Who will or won't “eat mor chikin” from the Chick-fil-A fast food chain Wednesday remains to be seen as Oklahomans join people across the country taking sides over a religious statement made by the eatery's president.
Dan Cathy, the chain's president and COO, started a national debate when he was quoted in a July 2 Biblical Recorder story as saying he supports the biblical definition of the family unit.
Soon after his quote was reiterated in a Baptist Press article, gay rights advocates took exception to his statement.
But the restaurant chain has not been without its supporters, who plan to flock to the eateries Wednesday — “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” as dubbed by former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Oklahomans on both sides are making their viewpoints known.
“I'm hearing more talk on this issue than the Olympics,” the Rev. Wendell Lang, pastor of a Yukon Baptist church, said Tuesday. “It's really hit a hot button for a lot of people.”
State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is encouraging residents to support Chick-fil-A and Cathy by buying food at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday.
A representative of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, an umbrella organization for the state's 1,800 Southern Baptist churches, said the convention plans to buy Chick-fil-A for its employees Wednesday and is encouraging employees to support the chain.
“It is a well-known fact that Baptists love to eat chicken, so we will gladly take part in this opportunity,” the Rev. Anthony L. Jordan, the convention's executive director-treasurer, said Tuesday. “On a more serious note, we have a great respect for the Chick-fil-A corporation and its leaders and are pleased with their public stance regarding the biblical teachings on marriage.”
However, the Rev. Scott Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance, an advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said he is encouraging people not to frequent Chick-fil-A.
“There is no valid reason for any gay person or anyone who has a gay family member or who supports gay rights, to spend money with any company, individual or organization that supports groups that seek to do harm,” he said.
Lang, senior pastor of Surrey Hills Baptist Church in Yukon, said he wrote about his plans to support Chick-fil-A on Wednesday in an email to his congregation and received so much feedback in agreement that he realized the issue had struck a nerve with many people.
“I've probably had more response to that article than any I've done,” Lang said.
“People are beginning to see that there's a double standard with this whole idea of being tolerant.”
Lang said groups pushing a “pro-homosexuality agenda” don't want to allow people who have different beliefs to voice their opinions. He said he was impressed with Cathy because the corporate COO took a politically incorrect stance and sparked the current debate.
“I hope and predict that tomorrow and certainly in the days to come, Chick-fil-A will have a banner day,” he said Tuesday. “It's very rare when believers have a chance to stand up for what they believe in without being considered militant or hateful. This gives us a chance to stand with the Cathys.”