Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-Fil-A and me

Someone very close to me, whom I love and who has my express permission to hold me accountable recently write me this email:
your words of facebook come across to me as very harsh, very condemning, very exclusionary, very barrier building, and - most of all - very unlike you and how you live your life - in my opinion. 

"One of the better articles on why it's not Dan Cathy's personal feelings about gay marriage that is offensive: people are allowed to have those and pursue them; it is the money his tax-exempted foundation gives to political groups trying to deny people equal rights that is offensive."

"Shut up already about how liberals are tolerant of everyone but intolerant people. Seriously. Like everything else, some liberals are like that, but a whole lot of us are trying to be better. Like Glennon. Go ahead, my conservative friends. Read it."
You have modeled for me these last few years your personal life of loving, of tolerance, of inclusion, of forgiveness, and - to me - the written words are none of that.  I've learned much from you - because of what you do and how you live your life - about following Jesus who was loving and tolerating and forgiving and including.
And this person is right.  Something about this Chick-Fil-A thing has me angry.  It has me not quite being myself.  So, this post is more about figuring out what's going on in my head and my heart than a defense.  Because, as I have said, my friend is absolutely right.

I wonder if some of the harshness of my posts is a response to the more conservative things I see being said on Facebook.  (And remember, a lot of my professional life is spent in the evangelical Christian world so there's a pretty good balance of left and right showing up in my Facebook feed.)

I suppose there are two aspects about these posts that strike me: the first is the general gleeful tone of catching up liberals in their own hypocrisy and the second is their assertion that their rights are being infringed upon.

So, this gleeful tone.  This image is a good example.
Honestly, I don't know what to say.  I have a million and one arguments but don't want to go down the rhetorical rabbit-hole.  I suppose folks could even argue with me that this picture is neither gleeful nor pointing out hypocrisy and those folks would be right, as well.  I just know that so many people in my news feed have said they are buying multiple meals today.  Maybe the better word is enthusiasm.

Why does my sense that this is the way folks on the right feel about this make me upset?

Because at the core of this, we're talking about people.  We're talking about people that God loves as much as he loves you or me.

Every time someone posts in support of Chick-Fil-A, they are communicating, intentionally or not that gay people do not deserve the same rights that straight people have.

And why would that be true unless they thought that gay people weren't as good as straight people?

So, that makes me mad.

The second thing is this statement that freedom of speech is at stake here.  This is patently ridiculous.  I asked my friend why he would post about eating multiple meals and he talked about how wrong is was that politicians were saying that stores would not be allowed to open in their districts.

He makes a good point here.  That does seem a little distasteful, IF that actually happened and IF it  wasn't just election year posturing (yes, posturing invites response) and IF the laws of a particular district actually allowed that type of discrimination to happen.

But the majority of people who are upset with Chick-Fil-A are not politicians.  They are individuals who support equal rights for gay people.  And our Constitutional right to freedom of speech only gives you the right to say what you want.  It does not give you the right to say what you want without consequences.

And the consequence for Chick-Fil-A is that people who support equal rights for gay people do not like Chick-Fil-A and do not want to eat there.  Boycotts are not a new thing for the right wing.  They are just usually on the other side of it.

So, again, talking about the rights of Dan Cathy to people who legitimately are not allowed to do things that other people are allowed to do, simply because of who they sleep with, is a little angry making. (What things?  Hospital visitation, social security benefits, tax breaks, adoption, etc.)

I don't the answer to the question as to why this has me acting outside of my usual patterns.  I know that there are times when conversation has to stop and people who are being hurt have to be protected, if those two things are at odds.  I don't know if this is one of those times.  I did not deliberately set out to draw a line in the sand.

The compromise I made with myself today after my friend sent me his email was to give the cost of lunch to The Marin Foundation and to post about on Facebook:
"I just donated the cost of a chicken dinner (with Coke because let's get real) to The Marin Foundation, a nonprofit that works with Christians -regardless of their beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality and without judgement of them- to treat members of the LGBT community as beloved children of God through reconciliation and relationship-building."
I do love the people in my life who are conservative and I respect that many of them have come to their beliefs about homosexuality through prayer and study.  I do not think that many of them actually live out their maxim that they love the sinner and not the sin.  Posting enthusiastic support for Chick-Fil-A doesn't communicate love for gay people.  Posting harsh comments of my own probably doesn't communicate love for conservative people, either.  I don't know what to do with that.  Do you?