Our country is supposed to be guided by the Constitution.
The freedom to practice our religious beliefs. The freedom to express our views and opinions.
And while not specifically mentioned, our free enterprise system allows us to build a business.
Yet, these three principles of freedom are under attack in several major cities- Boston, Chicago and my hometown of Philadelphia, among others.
The cause of this controversy? Chick-fil-A.
The president of the restaurant chain, Dan Cathy, supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman. His Cathy family foundation supports conservative organizations, such as the Family Research Council.
In response, elected leaders in major cities have launched attacks against the company’s expansion in their cities.
In Chicago, an alderman has vowed to block a proposed Chick-fil-A restaurant in his district. Mayor Rahm Emanuel backs him up, saying “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.”
This is the same Mayor Emanuel who warmly welcomes Louis Farrakhan, whose hatred and hostility toward Israel and Jews are legendary. Does that mean that anti-Semitic values are Chicago values in Mayor Emanuel’s book?
It is also interesting to note that Farrakhan voiced extremely homophobic criticism at President Obama a few months ago when the president announced that he supported gay marriage. So how does Emanuel welcome a notorious bigot, anti-Semite and hatemonger like Farrakhan one moment, then go attack Chick-fil-A the next?
The nonsense does not stop there. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino wrote in a letter to Cathy: “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
I was embarrassed when Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney wrote his own letter to Cathy, stating “take a hike and take your intolerance with you,” and vowing to introduce a resolution in Philadelphia City Council to condemn the company.
Here is why these blowhards are way out of bounds:
If you as a citizen do not agree with the views or actions of a company, the best way to send a message is with your wallet. Just take your business elsewhere.
You can take it a step further and organize boycotts, write letters or do anything else to express your disapproval.
You have the freedom to do that.
In our system of democracy, companies have the freedom to run their business in the way that they see fit, provided they are compliant with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.
The Cathy family, which founded Chick-fil-A, has strong religious convictions. They do not operate on Sundays, and I bet it has cost them untold billions of dollars in lost revenue. But that is what they believe.
If their beliefs somehow led to discriminatory treatment of customers and/or employees, then the argument would have merit. But that is not the case.
Instead, we have a group of grandstanding politicians trying to score some cheap political points and publicity.
What is equally disturbing is the veiled threats of their rhetoric. They message they are sending to Chick-fil-A is clear: we don’t want your business.
The company is not being accused of anything illegal. Yet, these elected officials are ready to overstep their bounds to prevent a business from legally operating in their cities. A business that could create jobs and add tax revenue to city coffers.
But that’s not important. What is important to them is that Dan Cathy is not entitled to have a different religious opinion than theirs. And because of that, they’re ready to punish this company.
This is chilling. And whether you are for or against same-sex marriage is not the issue. If a business is legal and compliant, that may not be important if your personal opinions or religious views do not agree with theirs.
If you don’t agree with Dan Cathy’s beliefs, then just don’t eat there.
If you’re an elected official, like the ones in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, answer me this question: which poses a greater threat to their cities- a Chick-fil-A restaurant or those scores of nuisance bars that are a breeding ground for criminal activity?
Instead of spending time condemning a chicken sandwich restaurant, how about doing something about important issues like illegal guns, the skyrocketing crime rate, high unemployment and our failing school systems?
If they want to pass laws on what constitutes a marriage, then do it. But do not over-reach and abuse political power to punish an otherwise legal and compliant business enterprise.
I am a vegetarian, but I’m seriously considering going to Chick-fil-A for a sandwich.
It has nothing to do with my view on same-sex marriage versus traditional marriage. It has everything to do about living in a country that is supposed to allow its citizens the rights to their religious beliefs and personal opinions.
What do you think?
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