Christianity,  News

Is Chick-fil-a Day a “bold mistake”?

Today countless Americans will heed Mike Huckabee’s call to rally in support of Chick-fil-a. Over 500,000 people have signed up to take part and to show support for a company that has been under fire over the last couple of weeks for its advocacy of traditional marriage.

For the most part, conservatives have answered the call. But Barnabas Piper is a notable exception and is calling the show of solidarity with Chick-fil-a a “bold mistake.” In his column for World magazine, he argues that the rally presents an “us vs. them” division between Christians and those on the other side of the debate. It unnecessarily alienates people whom we would otherwise like to reach with the gospel.

I think Piper makes an important point that we would do well to hear. The cause of the gospel is not served by Christians swaggering in triumph over threatened boycotts against Chick-fil-a. The apostle Paul writes, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). This means we should not relish division between Christians and their opponents. We should avoid putting any obstacle in the way of their hearing the gospel. We desire to become all things to all men so that we may by all means win some (1 Cor. 9:22). At the end of the day, we wish to see people converted to Christ, not to Chick-fil-a.

Having said that, I don’t think that means that everyone needs to stay home from Chick-fil-a today. But it does mean that we should behave like Christians wherever we go. No swagger, no one-upmanship. Just humility, gratefulness, and love. If the watching world sees that from us today, I think we’ll be alright.


  • Utar Efson

    There is a germ of truth here, Mr Burk. However, the anger against Chick-Fil-A is ideological and driven by a profound hate of many things – that nebulous entity ‘religion’, the equally ill-defined ‘homophobia’ and no doubt in some cases Christianity and Christ. No amount of irenic behaviour can counter bigotry.

    Such irrationality takes God’s spirit to break down or break through.


  • Bruce Harp

    There will be a mix of Christians and the lost at these locations who are against the homosexual. It may be a lost person who over reacts toward the homosexual by statements or actions and the Christians will be blamed. I will support Chick-fil-a by sending them an email and using the drive through on a different day.

  • John Michael LaRue

    Good post expressing my same heart this morning.

    I woke up idealistically thinking what it would look like if the same 500,000 people took a homosexual/(any other sinner) out to lunch next week.

  • Bill Haynes

    Denny, I whole heartily agree with your last paragraph. I guess I see something more sinister in the attacks on Chick-fil-a than does Barnabas.

      • Mitch Dean

        “something sinister” “aimed directly at Christianity” Hard to get more “us v. them” than that. Sadly, it gets harder and harder for me to believe you on this point. More and more, it seems like your denouncement of “us v. them” and your calls for “humility, gratefulness, and love” and no more than strategic image management to advance your agenda.

        • Utar Efson

          …yet on the opposite side, those who would seek to destroy Chick-Fil-A because of their owner’s beliefs have an overt agenda of limiting constitutional free speech, limiting constitutional religious freedom to the point where three senior public officials have brazenly espoused viewpoints that are anti-constitutional.

          /That/ is an infinitely more troubling agenda.


          • Brandi Wren

            I actually laughed out loud at your comment. This isn’t about free speech. It’s about knowing what your money supports. I don’t want to support organizations that meddle with our personal lives, therefore I don’t eat at Chik-fil-A (never have). It’s as simple as that. The way that people are twisting this situation is so telling of their resistance to listen and observe the actual situation.

        • Denny Burk

          Mitch, The “sinister” remark is not aimed at gay people but at folks like Menino, Emanuel, et al. who threatened to use government power to punish those whose Christian faith leads them to support traditional marriage. I do believe their intentions were sinister, and as far as I know all of those guys are heterosexuals.

          I just don’t see how anyone on either side of the gay marriage debate could condone what these politicians were threatening to do. Don’t you agree that it was wrong for these politicians to threaten to use their power to discriminate against Chick-fil-a based on the remarks of Dan Cathy?

          • Mitch Dean

            It’s incredible the way you can cast things. Here’s the text of the Menino letter:

            To Mr. Cathy:
            In recent days you said Chick fil-A opposes same-sex marriage and said the generation that supports it has an “arrogant attitude.”

            Now — incredibly — your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.

            You called supporters of gay marriage “prideful.” Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are “guilty as charged.” We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people. We are proud that our state and our city have led the way for the country on equal marriage rights.

            I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it. When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples here to be married. It would be an insult to them and to our city’s long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick fil-A across the street from that spot.

            Thomas M. Menino

            Where’s the threat?

            Also, I love how you say “Don’t you agree that it was wrong for…?”

            Kind of like “How long since you stopped beating your wife?”

            • Jason Ruzek

              Very selective, Mitch. Here is an additional interjection from the good Mayor.

              “Originally, I said I would do everything I can to stop them. And that was mostly using the bully pulpit of being mayor of the city and getting public support,” Menino said in an interview at City Hall. “But I didn’t say I would not allow them to go for permits or anything like that.”

              Secondly, the Chicago Alderman and Rahm both used language more stern and statist than Menino. I don’t see you being concerned about that.

              So….the following is very poorly considered.

              “Also, I love how you say “Don’t you agree that it was wrong for…?” Kind of like “How long since you stopped beating your wife?”

              No, it’s nothing like that at all. If you agree that it is wrong for political persons to squelch free speech, then you are off the hook. If you are unconcerned about it, or for it, then, yes, you beat your wife, to stay within your poorly considered simile. There are people in Boston and San Francisco and Chicago who are coming down on the side of CFA in this matter. No less a source than Mother Jones agrees with Denny.

              So, have you stopped beating your wife?

            • Denny Burk

              The threat came in subsequent statements to the press in which he said he would work to deny any “permits” they might need from the city in order to set up shop in Boston. Those remarks have been all over the papers, as well as this letter that you quote from.

              • Mitch Dean

                I will always eat a little crow when warranted and, after looking further at the statements Menino and others made, it’s clear that you’re right. They did make the threats you describe. And I’ll gladly concede that following through on those threats would raise First Amendment issues. While it’s not my area of practice, I have a basic familiarity with First Amendment jurisprudence. Bottom line is this: these guys can threaten all they want because the First Amendment does not protect you from a public official’s threats; it protects you from (among other things) government action to impede protected speech. At any rate, that’s really not the point of our discusion. The point is that you and yours are still doing the “us v. them” thing and acting like someone is going to throw all the christians to the lions. You’re painting yourself (and all christians) as persecuted so that you can incite anger and fear and channel it into support for your agenda. And this is a point that really doesn’t have anything to do with this marriage debate. I’ve seen you and those like you do it for a long time across many issues. You use your considerable talent as a writer to set up the notion that there is some kind of holy war going on and that, if folks are sitting on the sidelines, they better get up and hate somebody and do it quick to prove they’re christians.

                • Denny Burk


                  I think that’s a false accusation. I’ve never encouraged anyone to get up off the sideline and “hate somebody.” It’s language like that that is the cause of so much of the antipathy between two sides. It’s not hateful to believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Nor is it hateful simply to advocate that marriage be defined as such in our laws. Ascribing a motive of hate is a way to shut down conversation, not to open it up. It is more ad hominem than it is legitimate argument. It’s precisely the kind of rhetoric that is being used to stigmatize those who hold to traditional marriage–especially Christians.

                  The two sides to this debate are at a genuine impasse, and I don’t know how it will be resolved as far as public policy is concerned. But I do know this. Even if we lose the public policy debate, as a Christian I’m committed to loving my gay neighbor, just as Jesus commanded and is my joy and privilege to do.


                  • Mitch Dean

                    I’ve never said nor do I believe that having a belief (no matter what it is) or advocating a position (no matter what it is) amounts to hate. In fact, if you think I’m making a false accusation, I’ll be glad to withdraw the hate comment in it’s entirety. My point still remains. You and people like you divide people.

                    You use your skills and intelligence to manipulate your followers by suggesting to them that they are under attack and that people are persecuting them. This marriage thing is really a distraction. How or if this particular issue is ultimately resolved doesn’t really matter. Your “us v. them” rhetoric has been my focus from the first comment I made in this thread (scroll up and see) and, sadly, I think that rhetoric will continue indefinitely.

                    • Denny Burk

                      Well, I appreciate that. I don’t like the “us vs. them” paradigm, but if we must use it please understand that the “us vs. them” that I’m addressing is not “us” Christians vs. “them” gay people. It’s “us” Christians and other supporters of traditional marriage vs. those who would use the power of the state to suppress those views. The people who are the transgressors in this instance (the mayors and the alderman) happen to be heterosexuals. So this isn’t about gay people per se so much as it is about those who want to abridge free speech and freedom of religion. At least that’s where I’m coming from.

  • Skip Rainbolt

    I appreciate the point Piper makes but I don’t think this is necessarily a Christian vs. homosexual (or, non-Christian) event. Ironically, since this debate at its core has much to do with religious freedom and freedom of speech, support for Chick-Fil-A today is also support for the right of homosexuals (and other groups) to believe and voice their own views as well.

    I certainly agree though that all should be done in love, “No swagger.”

  • Matt Stevens

    I completely agree about the swagger, but I completely disagree with the “us vs. them” concept being Christians vs. unregenerate homosexuals. The concept is more those who support traditional marriage and those who seek to destroy it.

    Biblically, yes I believe the marriage is the only union honored by God, and any other sexual union outside monogamous heterosexual marriage is wrong.

    However, socially I also believe that marriage is best for society and individuals. There are plenty others who agree with me on this-but don’t have a biblical wordview. Thus, the events of this day are not “Christian vs non-Christian”. but pro-marriage vs. anti-marriage.

    I think the caution you raise here might be antagonistic to your call for Christians not to hide in the basement a few days ago. There is clearly a knee jerk reaction by some evangelical scholars against the “religious right= the gospel” of some-which has yielded some complacency in the political realm.

    I understand not wanting to look like being conservative and politically active is sanctification, but at the same time I’m weary of those who claim to emphasize the gospel-yet behave as if it has no implications in life-especially politics.

  • Meg Bachman

    I’d like to know just where those of us who consider ourselves Christian AND believe that Chick-fil-a is in the wrong should stand? Why is an automatic “us against them” when there are those who are both the “us” and the “them”?

    And I support Mayor Tom Menino for not wanting a restaurant chain in his city that may discriminate against a portion of the population he represents.

    • Utar Efson

      So to be clear, Meg, you support the discrimination against a portion of the population the Mayor represents in a clear abuse of the Constitution because they chose to exercise a right clearly afforded them in the Constitution?

      The doublethink is remarkable.


    • Andrea Reyes

      Dan Cathy’s offense was publicly affirming basic Christian teaching on marriage. His beliefs about marriage are not new to the Christian Tradition. Through all the schisms and reformations and counter-reformations, the Church (in all its different communions, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Protestant, etc.) has consistently defined marriage as that union between a man and a woman.

      What does that have to do with a restaurant chain that sells chicken sandwiches, and whose business practices are in compliance with local, state and federal laws and does not discriminate against those they hire and those they serve? Nothing, nothing at all.

      The issue is not with Chick-fil-A or even its CEO; Mr. Cathy may have provided the occasion, but the cause of these boycotts/protests/threats by elected officials is the Christian doctrine of marriage.

      That is what is under attack. And Christian doctrine coming under attack is not new, but what is new and profoundly disconcerting are these public proclamations by elected officials – like Tom Menino – that go beyond boycotts.

      If people prefer not to spend any part of their earnings or time at an establishment whose management team’s personal ethos or religious beliefs run contrary to their own, then that is their prerogative. But Mr. Menino and others like him have not merely lent their voice to the calls for boycotts; they have threatened to use the power of the State against a business that is owned and operated by Christians who – will wonder never cease – affirm the same Christian teaching that has been consistently held for over 2000 years.

      Mr. Menino and the other politicos have since had to couch their threats in less blatantly illegal terms as they would be guilty of religious discrimination if they carried out their intentions. The irony, the irony.

  • Howell Scott


    I read Mr. Piper’s post yesterday. With all due respect to him, I think he utterly misses the point. Perhaps because of my own legal background, I look at this issue in a different way. This is not about Christians “swaggering in triumph over boycotts” or about an “us vs. them” mentality. It is certainly not about “relishing division between Christians and their opponents,” although to argue in such a way (as Piper seems to) that Christians are somehow putting an obstacle in the way of the Gospel is misguided at best.

    If Christians were to go to Chick-fil-A on Friday, the National Same-Sex Kiss Day, to “get in the face” of homosexual couples, then I would wholeheartedly agree that this kind of attitude is unhelpful. However, since when has supporting a Christian business become “divisive?” Since when has defending the right of someone to speak the truth of God’s Word without fear of intimidation from the government become divisive? If this is divisive, then surely most everything that we do as Christians would be considered divisive. The way that I read Piper’s article led me to believe that he is assuming the worst kind of motives and behavior from those who will eat at Chick-fil-A today. He could not be more wrong, but I will defend his right to his express his opinion, even if I disagree with it.

    I’m about to take a group from my church to the nearest Chick-fil-A in Las Cruces, NM (about an hour’s drive from Alamogordo where we live). There will be no swagger, but there will be a bold confidence in our right as Christians AND Americans to support the rights of everyone — gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian — to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Supporting those freedoms — Mr. Piper’s arguments to the contrary notwithstanding — is never a mistake! A lack of boldness to do so? Well, maybe. Thanks and God bless,


      • Howell Scott

        You got through fast! We waited in line at the Chick-fil-A in Las Cruces, NM for about an hour (or, at least I did). I brought up the rear of our group of about 35. Hundreds of others in line. The place was packed, but everyone was super nice, including the management and staff. We had a great day of food, fellowship, freedom, and some great fried chicken 🙂 Thanks and God bless,


  • Troy Self

    It’s not a mistake to support the Cathy’s, ‘especially to them that be of the household of faith’….hmmm, maybe the article translates to ‘take someone (lost or needy) out to Chick Fila day’?

  • Jason Ruzek

    Standing up for what is right within the secular realm need not conflict with our gospel witness. The fact that we have principles and are standing on them, and are behaving in a manner which does not dishonor Christ, is as much a witness as any mercy ministry.

  • Andrew Lindsey

    I agree with Piper’s sentiment to a point, but still plan on (at least) buying a chicken sandwich today, not because of being *against* anyone, but because I am *for* Chick-Fil-A, especially appreciating the Cathys’ work in establishing the WinShape Foundation, supporting adoption, etc.

  • Reg Schofield

    Bottom line no matter if one supports this eat at Chick-Fil-A day or not ( alas I cannot being a Canadian ) , the gospel is offensive and will cause hatred towards one who tries to present it and all its implications , no matter how lovingly. My attitude when I was told I was a sinner in need of this Jesus guy was obnoxious , defiant and I even made fun of Christians . That is until God’s grace awakened this dead heart to life.So it is natural for a hater of God to be rubbed wrong very easily. I think its time for Christians to be more humbly honest and be willing to say , there is only one truth , one way and its found in Jesus Christ. Which of course comes with it sexual ethics as well , which no one wants to hear . I know I didn’t . In a real sense once one repents and receives Christ ,you are against the ruler of this world . Your life will be perceived to be against those who don’t believe, and in a way , it will lead to mockery and hatred from the world .

    So no matter if one supports this to just say to the owner of Chick-Fil-A , as a fellow believer I agree with you and think this whole affair speaks of the desire to shut up any dialogue on this matter , it will be perceived as us against them .But to be honest , I’m tired of certain groups trying to push their agenda without no push back . Which I do think can still be done righteously and in the interest of calling sinners to repentance.

  • Cameron Cloud

    I generally like B. Piper, but think he missed it on this one.

    There is always the potential for actions to be misunderstood. Any opposition on this issue is decried as hatred and bigotry, so we’d have to give in or shut up NOT to draw some kind of dividing line.

    The level of response to Mr. Cathy’s simple, positive support of Biblical marriage make it clear that those pushing the SSM agenda will settle for nothing less than complete acquiescence. The only way to avoid the “us vs. them” response is absolute silence.

    Chick-fil-A was misrepresented and viciously attacked. This day is an opportunity to show appreciation to for a committed Christian gentleman who, valuing principle more than profit, graciously spoke the truth.

  • Kelley Kimble

    I completely agree with your last paragraph as well. My nearest Chick-Fil-A is about 7 miles away so I don’t know if I’ll get there today, but I have resolved to do business there whenever I am near one at mealtime. I don’t understand the loud uproar from the critics; there are many large companies whose directors and officers support liberal and gay causes. I sell insurance and on occasion I will encounter a customer or prospect who has an issue with the causes supported by one of the carriers whose products I sell. My standard response is, they have the right to do with their money as they choose, as do you and I. We also have the right to choose where we spend our money, but the hunt for businesses whose owners share our personal views can be exhausting. I am all for mixing up with folks who don’t know Christ, and for being salt and light. But it’s also evident that there is an element out there who would silence Christ and His people if they could. That’s the kind of opposition that we have to stand firmly against.

    • Brandi Wren

      Kelley, it’s a shame that you think that so many people who aren’t Christians oppose Christianity. Typically what almost all of them oppose is laws based in Christianity, or Christianity being forced on those who don’t believe. I’m not Christian anymore. If you want to be, I have no problem with that. Many of my friends and family are. I don’t tell them not to be Christian, just as I expect Christians not to tell me to be Christian.

  • Bob Lewis

    As believers, our objective is to serve our generation in harmony with what it needs versus wants. Seems to me, love is a determined act of the will that seeks the other’s highest need.

  • Dan Wright

    As someone who is your “intended audience” – meaning, I’m gay and, in y’alls opinion, in need of saving – I can tell you that the gist of Mr. Piper’s point is true. The attitudes that I’ve seen about this issue on facebook and in other places – it’s all “take that you gay people!” Mike Huckabee has turned this into a political statement much more than a spiritual one. In my opinion, there’s nothing loving about Mr. Cathy’s original support of anti-gay causes nor his “inviting God’s judgment” comments and I see nothing loving about this public display of muscle either. You may have convinced yourself that it’s about religious liberty – but to those of us on the outside – it’s about what it has always been about with the church vs. the gays. On the numbers, you win — There are a lot more of you than there are of us – so I’m sure Chick-Fil-A will be busting at the seams today. However, I don’t think this whole debacle has done one tiny, little bitty thing in making the idea of being ‘christian’ something positive, uplifting and hopeful. Enjoy your chicken sandwich and by all means, make sure you share with all your friends on facebook how you “showed those evil homosexuals, who is holy and that they aren’t going to push you around.” But I wonder if you realize the cost…

    • Bridget Ferrara

      I am conservative, and newly Christian. I have gay friends, and I also support Dan Cathy because he has every right to say what he wishes, and do what he likes with his money. That’s way makes this country so great. I take issue with people condemning him and his company because he is exercising his constitutional rights. You can boycott his business, because that is your right, but when politicians decide that they won’t allow CFA a building permit because of the personal beliefs of the CEO, that is unconstitutional.

      For every dollar Dan Cathy contributes to organizations you feel are anti-gay, there are quadruple the number of dollars of support to pro-gay organizations. Just accept that there are people out there who don’t agree with your beliefs and move on. Or better yet, spend your money on places that support what you believe in. That’s what millions of Americans did yesterday. I don’t understand the all-out war on CFA for their beliefs. OI went to CFA because I believe in the right of free expression … for everyone.

    • Brandi Wren

      Dan, there may be more supporters of Chik-fil-A than there are gays, but just remember that there are a LOT of straight people who support you. I am one of them. I have never been to a Chik-fil-A, and now it’s likely that I never will.

  • David E.

    As a committed Christan, I have not viewed this as an us vs. them. I’m also a gay male and a Libertarian. The CFA issue is one of first amendment rights to me. I waited in line two hours today at a nearby CFA. I weighed in on this “controversy” by voting with my feet and my wallet. It was delightful. The restaurant was literally packed. The drive thru line stretched beyond where I could see. Since the line was so long and moved slowly, I got to know those around me. They were all evangelicals. I told them I was part of the gay community. They were loving and kind to me. They didn’t act as if I were a pariah. They were joyful and upbeat. I stand by Dan Cathey’s rights to speak his convictions.

  • Dan Wright

    PS – I’d like to respectfully submit that this whole brouhaha was not just fueled by the gay rights crowd (we’ve known that Chick-Fil-A funds anti-gay groups for years) but maybe even more by those on the right that exploded at the outrage over the Boston Mayor’s comments. At least for me on facebook – where all my friends are Baptists – they are the ones that told me about it before I’d heard about it otherwise.
    Anyway, with the great turn out at Chick-Fil-A’s all over the country, I guess congratulations are in order. I feel sufficiently hated for the day. Job well done.

    And a much more thoughtful and accurate blog post this time – so thanks for that.

  • NoahDavid Lein

    1 Thing Christians and the Gay Community have in common: Neither of us like our lifestyles to be publicly criticized. Maybe we could sit down and have a conversation about that.

    Over chicken.

  • Debbie

    Remembering Pastor Green in Sweden who was jailed on charges of “hate speech” for preaching from Romans 1. At the risk of sounding negative…. it could happen here. The three mayors seem to be in favor of suppressing biblical truth. My issue is not with gays but preserving our right to assemble together and speak the truth of God’s Word.

  • Brandi

    The fact that you implicitly assume that everybody who does not support Chik-fil-A’s stance is not Christian simply indicates that you are not acknowledging the full scope of the situation.

  • Michael Norrod

    Mr. Burke,
    In looking at this from a Christian viewpoint I thank you. I also like that you were making a statement in which you asked people to not be prideful, boastful, or vengeful in visiting Chick-fil-A. You confused me with your use of Romans 12:18 though. In quoting the ESV:
    If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    In that, ‘so far as it depends on you,’ it no longer depends on us. Yes we are to set a better example than the Westboro cult, but when it is our religious beliefs under attack more than our fight for the freedom of speech, what should be done other than the peaceful example which I’m glad you participated in?
    I view it as not enough, yet I understand that we can not be sinful in our approach to maintaining our footing in what is an outright attack against our religious beliefs. We are being asked to ignore part of our religious laws so that we do not look upon sin as sin (Deuteronomy 4:2). That is an attack on our human laws, against our religious law, which our human law is based upon. Do we defend this in a court of law? Do we allow the biblical law to be trampled upon?
    In Leviticus 18, it covers all unlawful sexual relations. The homosexual community’s sins are listed here. The important verse to point out is Leviticus 18:29, “For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.”. That to me says a lot, in that, they cut themselves off and are blaming us for their sin. I am not their stumbling block for this, nor are any other Christians. So how do we overcome the public perception of the Westboro cult, while not accepting their sin, and allow us to give them the gospel and help them to overcome their sin, which they do not view as sin? We can’t use the bible to teach them, for they reject the word. We can’t show them love as a group because it dignifies their sin. We can show the individual love, but not towards their sin. One thing we need to make sure that all Christians understand: we are to judge sin, but not the salvation of another or hypocritically. That is, don’t say that someone is going to hell for their willful sinning, but also to remove the plank first. (Matthew 7:1-5)

  • Elisabeth Ramirez

    I appreciate this whole conversation. I think that the church has harped too much on homosexuality. It is wrong. I believe it is a sexual sin, but so is adultery and sex before marriage. I feel like we focus on homosexuality and forget the others.

    We need to find ways to reach out to homosexuals in a way that shows them Christ loves them, but doesn’t condone the sin. I just don’t know what that looks at. The Lord has been working on my heart with this issue.

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