Without fail, the day I crave Chick fil A the most is on Sunday – which of course is the day they are not open.
It’s been like that since I was a teenager – Chick fil A had long enjoyed the well deserved reputation of being a Christian fast food restaurant and ran their business according to their religious values.
In keeping with their religious values, it has been disclosed that several millions of dollars of Chick fil A corporate profits have gone to funding religious groups fighting against marriage equality.
What has ensued since this has become public is fascinating to watch – again highlighting the polarization of America.
Pro-marriage equality groups and individuals have mounted a public relations campaign/boycott against Chick fil A.
Shortly thereafter, pro-Chick fil A groups, not all of them religious in nature, have pushed back saying that it is unfair to discriminate against Chick fil A based on the company’s religious beliefs. I’m literally stunned by the logic being used.
Somehow, people are up in arms that some should dare withdraw their patronage of a restaurant because they do not act the way we want them to. From a message board I read yesterday:
“Chick-Fil-A and BSA are being unfairly bullied. Chick-fil-A is a private company run by a strict Baptist family I don’t understand why people would be shocked by their stance. I am pretty sure they they treat every customer the same gay or straight. If you don’t like their politics too bad don’t eat there, they have a right to have an opinion.”
Or this gem from my Facebook Wall overnight:
“Pretty soon, we are going to have to start checking everyone’s donation, voting, and some day “thinking” card before we can do business or even converse with them… oh no, don’t do business with those people because they don’t think the same I do ! Thought police here we come.”
In a free-market society, the law of business is supply and demand. Chick fil A has the supply, except on Sunday, and the consumer has the demand, maybe even more so on a Sunday. Now as a consumer, if I find that the supplier of the product I want to purchase is doing something that I do not support, do I not have the right to take my appetite and patronage elsewhere?
Chick fil A retains the right to continue to fund church groups and organizations that are anti-same sex marriage, but they do so at the risk of alienating a portion of their customer base and profits. For a company that has long operated by losing sales and market share by closing on Sunday, I seriously doubt an individual-based boycott of their product will change their behavior.
That said, just because I don’t think Chick fil A will join the now-majority of Americans that support marriage equality, regardless of whether I buy or do not buy a Spicy Chicken sandwich, doesn’t mean I can’t make an educated choice as a consumer to not put my money towards funding that which I do not support.
That is how free markets work. The backlash against an individual-based boycott makes no sense whatsoever, other than as a show of support for Chick fil A’s values.
Boycotts have long been effective in changing behavior – from transit authorities, to businesses, to nations. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, started when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, lasted for over a year. Apartheid in South Africa had existed since 1948, but Americans paid little to no attention to it until the 1980’s. Despite Ronald Reagan’s veto , the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 — overrode in the Senate (78-21), led to effective disinvestment (boycott) of South Africa which ultimately helped end apartheid six years later.
Boycotts are powerful tools, tried and true for ushering in social change. For me, every day is now Sunday.