Playing chicken

There are plenty of good reasons to support boycotts, and over the years, our family has participated in a few. I'm just not sure how mayors of major cities justify attacking a private business simply because its owner chooses to support another private organization with the profits he has earned. The whole thing has been rather strange. One mayor even characterized the company's product as "hate-chicken." Seriously? But there's another question worth asking. Would people who live in Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. really prefer supporting a political agenda to gaining entry level jobs for the teens in their families and neighborhoods? I wonder.

Look, you don't have to agree with what a company does or approve of a brand's line of products. I've never been a fan of Microsoft. You are free to patronize a business or not. I don't go to Starbucks. But a business is also free to run according to whatever principles it sees fit, as long as no law -- and that includes anti-discrimination law -- is broken. Uppity mayors who think otherwise, or who seek to use their positions to harm a private enterprise, are exactly that: uppity. Rejecting an agenda is not equivalent to rejecting the person who promotes it. Opposing gay "marriage" is not an assault on people who identify themselves as gay.

Chick-Fil-A is a privately held, family owned company that operates by the principles of its owners. These principles just happen to be religious principles, Christian values as understood by the Southern Baptist Convention. Those values, by the way, keep all Chick-Fil-A stores closed on Sundays and all business operations debt-free. Frankly, I think that's an impressive and dignifying way to run a commercial enterprise.

I was sad to hear that the events of the past week or so have cowed Chick-Fil-A into leaving the public debate over same-sex "marriage" to those directly involved in politics or government. The whole strength of the American system lies in the free flow of people and ideas between public and private spheres. It seems, however, that new prejudices have replaced older ones. When it comes to making up one's mind or speaking it, a No-Christians-Need-Apply policy is now in force.

Pope Benedict's Year of Faith couldn't come at a better time. Maybe it will give us the encouragement we need not to blink in the face of bigotry and further assaults on both free conscience and the free exercise of religion. Maybe the Holy Father's call to focus on the faith that makes us who we are, will make us not only more faith filled, but more faithful to that identity.

God loves every person. He has a plan for each one of us and for the world he created. That plan, however, is rarely furthered by a shrinking violet philosophy of living. We don't need to go looking for a fight where there is no conflict. But when conflict comes to us, we should count it a privilege to suffer for the One who saves us. We should not stand down.

When we are actively following Jesus, we won't be content to be pushed into the margins of society. What good can we do there? Instead, we'll be bold enough to go where the souls are: the center line of the road busy with oncoming traffic from every direction. We won't chicken out.

And when we see others committed to the Christian values and the Christ who taught them being persecuted because of it, we should stand in solidarity with them. There are two Chick-Fil-A's within driving distance of where we live. You bet our family will be at one of them this week.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.

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