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In the US, one chicken dish now symbolises either traditional families or rank homophobia: on the left, there’s an Orwellian campaign against marriage

In an American election year issues become fascinatingly over-the-top

By on Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gay Marriage Corporations

America, during the year running up to an election, is for a European observer a most fascinating spectacle. The issues are the same: but the chance is enormously increased that they will become so heightened as to reach utterly surreal heights. I am now an addict of Fox News between 6 and 8pm, our time, when the wondrous Megyn Kelly presides over the most fascinating news show on television. She is relaxed, beautiful, intelligent, well-informed and funny. She is a former courtroom attorney with a mind like a razor. Forget Jeremy Paxman: this is real forensic interviewing, without the slightest element of Paxman’s unpleasant hectoring. And she has a wonderful sense of the absurd.

But that’s not where I discovered the most absurd story of all so far (absurd but also deeply sinister): that was in The Times, yesterday:

One of the worrying things about modern America is just how politicised daily life has become. The clothes you wear, the church you attend, the things you eat – in the paradigm of the culture war, everything becomes a statement about political values…

In mid-July, Dan Cathy, the president of fast food chain Chick-fil-A, told an online Baptist journal that his company was “Very much supportive of the family – the Biblical family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family led-business and we are still married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

…. when the quote hit the national media, the LGBTQ lobby went wild. The Jim Henson Company (of The Muppets fame) severed an agreement to make children’s toys for meal deals. Nearly 6,000 people signed up online to boycott the chain and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called for a kiss-in at local stores.

There was a lot more of the same kind of thing, of which more presently. First, though, the views of Dan Cathy, who is now being portrayed as the embodiment of all that is homophobic, repay a little more study: for as far as I can discover, all he has ever done is to defend the traditional, biblically defined, family and therefore to oppose gay marriage.

He has for some years supported organisations which oppose gay marriage. Chick-fil-A, For instance, last year co-sponsored a conference on marriage, together with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an organisation which has campaigned in favour of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot title of which you no doubt remember was Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Its proponents called it the California Marriage Protection Act, and it was passed in the November 2008 state elections and subsequently challenged in court. After being overturned in several courts it was finally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday: so it’s a particularly topical issue in the US (as gay marriage remains here, indeed: the online petition against the wretched Cameron’s plans has now reached 589,946 signatures—if you haven’t signed, do it now here).

So, that’s where Dan Cathy is coming from on this issue, and it’s exactly where the Catholic Church is coming from. We are not against gays: we are in favour of marriage as God instituted it. This is precisely the view which Mr Cathy feistily defends. But he is interpreted—or wilfully misinterpreted— by the gay lobby as being explicitly and with deliberation homophobic. But he isn’t; he’s just not mealy-mouthed. On one syndicated radio talk show, he rather splendidly said “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about’.”

Earlier this month, the [ital] Biblical Recorder [end ital] quoted him, when asked about the opposition to his company’s support for the traditional family, as saying “Well, guilty as charged. 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. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live.”

Well, good for him, say I: but is it still true, as once it was, that he does live in a country where he can share his values and operate on biblical principles? Not if various potentates of the Democratic party have their way. Following this interview, Thomas Menino, the Mayor of Boston, stated that he would not allow Chick-fil-A to open franchises in the city “unless they open up their policies.” In Chicago alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno announced his determination to block Chick-fil-A’s bid to build a second outlet in the city. Moreno received backing from Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel: “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel said in a statement. “They disrespect our fellow neighbours and residents.” The Mayor of San Francisco last week tweeted that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t share San Francisco’s values & strong commitment to equality for everyone.”

But what was all that stuff we have been hearing over here for many years about America’s superior commitment to freedom of speech? What about the First Amendment? For the Mayors of Boston and Chicago to threaten to refuse business licences because of the political views of a firm’s CEO is surely mindbogglingly un-American: it’s more like Putin’s Moscow. And can it really be true that a Southern-fried chicken sandwich on a soft white bun with a couple of pickle slices (see, I’ve done my homework) has come to symbolise in such an absurdly confrontational way one of the country’s major social and moral issues?

The really sinister thing about all this is the way in which what was yesterday a normal and universal view—that marriage is between one man and one woman—has been subverted by an Orwellian process of language manipulation and consciously engineered distortion of the truth. What was the consensus has been redefined as “bigotry”; the term “homophobia” has simply been attached to the old consensus: and the job is done. If you believe in marriage as it has always been understood you are now, it seems, consumed by hatred for homosexuals and practise cruelty and discrimination against them. What was thought by everyone positive and wholesome has become cynically redefined as a foul and loathsome prejudice against decent and tolerant values. Those like Dan Cathy who hold fast to what they have always believed are not to be argued with: that would give them the dignity of respect for their views. Whatever happened to Votaire’s “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

Meanwhile, the Republican right is having a field day with all this. Mike Huckabee is organising a Chick-fil-A appreciation day; Rick Santorum has urged his supporters to visit their local Chick-fil-A outlet as soon as possible: “Help us fight for traditional families”, he says, “and eat chicken at the same time.” Sara Palin has posted a picture of herself on Facebook tucking into some Chick-fil-A, and even introduced the stuff into a speech, saying to her aide, Jason Recher, “We drive by a Chick-fil-A. We don’t have that in Alaska. Love me some Chick-fil-A. So we’ll go there, Jason, on the way, OK?”

Liberal opinion in the US, however, is by no means universally happy about the actions of Mayors Emmanuel and Menino. “Which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand?” asked an editorial in the Boston Globe last week; “Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” Well, there’s no reason that I have been able to discover to doubt that those who run Chick-fil-A are entirely sincere in that declaration. They just believe in the family, and they believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. That’s all.

But as Catholics have known for some time, if you don’t accept some militant gays at their own valuation they just won’t believe that you don’t hate them. The only thing they will accept is your abandonment of all your own beliefs and values. Well, sorry, that’s not going to happen: and that’s why they hate us. But we don’t hate you. Got it?

Extreme irritation is another matter.

  • judithjmidwinter

    You bog off to your shit house you ignorant slob.

  • awkwardcustomer
  • Parepidemos

    I believe what Kevin is saying that the word “homosexual” is not to be found in the Judeo-Christian scriptures; in this he is correct. Obviously, the act of “a man lying with another man” is mentioned…I think about 6-7 times in total

  • theroadmaster

    Oh, Please, less of your patronizing comments and irrelevant references to poetry whether good or bad.  Remember hubris  before a fall, particularly in relation to those whose over-inflated opinions pass for “gospel” truth, whether they are based on so-called “intellectual” or “scientific” grounds.  The historical truth is that marriage has been recognized across societies, both religious and non-religious, as consisting of the sacred union between one man and one woman, for the best part of two millennia.  Of course, we are seeing an attempt by present day national legislatures to redefine the whole essence of marriage as properly understood.  Once you change the nature of a thing, you change it’s whole definition.  Even you should recognize that simple law of nature, whatever your shallow intellectual pride tells you.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    Why don’t you piss off you buffoon. 

  • Judithjmidwinter

    If you live to be 150 you might approach the bollocks level of maturity you ignorant brainless moron.

  • Parepidemos

    Point of clarification, if I may. The issue of marriage is devolved and legislation by Westminster will apply only to England and Wales. This is why there is no provision being made for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland; it is also why the Scottish Government intends to permit same-sex marriage within a religious context (so long as the religious body agrees) while it will continue to be forbidden in England and Wales.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    Go away and evolve a bit Jabbawok.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    You are a bloody idiot jabba and a three time super ponce of a ponce.

  • awkwardcustomer

    And yet you still insist that homosexuality is Nature’s own method of population control.  Your arguments don’t stack up.

  • Parepidemos

    That is a disgusting comment.

  • Judithjmidwinter

    Sorry I meant ‘shit infested worm’

  • Parepidemos

    Please stop showing your stupidity. You are only doing damage to the side you claim to support.

  • Nat_ons

    This is factually incorrect; both pagan Rome and Greece – among most other comparable states – had highly restrictive laws and stringent punishments in regard to sexual morality .. not least that between two adult males (women not being part of their political society).

    Christians did seek to advance the domsetic rules of sexual behaviour outlined in Judaism, which was distinct from that in either Greece or Rome; not withstanding, Greek and Latin society admired Jewish morals (if not the rigorous practices accompanying it).

  • awkwardcustomer

    Are you really a Catholic priest?  And yet you hate the Church.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Oops.  Better call in the Moderator.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Moderator, where are you?

  • awkwardcustomer

    This is a reply to Andrew above and seems to have got lost.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Here’s where it should have gone.

    Your arguments just don’t stack up.

  • awkwardcustomer


  • Jjjpepe

    Andrew, you are doing cyber-bullying. Is this what the homosexual movement is about?

  • Adam Thomson

    “I wouldn’t agree with your comments on Dawkins who I see as one of the most opiniated and arrogant people in public life.” Well, Andrew, I’m glad you can at least see that in other people. Maybe you should wait a few days and then re-read your own posts, ask yourself how you come across. 

  • Adam Thomson

    Tremble, O earth! Let the heavens quake with fear! Andrew is threatening to write to the broadsheets! O Dr Oddie, capitulate immediately and grovel in repentance!
    (I wonder if any of them will publish it?)

  • Adam Thomson

    I’d be interested to see the standard of spelling in the world class journals you edit. Also how many times in each paragraph you use the word ‘intellectual’. 

  • americanusnovus

    Does ‘progress in philosophical understanding and thought’ necessarily have to destroy what has come before?  Adhering to a philosophical idea has nothing to do with security, it has to do with striving to correctly understand the world around you.  I neither accept or reject any system of thought based on how it makes me feel, but rather on how well it reflects reality.  ‘Something cannot both be and not be at the same time, in the same being, in the same respect.’  How does rejecting this principle advance human thought?

  • Lewispbuckingham

     ‘I edit two world class medical journals?’
    What are they Andrew?
    There always seems to be a problem with History. My sister once tried to find out the history of Poland, by wrighting to the Polish embassy for information.Everything before the Russian Revolution was not available, ie before 1917.
     This was during the Cold War and there were a lot of people then who thought that history was something you should control.
    The thing about science is that, as it is always there to be found, no one has a monopoly on its truth. If some powerful person stops some discovery being published or made, someone else will find it again.
     One of the beauties of the blog is that it is possible to discuss things over a period of maybe a week or so.
     So in that context you may put your points, and in most times,unless you are rude or something like that, Dr Oddie will publish your thoughts.

  • Oconnord

    Dr. Oddie seems to have a short memory, last year he wrote in detail of why he was boycotting Tesco as they planned to sponsor an area at the 2012 Pride march in London. So he must not object to people with the ear of the public calling for boycotts. As did the CH blogger Francis Philips, twice.

    I am rather surprised he objects to politicians making empty promises to pander to their voters. The CH seemed to approve when Eric Pickles MP, promised to use the Localism Act to reverse the court decision on the illegality of council prayers. Something which he could not do, and many councils have since dropped prayers, but of course he was pandering to the christian vote.  These American politicians are doing exactly the same, if to the opposite demographic, they are in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco not rural Kentucky.

    I also wouldn’t boast about using Faux News as a primary news source for the U.S. It was only a few months ago that the “no news is better than Fox News” story went worldwide. In brief a study carried out by an American university found that people who do not look at any news knew more about current affairs than those who relied on the Fox Network.

  • Oconnord

    But will the church be able to survive without Europe, and to a certain extent, the U.S. It will have to be a radically different church to survive without money from Europe and the US. The church is only growing in impoverished areas, or in the poorest of people in the West. Who will finance it’s continued expansion, if not relatively wealthy American and European catholics?

  • The Raven

    Dr Oddie’s article is about politicians threatening to use the power of the state to restrict the trading activities of a company because one of its executives has expressed an opinion that they disagree with; that’s qualitatively different to journalists calling on consumers to voluntarily withhold their custom from an organisation that suffers no legal impediment to its right to trade.

    Your comment reads as if you’ve taken the Fox News report of Dr Oddie’s article as your source.

  • The Raven

    I struggle to see anything to celebrate about the commercial exploitation of poor women’s wombs by relatively wealthy individuals or the commodetisation of children.

  • W Oddie

    I have replied, as briefly as possible, to one of your effusions, below. It’s the only reply you’re going to get from me: I do not respond to bullying, to hysteria, or to gross discourtesy.

  • couissent

    Andrew wrote:

    “I am sure you are aware that the Church has had the most dreadful
    relationship with Science from the time it was unable to suppress the

    This old canard again, stemming from the one unfortunate, uncharacteristic and (much apologised for) incident of the treatment of Galileo!  Even that incident is much misunderstood. 

    The Church does not oppose Science; on the contrary she encourages it and has greatly contributed to it.  There is no conflict between Faith and Science in its proper domain.  The problem rather is with cod philosophy masquerading as Science (a la Dawkins and co) – scientism rather than science.

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