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. JokerCNN

    Mother Theresa spent her last 50 years without feeling the presence of God, and by the time she died, she didn't believe at all.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • CrystalShip

      It's probably because she didn't hate gay people.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • junior

      Not feeling the presence of God is not the same as not acknowledging his presence. I suggest you look up St. Ignatius of Loyola.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  2. Kebos

    Religious freedom is what the religious use when they have run out of options. One day, religious freedom will be a thing of the past, to be recognized for the quackery that it is.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Well said, I like the "quackery" quote. Xstians whining about religious freedom with nary a mention of the millions of women, jews, witches MURDERED in the name of Christ. (I do love the song "PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMUNITION")

      July 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  3. Nietodarwin

    Mr. Cathy said "Guilty as charged" when asked about the MONEY his corporations donate to groups fighting against the civil rights of a segment of society. Free speech is alive and well. The mayors have a right to their free speech, the city governments don't have a right to discriminate against a business, (Starbucks suffer the same on the other side of things) Xstians will cry and moan and buy lots of sandwiches for a few months, and then the FREE MARKET will eventually have it's say. LOSING THE BELOVED MUPPETS PRETTY MUCH SUMS UP HOW THIS WILL GO. Many moderate xstians will also boycott the chain because of this. Many can admire him for his beliefs, and defend his free speech, but oh man what a STUPID thing to do to your own business.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  4. chris hogan

    This business has donated millions of dollars each year to at least 8 political organizations whose sole purpose is to spread lies against gay people and pass laws that limit our freedom. Who is threatening who's freedom?

    July 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Really Like to Know

      Could you give examples of what organizations and lies, Chis?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • fuzzybeargville

      The The American Family Association, Exodus International, and The Family Research Council, to name 3 anti gay Hate Groups that get $$$ from Chick Filet....right Chris?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • junior

      Why is everything contrary automatically categorized as Hate? If I told you that I don't think sugar should be used instead of salt, will you say that I hate sugar?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  5. roland

    It should be "Christians" cry discrimination

    July 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      It should be "Extreme right wing Christians" cry discrimination. Many christians will boycott them for this intolerance, as well as the rest of us atheists, "damn liberals", and tolerant progressive "straight" people like myself.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  6. God / Allah / Yahweh / Great Pumpkin / Lord Bubba

    Christians crying about discrimination. Now that's hilarious.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • fuzzybeargville

      yeah how can a group that makes up about 90% of the US Population be discriminated against?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  7. Rebel4Christ

    Liberals are literally bullies! I guess it's not okay to express your opinion in America any more.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • CrystalShip

      Manifest Destiny!

      July 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • iRex

      Freedom of speech is a 2 way street, Chick-Fil-A can say they believe in bigotry, and other people can rebuke that.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • John

      Yeah, Liberals must be the bullies. Its not like Conservatives (and not all, but the ones involved in this issue) feel that they should make decisions on who other people, completely unrelated to, and who have no affect of them them can love based on their personal beliefs..

      July 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  8. Eric

    I'll make sure to eat at this restaurant if I ever see one. Good for them to standing up to the nasty toilet this world is sinking to. Image a child being risen by two girls or two boys. People are out of their mind, that should be considered child abuse, the poor kids. very sad what some people think is normal. This happens when people lose their moral compas.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • me

      Why is it child abuse? They are loving the child just like you do your own....or do you think gays practice s*x in front of their kids? Cheese Louise

      July 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      And I happen to think that raising children to believe that if they don't believe in the same imaginary god that a parent believes in is child abuse. Telling a child they will go to hell is child abuse. There are plenty of studies that prove you wrong.
      At the end of the day, what matters to kids is far deeper than parents' gender or sexual orientation, the research suggests.

      "The family type that is best for children is one that has responsible, committed, stable parenting," said study researcher Judith Stacey of New York University. "Two parents are, on average, better than one, but one really good parent is better than two not-so-good ones."

      Here are some highlights of the findings:

      In a study of nearly 90 teens, half living with female same-sex couples and the others with heterosexual couples, both groups fared similarly in school. Teen boys in same-sex households had grade point averages of about 2.9, compared with 2.65 for their counterparts in heterosexual homes. Teen girls showed similar results, with a 2.8 for same-sex households and 2.9 for girls in heterosexual families.
      In another study, teens were asked about delinquent activities, such as damaging others' property, shoplifting and getting into fights, in the previous year. Teens in both same-sex and heterosexual households got essentially the same average scores of about 1.8 on a scale from 1 to 10 (with higher scores meaning more delinquent behaviors).
      A 2008 study comparing 78 lesbian families in the United States with their counterparts (lesbian households) in the Netherlands, showed American kids were more than twice as likely as the Dutch to be teased about their mothers' sexual orientation.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  9. Chris

    I despise many of the discriminatory beliefs Christians hold, but also respect freedom of speech. Cathy had every right to state his opinion although if I were him I think I would have used discretion. He is smart enough to know his beliefs would have an adverse affect on his business whether mayors asked him t ostay away or not. Like it or not, fundamental Christians, your kind is slowly but surely fading away...

    July 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • opinionguru

      ...so we've been told for over 2000 years. Governments and whole cultures have come and gone and have been completely forgotten. We are still here.Man proposes, GOD disposes. Blog and opinionate until you have gone the way of Babel, Sodom, and Gomorrah.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Do you think he is smart enough? I don't. This is one of the most stupid moves by a CEO of a major corporation EVER.
      He LOST THE MUPPETS. That is going to lose a lot of customers, in the very short run.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  10. Joe Dokes

    Christians certainly have a right to speak their minds. The issue is that they want it their way after they speak up. Not everyone marches to their tune and if the show were on the other foot they woud be SCREAMING long and loud that they were being picked on.They can't spout their version of how it should be without some pushback. They would do well to SHUT UP and adopt a more CHRISTIAN "Live and Let Live" philosophy like the one they CLAIM to embrace. I capitalized CLAIM because they are soooo good at talking about what good people they are UNTIL someone of a different mindset disagrees with their dogma.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  11. Smokey

    I say, good for Chick-fil-a and their courage in taking a stand on this. The hatred and abuse being heaped on them now shines a light on the hatred and intolerance that the LBGT lobby has for anyone opposing their particular vision of society and anyone who doesn't share their views. It's just as bad if not worse than any prejudice coming from the right-wing conservative and christian communities, as far as I am concerned there is hypocrisy in ever facet of this debate. Our society is truly in trouble if this is the place we are at right now.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • chris hogan

      "Hatred and abuse by gay people?"

      Smokey, Mr. Cathy has every right to say what he believes. And people have every right to disagree with him, too. Freedom of speech goes both ways. But it's not really what he said that concerns me. It's the millions of dollars he donates every year to hate groups whose sole purpose is to lie and get anti-gay laws passed. See the difference?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  12. Bob

    So now that little-Willie is dumping bible bile on us, let's have a close look at what's really in her Christian book of nasty AKA the bible. Fine horrors from "loving" god like these:

    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.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • chris hogan

      Yeah, exactly.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • junior

      You have a unique way of misinterpreting the Bible. Do other books also seem to puzzle you? DMV drivers manual?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • opinionguru

      ... you do your masters work well.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Bob

      junior, kindly explain what I have "misinterpreted". Furthermore, consider more carefully what I have already said:

      "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."

      Methinks it is yourself who has the poor reading comprehension ability.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  13. skyler

    I love how some CNN headlines are worded to make certain topics seem interesting, important and relevant, then you end up on the "Belief Blog." As if...

    July 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  14. danny

    i like the way cnn worded the intro "christians cry discrimination" why dont they word it like that when blacks ,ect play race card.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  15. jesse

    Liberal=bully....if you don't agree with them they try to bully you into changing your mind.

    Go read up on the guys from Glee, if you don't let them use your music they ask people to boycott you. That is bullying at it's finest and here we go again.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • danny

      you got that right

      July 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  16. Mary

    Christians are always whining about something, seemingly.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • danny

      not so much the christians whining,more like the liberals are the most whiny self absorbed,people ive seen to date

      July 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  17. WillieLove

    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  18. WillieLove

    No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  19. WillieLove

    But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

    July 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  20. WillieLove

    Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:55 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.