Chick-fil-A made news again this week—complete with calls to boycott the fast-food chain—in response to ire over the company’s stance on diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI). Of course, Chick-fil-A is no stranger to such controversy, but this time it came from those who have typically been on the other side of the outrage.
The company’s DEI policy garnered attention on Twitter and quickly went viral from those who assumed that it pushes similar “woke” policies to those often denounced by conservatives. Erick McReynolds, the company’s vice president of DEI, was a focal point of the controversy, though more for the existence of his position than for anything he said or did.
Calls for Chick-fil-A boycott due to DEI policy
McReynolds has previously stated that DEI is crucial to the company’s purpose, noting that “Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well. Modeling care for others starts in the restaurant, and we are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and dignity everywhere we do business.”
What’s most peculiar about the recent outrage, however, is that there is nothing new about Chick-fil-A’s stance. Their DEI policies date back to 2020 and do little more than formalize their long-held position that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexuality, physical condition, or a host of other descriptors.
That approach is good for business, good for the gospel, and also what every company is required by law to do when it comes to hiring staff and serving customers.
Still, given the degree to which people on both sides of the “woke” agenda have their antennas raised this time of year, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it would not take much to make conservatives fear the worst with regards to what has been lovingly described as “God’s chicken,” particularly when a more legitimate concern has been raised with another fan-favorite in recent days.
Controversy on The Chosen set
When the producers of The Chosen recently released a promo for season four, they likely expected that it would generate buzz for the show. But though the video has certainly done that, it’s perhaps not the kind of attention for which they’d hoped.
A small rainbow flag appears in the background of the set for roughly four seconds, and while it’s barely visible unless you’re looking for it, it did not escape public notice for long.
Conservative commentator Jon Root then tweeted a screenshot of the flag to The Chosen‘s official account, asking, “Can you explain why there’s a Pride flag on set?”
In response, the show stated that “just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no beliefs at all) than we do, we will work with anyone on our show who helps us portray or honor the authentic Jesus. We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger, because we’ll always let you down.”
Given the ensuing controversy, it seems clear that many of the show’s fans did indeed feel let down.
In the days since, the show’s creator and director, Dallas Jenkins, has doubled down on the response, stating, “We’ve made no secret our cast and crew come from all different beliefs and backgrounds. I don’t believe personal workspaces on set are relevant to the content of The Chosen, but if someone wants to stop watching a free show because of it, it’s their right.”
While Jenkins has been consistent in that approach from the beginning, and labor laws would prevent him from doing otherwise even if he wanted to, calls to boycott the show have become an increasingly popular refrain among a segment of those who used to be among its greatest supporters.
Jenkins is correct that people have the right to stop watching because of the pride flag’s brief appearance and, more particularly, the defense of its presence by the show’s cast and crew. But should they? Is boycotting a show that has, by all accounts, done an excellent job of introducing people to Jesus in a way that is both authentic and compelling really the best response to the present controversy?
I’m not so sure.
If you’re considering boycotting
My purpose today is not to tell you whether or not it is appropriate to boycott The Chosen, Chick-fil-A, or any other institution with whom you might have a grievance, even if that grievance is legitimate.
Rather, it’s to encourage you to let God be part of that decision.
In today’s culture, both Christians and non-Christians alike tend to confuse emotional responses for reasonable ones. Perhaps that was inevitable given the growing emphasis on the legitimacy of personal truth over objective truth, but it doesn’t make the resulting decisions any less harmful.
Even when we can find a biblical basis for our choices, we should not take for granted that the resulting decision is automatically correct. After all, one of Satan’s favorite strategies—even when confronting the Son of God (Luke 4:1-13)—is to twist God’s word to justify actions that go against God’s will.
If you saw the pride flag on the set of The Chosen and your immediate response was a mixture of disappointment and anger, that’s understandable. But just because those initial emotions were justifiable in that case does not automatically mean they form a solid foundation for how we should respond.
So the next time you are tempted to condemn a business, person, or organization for taking a position that goes against biblical truth, commit to spending at least as much time praying about how to respond as you are willing to spend actually responding.
Ultimately, Satan doesn’t care if you take the right position on an issue so long as you do so in the wrong way. That’s why we need God’s help not only in discerning the truth but also in knowing how to stand up for it.
Will you ask for his help today?
Publication date: June 2, 2023
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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