Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN
(CNN)–Cultural upheavals often occur in the most surprising contexts. Who expected that a clash between sexuality and religious liberty would be focused on a restaurant company mainly known for its chicken sandwiches?
And yet the controversy over Chick-fil-A is a clear sign that religious liberty is at risk and that this nation has reached the brink of tyrannical intolerance from at least some of our elected leaders.
The controversy ignited when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, son of the company’s legendary founder, Truett Cathy, told a Baptist newspaper that he and his company “operate on biblical principles” and “are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”
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Defining Chick-fil-A as “a family business,” Cathy went on to say that “We intend to stay the course. … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Media attention to Cathy’s comments revealed a radio interview he had given a few weeks earlier in which he commented that “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at (God) and say, ‘We know better than You what constitutes a marriage.'
“I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we would have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about,” he said.
Within days, elected officials in Chicago, Boston and New York were pledging to deny the company access to their cities.
“Because of (Dan Cathy’s) ignorance, I will deny Chick-fil-A a permit to open a restaurant in my ward,” Chicago Alderman Proco Moreno said, in a threat echoed by
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was just as blunt: “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston,” he said. “We’re an open city. We’re a city at the forefront of inclusion.”
But the kind of inclusion he had in mind would evidently exclude Chick-fil-A.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who just recently married her lesbian partner, called upon New York University to kick Chick-fil-A off its campus.
9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
Echoing the Boston mayor’s lack of irony, she also called for exclusion in the name of inclusion: “We are a city that believes our diversity is our greatest strength, and we will fight anything and anyone that runs counter to that.”
Within days, Moreno, Emanuel and Menino had qualified their statements somewhat, promising to operate within the law and constitutional limits. Those clarifications became necessary when legal authorities quickly recognized threatened violations of First Amendment rights.
To his credit, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of same-sex marriage, warned, “You can’t have a test for what the owner’s personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city.”
Note carefully that Chick-fil-A was not charged with discrimination in hiring or service but simply with the fact that its president and chief operating officer supports traditional marriage.
Note something else: Dan Cathy’s statements were explicitly religious. He made his comments to the religious press, including a Baptist newspaper. His comments were infused with his Christian convictions, the same convictions that have led the company to close for business every Sunday.
The threats made against Chick-fil-A betray the principle of religious liberty that is enshrined within the U.S. Constitution. Civic officials in some of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities have openly threatened to oppose Chick-fil-A for the singular reason that its president openly spoke of his Christian convictions concerning marriage.
When Quinn, one of the most powerful officials in New York, announces, “I do not want establishments in my city that hold such discriminatory views,” is she also threatening the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques?
They, along with evangelical Christian denominations, openly oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. Cathy’s statements are completely consistent with his own denomination’s statement of faith and official declarations. He was speaking as a Christian and as a Southern Baptist, and he was speaking as a man who does his best to live and speak as he believes.
Christian groups allege threats to religious freedom in anti-Chick-fil-A campaigns
When Emanuel and Moreno tell Chick-fil-A to stay out of Chicago, are they audacious enough to deliver that same message to the churches, mosques and synagogues of their city that also oppose same-sex marriage? What do they do with the fact that their own state does not allow same-sex marriages?
This country is deeply divided over the issue of same-sex marriage, and the controversy over Chick-fil-A is an ominous sign that many of the proponents of same-sex marriage are quite willing to violate religious liberty and to use any and all means to silence and punish any individual or organization that holds the contrary view – a view sustained by the voters in 29 states by constitutional amendments.
Addressing the intersection of same-sex marriage and religious liberty, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has warned that the government must not be “viewed as unfairly trying to pre-determine the debate or harass one side.”
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That is exactly what some elected officials have just shown themselves ready to do. It will not stop with Chick-fil-A. Who will be next to be told to get out of town?
I know Dan and Truett Cathy and other members of the Cathy family. Truett has spoken on our campus. I have prayed at the opening of multiple Chick-fil-A locations. I serve on the board of directors of Focus on the Family, which has been supported by Chick-fil-A. My son, Christopher, is a part-time service employee of a local Chick-fil-A restaurant in Louisville. I have not communicated with Chick-fil-A about this column.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler Jr.
When fast food gets to determine how we live our lives, we get to determine whether or not we want to give our money to fast food. Chick Fil-A CEO needs to stay out of other peoples' bedrooms.
How is Chik-Fil-A controlling your life?
I am making a killing off the backs of those those that hate gays. Praise Jesus for keeping the gays down.
Just read the last paragraph (Disclosures) and you will know all you need to about this article.
The author is an agent of Focus on the Family, one of the most moneyed and power christian lobby groups in the USA.
Just remember $100 BILLION a year TAX FREE is given to christian ministries in the USA every year...
The fact that the author is wrong, Relious freedom is NOT under threat and never has been in America (First Amendment).
But Christianity is under threat, though, because its so damn stupid and ridiculous. Science, Education, and common sense will wipe this idiotic belief system out (once the boomers are dead). :-)
Fools mock but they shall mourn. Just sayin'
Hey Eric... when you quote Mormon ( Latter Day Saint's) scripture, you should give the citation.
Christianity has survived 2000 years and it will be around long
after you are dead and forgotten...
I love when people quote fantasy and sci fi books.
eric: "blah, blah, blah, god's gonna get you, blah blah blah". did i quote you correctly?
Two words that gays need to be satisfied with - civil unions!
You first, princess.
I am totally down with civil unions as long as civil unions are for gay and straight couples. What about the Christian gay couple that wants to get married?
"Two words that gays need to be satisfied with – civil unions!"
They tried separate but equal with African American civil rights and it didn't work, it still was discriminatory. This is about equal civil rights. Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.
The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
A federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.
Why? The word "marriage" does not belong to Christianity. If it were, Jews and Muslims would not be allowed to have one. Atheists would not be allowed to have one. Pagans would not be allowed to have one. I could go on, but I assume you get the point.
Marriage IS a civil union. It is a legally binding contract between two people and the government stating that they are combining their lives, their assets, their debts into one family unit.
Perhaps, if you need for it to have some manner of religious meaning that applies to just your faith, it is YOU who need to come up with another word for it.
No because people are basically greedy. And since there is a distinction in what it is called, there are still, legally, differences in rights and advantages afforded to each. What planet did you hail from that you don't know this basic aspect of human nature?
you should be familiar with two words yourself: equal protection
My issue is not with the views of the management of Chick-Fil-A corporate. It is the money that they donate to organizations that promote discrimination against a segment of our population. If they are alienating or enabling the alienation a segment of the population then they can hardly expect that population to continue to support them. Shouldn't freedom of religion allow a gay christian to get married?
The only thing that threatens religion is free thought
My religion requires me to wave my junk at 5 year old girls because that is what my god desires. My religious liberties were taken away along time ago.
That's one reason Judeo-Christian ethics are preferable
Uhm... under attack? Yes... yes they are. And deservedly so. Luckily for us, our "attacks" on them are completely legal, as we can spend or not spend our money wherever we want. Also, we can picket and protest anything we want. So get off your "we're under attack" horse and grow up. You believe in things that are just wrong, and you will pay for your choices, just like everyone else does.
No, they aren't just wrong, I tell you. There is a God and aren't you going to be surprised that gay marriage goes against his will.
Eric – once again, we are not a theocracy. Neither your version of a god, or any version of any of the other 10,000 god's we invented has standing in our laws. Whatever your god wants, needs, desires, or demands, is irrelevant.
I can't prove it to you but God is real, even though he seems to be more irrevelant in these times. I tell you, God is REAL! And fools mock but they shall mourn. Have fun at judgement day, because that is real too.
Individuals have every right to decide whether to patronise the company, but for elected officials to say they are going to deny license based on the comments of the privately owned company's CEO is not correct – it is discrimination.
It is your belief...not fact or proof. Please remember that. Is your magical underwear too tight today Eric?
Yesterday Chick-fil-A set an all time record from a little political controversy. Well played Mr. Cathy, well played.
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Religious zealots want freedom and liberty, but only as they define it. The CFA controversy is purely American - someone with power and influence says something controversial, opponents cry foul (er...fowl?), supporters do their thing and a dialog starts. No one side is getting something the other isn't and we all spout our kooky beliefs in comment sections online and the world keeps on spinning.
Get off the cross, Mr. Mohler! Someone needs the wood!
This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.
Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?
The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?
Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.
So the Old Testament is out.
Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.
The people who are opposed to gay marriage, and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it
Yes, they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.
The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it; it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.
Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.
Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.
Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world, you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
@Gloria That's not jesus, that's matthew, you, like everyone else tried twist the words of the bible for your own use. Use your own words next time, you may get farther....
FYI the words in red are quotes from Jesus, maybe you should sit this one out.
@Moses: I think he knew the quotes are attributed to Jesus. But that's the point: they are *attributed* to him by the write of the Gospel of Matthew. Between us and the historical Jesus there is a long chain of human beings with their conscious and unconscious biases and agendas. Ultimately we can't avoid having to justify our beliefs and words based on something innate to each of us, or else how can you even decide which competing version of the story you believe?
Absolutely well said, Michael. Please run for President.
Gloria: three of four verses
Opposing Gloria: the entire rest of the New Testament
But she doesn't need to deal with that. She'll just put up her quote and shuffle along, comfortable in feeling her hatred and her arrogance condoned because she could pull out that one handy little passage.
This is why we can't have nice things.
Gospel Mt 13:47-53
Jesus said to the disciples:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."
"Do you understand all these things?"
They answered, "Yes."
And he replied,
"Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old."
When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
I fail to understand how religious liberty is under threat? Is anyone saying you can't believe something? No, just that when you make a public statement about your beliefs that others that disagree with you have the right to their religious liberty to do the same thing. This is the problem with the religious right these days – they want to protect their right to bigotry, hypocracy, and hate by stripping others of the very rights they claim are under fire. In the US religious freedom is supposed to be for all, not just the loud and powerful.
That was my initial reaction, too. But I'd forgotten that, as the OP points out, various civic officials were immediately off making wonky statements about banning the business from their cities. That's pretty questionable. I'm sure in many cases it is flat-out not within their abilities or rights to do something like that, as government in general and even more so as a single individual.
Still, "tyrannical intolerance?" That does smack of the kind of martyred hyperbolic cries that annoy many of us and desensitize us to legitimate legal issues. I get the sense that some Christians still very much want to be martyred – or to see themselves as martyred, anyway. Well, don't get too excited: having Chick-Fil-A catch some flak in the press is a long way from being fed to the lions for public entertainment. The consciousness of that history should inspire enough humility to put your "persecutions" in perspective.
I love that all those fat, mindless, bigots are shuffling into that dumb eatery right now! Fried food, bad souls, it's a WIN/WIN situation for me! Come to me you dumb, hateful christians! I guess you missed the message that your Jesus taught you: To love one another. HA HA! Well, your hatred gets you a warm place with ME for eternity!
I honestly feel bad for you. You are a complete idiot :) Did he say he hated Gays? Did he say he not going to let them eat at his restaurant? Stop making it a huge event. He made an opinion much like every gay person does about their equal rights.
Biblical marriages were largely polygamous. How come Mr. Cathy isn't defending that? This one man/one woman idea of marriage is a lot of hoo-haw.
Biblical polygamy marriages where never condoned in scripture. The thing is The Bible didn't hide the fact that men where always sinners. The bible didn't hide that King David and Solomon where law breakers by have many wives and conquibines. Do you understand the concept of context? It seems not. Can you show me anywhere in scripture where God commanded polygamy? Yes there is examples of polygamy in the bible, but God never once said polygamy was a definition of marriage. Those men in scripture where sinners. Just like the rest of us. Use your brain when you try make an argument. Quit using shallow arguments.
Joseph, where do you get the proof to make such statements? Of course polygamy was allowed in the biblical times and is spoken of in the bible like it's an everyday thing. What about Noah's daughters sleeping with him. Or Lot's? What exactly give you or any other christian the right to decide exactly what the bible says or doesn't say just to fit your needs? You're ridiculous.
@Jesus Christ because the bible shows example of men being sinners it means that the bible condoned it? Is that how thick headed you are. Can you show me a verse where God commanded polygamy and said it is good? The Bible shows men being sinners, it does not hide the fact that these men where breaking Gods law. Scripture could of hidden such thing, but it didn't. The Bible shows that men break Gods law. Even Jesus himself knew this. He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV) Lots daughter did sin. They also broke Gods law. The fact that the bible didn't hide it, does not mean that the bible approved of it.
@Joseph Yes, the Bible does show men as sinners. But all the other things you reference were breaking some specific prohibition – David covets his neighbor's (subject's) wife and indirectly commits murder, for instance. But NOWHERE does it say that polygamy is prohibited or that God was angry with so-and-so for having multiple wives (despite all the many hings God IS specifically angry with people for doing / not doing). The fact is this: you are using your own good judgment to say that polygamy seems wrong. Scary, I know.
Everyone should read the Euthyphro. Is what is holy good because it is loved by God? Or is what is holy loved by God because it is good? Only the second one makes sense.
I think you should hold to your beliefs, don't let anyone or anything change the way you stand for our GOD. It is our rights just like it is their right to get thier way. GOD is with us and he is watching our every move. He will pevail in the end and that is not to far away.
What is it with some people's ageless obsession with the end of the world? Good grief.
Joyce, the end of the world may not be far away, but that's because of greedy, selfish people like you that have destroyed the beautiful waters I created, polluted the peaceful air that I gave you and dug for oil, gas and gold in the gentle earth that I provided you. Your hatred isn't in any of the lessons I taught. I think you need to reconsider what GOD you really worship because you're not coming to heaven any time soon.
"The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching." Assyrian tablet, c. 2800 BCE.
Any day now, any... day.... hm.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events
I wonder what the response would be if Mr. Cathy's view of the "traditional" or "biblical" family was "white only," and he had made such a statement publicly? I'm sure there are some individuals in this country who would support this idea. Would people come to his defense so quickly? Even though it's slowly evolving, it's still okay in the minds of some groups to formally marginalize gays and say whatever disparaging remarks publicly they want and demand that it's freedom of speech. Free speech is great, but we also bare a certain responsibility for what we say. Mr. Cathy's freedom of speech was never an issue -it's what he said that fueled a retort (but not censorship). Again, what if he had stated that his view of the "traditional" or "biblical" family did not include blacks or Latinos etc.? You can argue that this isn't necessarily a slur on blacks or other races, but isn't it? Regardless of what your religious feelings are, what he said was dehumanizing to a whole subset of people in our country. Is that American? Sadly, I believe it's probably okay in the eyes of some people. Mr. Cathy said what he wanted to. His freedom of speech has never been questioned, was never truly an issue as some people like to claim. There was a reaction, which is expected. Free speech works both ways.
I often find it disturbing that the liberals advertise themselves as proponents of freedom, but more and more it seems that only applies if your definition of freedom matches their group-think. This company does not discriminate – the fact that its owner has an opinion should not be a controversy at all – except that it disagrees with the liberal "our way or the highway" mentality. Lines warpped around my local store, through the neighboring grocery store's lot, out to the road, in addition to close to a hundre people standiung outside in the heat.
to the mayors of Boston,Chicago, Washington and San Francisco: if you don't want Chik-fil-A, we will take their stores and the construction jobs they create; we will take their food and the store jobs they create; we will take their tax revenue to improve our roads; and you can go F__K yourself for telling us we don't have the same freedoms as liberal Americans.
Please don't lump all liberals together.
I consider myself liberal and I find the Bible-based bigotry displayed by this company to be abhorrent but I don't agree that a municipality should be able to ban them or deny them a permit based on it.
I hope they are ready to defend their interpretation of the Bible on judgement day because civil law can't protect them there. The municipalities may be forced to let them in but the pearly gates are another matter. I hear that judging others is frowned upon there.
Yes, our elected representatives shouldn't deny permits based on the personal beliefs of business owners. The handful of leaders who spoke out were probably doing so based on the disgust that bigotry incites. But let's consider this quote in relation to our current House of Representatives, shall we?
"... this nation has reached the brink of tyrannical intolerance from at least some of our elected leaders..."
Fundamentalist Christians have a very myopic view of what "Freedom and Liberty" means and it often means their representatives tyrannically forcing pesonal views upon those Americans who don't agree with them, even if such views are an affront to basic, human and civil rights.
Baptists have a right to be hateful bigots, as long as their bigotry doesn't impose upon the rights of others. But should a Chick-fil-a hope to enter Boston, they are given due process and are allowed a permit, they shouldn't be surprised if the only business they receive is from vocal bigots and that's the reputation they're associated with.
and like your view wouldn't be as you say. You in the Gay marriage agenda group are bigots. In trying to enforce your redefinition of marriage unto others who disagree. Be consistent with your critisism of others and use it upon yourself.
"You in the Gay marriage agenda group are bigots. In trying to enforce your redefinition of marriage unto others who disagree. Be consistent with your critisism of others and use it upon yourself."
This just shows how uninformed bigots are, marriage is a civil right. Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.
Blah blah blah 'oh we're so persecuted!' whine pity party blah blah...
Sent from my local Chick-fil-A as I practice my freedom of/from religion, freedom of speech and freedom to eat wherever I darn please.
The owner of Chick-fil-A as does R. Albert Mohler Jr suffer from the Three B Syndrome, Bred, Born and Brainwashed in red-neck Christianity. We should try to cure all those who are suffering from this syndrome which affects about 30% of the human race.
The Cure in less time than it takes to eat my chicken sandwich:
SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS FROM THE THREE B SYNDROME:
THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.
Added details available at no extra charge.
Freedom of religion is in the first amendment. Your argument is void.
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.