STUART, Florida – Across the country today, Americans are flocking to Chick-fil-A restaurants in a national show of support for the eatery after the company’s president publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
“It’s packed!” said Colleen Shaler of Port St. Lucie, Florida, who had lunch at a crowded franchise in nearby Stuart, Florida.
The parking lot was overflowing and cars were wrapped around the building waiting to reach the drive-up window. There were extra attendants outside on foot taking people’s orders before they even got near the window.
“Today’s actually my 23rd anniversary,” Shaler said. “I don’t normally eat at Chick-fil-A, I just don’t do a lot of fast food, but I definitely support their beliefs and what they’re doing. I just felt today was the right day to come out and show my support.”
Robin Minichino of Stuart was eating lunch with some friends from her Grace Place Church, and told WND, “I’m a Christian and I believe in the Christian values and this is just an awesome, amazing thing. I’m so proud to see so many people out here today supporting [Chick-fil-A]. The people in there are so accommodating. They’re helping out. Even the patrons are so kind enough to share tables with other people because it’s so packed in there, you can’t find a seat.”
Asked whether she was confident the restaurant chain would survive criticism from homosexual activists who are boycotting the company, Minichino said, “Oh, absolutely. God’s got His hand in everything, so His plan is the best plan and He’s got this all worked out already.”
John Roetman of Hobe Sound, Florida, came to dine with his wife as well as his granddaughter, Katie Clement of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and he noted, “We were here Monday for lunch, and we’re back to support them because we stand for what they stand for, and that is believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
Clement added, “I think it’s a very good cause because it’s showing people about Jesus, and there are so many people [here today]!”
Some 600,000 people had signed up to celebrate Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day today, which former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee created to counter a boycott launched by same-sex marriage activists last week after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said he was “guilty as charged” for not supporting homosexual marriage.
“The goal is simple,” Huckabee wrote on Facebook. “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.”
Reports are consistent from across America today.
“There’s only one Chick-fil-A in central Iowa, in West Des Moines,” said WND news editor Drew Zahn. “At 1 p.m. today, they announced they had served more than 3,000 customers. And there were another 300 in line at the time. One family drove nearly 2 hours to come for lunch.”
Gene Maples of Arizona tells WND: “My wife and I just got back from a local Chick-fil-A on the mall in Mesa, Ariz. When we arrived there was a line like you wouldn’t believe. As we stood in line and by the time we got up to place our order the line had doubled in length. We sat down to eat our meal (took about 30 minutes) and the line continued to stay long. Went to a local department store and shopped for awhile and when we came out the line was just as long. Talked to a few people who said they had relatives in other states and that they were experiencing the same thing. The one comment I kept hearing from the crowd was ‘I hope those people in Washington get the message.'”
Another report from Arizona indicates police were called to direct traffic because of the traffic into one franchise.
“Let’s pray it’s a preview of turnout for the November election,” said Warren Duffy.
Roger Cates told CNN’s iReport he had lunch at Chick-fil-A in Owensboro, Kentucky, and planned to return with his family for dinner. He said political leaders who have criticized the chain, such as the mayors of Boston and Chicago, are hypocritical.
“I think it is ironic that the so-called forces of tolerance and inclusion are calling for the exclusion of Chick-fil-A from cities simply because of the beliefs of their chairman. … People that disagree with me have a right to their opinion, and I have a right to mine,” Cates said.
In Oklahoma, Tim Tibbles told iReport: “It’s 109 degrees here, and people have been standing outside for well over an hour. Nobody is complaining or talking about the controversy. They’re showing quiet support.”
Other chains reportedly got in on the action, with some Wendy’s franchises in North and South Carolina posting signs outside their restaurants saying, “We Stand With Chick-fil-A.” They were removed later in the day.
The Washington-area office of WND ordered Chick-fil-A for the entire staff – for breakfast and lunch!
What they found were long lines of cheerful people not concerned about the long waits of up to 30 minutes to get served.
“People were there for more than food today,” said WND founder Joseph Farah. “They were there to make a statement. They were there to show their support for the Cathy family for standing up for righteous values in the face of tremendous bigotry, hatred and opposition. And they were there to stand up for marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.”
A representative from the WND team, after placing a large order for the staff, commented on the size of the bill. The clerk behind the counter said the average purchase in that store today was for $50 – far more than it costs for a couple of chicken sandwiches.
“I suspect WND wasn’t alone as a company wanting to show its support to Chick-fil-A today.”
For its part, the company has been distancing itself from any connection with what has become known as Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, as Donald Perry, vice president of corporate public relations said: “We do not have any affiliation with Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It is a fan-based promotion. However, we appreciate all of our customers, no matter their reason for visiting our restaurant and are glad to serve them at any time.”
Another corporate spokesman, Bryan Harris, was tightlipped about business volume seen today.
“Chick-fil-A isn’t going to comment on traffic numbers either locally or nationwide,” Harris said.
Chick-fil-A distributed an official statement, which reads: “Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
“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.
“Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
In advance of today’s event, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a photo of her and her husband holding bulging bags of Chick-fil-A on her Facebook page.
She also appeared on Fox News, telling host Greta Van Susteren: “Well, that calling for the boycott is a real – has a chilling effect on our 1st Amendment rights.”
“And the owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married. And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he then basically [is] getting crucified.”
Palin went on, suggesting President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had expressed similar beliefs against same-sex marriage until they pulled a U-turn recently.
“I’m speaking up for him and his 1st Amendment rights and anybody else who would wish to express their not anti-gay people sentiment, but their support of traditional marriage, which President Obama and Joe Biden, they both supported the exact same thing until just a few months ago, when Obama had to flip-flop to shore up the homosexual voter base,” Palin said.