Fighting Over Chicken

August 2, 2012 by

Yesterday a major battle in the culture war went down at fast food establishments and all over social media. Apparently true disciples of Jesus ingest fatty (and delicious!) chicken sandwiches while thumbing their nose at the unwashed liberals. Or maybe the true disciples of Jesus show how much they love their neighbor by heaping judgment and condemnation at the right wing crazies. It’s all a little unclear, lost in a cloud of salt and ketchup.

Hopefully today the dust (and grease) has settled and we can take a step back from the insanity.

Here’s the thing: Jesus didn’t protest or boycott his enemies, he had dinner with them. And Jesus didn’t buy a sandwich to show his support for a certain ideology, he lived it.

Jesus didn’t call us to buy sandwiches or to protest someone else’s opinion. He did say a lot about loving our neighbor, but not a lot of that happened outside chicken restaurants across the U.S. yesterday.

What happened was more fighting over a political and cultural issue. But instead of fighting for Jesus, we were fighting for chicken. Jesus isn’t a chicken (fried, grilled or otherwise).

If you want to take a stand on a political or cultural issue, go for it. As we learned yesterday from our church communication hero G.K. Chesterton, sometimes it’s OK to be political or controversial. But at the end of the day your love for Jesus should outshine your love/hate for chicken (and don’t we all love/hate chicken?). But if all people see is your protest sign or your bag of chicken, they’re not seeing Jesus. If all they see is your out-of-context rant on Facebook, they’re not seeing the love you normally show in person. If all people see in you is another culture battle, then they probably want nothing to do with you.

We’re kind of obsessed with how the local church communicates around here and while this battle wasn’t primarily waged by churches, it is being fought and defended by people in the pews and people behind pulpits. Before your pastor weighs in or your congregation starts rallying to one side or the other and your Facebook page gets sucked in, you better think about what your role communicates.

Because while everybody is fighting over chicken, most of culture has already decided about Christianity. They’ve decided that we’re judgmental. That we hate homosexuals. That we’re too political. And they don’t want to listen to anything else we have to say. So before you wave another chicken finger in the air, maybe we should think about how that statement helps us communicate Jesus to a dying world.

There have been a lot of excellent commentaries on this issue lately, but here are a few that caught our eye:

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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32 Responses to “Fighting Over Chicken”

  • Erick
    August 2, 2012

    I agree with this article. But I disagree with your last paragraph. I believe that a Christian can stand up and be vocal about their stance on certain issues and still love others of the opposite belief. I think that’s part of the problem today with Christianity is that it’s become soft and weak. Jesus was bold in his statements to the Pharisess and stood his ground in His beliefs but yet still loved them.
    It’s unfortunate that a small handful of “Christians” have put such a bad example before the world. (Westboro for example) We’re much better than that. We’re called to be better than that. I also believe we should stand by our brothers & sisters when they are being ‘persecuted’. I believe this is just the beginning of what’s to come here in the US. We need to press into God more than ever.

  • Paul Clifford
    August 2, 2012

    This has torn me up inside. I wish the first response wasn’t to prove that we’re right, but to listen and love. We can’t fight “you’re a hate-filled bigot” with anger, but love. Love shows that you don’t hate. Proving we’re right, reinforces the stereotype.

    While I find it offensive that a politician would deny a business the right to operate in an area because of a political disagreement, please don’t take those decisions as an opportunity to do anything other than love.

  • Mike Rothacker
    August 2, 2012

    You missed the entire point of this support day. We Christians have been getting the tar beat out of us in the media, and we finally decided to publicly support one of our positions by supporting a company that operates on Godly values. Some that came to eat at chick-fil-a yesterday were supporting them to defend rights (free speech) that we have in our great country. The culture is where we have the largest and most important impact. So we should stand up for our values and effectively communicate our position. If that means buying chicken to gain media attention to get the word out; then by all means do it! Plenty of proponents of free speech are lost and dieing, and I guarantee that they met many wonderful Christian people while waiting in line yesterday, and maybe they had the gospel shared with them while they were waiting. If we are not politically active then our culture falters, and if our culture falters then our country dies.

  • Jeanette Zalfini
    August 2, 2012


    You make some great points. I’ve been all over the place spiritually speaking, from Christian to atheist to agnostic and back again……….and now leaning away again. “What would Jesus Do”? Cliche as it is, maybe it’s a question people should be asking theirselves on a daily basis. Methinks our thoughts and decisions might lean in a more loving direction.

  • Gerald
    August 2, 2012

    I think your looking at this wrong. This was Christians showing our love for a neighbor, Dan Cathy, who has been vilified for having a Biblical world view. I didn’t go to Chic fil a because I hate homosexuals, I went because I don’t think people or businesses should face this kind of media firestorm and attack on their business because they believe in the Bible.

  • Tim D
    August 2, 2012

    Thanks for this – it’s really what is at the heart of the issue. All of us should be taking a pause before “making a stand” to see what we really hope to accomplish by our actions – and most importantly, how is shares His word and represents us a people of faith.

  • Caroline
    August 2, 2012

    Hi –

    You make some excellent points

    However, at the same time, we need to be very careful with putting words into Jesus mouth and assuming that Jesus would have done something.

    I don’t think Jesus would personally criticize people on a blog, facebook. Do you? I think it is better for you to tell your firneds that you are mad at in person. Do you think Jesus would have posted what you wrote on FB?

  • Rebecca
    August 2, 2012

    Hi there – good thoughts –

    However, kindly and respectfully, I think you are, perhaps, judging other Christians. You wrote, “. He did say a lot about loving our neighbor, but not a lot of that happened outside chicken restaurants” So you are automatically assuming that people who ate at Chic Fil A restaurants are not loving their neighbors?

    At least one Chic Fil A (in Alabama at a University) is closing b/c of the boycott against Chic Fil A.

    Employees – non Christians and Christians – have lost jobs.

    By choosing to buy from Chic Fil A, they are helping keep a Christian business open.

    I don’t get it.

    If we buy from Chic Fil A we AREN”T loving our neighbor?

    But what about the “neighbors” that work for minimum wage for Chic Fil A? Some of them are gay themselves. Google “Gay Chic Fil A workers” if you don’t believe me. SOme of them are not Christians.

    Please don’t delete my post. I will have more respect for you if you don’t.

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    August 2, 2012

    A lot of thoughtful comments here, but I won’t be able to respond to all of them (I’m actually on vacation right now).

    Let me make two comments:

    1) To Rebecca’s question, I’m not saying eat at Chick-fil-A or don’t eat there. Do whatever you please. What I am saying is that we need to be aware of what our actions communicate. Often we think we’re standing up for Jesus by making some bold stand, but it can come across as arrogance or hatred or judgment or something else.

    I think we need to be careful about how we do that. I see lots of people who are loving, welcoming people in person, but on Facebook their comments about this issue seem to communicate the exact opposite. It’s a shame.

    Eat at Chick-fil-A, don’t eat at Chick-fil-A. Whatever. Just be aware of what message your actions send, both the intentional and unintentional ones.

    2) What? Somebody is ragging on Christians? Oh no! I never understand why we’re surprised at this. The Bible promises us we’ll be persecuted. And here in America, persecution apparently means that somebody doesn’t like a fast food joint. We’ve got it pretty easy. Rachel Held Evans had some good comments on this.

  • Rebecca
    August 2, 2012

    Thanks for pubishing my comment :)

    I do want to say I agree with you that there are alot of things that Christians do that Jesus would never do.

    For example, I know Christians who own homes that are worth 150,000, 200,000 or more! I can’t help but wonder about the verse that talks about storing up your treasures on Earth. Would Jesus live in 200,000 home? Would he drive a car worth more than some houses?

    That being said I am guilty of similar things, I do wonder if Jesus would approve of my paying for a 40 dollar manicure. I mean think of how much than $$$$ woud help in Africa or in an inner city ministry etc.

    Just sharing my thoughts

  • Mark Horvath
    August 2, 2012

    Thanks Kevin for a good post.

    Sure wish my fellow Christians would line up to help fight homelessness like they did to buy a chicken sandwich. But hey, what’s more Christian than calling someone a sinner and then going out to eat?

    My point is we (Christians) continue to look like freaks to the rest of the world.

    Imagine the impression we’d leave if we all actually took real tangible actions to eradicate poverty and homelessness in our very own communities?

    • Rebecca
      August 3, 2012

      Great idea Kevin!

      Why don’t you lead a movement?

      You can start by making a Facebook group and then inviting al of your friends to join it.

      And, post the link here and I’ll join too ::)

    • Rebecca
      August 3, 2012

      Oops I meant to say “Mark”

      Also, there are numerous Christians who have worked very, very hard to establish homeless shelters, mentoring programs, job assistance programs and much more. If you do not believe me, google “christian homeless shelters”, “christian charities”, and programs such as “Central Dallas Ministries”. There is of course, so much more that coud be done, which is why I think it is great you have an idea to start more :)

      In fact, Chic Fil A helps support a Christian children’s home (for abused and neglected children)in my area!

      They also help through a program called Winshape homes (Google it)

      Ironically, that might be why Chic Fil A feels strongly about supporting the New Testament definition of marriage.

      Some (not all) but some gay activists hope, that eventually after gay marriage is legal in their states, Christian foster parents will NOT be ALLOWED to take their foster children to a church where homosexuality is not welcomed. In some states, foster parents already are not allowed to say that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong. THey want to take it further and not allow foster parents to take their foster kids to a church where the gay lifestyle is not welcomed.


  • Mary Jane Bannister
    August 2, 2012

    I regret that the gay and lesbian community felt hated yesterday. Yes, the two biggest commandments are to love the Lord and to love others, but just because they didn’t FEEL loved yesterday does not mean we broke that commandment. I loved them yesterday. I did not wave my chicken fingers in at them or thumb my nose at them. I wasn’t protesting anything. I was walking in love for Dan Cathy who, as the result of honestly answering a question about his faith, was attacked and accused of hating the gay community. There was no hate whatsoever in his statement. Should he have lied so they wouldn’t FEEL hated? Must we hide or lie about our faith to ensure that those who disagree with us will feel loved? Did Jesus lie about who He was when He walked in love on this earth? LGBTQ is seeing hate where there is none. Granted there is some hate out there, but that’s all they see. Satan is egging them on. They can’t see our love nor do they want to see it. There are many people who don’t feel loved by God. Some even think He hates them! What is HE doing wrong? Folks, this is NOT Christians vs. LGBTQ, Gays vs. Straights, Left vs. Right, or even Chickens vs. Cows. This is spiritual warfare, and I intend to stand fast … in love.

  • Steven Fogg
    August 3, 2012

    As an outsider looking into American culture this looks pretty ridiculous senario.

    I agree with Kevin and the last commentator Mark, America doesn’t need more people eating chicken.

    If you really want to help your country, advocate to stop people buying more guns. It makes you look like gun happy/hungry nation. Thousands are dying, yet there is no ground swell of churches advocating for change on that issue.

  • Keith B
    August 3, 2012

    The harshest words spoken by Jesus were to the religious elite of his day…the Pharisees. To sinners and tax-collectors he was truthful but gentle like the woman at the well. If there was ever a time that the temple was corrupt it was when Jesus was in ministry. He never once said boycott the temple. – If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • What’s the deal with every article referencing grease, fatty foods, diabetes, etc. like it’s impossible to get a freaking salad and chicken wrap? So cliche…old and ignorant.

    I support Chick Fil A 100% AND I got a nice, health meal out of it.

  • Amy
    August 3, 2012

    This is mainly in response to the third article on the list which doesn’t appear to have a comments box. In Britain we have a store called The Entertainer, run by a Christian man. He doesn’t open on Sundays or Good Friday which, as a Christian I fully support, especially as he does this at enormous cost to business. He won’t sell Harry Potter merchandise which I think takes it a bit far but this is his business and it’s up to him what he sells. However, he hires homosexuals because in Britain we are not allowed to not hire people based on their sexual orientation, any more than their religion, ethnicity or disability. Refusing to hire homosexuals is not an expression of Freedom of Speech. It is discrimination and I’m shocked that a free country allows it to happen.

  • Dorcas Hassan
    August 4, 2012

    I think Jesus would have warned homosexuals about hell fire and asked them to desist from such practice. He loves them too much to keep quiet about behavior that leads to eternal damnation. Sorry I am not being politically correct here but no point beating around the bush.
    As to Chick Fil a – pity they don’t have a branch in where I live, I’ll be first in the queue – I quite tired of Christians being pushed around; since when did we become everyone’s whipping boy? And by the way what the culture thinks about us is irrelevant, that same culture once though Africans were subhuman so there.
    Final point – the church does not take its cue from the culture but from Scripture.

  • Jason
    August 5, 2012

    No one on either side of this false dichotomy seems to be getting at the root of this mess: is it right for the government to be regulating marriage at all? Government regulation that rewards married persons through the tax, inheritance, and power-of-attorney laws is in fact discriminatory of single people, unmarried people in relationships, and homosexuals. My understanding is that the Kingdom of God on-but-not-of this earth is that it is made up of citizens who live out the will of their King. We are here as abassadors, not to enforce our”not of this world” standards onto its residents, but invite them to emigrate spiritually with lives full of love…which may or may not start with buying them a chicken sandwich.

  • Michael Buckingham
    August 5, 2012

    Too many Christians show hate towards _________ (fill in the blank w homosexuals, people who smoke, strippers, people who watch rated R movies, harry potter, you name it).

    Too many Christians talk more about what they are against (see above) and not enough about what they are for.

    This wasn’t an example of hate towards homosexuals, this was an example of a brother standing with a brother. Christians (for once) weren’t marching -against- something, they were showing support -for- something. He has the right to state his belief that marriage should be one man, one woman just as much as the homosexual couple has the right to state their belief that they should be allowed to be married. He was attacked and his brothers stood with him.

    We can, we must, find a way to both love someone and disagree with them. Shawn Woods put it the best of anyone I’ve read on this chicken topic:

    I am sorry for any homosexual that read hate into the “event” (which as an FYI I didn’t eat Chick Fil A that day), and I understand why you did. Too often we lace truth with hate. And I’m really sorry that you see that so much. But I don’t see this as one of those times.

    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      August 6, 2012

      Good words, Michael. Let me clarify by saying that I don’t think there’s necessarily a problem with supporting or not supporting Chick-fil-A. It’s about how we do it. It’s about the people that are standing with a Christian brother by effectively giving the middle finger to their non-Christian friends with their less than loving posts on Facebook.

      When somebody supports something that is against your lifestyle, it’s pretty easy to see that as hate. It seems like Christians do that all the time, crying persecution yet again.

      It’s a pretty tricky little mess, isn’t it? All the more reason for churches and Christians to be careful about what they say and how they say it.

  • Rich Kirkpatrick
    August 7, 2012

    Thanks Kevin for challenging church communicators on this to stay on point. I do not think our first impression should be standing our ground for chicken. You hit the nail on the head!

  • dave tinberg
    August 7, 2012

    The point has been missed. It is about free speech… not loving chicken. The truth will always face rejection from a world steeped in sin. Yet our compassion to reach the world cannot cause a compromise of our message. Whether that be one of christian values (ie., Cathy) or social engagement.

    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      August 7, 2012

      Dave, it’s not about free speech. I’m not challenging a Christian’s desire to say whatever they want. I’m questioning whether or not it’s a good idea to say whatever you want regardless of the potential damage it can cause. There are ways to communicate your opinion without alienating the people you’re trying to reach.

  • Wesley
    August 7, 2012

    Kevin, how do you not alienate people who see anything but total agreement with their position as hate and fear? Homosexuals are using the public school systems and the media as a bully pulpit to effectively pummel anyone into shame and silence who disagrees with their choice. This is unacceptable.

    I am sure Jesus would have confronted homosexuals with the sinfulness of their behavior and treated those who refused to acknowledge and repent of their sin instead charging Him with hate and fear in the same way He treated the Pharisees and others who refused to acknowledge and repent of their sins. It was not the religion of the Pharisees but the self-righteousness they exhibited when corrected that is duplicated in the homosexual community constantly.

    I understand the spirit of your article and agree with it but we must be careful that we do not neuter the Gospel to keep from offending the unrepentant. For the record, when I was an unbeliever I was never offended or disagreed with those who called my actions and choices sinful. I accepted that they were sinful even when I was not willing to repent of them. Being honest with ourselves is essential to repentance, so we should not rob homosexuals of the opportunity to be honest with themselves because we love them.

    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      August 7, 2012

      Wesley, I think it’s dangerous when we start accusing people of that kind of agenda. Frankly, what you’re saying sounds awfully similar to what Christians do (pummeling people who disagree into shame and silence).

      I think it helps to understand differing perspectives. Take a look at this post by Wayne Self, a gay man writing to explain why this whole Chick-fil-A mess is such an offense.

      I don’t expect everyone to agree with Wayne, but I do think understanding Wayne could help us communicate better about this issue.

      • Wesley
        August 8, 2012

        I read Wayne’s article and I see nothing in that that differs from the normal homosexual rhetoric. He shows a deep lack of knowledge of the Scriptures or an intentional blindness to the teachings of Christ. He also demonstrates a bit of arrogance to imply that he and his friends are the only ones that have the ethical teachings on sex and marriage from Scripture correct.

        His argument is a bit of a straw man argument as well. No one is advocating violence against homosexuals or an abridgment of their rights. They have existed in America for centuries without challenging the moral absolutes of Scripture on marriage without any problem. His assertion that he could be fired for being homosexual in Louisiana is laughable. I live in Louisiana and I can assure you that being African-American is a much larger challenge than being homosexual.

        I think that everyone is missing the issue. The issue is not happiness for homosexuals or heterosexuals. The issue is the absolute moral standards established by God in Scripture. Christians simply cannot and should not ignore these even if they will be ridiculed and classed as bullies by those who wish to establish their own morality. Christians are as offended as Wayne is by his efforts to marginalize the clear teaching of Scripture. Christians are as offended as Wayne by the homosexuals’ attempt to take marriage, which pictures Christ’s relationship with the church, and equate it to something God calls a vile affection. Christians are offended by Wayne’s intentional misrepresentation of Christ and His teachings. Christians or offended by homosexuals’ implying that everyone but homosexuals and their friends are too ignorant to rightly understand the Scriptures and I could go on and on.

        Unfortunately Christians have no one to cry foul and lack the bully pulpit of the media and educational system and now it seems even the civic government systems that the homosexuals possess.

        As I stated in my first post, it is not about opposing homosexuals but about presenting them with the truth so that they can come face to face with their need of repentance and redemption. To do anything less is both unloving and un-Christian.

  • Michael Buckingham
    August 7, 2012

    It is good to hear the other side of the story. But I’m tracking even less now.

    He says “No one is arguing that Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy should be put in prison, or silenced, or censored by the government.” But in fact the government was trying to censor them by not allowing them to have commerce in their state.

    Then “How would you feel if KFC came out tomorrow…” plenty of Christians do business with people with different beliefs. I type this on my Mac, Steve had very different beliefs about God, drugs, etc. than I do. (I’ve never been a fan of Christians boycotting as it solves nothing)

    But the tipping point for me is “This isn’t about mutual tolerance”. The homosexual agenda says we have to accept a man marrying a man the same as we do with a man marrying a woman. We are being asked not to call it sin. Dan Kathy felt the wrath of this.

    Is it a worse sin than the guy sleeping with his girlfriend, someone looking at porn, etc. Nope. And I fully understand that Christians do tend to like to pick on only the sins they -don’t- commit, But that doesn’t make it less of a sin just because you like to do it.

    People may very well pick up an offense when someone speaks out against something someone is doing, the bible is filled with stories and tells us that just as Christ was hated so will we be. I don’t think the end game is to avoid anyone from being offended by what we believe.

    The challenge the church has, and the explosion of this shows the dire need, is to find a way to take a biblical stand but still loving people. We can start by letting our loving actions outweigh our pointing fingers. We can start by being beacons of love and giving and sacrifice. We can start by having some gay friends. We can lead with love, but that doesn’t require us to be silent either.

    It’s messy for sure, and there are no easy answers.

    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      August 8, 2012

      Michael, it’s hard to explain someone else’s position, but let me do my best…

      Government censorship? I don’t think you can blame Wayne for comments made by other people, but no active censorship has taken place. Stupid comments were made, but unless the mayor of Boston tries to do something illegal, he’s going to have a hard time keeping Chick-fil-A out of Boston.

      If KFC went anti-Christian? Wayne’s point isn’t about companies you disagree with, his point is companies actively campaigning against your way of life. As far as I know, Steve Jobs wasn’t donating money to organizations that were campaigning to limit the freedoms of Christians. There’s a difference between having different beliefs and actively trying to undermine the beliefs of others–I think that’s the point Wayne is trying to make.

      “We are being asked not to call it sin”– I don’t Wayne would agree with that (OK, I have no idea if he would agree, but here’s my take)… you’re welcome to call it sin, but for Wayne it becomes a problem when it crosses over from sin to discrimination. Lots of things are sins, but you can’t discriminate based on them. We don’t have laws against greedy people. I think Wayne would be fine with you believing homosexuality is a sin (again, “I think,” and what do I know), but he would not be fine with you enacting laws that infringe on his life based on that belief.

      Does that make sense? That’s my take on what I’m guessing is Wayne’s take. (Sheesh, that’s a dangerous game. If you really want a better answer, you’d have to go to his site and ask.)

      And in the end, I think you’re right: Let our loving actions outweigh our pointing fingers. And gay friends would be great. It’s a lot easier to understand how your words are coming across when you have a friend who might be hurt by them. Maybe those words still need to be said, but if there’s a relationship there, something good can come from it. Messy indeed.

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