, and an attack against Christianity. It seems to be stylish to declare yourself a non-believer or an atheist, and deserving attack if you declare yourself a Christian and keep Christian values. Whether you believe or not is between you and God. But what I believe shouldn't be open to hate and ridicule.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  15. Steven Bryer

    I'm a Christian and I'm not "crying discrimination". If these states don't realize that they are losing badly needed revenue that great businesses like Chick – fil – A generate then they are the ones that will be crying in the end.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • James PDX

      There are enough fast food chicken restaurants to meet the need of the people. 1 more added to the glut won't be to anyone's benefit. However, even if it negatively impacted the economy, if Hitler opened a fast food chain I would boycott them too.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Steven Bryer

      Hi -Steve..

      " If these states don't realize that they are losing badly needed revenue that great businesses like Chick – fil – A generate then they are the ones that will be crying in the end. "

      Interesting POV. So... 'revenue' trumps basic *human rights* for 'everyone'...?

      Peace...

      July 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Many companies will fill the void, and no revenue will be lost by the states, cities, counties, etc. You have about as much business sense as Mr. Cathy the brilliant CEO.

      I think I will start searching for venture capital now for an ALL INCLUSIVE (including xstian right wingers, bigots, gays, atheists) CHICKEN business. What to name it??????

      July 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  16. Michael

    What's that? Oh yeah, it's the sound of Christians digging themselves deeper into the hole.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  17. zivo24

    The persecuted have become the persecutors...and in doing so..they have defiled the name of Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ didn't exclude, Jesus Christ didn't discriminate, Jesus Christ didn't preach an "us vs them" ideology. Jesus Christ taught people to treat others as they would want to be treated themselves. If you support the ideologies of inequality, you have no business calling yourself a christian...because Jesus Christ wouldn't support the mean, ugly things that you are supporting.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bob

      Well, actually, if you look at the actual content of the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible, there are clear instructions in there that Christians should do acts of hate and even murder. Fine stuff like this, in both OT and NT:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      July 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Correct!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Which is why this company will LOSE LOTS OF BUSINESS FROM MANY MANY CHRISTIANS TOO.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  18. Tyrese Johnson

    It is estimated that make up 76% of the US population.
    lol HELP! HELP!! I'm being oppressed!

    July 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tyrese Johnson

      It is estimated that Christians make up 76% of the US population*

      July 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • James PDX

      No, it is estimated that "so-called" Christians make up 76% of the population.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  19. Michael

    Give me a break. Hardly a week or two go by without one radical fundamentalist Christian organization or another like the so-called "Million Moms" for example announcing a boycot of this business or that because the business supports either a woman's right to choose what is right for her or full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, but now that people are handing Christians their own tactics back in kind they are whinning like spoiled little brats.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  20. anonimus

    Well..what about the discrimination against Christians? I think the people should decide if they eat at a place or not...is not the same "right" that the gay community claims? Nobody is forced to be a christian or gay...it is a decision... Believe in God or believe in yourself or whatever. Or, it is that the "rights" apply for some people only??? Believe in God or not does not change the reality...God created us:male and female and it has been MY choice to believe that...I will eat mor chikin!!! well...another decision!

    July 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Educating The Ignorant

      Except that being gay isn't a decision. There's enough scientific proof to show that being gay is programmed in biology. Of course, you won't care about that since it isn't in your fictional book.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'anonimus' contains multiple instances of the Begging the Question fallacy, in addition to instances of the Suppressed Evidence fallacy and Willed Ignorance.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      July 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Fallacies? We don't need no stinkin fallacies!

      Who cares what the fallacy is or is not. Was the point made or do you think that by giving your fallacy spotting that you have somehow defeated there point of view?

      July 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tyrese Johnson

      Name one major business that refuses to hire straight people.
      THAT is why Chick-Fil-A is unwelcome. Because of discrimination.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      anonimus...Religious groups only talk tolerance until they disagree...... look at the stories of, say ,an atheist group putting up a billboard asking folks to folks just to think...then listen to the discriminated christian!s howl..so much for free speech..

      July 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Snow

      @stinkin... *sigh.. look up the definition for the word "Fallacy". You would get the answers for each of your questions.. you would find it in that other book called "dictionary".

      July 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      When fallacy has been identified, support for the point of view has been taken away.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      July 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Liz the First

      You can try to justify discriminating against gays by believing it's a choice. but it's not a choice, and that's been proven. did you decide to be straight? (if you are.) no, you were born straight the same as folks are born gay. gay just IS. it's part of the natural order of things. get over it!

      July 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Liz the First' is an instance of a Suppressed Evidence fallacy and a case of Willed Ignorance.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      July 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      False. That was not the real Fallacy Spotting 101

      July 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
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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.