Every so often, there’s another flicker of outrage against Chick-fil-A. This month, the San Antonio City Council blocked the restaurant from opening an outpost at the city’s airport.
It’s a reminder that left-wing anger at the restaurant chain hasn’t fully gone away. But it’s far from what it was.
Today, their attempted boycott is largely forgotten and Chick-fil-A is stronger than ever as sales last year topped $10 billion, surpassing both Wendy’s and Burger King.
Big-city mayors pounced and activists protested with what they called “kiss-ins.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) said, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors.”
The crime? Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s support of biblical marriage.
“I think we’re 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,” Cathy had said.
Fast-forward to 2019, and there’s growing recognition across the media spectrum that the boycott wilted with a whimper and the culture has moved on. The main evidence is that Chick-fil-A’s sales have rocketed with the company now ranking as the country’s fifth largest restaurant chain.
Dr. Ed Stetzer of Wheaton College said, “They chose to keep doing well, with excellence – with people saying ‘my pleasure’ every time they serve you and the reality is–that’s probably the stance we’re going to have to take sometimes when we’re unfairly maligned – just keep doing things well. Keep doing things excellently.”
Back in 2012, Pastor Choco De Jesus of New Life Covenant Church urged Chicago’s mayor to welcome Chick-fil-A in the city. Today he believes politicians see the economic growth that Christian businesses can bring.
De Jesus said, “I think we’ve just got bigger problems with education, balancing the budget, immigration – I think the culture is saying – why not – we need all the help we can get.”
Of course, Christian businesses must still tread carefully in a society where social media can rapidly stoke faux outrage.
Chick-fil-A still faces challenges, mainly on college campuses, where schools like Rider in New Jersey say the chain is unwelcome, based on its quote “corporate values.”
It all points to a larger question, says Stetzer: Can our society allow and perhaps even encourage businesses with diverse viewpoints that help to drive local economies?
He says, “At the end of the day, culture is going to have to decide, people in culture are going to have to decide, ‘Can we have people who have different views on marriage and sexuality, yet have a business, whether it be a Hobby Lobby or whether it be a Chick-fil-A or a Papa John’s Pizza, that have differences with the culture or must they be driven out of town?'”