Chick-fil-A, the company best-known for fried-chicken sandwiches, petitioning cows, and Christian values, has been in the news lately.
First, Dan Cathy, son of S. Truett Cathy (who founded the company), was quoted as saying, "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of
the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business,
and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that" in a July 16 interview with the Baptist Press.
Celebrities ranging from Sarah Palin and the Muppets got involved in the evolving culture war that Chick-fil-A is in the center off -- with Palin on the pro-chick side and the Muppets on the other. (Mike Huckabee is calling on people to support the company by eating at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, August 1).
Then, in an unrelated incident, the company's top PR executive died suddenly a few days ago. Don Perry, who worked for the company for nearly 29 years, was reported as having a fatal heart attack. Before he died, Perry tried to smooth over the tension building by promising to "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
While lines are being drawn in the sand, so to speak, a local marketing executive might have found out the simplest solution to Chick-fil-A's PR nightmare -- just apologize.
Fort Lauderdale's Alex Wall posted an open letter to Chick-fil-A on her Facebook page. In it, she states that as a gay woman, she finds that maybe everyone's working toward the same goal -- protecting and loving their core families. She states that as far as she could tell, Jesus had no statements on marriage... or tattoos... or agriculture (though there is a lot of talk about all those subjects in the fire- and brimstone-filled Old Testament).
We spoke with Wall, who said a short message turned into a longer-form letter. So far, she hasn't sent the letter to anyone at Chick-fil-A, though she's gotten nearly 300 "likes" on Facebook.
With her permission, we emailed copies of the letter to Brenda Morrow, a public relations representative at Chick-fil-A, last evening in an effort to possibly start a dialogue between the two parties. So far, we haven't gotten a response.
In the meantime, here's the open letter to Chick-fil-A:
An open letter to Chick-fil-A:
and I, we go a ways back. In between classes in college, your chicken
nuggets, waffle fries, and polynesian sauce were always there for me.
Your employees were always kind, and when I went through the drive-thru
with my Shepherd mutt in tow, there was always a dog biscuit that came
with the order. (I really liked that, nice touch.)
the flame between you and me has begun to fade. News that you
co-sponsored a "marriage conference" with an organization that directly
petitioned the courts via an amicus brief on Prop 8 was disheartening.
When I learned that you had further donated millions of dollars to Focus
on the Family -- an organization with a wholly misleading name, which
seeks to destroy families that fall outside their baseless definition of
what a family is -- to be quite honest, Chick, I was heartbroken.
hurt me to see that a company whose principles I had otherwise so
admired would surreptitiously funnel funds to groups that sought to make
me a second-class citizen. Me! Marketer, writer, joke-teller,
fall-down-and-get-back-upper, all-around nice, average kid.
look, I get it. Being closed on Sundays, running a debt-free
organization, and enforcing the bonds that unite family and community:
I, and so many other former patrons of yours, fully embrace those
values. But why send so much money to anti-gay marriage organizations?
The Bible also prohibits tattoos, but I see nothing in your tax records
about donating to any ink-less skin initiatives. In fact, the Bible
spends a good deal more time talking about the arrangement of
agriculture than it does about heterosexuality and homosexuality, and it
should be pointed out that all of those references are made in the Old
Testament, before the coming of Christ.
God was re-born as a kinder, gentler God. No more flooding, no more
fires, no more plagues. This is a Lord who asks only that people love,
forgive, and live peacefully with faith in God through the power of
Christ. Christ has no opinion of marriage. He has no opinion of tattoos.
He has no opinion of agriculture. So why, why Chick, why all that
Maybe you were duped. Maybe you didn't know that
Focus on the Family was the kind of organization that it is, or you
thought that your role there would strengthen your ties to your consumer
demographic, but I think we can both see that your chosen alliances
have alienated you from a huge demographic.
roots, you and I. You're from the South -- me, too. I have a big, no,
HUGE, family based in the Carolinas and Virginias, so I fully understand
the adherence to those principles. And when I told my big, Southern
family that their golden-haired, cherub-faced Alexandra was not going to
have a big, white wedding with a man, and that I, in fact, loved women,
they smiled and hugged me and told me they loved me, and that it didn't
matter. The world is moving at a fast pace, Chick, and the people out
there are so much more open-minded than we sometimes give them credit
for. You will not lose business for embracing this new, progressive
landscape, and you can still hold true to your religious values without
participating in hate-fueled initiatives.
To assume that
there is some division between families and gays is to completely miss
the point: we want families of our own. We want to protect those
families, to nurture them, to love them, to grow with them, and to see
our children and loved ones achieve, bloom, and succeed. Isn't that what
everyone wants? Do you think that because I'm gay, I don't constantly
think about the type of example I will one day set for my children,
about the lessons I want to impart to them, about what schools, and,
yes, about what Sunday school I want them to go to? My family looks so
very much like yours, that to draw a line between them is insulting to
the rest of society.
Now, I'm going to give you some
unsolicited advice, but it's the best advice you can take right now, and
it's going to seem a little crazy at first: apologize.
I know, it's crazy, and it may seem risky, but what you really need
right now, and what the people who you've angered really need right now,
is a hug. I think both sides would probably settle for a handshake. The
gay and allied community is powerful and we are growing. We are loving,
we are proud, we are happy, and best of all, Chick, BEST OF ALL -- we
are forgiving. No more PR tactics. You're in a new age, now, and the
internet will continue to unleash its full wrath upon you and your
brand, which has so tenaciously endured so many other obstacles.
bread with the LGBTQ community, Chick, and you will see exactly how
Christ-like people who are different from you can be: how loving,
accepting, family-focused, hard-working, and forgiving we are.
admire the company that S. Truett Cathy built, and I admire a man who
put his principles before profit: fewer things are more admirable, in
fact. So I call on you to hold true to the Lord's most important dictum:
to love without judgment, to forgive without reservation, and to follow
the example of Christ, who was often found in the company of those
sinners who needed him most.
You can do this, Chick. You can turn this around. And I will be there to shake your hand when you do.
Alexandra Leigh Wall
Follow @ CleanPlateBPB