The San Antonio City Council recently voted 6–4 to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant at the city’s airport.
Councilman Robert Trevino, who made the motion to exclude the restaurant, stated: “With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
Chick-fil-A responded: “The press release issued by the councilmember was the first we heard of his motion and its approval by the San Antonio City Council. We wish we had the opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our company prior to the vote. We agree with the councilmember that everyone should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A.”
The statement added, “In fact, we have welcomed everyone in San Antonio into our 32 local stores for more than 40 years.”
“Everyone has a place here”
This is not the first time the Cathy family’s commitment to biblical morality has cost them business.
I wrote recently about a university in New Jersey that denied their students’ request to bring Chick-fil-A to campus, citing the company’s perceived “opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.” The decision caused one of the university’s deans to resign.
Last November, Pittsburgh city officials opposed Chick-fil-A as a sponsor for an upcoming kids’ marathon, again citing its supposed opposition to “LGBTQIA+ children and families.”
However, the San Antonio City Council’s action takes discrimination against the restaurant to a new low.
Writing for National Review, David French reports that the politicians punished Chick-fil-A for donating to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army, and a youth home.
French, a Harvard-educated attorney, believes the city council’s decision to be illegal, a violation of Chick-fil-A’s constitutionally protected right to support individuals or causes. As a group supporting the restaurant noted: “It appears business owners can even be punished for donations they make to nonprofits which have nothing to do with how the company conducts its business.”
Councilman Trevino declared: “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”
Everyone, apparently, except those who affirm biblical morality.
The canary in the cultural mine
Chick-fil-A has become the proverbial canary in the cultural mine. Because the Cathy family has been consistent in their support for biblical marriage, their business has come under escalating pressure from those who stand to profit politically by doing so.
To be clear: These attacks have nothing to do with the company’s actual business. My internet search could not find a single instance when an LGBTQ customer or employee alleged discrimination against the restaurant.
But we now live in a day when business owners can face discrimination for their personal commitment to biblical morality, even if their customers make no allegations against them. Private charitable contributions that are completely unrelated to your company will be used against you, as the Cathys have found.
The state of Minnesota will not allow two professional storytellers to promote their religious beliefs about marriage unless they also tell marriage stories that violate their beliefs.
The city of Phoenix has forbidden two artists from refusing to create artwork celebrating same-sex marriage and also forbids them to express publicly the Christian beliefs that prevent them from doing so.
And the state of New York is attempting to force a Christian adoption provider to place children in same-sex households or close its adoption services.
“The only metric of success that really matters”
One of the ways God redeems discrimination against Christian morality is by using it to draw Christians closer to each other.
After Peter and John were threatened for preaching the gospel, “they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them” (Acts 4:23). In the face of escalating persecution, those in their faith community “were of one heart and soul” (v. 32). As a result, “with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all” (v. 33).
Jenny Anderson recently published a terrific article in Quartz titled, “The only metric of success that really matters is the one we ignore.”
She begins with the memorial service for her deceased brother, where she was greatly moved by the depth of community he and his family had built. She admits: “Before Robbie got sick, if you had asked me if community mattered, I would have said yes. But I wouldn’t have thought about it much. Nor would I have spent much time working out what it meant.”
After her brother died, she says, “I wanted to do less and be more. And what I wanted to be was more connected—not only to my family and close friends, but to the people around me.”
Anderson cites compelling evidence that strong social ties are directly correlated to longer, happier living. After making intentional decisions to forge closer relationships with neighbors and friends, she concludes: “I used to think that community was as simple as having friends who bring a lasagna when things fall apart and champagne when things go well. Who pick up your kids from school when you can’t. But I think community is also an insurance policy against life’s cruelty; a kind of immunity against loss and disappointment and rage. My community will be here for my family if I cannot be. And if I die, my kids will be surrounded by people who know and love them, quirks and warts and oddities and all.”
“They went to their friends”
As the 2020 election cycle escalates, we should expect those who profit politically by discriminating against Christians to escalate such mistreatment. But we should also remember that those who obey the word of God stand with the God of the word. He promises to reward all who suffer persecution for his sake (Matthew 5:11).
One way our Lord rewards us is by leading us into community with others who are also defending biblical truth. It is easier to stand for Jesus when we know we are not standing alone. The closer we draw to God’s people, the closer we draw to God.
Note the phrase that began our Acts 4 text: “They went to their friends.”
Who are your friends today?
Who considers you theirs?
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Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff