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INSIDE THE ISSUES: Chick-fil-A controversy not surprising

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As objectionable as Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s position on same-sex marriage may be, it’s hard to understand why people are surprised by it.

For vegans, or for people who have been paying no attention to the news, Cathy told the Baptist Press that his company backs “the Biblical definition of a family.”

Since then, GLBT rights groups have staged “kiss-ins” at local Chick-fil-A stores and elected officials in various cities, most notably Chicago, have said they don’t want new Chick-fil-A franchises in their jurisdictions.

Unfortunately, a restaurant in Torrance, Cal., was vandalized with the words “tastes like hate” painted on its outer wall.

Before the controversy started, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told Cathy’s father, Truett, that his company’s sandwiches helped fuel his campaign during the primary season.

But conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin has bashed Romney for not backing Dan Cathy since the chicken-bashing began.

But the Cathys always have mixed business and religion. Truett Cathy founded the fast-food restaurant franchise.

Truett has taught Sunday school at a Baptist church in Jonesboro, Ga., for more than 50 years. All Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays because Truett believes that shows respect for the Lord.

Chick-fil-A, which is based in Atlanta, gained the devotion of adherents of another popular religion, college football, by virtually single-handedly saving the Peach Bowl from extinction. Of course, it’s now the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The elder Cathy has a well-documented reputation as a philanthropist. He has donated millions of dollars to fund college scholarships and summer camps for low-income children.

On the other hand, he also has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups. One estimate puts the amount at $5 million since 2003.

However, the operator of a Chick-fil-A franchise in Nashua, N.H., might have a more accurate response to the question, “What would Jesus do?”

Instead of loaves and fishes, Anthony Piccola is donating chicken sandwiches to the New Hampshire Pride Fest, scheduled for Aug. 11 in Veterans Park in Manchester, N.H.

Billed as a promotion of “unity through community,” the festival will include music, a march and what is described as a “family friendly drag show.”

Piccola says his Chick-fil-A franchise has gay employees and treats gay customers “with honor, dignity and respect.”

To the demonstrators, Piccola says, “I would challenge people to come have a conversation with me before they make assumptions or boycott my restaurant.”

Of course, Piccola did not turn away supporters of Dan Cathy’s position when they showed up at his restaurant on Aug. 2, which conservative commentator Mike Huckabee had declared “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

Why should he?

He’s in business to make money. Like any smart businessman, he sells to sell again.

Why should he punish his diners for exercising their right to freedom of speech?

Let’s hope Piccola is not punished for exercising that same right. To paraphrase the late Frank Perdue, “It takes a tough man to put his tender chicken where his mouth is.”
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Business, Chick Fil A, Democrats, Gay Marriage, GOP, Politics, Religion
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