Playing chicken: Same-sex Muppets vs. Chick-fil-A

By Bob Unruh

Hundreds of thousands of people across America are pledging to support Chick-fil-A restaurants in the face of an attack on the company because of the CEO’s affirmation that both he and the company support traditional marriage.

The company’s refusal to put its resources into advocating same-sex marriage has drawn the wrath of many progressives, including the Jim Henson Co., which created the Muppets.

But now a Facebook campaign has been launched by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee seeking to build support for the chicken-sandwich chain famous for closing its stores on Sundays so employees can attend church if they choose.

In an announcement on the social networking site, Huckabee, a candidate for president in 2008, invited Americans to join him Wednesday, Aug. 1,  for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” Some supporters are advocating showing support every Wednesday.

Earlier today, some 100,000 had pledged to participate, with the company’s fans apparently undeterred by a late-day glitch in Facebook that suddenly deleted the promotion page.

“A number of you are asking questions about the Chick-fil-A event. The event disappeared from my page this morning and we have asked Facebook to look into this. I will update you as soon as I know more. The event is still on and the info should be back up soon,” Huckabee posted late in the day.

The suggestion of a conspiracy wasn’t far behind Huckabee’s statement.

“I shared this event with my friends as well, and it was removed from my page also!” wrote Brea Fincannon Nance. “I am looking forward to hearing what happened. And … I definitely plan to be at Chick-fil-A to stand up for the sanctity of marriage on August 1!!”

Huckabee’s original announcement said: “I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the biblical view of marriage should be upheld. The Cathy family, let by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, are a wonderful Christian family who are committed to operating the company with biblical principles and whose story is the true American success story.”

He noted the company now is a $4 billion a year effort with more than 1,600 stores.

“The militant homosexual advocates have launched an all out assault on Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A, pushing for a boycott because the Cathy family has contributed to traditional marriage organizations. The attempts to hurt or destroy Chick-fil-A is nothing short of economic bullying. In the name of ‘tolerance,’ there is an effort being mounted to put pressure on people to stop eating at Chick-fil-A. Even worse is the vilification of the company and its employees. The Christian world view of Dan Cathy is being met with intolerance and vicious hate speech,” Huckabee’s announcement said.

“I ask you to join me in speaking out to your constituency via Facebook, Twitter, email, broadcast, etc., to make Wednesday, August 1 ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.’ No one is being asked to make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate. The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.”

The controversy began with Dan Cathy’s comments, and John Hayward at Human Events noted Cathy responded “guilty as charged” when he was asked about supporting  traditional marriage.

“There’s not much doubt, even from the context of this single interview, that Cathy is referring to the union of husbands, wives, and children when he discusses support for the traditional family, but that’s not the same thing as condemning anyone,” he wrote.

Hayward noted that Cathy had previously addressed homosexual marriage in a radio interview.

“I think we are 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 said in the interview. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we can try to define what marriage is all about.”

Hayward said that while opponents probably never will come to terms, the issue now is not about discussing differences.

“The name of the game being played against Chick-fil-A involved ending the discussion, by ruling one side of this important social debate completely out of order, and dismissing their beliefs as unworthy of respect. All resistance to gay marriage is instantly transmuted into personal hatred of gay people. On the other hand, criticism of traditional marriage proponents cannot be viewed as hateful, no matter how angrily it might be expressed. It’s a rigged heads-we-win, tails-you-lose game.”

Chick-fil-A appears to have taken itself off the soapbox, at least for now, with a corporate statement that said: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

The company did not respond to requests for additional comment. It did, however, confirm to several outlets that it had recalled children’s puppets that it had distributed in kids meals.

The Miami Herald reported Chick-fil-A voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys due to concerns generated by reports that some children had gotten their fingers stuck in the puppets.

The report said the company was offering ice cream cones instead. The report also said the company reported the decision was independent of a slapdown that recently was announced by the Henson company.

The company that created the popular Muppets characters said it will not work with Chick-fil-A any more because of Cathy’s statement about his Christian faith.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A (sic) that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” said a Facebook statement from the company. “Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A (sic) to GLAAD [ a homosexual promotion organization].”

But one had to read only a few lines in the comments section of the Facebook posting for the crux of the issue to become focused.

“I love the double standard that Jim Henson’s company is expressing by not … accepting Christians’ belief in the biblical definition of marriage,” wrote Valorie Phillips.

Added Michele Sparacino: “Lisa Henson you support gay marriage, however Chick-fil-A did not ban giving your toys out. So why would you ban Chick-fil-A. I know for a fact they hire gay people. They just do not believe in same sex marriage… Is that not there (sic) freedom of speech.”

The dispute developed after Cathy, whose father, Truett Cathy, founded the $4 billion-plus a year business, gave an interview to the Baptist Press.

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy said.

The Henson company, which had been working with Chick-fil-A on a promotion of kids toys for kids meals, then erupted with what one outspoken traditional-marriage supporter described as “fundamental intolerance of Christians.”

The reaction came from Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, who advocates for traditional marriage and defends against attacks on Christian beliefs from homosexual activists.

“You cannot accuse Chick-fil-A of somehow going out of their way to bash homosexuals. It’s a consistently Christian company,” LaBarbera said.

Homosexual activists, however, he said, “cannot abide” the biblical proscription of homosexual behavior, and they have the same attitude toward those who follow those teachings.

“You have to look at the history of the homosexual movement,” he said. “It’s all about intimidating. The reason they fear Chick-fil-A is it’s a popular, respected, growing operation.”

Cathy “actually has the temerity to hold his own beliefs as a Christian” while homosexual activists charge he “has committed some sort of crime,” LaBarbera said.

Henson’s company is just one of many supporting homosexual behavior.

WND recently reported General Mills CEO Ken Powell threw the support of the $15 billion food giant behind homosexual activists, urging Minnesotans to reject a constitutional amendment in the state limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Also, Kraft foods recently featured a rainbow-colored Oreo cookie, along with the caption “Proudly Support Love.”

See what the biggest companies in the nation are doing to promote homosexuality.

In 2009, President Obama declared June to be LGBT Pride month, and organizations from the Pentagon to cookie confectioners have been making news headlines for supporting Obama’s favorite cause ever since.

Recently JC Penney came under fire from groups such as One Million Moms because the department store’s Father’s Day catalog featured same-sex duos.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the General Mills position in Minnesota “will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time.”

“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children,” Brown said. “General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does.”

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