Brandon Vogt

4 Failures in the Chick-Fil-A Controversy

I posted these thoughts on Facebook, and since they were so well-received I thought I’d share them here.

In light of the Chick-Fil-A controversy, I now realize modern man is almost incapable of distinguishing between these four things:

1. Approval and Implicit Condemnation. Just because you support one thing doesn’t mean you’re viciously antagonistic toward another (i.e. “anti-” the opposite.) If Dan Cathy supports traditional marriage between one man and one woman, that doesn’t mean he ipso facto “hates gay people” or is “anti-gay.”

2. Disagreeing and Hating. I disagree with ideas all the time. This does not necessitate hating the person who proposed them. Your beliefs are not your identity.

3. Beliefs and People. This is somewhat similar to #2. Rejecting a belief does not equal rejecting a person. You can reject the validity of same-sex marriage on philosophical and social grounds while still profoundly loving people with same-sex attraction. I reject at least some opinions or actions from each of my friends (such as “double-rainbows are boring” or “playing the lottery is wise.”) They in turn reject plenty of my own. But we don’t hate each other. In fact, just the opposite is true. Our relationship is grounded on a communion of persons, not a symmetry of beliefs.

4. Bigotry and Disagreement. The definition of bigot is “one unwilling to tolerate opinions different than his own”—not “someone who disagrees with me.” Toleration doesn’t require agreement, merely recognition and respect. (Ironically, those quickest to accuse people of bigotry are often bigoted about their flawed definition of “bigot.”)

The solution to these failures is not more dialogue. It’s better philosophy, logic, and reason. Unfortunately, until two people are capable of making these distinctions, healthy, productive dialogue about same-sex marriage is almost impossible.

(For good measure, here’s a picture from last night of our un-bigoted, un-hateful family enjoying three of America’s great treasures: marriage, freedom of conscience, and delicious fried chicken.)

Here’s just a glimpse at how crowded our Chick-Fil-A was last night:


I really liked Fr. Longenecker’s thoughts on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Calling it a “triumph of the ordinary,” he makes an important observation:

“It was historic because it marks a new method of mass protest. I even hesitate to use the word ‘protest’ because it wasn’t a protest. There wasn’t any anger. There wasn’t any hate. There wasn’t any bullying. There were no unwashed crowds of unhappy people holding a sit in and causing other people stress, inconvenience and expense. There were no protest signs, no marches, no noise makers and attention grabbers. There were no revolutionary slogans, no clenched fists, no class warfare, no sullen adolescents in a stroppy mood.”

(Image Credit: Todd Stocker)

  • Jason

    #4 most explicitly shows a fatal flaw as this relates to the same sex marriage debate:

    “The definition of bigot is “one unwilling to tolerate opinions different than his own”—not “someone who disagrees with me.” Toleration doesn’t require agreement, merely recognition and respect. (Ironically, those quickest to accuse people of bigotry are often bigoted about their flawed definition of “bigot.”)”

    Anyone who advocates against, votes against, or gives money to efforts to ban same sex marriage is simply unwilling to tolerate the opinion different from his own that two men or women can and do marry. You are trying to codify your “unwilling[ness] to tolerate” into universal secular law. You are explicitly trying to ban “recognition and respect” for our marriages. Your position, therefore is bigoted and not tolerant, by your own definition. If a Catholic was truly “tolerant” and not “bigoted,” by these definitions, they would allow us gays (even us gay Catholics) to get married, as long as we didn’t involve the Church in any way (e.g. force the Church to witness our marriage in our local parish or host our reception in the parish hall). We gays have no problem with compromise, as evidenced in the law passed in NY (among others) which gives explicit exemption to religious opponents and which, if violated by a court, invalidates the entire law. Unless advocates for banning same-sex marriage can unequivocally show (non-religiously based) harm done to society by our marriage, you have no leg to stand on other than simply being “unwilling to tolerate opinions different from [your] own.” By your own logic, then, I have no choice but to use the word “bigots” for you of the CFA “appreciation day” crowd, and anyone else who goes there to support “marriage and freedom of conscience.” For if you truly did support these, you would not only be eating some delicious fried chicken (which I love and used to eat until this summer), but would also advocate for same sex marriage, in support of freedom of conscience of consenting adults.

    Your money and your presence at CFA was intended to make a statement, as confirmed by your citing Fr. Longenecker’s “mass protest.” And to say that buying at CFA is not the same as supporting Cathy’s views is summarily hypocritical. Planned Parenthood truly does provide great and essential services (mammograms, pap smears, other primary care), but Catholics are correct to not give a penny to PP or any entity that supports it because we do not want one penny of ours even possibly supporting abortion in the slightest. This is the same rationale at work here, and since there is no demonstrable, non-religious harm with same sex marriage (as opposed to the ending of a life with abortion), there is no other word for your position aside from “bigoted,” by your own logic and reason.

  • TowhereamI

    You treat this as if this whole thing is over a comment and that is only one point that people have made. Number 4 is completely invaluable to the whole situation. you define a bigot, and yes based on just the comments in made in whatever speech, you are correct he is not a bigot. However, let us speak of intolerance. When you own a company that annually (if not more than that) contributes to foundations and political groups that focus their efforts on keeping gay marriage illegal, and that have attempted to bring forth legislation criminalizing homosexuality, that’s what i would call intolerance, so I guess we have completed the definition of bigot.

    Me personally, I could care less what the guy says. Im a Popeyes guy myself and even if i was a frequent at Chick-fil-a, Cathy’s political beliefs mean absolutely nothing to me. Everybody has a right to say whatever they want. But once you say something, everyone else in the USA has their own right to disagree and make their own comment heard.

    This whole situation is not about Gay rights, It’s about human rights. When you refuse to let gays marry you consider them inferior and less than human. Who cares if a man wants to marry a man, or a woman a woman? In all reality there is no hurt to anyone if it is allowed. People want to talk about the Sanctity of Marriage? That is a joke. Have you see divorce rates for straight couples? And on top of the the percentage of those that end because of adultry? Us straight people have ruined the Sanctity of Marriage quite enough. Maybe a few Gay couples could help fix that.

    • Bonnie

      The concept of same-sex marriage and “gay rights” is not the same thing as human rights. As Brandon says in one of his comment responses above:

      “I would totally agree with your entire comment *if* same-sex marriage was a natural right, which you seem to assume it [is]. If you’re right about that, then I agree: nobody would have any reason to prevent it. If you tried to prevent same-sex marriage, you would certainly be guilty of unjust discrimination.

      But same-sex marriage is not a natural right. Nor is “marrying whoever you want” an absolute right. The definition of marriage–i.e. what marriage is and purposes to do–precludes two people of the same-sex from entering into it (just as it precludes three people from marrying each other.)”

      The “gay agenda” demands a redefinition of the concept of marriage. The fact that “straight” people can have failed marriages, can sin, can cheat on their spouses, etc, does not invalidate the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is the historical and biblical standard. The failed marriages, adultery and other sins listed above are still sins in God’s book, as are same-sex sexual relationships. Redefining the concept of marriage in human terms will not change that fact, nor will it sanctify the concept of same-sex relationships in God’s eyes (or in the eyes of Bible-believing humans).

      By the way, I’m not really sure what you mean when you say that “Number 4 is completely invaluable to the whole situation.” Invaluable means: “extremely useful; indispensable: ‘an invaluable source of information.’ Synonyms: priceless – inestimable – inappreciable.” Did you mean inapplicable, something which does not apply? I would certainly have to disagree with that, if that *is* what you meant – I find #4 very relevant to the whole Chick-fil-A ruckus.

      Brandon, an excellent article, thank you. You have articulated several things I’ve been pointing out to friends and acquaintances (in a much more piecemeal fashion) over the course of the last couple of weeks.

      • Alisce

        You cannot use biblical examples without acknowledging that polygamy was quite accepted and encouraged in the Old Testament. Should your religious beliefs be the basis for our legal system? We are a pluralistic society, with many varied beliefs. Which religion gets to choose?

  • RThomas845

    1. Approval and Implicit Condemnation – It is true that approval of one thing does not necessarily mean disapproval of the opposite, but the comparison used here are not opposites (“traditional marriage” versus “gay people”). The opposite of a traditional marriage between one man and one woman is a same-sex marriage, that of which Dan Cathy most definitely and implicitly condemns.

    2. Disagreeing and Hating -I also believe this distinction is an import life lesson. In terms of Dan Cathy, I don’t think it’s the disagreeing part that implies hatred, but rather the words used to describe those that disagree with him (“prideful” and “arrogant”). You can disagree with people without name-calling.

    3. Beliefs and People – I think this one is so much like #2, that it did not constitute a 3rd paragraph and the same argument applies. You may not agree with your friend that double-rainbows are boring, but when you tell them they are ridiculous or “arrogant” for believing so, you turn the focus from belief to people.

    4. Bigotry and Disagreement – Bigot is a strong word and I have never used it to describe anyone because of its negative connotation, but by the definition given above, Dan Cathy would be a bigot. He is “unwilling to tolerate” and refuses to “recognize” same-sex marriage. When someone tolerates something, they do not intervene. If my child is screaming down the aisle in a grocery store, a behavior with which I strongly disagree, but I allow it to happen, I am tolerating it.

    While I agree with the main ideas of this blog (i.e., disagreeing does not equal hating), I just don’t agree that it applies to the “Dan Cathy/Chick-Fil-A situation”. Honestly, I haven’t really paid much attention to it all because I think it has been totally blown out of proportion and the man has a right to his opinion. On a side note, though, I do have a hard time understanding this controversy about same-sex marriage. How does allowing two people of the same sex to get married and thus allowing them the same legal benefits as a traditionally-married couple, affect the legitimacy of those traditional marriages? People get married under different religions and beliefs throughout the world every day. Does that mean that it somehow discounts all the marriages with different beliefs? Talk about “arrogant”… Who is so arrogant to believe that THEIR marriage is the only true marriage?

  • Bascoda

    If you strip away all of the rhetoric – religious, pc, agenda-driven or whatever – it comes down to this. The CEO of Chic-Fil-A has the right to express his opinion. Those who disagree with him have the right to tell him they think he’s full of (expletive deleted); they have the right to refuse to patronize his business and encourage their friends and acquaintances to do likewise. They also have the right to stage public protests about same, as long as those protests are orderly and do not incite violence or endanger the general welfare in any way.
    Similarly, those who agree with the CEO’s opinion have the right to express their support, patronize his business and encourage their friends and acquaintances to do likewise, and stage public demonstrations in his favor, as long as those demonstrations are orderly and do not incite violence or endanger the general welfare. in any way.
    This includes the various public officials who might choose to use their elected office and the influence that goes with it to affect this issue. To use a specific example, the mayor of Boston certainly has the right to publicly state that he is opposed to the views expressed by the CEO of Chick-Fil-A. HOWEVER, as long as Chick-Fil-
    A meets all of the legal requirements necessary to open a business in his city, he has absolutely no grounds to interfere with that process based upon his his dislike of the CEO’s publicly expressed views.
    I personally find the opinions expressed by the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, as well as some of the company’s personnel policies and practices to be repugnant, repulsive, and any other negative descriptive terms one might care to apply. Even so, though I have every right to refuse to do business with them, I do not have the right to interfere with their right to conduct their business according to their own personal beliefs.

  • Natalie

    Loved the article! I also read the first couple comments on the page and noticed that you said your son’s name is Augustine. Good name choice…My husband and I named our first born(he is 2) Augustine Gregory and we call him both Augy and Gus for nicknames. :-) Our second son is named Ignatius..Both named after great saints. :-) But back on topic….I ran across your article on FB and now I look forward to showing your blog/site with my husband…He’ll love it! Thanks again for the great post and I look forward to going through your site and reading more!

  • Scott Tonk

    It’s not a Chick-Fil-A controversy. It never was a Chick-Fil-A controversy. The controversy centers around whether or not a given pressure group can exert pressure – even up to the point of practically terrorizing another target group in the service of some ideology or other – and this in our culture, which promotes REAL tolerance, even of groups with opposing ideologies – as opposed to phony “tolerance” which will not tolerate an opposing group.

  • Straightshooter67

    I am a Christian, and I personally STAND for all the biblical principals of the WORD of GOD ( KJV ) and THOUGH I HATE NO ONE.
    I’m required to hate sin, GOD LOVES everyone despite what the world thinks, no matter of race, color, or creed, GOD does LOVE us all, but he hates the sin we commit, and He ( GOD ) says if you love me in return you won’t do sinful things you do, and do as I asked you too, beleive me I had to learn many, many, many things the hard way and the biggest of all is; we cannot do as we please to others, ourselves and especially to GOD and call ourselves christians, but many do..I DID! I was WRONG!
    Do people have the right to do as they please? Of course we do!
    Do people have the right to say what’s in their mind and hearts?
    Of course they do! GOD is simply saying don’t call ME your GOD; and live the opposite of what I have told you, It’s not just about homosexuals. It’s ( ANYTHING ) or ( ANYONE ) that exalts it’s self above GOD! Sin is Sin, theres no breaking this and that rule, people who commit sin know whether or not they should or shouldn’t do it.
    It’s simple RIGHT and WRONG, YES or NO. But heres the thing we all mess up on, we get it in our heads that after we have done so much WRONG we think GOD wouldn’t want me, I’m to unclean for him to want me, so we try to change ourselves by doing more good, being nicer, helping the community, or the poor, and those are great things, but it’s like trying to get cleaned up before taking a bath, it makes no sense to do that if your getting in the shower or bath already! Not one single person living or dead has ever got clean enough on their own in order for GOD to accept them, the biggest sin we could possibly ever commit is DENYING JESUS CHRIST as the only one who could forgive us. So inspite of the worlds thinking; GOD loves the murder, the thief, the liar, the pornographer, the hooker, the wife and child abuser, the pedophile, the alcohol and drug addict you name it GOD LOVES everyone of these people, but as much as we would like for him to He can’t simply say it’s okay; do whatever you want and you can come live with me in Heaven for eternity, Sorry! He doesn’t work that way, Look! We have all that junk now here on earth, and look at the chaos, Why in GOD’S wisdom would HE let these type of actions/behaviors into Heaven? He couldn’t call it Heaven then,OBVIOUSLY! Then that means it is simply not permitted by the LORD GOD JEHOVAH JIREH of the BIBLE, which is why we need to repent to JESUS and turn form our wickedness, and we know it when we see it, We know it as soon as we think it, but we like to act dumb, and make the rules to fit our needs and wants. We’re so caught up in what we think GOD should what we want him to be and let others determine what is good for us. It is saddening that most of us haven’t really sit down and tried to learn the truth about GOD! No we just have short meaningless conversations about GOD and assume our facts are based on our own opinions and what others think. GOD has already told us whats best for us, it’s just people don’t want to hear of their WRONG doings because they feel they are being judged, no one can look at another and say; you shouldn’t do that! unless they have understood they too have to be righteous before GOD before pointing the proverbial finger. I’m sinner number 1, I’ll tell you, I’ve done so much that I deserve more punishment than i ever gotten, and payed my dues to man and did time for my crimes and actions, but none the less I was still accountable to GOD even though I payed my debt to society. So once I FINALLY understood what i needed to do to be completely absolved of ALL my sins by GOD and did IT, then the process of turning my life around started taking place, little by little, day by day I literally began to see a better person in myself, it was GOD gradually chipping away the old man and creating a new MAN in JESUS CHRIST. Am I there yet?, to be honest, I know i’m not, because I know something NEW is going to happen and it’s going to be GREAT! So, among all the debates of this and that, they have become pointless to me, I’m thankful for the Stand Chic fil a is taking, But becareful in what you judge, view the whole picture, consider each other’s feelings. but know this, If there were no RIGHT or WRONG, YES or NO to this controversy then there would be NO CONTROVERSY. Someone here is wrong and I know who it is, DO YOU? is the question? so I will continue to pray that GOD will give Revelation to not just the one who is right, but to all who is watching as the days pass, that they to will use discernment properly according to what GOD reflects to the world through His word. My prayers are for the Whole World, But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!!!!
    With Brotherly love,

    • George123

      It’s not simple right and wrong, yes or no. Your opinions lead others to feel threatened by homosexuality. Remember Matthew Shepherd? How many people are bullied each year for their sexuality? When you make statements that God hates the sin, bigots call that license to hurt/kill in the name of God.

  • BornAgainRN

    So, concise, yet right to the point, & so clear. But, more importantly, so Biblically-based. Very well done. Hope you enjoyed so good chicken. God bless! Steve.

  • Jsb1345

    Way to dress it up. But yon matter how you put it you’re still a bigot. Just an articulate one.

    • Aristo Kratte

      lol, case in point

    • BornAgainRN

      Jsb1345…so if you disagree with someone elses lifestyle, then does that make you a bigot? Do you support polygamy & adult, consenual incestual marriage, as well as other ‘non-traditional’ marriages? You are missing the whole point of this mass support the Chick-fil-A. They were ASKED what they OPINION on what a marriage is, & they were HONEST in answering. As a result, they were BANNED by the mayors in Chicago & Boston from selling their products, because they disagreed with their personal opinion – which is ILLEGAL. So, by using your logic, if you disagree with anyone’s beliefs, including this guy or Chick-fil-A, then YOU are a bigot. See how that’s a double-standard, & not what this is about?

      • Iamthatguy

        “so if you disagree with someone elses lifestyle, then does that make you a bigot?”

        No, however when you try to condemn their lifestyle, or to stop it entirely because it is not what you believe? Yes you are a bigot. Dan Cathy contributes to political organizations that work to make sure that Gays cannot marry, and at times have attempted to introduce legislation that criminalizes homosexuality. As long as he continues to financially support these groups I will believe that he supports their cause, and so he is a bigot.

  • Happyhippo

    I humbly disagree with the statement “There wasn’t any anger. There wasn’t any hate. There wasn’t any bullying.” The statements made by some of the customers were exactly that. Again, we get to the idea of bigotry, and worse, ignorance and avoidance.
    I’m too tired of this topic to comment further. I just wish you would take your words to heart, and not let them be so hollow.

    • Brandon Vogt

      Happyhippo, do you have any examples on film of customers behaving with anger, hate, or bullying?

      And those weren’t my words, by the way. They were Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s.

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