Crossing the line: Chick-Fil-A and our responsibility to protect opinion

Someone is crossing the line of separation between state and religion, and it’s not Chick-Fil-A.

or many years, the mainstay of my public writing was “Opinion.” My weekly “Op-Ed” column for the Tampa Tribune ran in several local editions and – occasionally – on the main editorial pages. Sometimes my thoughts even garnered national attention. It constantly amazed me (and still does) how many people care to read what I think….

So I’m all about the right of people to hold, express, and argue on behalf of, their opinions.

But there is a difference – or at least there is supposed to be – between sharing personal opinion (or commentary) and reporting the news.

Unfortunately, very few media outlets (talk radio, television, websites….) make a clear distinction anymore between NEWS and COMMENTARY. In fact, I believe it’s true to say (and this is just my OPINION) that many news outlets do their best to make the line between the two as fuzzy as they possibly can.

Consequently, it’s very difficult for an increasingly uninformed public/electorate to tell the difference. The result has become a talk show industry that features talking heads who present themselves as serious journalists, and a news industry that interjects so much opinion that the public has become cynical regarding its ability to gather information and report without bias.

Share your opinionCONTROVERSY: All this – above – comes as my preview for a few brief comments on the current Chick-Fil-A brouhaha:

  1. Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion regarding what he believes the Bible says about human relationships. He can write, speak, lobby and pontificate to his heart’s content.
  2. Other people are also at liberty to agree, disagree, lobby, argue and share their ideas regarding God’s position on topics such as gay marriage.
  3. And, most importantly, each one of us has the right to either eat at Chick-Fil-A or not eat at Chick-Fil-A. It’s our choice.

Personally, I not only love Chick-Fil-A chicken, but I love the fact that the restaurant stays closed on Sundays and there’s never a question of an employee having to choose work over church. The Cathy family happens to stand a fair distance to my “right” when it comes to their understanding of Christian faith and practice, but I’m not going to boycott their business because we don’t agree on how we interpret the Bible!

CROSSING THE LINE! However, when  Chicago city Alderman Joe Moreno said Chick-Fil-A can forget about getting a permit for any new locations (“I’m not gonna sit on the sidelines and allow them to come in when I know in my heart that they believe in discriminating against gay people.” – CBS This Morning) then someone is crossing the line of separation between state and religion, and it’s not Chick-Fil-A.

The last thing America needs right now is for people in elected public office to attempt to shut down opinion in the name of “political correctness.”

The Cathys don’t discriminate in hiring practices, nor do they discriminate in delivery of service. They’re entitled to their views regarding marriage, and the public is entitled to either agree or disagree, and to patronize or not.

Come on, Chicago, we can do better than this – DEREK


  1. Well said. Yes…as we experienced first hand a couple of weeks back at Bethany; folk came together because the beauty of all being Jesus Followers is that we can all be at different places on our faith journey as we move together “into the heart of God”, We give one another the ability to freely opine, say and interpret; to give each other contemplative opportunity (like walking a labyrinth). We respect one another’s views even if they happen to be as you say, a ‘fair distance’ or even a substaintial distance to my “right” (and yes, there are some fine brothers I’ve worked with that fit into those catagories). We must recognize our differences and be open to seeing each others opinions as something that are unique to each of us…they makes us who we are. I treasure the fact that someone at our event two weeks ago was able to say to someone…’wow…I used to not have the best opinion of that person, but now…I’m looking at them very differently than I did before”. That’s because if we’re true to the teachings of Jesus, we don’t close ourselves off from growing spiritually or being open to learning why someone has a different worldview, philosphy or belief system than we do. Jesus Followers allow themselves to listen and to engage in respectful civil discourse for the betterment of one another and for others.


  2. Thank you, Derek, for identifying the key issues as free speech and respect. We all have blind spots and the moment any side begins to oppress and silence the other–we all lose.


  3. i don’t think any of you realize how much i love Chick-Fil-a. I would eat there 3 times a day if i could, and actually did eat there twice yesterday. Dan Cathy could drop-kick a dachshund and it would only cause me to scowl disapprovingly as i handed them my cash. As i am not gay and the whole uproar really doesn’t apply to me, i have gone on about my habit of eating there every day for lunch and ordering the exact same thing: number 1, large with a diet coke. The only thing that brought me any bit of discontent with them was not long ago when i realized they were feeding me caffeine free diet coke instead of regular. i got over it. which is what i would say to all the idiots who would deny themselves greasy pleasures just because some old dude has an opinion (not you, Derek!). get over it and get with the fried chicken! you know you want it! … and oh yes, Dan Cathy knows too. and you’ll be back…. you’ll always be back.


  4. Thank you for a well-written post examining the Chick-Fil-A situation in light of our nation’s guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I have a minor point for you to consider: not all faiths hold their worship services on Sundays, so it is not true that an employee would never have to choose between work and worship (unless the corporation discriminates in its hiring to make it true).

    I love Chick-Fil-A’s food. Before I started working at home I used to eat lunch there several times a week. However, now that I am aware of their (Constitutionally protected) position regarding GLBTQ human rights, I will not eat there.


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