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. Satan

    I wish I could butt fvck all of you with a fried chicken breast. Ti.tty butt fvck you sperm dumpsters till you vomit all over the cross and wipe up your bloody turd hole with pages from the bible! Yeeeeaaa! Fun time!

    July 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  2. t3chn0ph0b3

    "Religious freedom" does not include a "right" to impose your religious views on others using power and influence. That is fascism, not freedom.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Does that include denying building permits to lawful business owners?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  3. Lilyrosalie

    No more chik fli A for me...... I will vote with my wallet, and I vote for tolerance.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  4. Joe

    The ACLU has said they would defend Chick-fil-A from any discrimination from the government. Yes, you read that correctly the first time.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      If you support Chick-fil-A in the face of left-wing nutcase attacks over the restaurant chain’s support of traditional marriage, ACLU of Mas*sachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose has some advice:

      “Did you see that politicians Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee are now trying to rally all hom*ophobes to eat at Chick-fil-A? I’m thrilled. In fact, I encourage all bigots to load up on transfats and carbohydrates. Go ahead — eat your heart out on the “Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit” breakfast! Mmmm.”

      Presumably, her idea is to trigger heart attacks.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Anyone who knows the ACLU shouldn't be surprised. They aren't worried about left or right as much as rights.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      True, Gad. That's what always galls me about the religious right claiming that the ACLU only supports left-leaning views and causes.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Ju Ju Bee

      I'm happy to see that the ACLU is stepping up in defense of Chick Fil A. If the politicians can push Chick Fil A because they don't agree with their opinions, what's to stop the politicans from pushing out companies who are gay / lesbian friendly and the politicans in THAT city don't agree. That is the basis for the argument from the ACLU.

      These are private businesses. If you don't agree with the owners or management – don't frequent their establishments. It's that easy. But as Americans, we should work to ensure that you make the choice as to whether or not to go, not the government.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  5. Joe

    So a group that has been at the forefront of using the government to take away rights and freedoms of gay people is now complaining when people stand up to defend them? Well, that's choice.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Ju Ju Bee

      No one is complaining, however the reason behind their support is a little suspect. It's not that they agree with Chick Fil-A, it's that they don't want someone else being able to come in and knock out a gay/lesbian friendly company for the same reason. This would open the door for more of this kind of behavior and it needs to be nipped in the bud.

      I guess if the ends justify the means, you can't complain either way.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Nietodarwin

    Most gay men don't kiss in public. I'm not in favor of them doing so, although I fully support their rights to marry. (Yes, that makes me a hypocrite.) If gay men go to Chick fil A, buy their chicken and start giving each other kisses, (as protest) it will be within the law, and might be a problem that the business didn't anticipate. I predict Mr. Cathy will soon be apologizing for his remarks and changing where his company donates his money.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Dennis

      He can keep his apology and keep donating as he does...at least it's honest.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  7. Lisa

    I read a quote once, my favorite, and it was not attributted so I have never been able to find out who said it: :There is nothing wrong with Christianity; it's just that it hasn't benn tried yet."

    July 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      The Western Press to Ghandi; "What do you think of western civilization ?" Ghandi, "I think it's a great idea."

      July 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      G.K. Chesterton : " there is nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one has ever tried it.”

      July 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • fred schueler

      at least Margaret Atwood said that in her discussion of depbt on CBC – but she may not have been the first.- http://pinicola.ca/kitchen.htm – right down at the bottom

      July 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I thought it was Albert Sweitzer

      July 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
      ― G.K. Chesterton

      July 31, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  8. Numb Nuts

    Michelle Bachmann wants you to think about penetration.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Which God??

      I would, if she bent over.

      July 31, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Dennis

    Really tired to the Religious groups that cry about their freedom, but these same groups are some the biggest bigots and hater of people I know. They don't have to like me, and I surely don't need to buy any of their products!

    July 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Read Rob Bell's book "LOVE WINS." It has a lot of truth about 'hellfire.' The BIBLE DOES NOT TEACH HELLFIRE and eternal torment. Nominal Christians take a well deserved black eye from the world because they aren't really Christians. I KNOW people(seniors) living in SIN, living together without benefit of marriage, who would argue with you to the death that there IS a burning hell! For no other reason than to quoute Scarlett O'Hara " when Rhett Butler said to her in her drunken tearful rant about how she was going to hell; "Cheer up, maybe there isn't any hell" She replied "Oh yes there is! I was raised on it."

    July 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  11. johneturnerii

    When Jesus comes back, the last place he will eat is Chik Fil A. That's nasty processed chicken.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • julie

      You are confusing it with McDonalds. Not processed at all!

      July 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  12. scatheist

    One more case of the Christian Persecution Complex. They are among the most bigoted people in the world yet they constantly whine about being discriminatd against.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Dennis


      July 30, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  13. Jason

    I'm not for any governmental bans, but I'll never eat at one of these restaurants.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • MikeSaneJose

      I personally have no problems with a community "VOTING" to disallow a business in their community. Leaders should NOT have unchecked power to do this, but I believe a community has every right to say a business is not welcome if the vote shows this. The rights of the ppl come before the rights of hte business. Any of you right wingers who agree, dont know what it means to be american... (taking a page out of your book, thats right, Im calling you right wingers anti-american)

      July 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So Mike, you think that the rights of individuals should be determined by majority vote. Is that what I hear you saying?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • J.W

      Actually I have heard several instances where strip clubs and adult video stores were not allowed to operate in certain places. Why is that any different?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  14. johneturnerii

    Remember when John Lennon's quote about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus was taken out of context? Christians went crazy! They banned them from concerts, burned their records and boycotted radio stations that played their music. This is the same thing. Christians are good at this, and they don't like it when it happens to them. Oh, the irony....

    July 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Ray B

      The difference is those protesting the Beatles were private citizens and can protest any way they want. In this case, we have GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS trying to ban Chic-Fil-A.
      Wonder where the ACLU is? Oh, the irony.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Ray B

      Grow a brain, will ya? Richard Nixon went nuts on John Lennon, he was going to have him deported.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The ACLU is considering acting on behalf of Chick-Fill-A. Where have you been?

      July 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Nietodarwin

    Now gay men are going to go kiss in Chick fil A ??? That's free speech too.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  16. Ryan

    Wait... so this evangelical group is protesting discrimination, and thus taking the side of Chick-Fil-A? Wow. I'm pretty sure the hypocrisy just melted my brain.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  17. dogmandg

    "Such evident discrimination and attempts to marginalize those ..."

    They preach discrimination, and when it turns around and comes back at them they cry foul.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • MikeSaneJose

      Dog, its one of the funniest bits of hypocrisy that I have ever seen. They ring the bells to discriminate 8-10% of the US population, and when ppl stand up to them to boycott them, we are the ones discriminating. Christians are the biggest bunch of hypocrites this planet has seen. I only look at their condemnation of Penn State, and their lack of any real outcry towards the pope and his handling of child molesters to know that they are not humble selfless ppl they claim to be. In fact, outside the handful of christians who arent, most are some of the most selfish, self-centered ppl i know. I have a life time full of experiences to vouch for it.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Ray B

      What is up is down and down is up. Never thought I'd live to see the day that saying marriage should be between a man and a woman (as it obviously naturally should be) is considered a protestable statement.
      What has this world come to?

      July 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  18. Steve-GA

    Is Rahm Emanuel even an AMERICAN. Lets line up these politicians once and for all and let them know they dont have the power they think they have!!!
    All hail Chick-Fil-A!!!!

    July 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • MikeSaneJose

      I dont know Steve, are you really an American? I would be $10,000, that he is more a trueblood american in spirit and in blood then you ever would be.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • PhD



      July 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Twal

      @Joe- So it's Ok for you to to object to their beliefs but not OK for them to object to yours ? I just want to clear on this...
      I have no real problem w/ the way you live your life other than the hypocrisy.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  19. dave

    Thank you owner of Chick-Fil-A for taking a stand. Traditional family being supported...who would have thot you would be blacklisted for standing for the family...wow...how sad!! thanks again....will be a regular at your restaurants

    July 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Ray B

      Yep...I'll take a #1 Original with Sweet Tea!!

      July 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      He is discriminating against families, NOT defending them. Nothing honorable about that at all. It's very sad.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "Traditional family"

      Guess what guys? That sort of thing ended with The Beaver, it's 2012 and a whole different landscape. You just don't get it.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Joe

      Get off the cross. NOBODY is against the "traditional family." What we're against is other people thinking they can tell other people how they live their lives.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  20. deadinhell

    Religious conservatives are truly amazing. They have a real knack for attacking the rights of citizens based on their own personal moral judgements, and then making themselves out to be the victims when their bigotry backfires.

    The US government bends over backward to accommodate religious special interests (with tax breaks, leniency in and outright dismissal of criminal investigations, integration with government bodies at taxpayer expense, etc) yet all we hear is them crying wolf about "persecution" whenever they don't get their way in a policy debate.

    Newsflash: Religious freedom does not mean you are free to force other people into conforming to your belief system. Your bigotry and ego are not more important than the rights of man.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Twal

      "Newsflash: Religious freedom does not mean you are free to force other people into conforming to your belief system. "

      Ummmm...Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you trying to force (chik-fil-a ) and the rest of conservative Christians to follow your beliefs and thought stream...

      Pot, Meet Kettle!

      July 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • julie

      Newsflash- The Chick Filet CEO simply said he believed in the biblical definition of marriage and also said everyone welcome in his restaurants. He has as much right to express his beliefs as ppl who are for gay marriage. Everyone has the right to express and disagree. Individuals have the right to boycott based on their beliefs. The diff is when the gov denies or threatens to deny permits b/c of religious beliefs. An abridgment of 1st amendment. There is a diff here people. If you can't see it, then you deserve to lose it.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      Why do you think this man felt compelled to tell the world how he felt about gay marriage?

      July 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "Ummmm...Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you trying to force (chik-fil-a ) and the rest of conservative Christians to follow your beliefs and thought stream...
      Pot, Meet Kettle!"

      You hit the nail on the head, that's exactly what it is, a christian belief, something made-up, untrue, not proven. This is more of a matter of human rights instead of some antiquated morality.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Joe

      Twai, nobody cares what Chick-fil-A thinks or says. He can say whatever he wants to say. He has that freedom. It's when he supports group that actively seek to oppress gay people that we have a problem with. There's TONS of religious businesses out there that do just fine, like Marriott, Forever 21 and In & Out. Heck, In & Out even has a location in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf for years with no problems. You live your own life as you see fit, and let us do the same. But "the freedom to swing your fists ends at my nose." Get out of my life and we'll get out of yours.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Somebody cares because they asked him the question and published his answer.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
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About this blog

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.