A Statement from the Decatur Chick Fil-A Owner/Operators

The other day I asked on Facebook if Dan Cathy’s comments and actions should cause us to completely discount the years of good work the local Chick Fil-A owners have done in the Decatur community.  It turned into a lively conversation.

I know that whenever I have asked them for anything for the Decatur Book Festival, they’ve answered “Sure, and what else can we do?”

That means something to me. Honestly, I haven’t answered the question for myself, but I wonder how balkanized we can be as a community and still be good neighbors.

As a result of that post, John and Cristina Crays, the owners, contacted me, and I agreed to post a statement from them here.

It runs below in its entirety.

Our Agenda is Providing Genuine Hospitality & Service to All: Chick-fil-A Downtown Decatur

Since opening in March of 2005, Chick-fil-A Downtown Decatur has been dedicated to serving our guests with honor, dignity and respect. We work our hearts out to make sure every guest receives amazing food and service regardless of belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Nothing about our agenda has changed.

My wife and I are the owner/Operators of this restaurant, and our commitment to the city goes back many years. My wife has been in the Decatur area since 1990 when she began college at Agnes Scott and then worked for the College for several years after graduating. When we learned of the Chick-fil-A opening in this city we jumped at the chance to open up our business here. We are not a corporation – we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated.

We are a family and a business dedicated to serving our community. We have consistently been generous donating food, money and coupons to the local Decatur community including DCM, CSD, the DBA, Bulldog Boosters, Decatur City Hall and Economic Development, and local churches. The list goes on and on… This weekend we are feeding the artists and volunteers during the Poverty is for Real benefit at Eddie’s Attic and next month we are donating food for a Volleyball Tournament at Decatur High School (DHS) and feeding the Decatur Book Festival volunteers.

We employ more than 70 people — many of which are DHS students. We have provided more than 20 college scholarships to team members in our restaurant alone with many of those awarded to DHS students. Our passion is building leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs.

We know that some of our guests are upset by comments made by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A Inc. He has made it clear to me those were his personal views, and that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner. We hope those who are upset will look at their relationship with our restaurant and allow us to continue to serve them. If you have questions or concerns, please come into the restaurant and speak with me personally.

Until then, we will continue to serve our guests in the only way we know how – with great food, exceptional service and a lot of fun.

Thank you.

John and Cristina Crays
Owner/Operator and Director of Customer Service
Chick-fil-A Downtown Decatur

196 thoughts on “A Statement from the Decatur Chick Fil-A Owner/Operators”

  1. Nicely worded John and Christina. Have and will continue to support your Decatur business and all others.

    1. over the course of my career i’ve done work for many fast food and beverage clients whose products some of my friends consider dangerous to the public’s health.

      i’ve done work for the US Army and Marine Corps, whom some of my pacifist friends probably consider threats to humanity’s existence.

      i eat meat, while some of my friends are vegans and believe eating animals is murderous, yet we not only remain friends, we actually eat together.

      i believe in a higher power, yet some of my best friends are (bless their hearts) atheists.

      i could go on and on, and if we looked closely at all of our employers and our personal life choices, none of us would come out squeaky clean with everyone’s agenda of beliefs.

      this is all to say this: no, i don’t support Dan Cathy’s position on gay marriage, but if i were to boycott every corporation or friend whose beliefs don’t align with mine 100%, i’d probably be friendless, and would have no where to shop.

        1. Rick, the poster was pointing out that this letter, as earnest as it appears, is a form letter of sorts, most likely initiated from the company itself. Portions of it are duplicated word for word in copies posted on the Facebook pages of at least 3 other franchises in other cities around the US. It’s main purpose seems to be to help indemnify those franchises but actually is likely a form of damage control by worried corporate suits.

          1. yeah, sorry about my flail. i was reading on my ipad and without the indents for comments, tracking what comment goes with what can be tricky. tried to correct it after i realized my mistake but flailed on that too and ended up just eeking out a period. which was nice.

  2. Thank you for posting the letter.
    This point is one that I have argued with friends, the owner/operators are somewhat independent from the corporate entity. Yes, a large chunk of their money goes back to the corporation (franchise fee/branding/flagging/etc.), but the local level does a lot of good for the community. So, on one hand I dislike the corporate policy/view/money contributions (gay rights an “Eat More Kale”). But on the other I like the community involvement…and on both feet, understand the right of companies to have their own views.
    Personally, I haven’t stopped eating CFA because of this, I quit eating CFA two months ago because of dieting. (down 5lbs)

    1. Sorry, but these are not independently owned franchises, and the Crays work at the will and whim of the Cathys. Chick-fil-a’s own franchise site calls them “operaters”, not owners. This is not an independent, locally owned business, not matter how you rationalize it. Supporting Decatur Chick-fil-a allows Dan Cathy and his family to financially support far too many causes I find reprehensible.


      If Dan Cathy made a similar statement about black people or any other group, most people would not rationalize away the hate but call for boycotts and kick his restaurants out of the community. I don’t see any reason my gay and lesbian friends and family deserve any less outrage.

      1. Unfortunately, I agree with J_T even though I live in Decatur and am sure that they are as open as the rest of the community. They still give their money to the Cathys in the end, and, therefore, I have given up CFA for good.

  3. I’ve kind of struggled with this same issue. I’ve been involved with a lot of community planning projects throughout the state. The local Chick Fil-A is ALWAYS involved. The local owners are always willing to donate food and support the efforts however they can. I find it hard to hold Dan Cathy’s comments against the local stores, regardless of how much I disagree with him.

    It’s also struck me as a little odd that there’s a backlash against the company just now. I thought it was well known that the Cathy family was actively supporting conservative Christian organizations. Maybe it’s because they’ve finally moved into areas outside the south?

  4. I agree that most of us know Mr. Cathy is conservative but I didn’t realize the extent. I hope he decides to make it clear to everyone (your customers) – that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner. I think he initially said the ‘company’ has an anti-gay political agenda, correct? Are owners considered part of the company?

    Thank you for your warm and eloquent statement. I lean toward vegetarian, but your lemonade is delicious.

  5. While I appreciate their work in the community, it’s irrelevant to the larger issue, which is that any money I spend there is liable to be donated to groups actively working to fight against equality for people in the very community John and Cristina wish to serve. I have nothing against them personally, but they work for a company I cannot in good conscience support with a single cent as long as that cent could knowingly be used in that manner.

    I wish John and Cristina the best in all they do, but I also can’t help but hope the company crumbles, so there’s one fewer large enterprise working against progress and civil rights for the citizens of this country.

    1. So I should not support any organization that supports gay rights because I may further that agenda? What makes Decatur great is that we have a diverse community where all are welcome. I want independent businesses in Decatur that are hard working and honest. This only makes our town better. A little bit of a double standard if you ask me. You may want to take the next week off from work and start figuring out all the places you can’t support anymore because of their political position.

      1. “Knowingly” is a key word that you didn’t note in your snide response, Jared.

        Clearly, if I’m not aware of someone’s views and don’t know where they donate large amounts of money, there’s no reasonable way for me to dig into the business owner’s finances and personal views to find this out. Cathy brought this into play by his statement and by Chick-Fil-A’s regular practice of donating to causes that are actively fighting against gay rights. Had he not done that, I obviously would not have had the knowledge I currently have.

        If you’re aware of any other local businesses whose owners 1) Have publicly stated their opposition to equal rights for American citizens; 2) Are regularly donating money to causes that reflect these views, please point me in the direction of the evidence of such, and I will be the first in line to boycott them as well. Until then, I have no reason to do so.

        1. Dan Cathy’s original quote was for a Christian Baptist newspaper. Hardly putting it out there for everyone. My comment was not intended to be snide either. I’m a supporter of equal rights for gays and lesbians. My problem is the unwillingness of some to admit that tolerance for other’s views only goes so far. This city has always been great because of the ability of all to live and coincide together regardless of personal views. Think of all our Chick-fil-A has done for our community as well as many of the other diverse businesses in town. As I stated earlier, I support them all because they help this city, of which I’m vested, grow. Once again, sorry if you took my comments to be condescending.

          1. That’s entirely putting it out there for everyone. Baptist newspaper or not, those were public comments, and he can’t possibly be so naive to think he can say something like that to any newspaper and not have it be well publicized.

            I really don’t know what you mean by “tolerance for other’s views only goes so far.” It’s not even about his views. It’s about where my money goes. It’s well known that Chick-Fil-A donates to Christian groups that fight against equality, and now we have good reason to think this is willful, as Cathy has expressed his view that we should continue to treat gay couples as second-class.

            If all we had were his views but no donations to corresponding causes, I would make no connection between the Decatur Chick-Fil-A and what some jackass COO said. But since we know where a good deal of the company’s money is being funneled, I can’t put my money into that pool.

            1. Just curious. What is the Islamic belief on the gay and lesbian lifestyle? Because if they do not support it, which they do not if you read their religious tenets, we should extend this same courteousness to Islamic businesses as well? Oh no, we celebrate that as religious diversity. Once again, making a point and not trying to be snide. Let us just work within the same parameters.

              1. There is no “Islamic belief on the gay and lesbian lifestyle.” Muslims are individuals with differing views within the community, just as are Christians. Some Muslims would oppose gay marriage, and others don’t. The Muslims I know all support equality for everyone.

                AGAIN, if you can point me to evidence of another local business owner expressing anti-equality views and donating to corresponding causes, please do. My reaction will be the same as it is to Chick-Fil-A. Making up hypotheticals does not accomplish anything.

              2. Nobody is saying Dan Cathy is not entitled to believe what he wants and to leverage whatever money and influence he has access to in advocating for what he believes. Some of us just aren’t comfortable contributing to his activities that we feel undermine our own core values.

                Everybody needs to follow their own conscience, on this issue as in everything. If your conscience leads you to continue supporting our local ChickFilA, that is fine. It’s not clear why you aren’t comfortable with others following their own lights.

                1. I have not seen anyone here do that, but the objections to Cathy’s statements have already boiled over to government officials threatening Chik-fil-A for its owners’ beliefs. A Chicago alderman, for example, has refused to approve the sale of land to Chik-fil-A solely because of Cathy’s statements, which effectively prohibits the company from opening a new store in the Alderman’s district. His rationale is that there are “consequences” for holding certain beliefs, which in his mind include punishment from the government for expressing certain ideas. I believe Connecticut has also threatened to refuse to allow the company to open new restaurants there (not sure of that).

                  Just goes to show that for some, this has very little to do with civil rights, as they are completely open to having the government punish Chik-fil-A for Cathy’s free expression of an idea. Boycotting the restaurant is within everyone’s rights but at least in some cases, this is already going way too far.

                  1. My comment was in direct response to Jared’s remarks. I agree with you and others that those politicians are grandstanding. I think it’s a shame they aren’t using their bully pulpits to contribute to the public dialogue, and instead are dragging it down to the lowest level by pandering and posturing. That kind of thing promotes polarization instead of community, and if I were a constituent of any of theirs, I’d vote against him at the next opportunity on that basis alone.

              3. Name one Islamic business that you regularly patronize. Or even know of off the top of your head. (No fair consulting the google.)

                This is getting a little far fetched.

                  1. Isn’t the family a mixed Jewish/Muslim family? I’m sure that someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always thought of the Med Grill folks as the ultimate in Decatur diverse dining. Business lunch combo with a side of dolmas. I’d eat that and be happy even with Jared calling me a bed-wetting liberal while I did so.

                    On a related note, why is anyone letting Jared troll as successfully as he is. Isn’t he just a Subway mole?

                    1. I was actually wondering how he knew they were practicing Muslims simply because they looked Arab, but honestly I was over this debate. There’s nothing you’re going to say to change what’s in some people’s hearts. Their minds only absorb what they want. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the world including Middle Eastern countries, and didn’t feel my safety threatened, and really walked away with a whole other perspective. Overall they’re very nice, I found people surprisingly informed about politics, and actually quite chatty. I’ve also known many Muslims, Christians, and Jews raised in their faith who are now atheists- Arab doesn’t= embracing and particular ideals. And many Muslims here in the media, and all that I know personally, renounce the type of things that are always pointed to as why they are awful people. But talking about the good, won’t change anyone’s mind. Luckily my generation and younger have more exposure to people different than them, and I know the tide will change, it just takes time, and awareness same as LGBT issues. Thanks for calling us out though J_T! Off to work, have an awesome Saturday!

                    2. Re: trolling. Yeah, Jared’s comment below that “Hey, gay men and straight male me have equal rights, because we’re both equally prohibited from marrying some dude” shows that he’s obviously not arguing in good faith.

    2. well said, Jeff. as much as i can help it, i’ll have none of my money going to anti-gay groups. period.

    3. Jeff, thank you for your comments and I stand in support with you. I cannot support a company funding a fight against equality and therefore I can no longer patronize Chick-Fil-A by giving them my business. I, also, respect the Crays but unfortunately making such statements as Mr. Cathy did come with a cost.

    4. Completely agree, Jeff! I know the old saying about opinions….everybody’s got ’em. I could care less if someone’s is different than mine. Cathy has a right to believe whatever he wants and say/give money to whatever cause he backs. My issue is that I don’t want my money going to support those that fight against marriage equality and when you spend money at CFA (even our lovely Decatur store, which I have always loved) you are giving money to those groups pure and simple. It’s strictly about money to me.

      It stinks because I really like CFA and have only had wonderful experiences at our Decatur branch, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I hate that Cathy has put the franchise owners in this situation. It’s really a shame.

  6. My wife and I have not eaten at any Chick Fil-A since the comments by Dan Cathy. I think a way to diffuse this situation in Decatur, would be for the Chick-Fil-A to take some of the many generous donations they give to our community, and publicly, even loudly, and (most importantly) in Chick-Fil-A’s name, donate to Mega Family Project, Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, GA Voice etc.
    If that were to happen, We would feel perfectly fine eating at “Our” Chick-FIl-A (and no other ones).

    1. Mathew with one “T” has a good point. Donate loudly, publicly, and in CFA’s name, to local LGBT groups that support LGBT businesses and LGBT families and are pro equality for everyone. That’s a small step in the right direction.

      And as for Mr. Cathy speaking for all CFA’s – unfortunately for the good eggs in the basket, like the local Decatur-Downtown location’s owners, he threw your franchise under the bus. I’d be checking your franchise contract and figuring out how much his comment hurt your business. Write him the letter and have him cough up the difference in lost profits, that his “personal” comment directly caused your store. He can reassure you all he wants that his comment was his personal belief, but if it was just anyone making that comment, he wouldn’t have gotten the press. He got the press because he is the president of a company that actively supports groups that actively discriminate against me and my family, and who emphatically distort the Cristian messages in doing so. Mr. Cathy’s statement ‘guilty as charged’ was a calculated business decision by a corporate man. He was banking that more people would support him in his bigotry than would not support him. I for one, intend to prove him wrong. I’m sorry that my decision will keep my money out of your store, and ultimately Mr. Cathy’s funds, but I can’t in good conscience support a group on Monday that takes the money and lobbies Congress to keep DOMA alive, and continue to deny me rights. Figure out how to fix it from within while I work on fixing it from without. I wish you the best of luck Decatur-Downtown store. We might be fighting at windmills, but I simply can’t stand by and not stand up for what’s right.

      1. +1
        I also agree with the commenter that the local downtown Decatur CFA could show that they stand apart from the CFA national organization by very publicly donating funds, food, etc. to local or national gay rights organizations. MEGA Family would be a great start. YouthPride would be another. If Decatur High School has a Gay/Straight Alliance, maybe the local CFA could donate food for one of their activities.

    2. I wonder, if they did this, would CFA corporate pull their Operator’s Agreement?
      Is there anything in that agreement preventing the Cray’s – acting as owners/operators of CFA Decatur – giving money or support to those groups??

      It would be an interesting step in this evolving morass…

      1. “I wonder, if they did this, would CFA corporate pull their Operator’s Agreement?”
        I’m guessing they would. BTW, you refer to owners/operators. Neither the Crays or anyone else own their CFA business.

          1. What I said still stands. They may own the franchise at the pleasure of CFA corporate, but they don’t own the business in the sense that it’s theirs; that franchise can be revoked at will.

          2. It’s very disingenuous of Chick-fil-a to refer to “independently owned stores” or local “owner/operators”. All their stores are corporately owned and controlled. The local folks may be the face of the franchise in the neighborhood but they don’t “own” anything.

            This is not to disparage the local folks, it’s simply what it is. That’s the reason you need at least $250,000 cash to open a McDonald’s franchise but it’s only a $5,000 initial investment for a Chick-fil-a. The Chick-fil-a “owner/operators” are really just local managers, sending the bulk of their profits back to Chick-fil-a corporate. Much more of every dollar you spend in Chick-fil-a goes to the corporate office than the same dollar spent at McDonald’s. To me, this is a huge distinction and it’s the reason that I don’t feel like I am unfairly harming an innocent local businessperson when I decide that I cannot in good conscience patronize them because of repulsive corporate policies.

            1. I’m pretty sure the investment by the franchiser is much more than $5000. I know a guy who was starting one up a few years ago. I don’t recall the details. Yes, less than a McD’s, but my recollection is it was still a pretty good up front nut.

              1. According to CFA’s own website, it’s $5,000 upfront. According to a Forbes article interviewing Bureon Ledbetter, corporate chief legal officer at CFA since day one (though now retired), it’s $5,000. According to CFA’s website and the Forbes article, and another article on franchising, the upfront is $5,000 and the “franchisees” are really just semi-independent contractors for the company who rent the name, the land and the equipment from CFA corporate.

  7. I respect the Crays and what they do for the community. I hope that they weather this storm that was brought on by their boss and not them. That said, I will not patronize a Chick-Fil-A store (and haven’t for a couple of months) because I don’t want any of my money supporting organizations that have an anti-gay rights agenda. I can’t let my respect for the operator of the Decatur franchise outweigh my outrage at the quiet bigotry of Chick-Fil-A and the WinShape Foundation. I was not surprised by Mr. Cathy’s statement (in fact I find his words innocuous) and I am glad he made it, because it brought some deeper issues into the public eye.

  8. My heart goes out to the owners for their courageous letter disassociating from the corporate position. I have long struggled with CfA due to its extreme conservatism. If I were still eating animal products this letter might even be persuasive to me — and I have noticed their support for local causes. As it is I’m glad the corporate powers exposed their bigotry and I actually like the ads with cows promoting less beef eating but I stopped going simply because I no longer eat any dairy or meat. Cheering for them anyway.

    1. They do seem like community minded folk, but this statement does not dissociate them from the corporate position. Nowhere do the Crays offer support for gay people, gay marriage, or gay families. All of the good they do just doesn’t erase the reality that Chic-Fil-A corporate stands for. Where I spend our money is important. To me.

      1. We have no idea what their contract with corporate says…this may be the best they can put out there without risking their livelihood.

        I don’t agree with the corporate message, but I will still patronize the restaurant. I appreciate that these are local owners who have given a tremendous amount back to the community.

        To each their own.

      2. “We have no idea what their contract with corporate says”
        I don’t know for sure, never having been associated with CFA, but I imagine that the individual “operators” are in a unique position as opposed to true franchisees, and can be terminated at will by CFA.

  9. They sound like awesome people, and this is all unfortunate for good owners like them.

    But the larger issue can’t really be over looked. Being Conservative is not offensive. But there’s a line of basic decency that’s crossed by the organizations Chick Fil A has chosen to financially support. Not merely Conservative organizations, but incredibly extreme. Their actions and beliefs are not limited to praying away the gay, and marriage is between a man and a woman. They promote lies that gays and lesbians are a threat to children, that they are more likely to be pedophiles, and to commit incest.

    I wouldn’t tell anyone not to eat there. Just to be aware that the promotion of these repulsive ideas are some of what your money is helping to support.

  10. It never failed that when I said “Thank you.” at the drive thru, to get a “You’re welcome.” in reply. Everyone was very helpful, positive, and kind at the Decatur Chick-fil-A. I have NO doubt that they could care less about who you’re sleeping with or why, or whether or not you’re going to burn in Hell for all eternity. And I always appreciated that about their business, which is why I continued to buy food there at THAT particular CFA restaurant. If I were still in living in Decatur, I would likely have to change that just based on the fact that Cathy’s comments raised a spectre I can no longer ignore, or, dare I say, “Turn the other cheek?”

    Given their history in the community and the kindness and support they have always shown, I do hope the Decatur CFA can weather this storm brought about thru no fault of their own. Perhaps this situation will bring about some thoughtful change within the company …

  11. I feel bad for the Crays, they sound like lovely people, and if I were them I would be pissed if the CEO of the company was out there alienating a large part of my business.

    However, as others have mentioned, I cannot in good conscious, spend money with a company that donates to groups that not only support prohibiting same sex marriage, but to groups who advocate for the criminalization of homosexuality and organizations who seek to “convert” gays to be straight. Let’s be clear, this is not just about Cathy’s comments 10 days ago. It is about his comments in the context of Chicfila’s long standing donations to anti-gay advocacy groups.

    Again, it is a shame that Chifila’s CEO is causing harm to what seem good like good local operators here in Decatur. However, if the Crays want to regain the support of a good portion of this community, then they might want to consider operating a different franchise, one in which does not support groups that advocate against the civil rights of its customers.

  12. As someone who has worked directly with Cristina Crays on school fundraisers and direct donations of food, I have seen how community-minded she is. It’s not just about being a smart businessperson; she genuinely enjoys working with the community and creating an comfortable restaurant with something for everyone, from high school students on their way to school to parents grabbing dinner between carpools to kids who love the Cow to everyone else. I am heartsick about this. I am angry at Dan Cathy for putting his franchise owners in this situation. I wish he could have just stuck to his own opinions and donated his own personal money, not involved CFA, Inc. What is so ironic is that Decatur’s kids are probably as comfortable as any group of kids with the range of shapes and sizes that families come in–from same sex to opposite sex parents to single parents to divorced parents to adoptive parents to older parents to working parents to stay at home moms AND dads to biracial parents to famous parents to boring parents (at least in the eyes of teens), etc. What a shame that they have to learn that one of their favorite places in town, CFA, is linked to someone who would not approve of many of their parents.

  13. This is tough for me. My parents were small business owners and I know how hard they work. I also love my Decatur CFA. The food is always fresh and tasty and the employees are friendly and professional. I do appreciate how much they give back to our community. But at the same time, I disagree so profoundly with the views of CFA corporate I really don’t want to give them one penny to fund causes I deeply disagree with.

    This is something I’m going to have to think about. However I will say if I ever patronize CFA again, it will be at this Decatur CFA.

  14. I’m involving myself at the most local possible level: ending my child’s school Spirit Nights at CFA. It is hard enough for a gay parent such as myself to teach my kid about homophobia without her experiencing the mixed signals at school, getting stickers and seeing signs out front. Gay people have few to ZERO rights, particularly in a state like GA. The only way we gain rights is at a glacial speed via our votes and our money. I would feel the same way if the company’s owner was bragging about giving millions of dollars to any other anti-rights groups.

    I cannot make decisions for my family based on the business decisions another family made for themselves. Research would have easily borne out the fact that CFA was run by a religious conservative family and that this kind of issue might come up. I don’t think CFA values reflect Decatur values. I will never eat there, nor will I take my kid there. Tough lesson at a young age for her, but necessary.

    It heartens me to see other families, straight and gay, who are supportive. I am on a family vacation in Boston, where it feels GREAT to be in a city where this controversy was met head on by the mayor who said he doesn’t welcome a company who discriminates against an entire group of Americans (even if his lawyers made him backpedal on it a bit today).

    1. Cathy’s comments shouldn’t surprise anybody. Not the owners of the Decatur franchise, nor the various Decatur-area civic groups who’ve exploited the Decatur franchise for fund-raising.

      I’ve got a thing against fundamentalism and have never been more than a very occasional CFA patron for this very reason. You don’t have to scratch far beneath the surface of the brand to witness the heavy hand of christian fundamentalism (eg, I remember being put off by the kids meal toys).

      1. “…shouldn’t surprise anybody.”

        Why does this matter in this discussion? I had a lunch with some co-workers today and I had the following responses:
        “I’ve never heard of Chick-fil-A until this week…”
        “I’ve seen one, but never ate there…”
        “I think I had it once…”

        This was a lunch up north, but this is exactly why this is now news, as CFA expands further outside of the conservative south.

        So this attitutde and the Cathy’s beliefs are, in fact, new and “news” to some people. And the fact they espouse such attitudes will affect a lot of people who will not want to support such an organization.

        The use of the “why now” and “everyone knows this” arguments really are not convincing for why we should continue to support CFA.

    2. “Gay people have few to ZERO rights”

      I really don’t want to start a fight here and am not being snarky or sarcastic, but your statement is blatantly untrue. With the exception of a couple of rights which are wrongfully and inexcusably denied to gay people (i.e. marriage, treated as “spouse” for insurance), you have the exact same rights as everyone else, regardless of sexual orientation. I am not trying to minimize the importance of those rights which are denied to you. They are important, but so are the other rights we all have.

      1. It’s also very important to note that sexual orientation isn’t a “protected class” in anti-discrimination laws like title VII of the Civil Rights Act. That means AVJ could legally be fired from his job just because his employer discovers he’s a gay parent and doesn’t like it, whereas firing (or refusing to hire) somebody because of their race or religion is illegal. And federal fair housing laws don’t cover GLBTQ people (I’d include a link but don’t want to await moderation), so unless a local or state statute applies, AVJ could be denied the ability to rent a place he’d like to because of his sexual orientation.

      2. It’s more than “a couple” of rights which are being denied to people. Marriage confers a host of rights and privileges including the ability to file joint taxes, receive a deceased spouse’s social security, employee benefits for federal workers, COBRA… Not to mention status as next-of-kin when one is hospitalized.

        1. Thank you. It’s not a couple of rights at all! It’s pretty much having equal access to anything a normal family would be able to access without jumping through a million hoops or living at risk at losing that access.

      3. @Dawgfan “With the exception of a couple of rights…”

        You kind of are minimizing what many gays feel are the rights we do not have. Not being able to legally marry my partner of 10 years is a big deal and causes a lot of challeneges in our lives.

        Recently I spent 3 months fighting the IRS on a tax penalty for my partner. Since we cannot marry and her name is listed second on our mortgage, they did not “see” that she was entitled to claim a portion of the mortgage interest. Think of all of my time writing letters, sending in documents as proof, and how much of our tax money is being paid to an IRS auditor over this non-issue. This would not have even come up if we were able to file a joint return.

        I’m sure there are many more examples like mine or worse situations of discrimination. So I tend to think it is a pretty big exception.

        Regardless, I agree with Melanie in that we seem to be having a pretty respectful conversation on this topic. For even more proof, check out what comments some idiots are posting on other sites like CNN. We love our City of Decatur!!

  15. I don’t have anything to really add to the discussion – other than I am so proud and feel so blessed to be part of a community that can have such a civil, intelligent, and respectful discussion about a very sensitive topic. High fives all around.

  16. I hope the franchise owners that do not approve of CFA, Inc.’s support of anti-LGBT rights agenda sue the corporation for their loss of business. I wonder if their legal paperwork disclosed this kind of risk? The franchise owners might not win but maybe they would and at least it might make other franchise corporations think twice about putting their franchisees at this kind of business risk. And all this publicity will make future franchise owners more careful about what corporation they invest in. It’s one thing to invest in a place that is closed on Sunday and another thing to invest in a supporter of anti-rights groups. I wonder how much the franchisees really understood.

  17. How much power do the franchise owners have within CfA? They like their customers can vote with their feet.

    [Of course their risks are a lot greater than our soon to be forgotten declarations on blogs like this.]

    1. I’ve assumed they don’t have much leverage, although it could turn out that they have more than they thought, if enough of them stand together. I know virtually nothing about how that kind of business is set up.

      Like many others, I think the quality of the Decatur CFA is second to none in every respect, and I hate that they have been placed in this position. It’s true that the Cathys’ extreme views and activism have not exactly been a secret. (And BTW, contrary to any back-pedaling during the past few days, it has always been my distinct impression those views were expressed and acted upon in the name of both the family and the corporation — in fact, they are the ones who insist that they two are completely intertwined.) Yet, it could be true that a prospective franchisee several years ago would not have realized the extent or depth of it. I think AHID is right on point and I hope that franchisees all over CFA territory are scrutinizing their paperwork as we speak.

      1. I have a comment awaiting moderation that illustrates how little power they have. It also has a quote from former CFA general counsel Bureon Ledbetter in Forbes that states:

        Bureon Ledbetter, Chick-fil-A’s general counsel, says the company works hard to select people like Yokum, who “fit.” “We want operators who support the values here,” Ledbetter says.

  18. Chick-fil-A was my very first job. I worked there high school in the 1990s (WAY before coming out). Quite frankly it was an awesome (minimum wage fast food) job to have as a kid and I was treated with far more respect and dignity than many jobs that came after. The Christian aspect wasn’t shoved down your throat, but customer service was. I’ve had CFA nearly once a week ever since then, even as the rise of social media progressed and exposed the bigotry of more and more companies. So much so that I actually found it odd that Decaturites were pretty mum when the Decatur location opened considering their politics. As a small business owner, I truly truly feel for our Decatur CFA, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are a franchise that gives a chunk of their money to a company that then gives it to people spewing and growing hate towards me and my family. It’s a slap in the face to the tolerance and love (well, unless you paint white and blue lines on your retaurant) that is the Decatur I’ve lived in for 15 years. And to the naysayers that point out quite a few other businesses that donate to conservatives, such as Target. I boycotted Target also. But Target APOLOGIZED and swiftly donated an equal amount to the “other side” and, much like JCPenney, has been very inclusive of gays in their products and marketing. So now I shop there again. Oh, how I will miss you, Chargrilled Sandwich, but you’ve left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m going to one of our other fine local restaurants tonight.

  19. I am sure the Crays are nice people who do good work in the community. In fact, I have met several CFA owners who are lovely people to their customers and to much of the community. My problem is that all CFAs only consider the LGBT community when they speak of taking money from them as customers. When it comes to actually specifically supporting LGBT people in the community, I have never seen this happen.

    I run a statewide nonprofit for LGBT families called the MEGA Family Project. For everyone who lives in Decatur and beyond, you know LGBT families are very much a part of the community. Last year I tried to get sandwiches for our annual family conference, but didn’t get anywhere. In fairness, I did not ask the Crays at the Decatur branch.

    Many of the LGBT community have patronized CFAs over the years. Our kids know CFA is part of our community. But we cannot support an organization that funds the actual organizations that hurt LGBT families. And yes, this funding does harm our families. For those of you on the fence about this issue, do you know what it is like to explain to your kids that this organization believes our families are not worthy of equality and worse? If it wasn’t for the CFA support of these anti-gay groups, I have no doubt marriage equality would be further along than it is today. That matters to LGBT families who just want the same rights as opposite sex couples.

    I ask the Crays that if they are sincere in their comments that they consider directly donating to the MEGA Family Project to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT families. This would be a great starting point in demonstrating their commitment to LGBT families in the community. I would love to open the dialogue about this issue if it is truly up for discussion.

    But, until then, we will continue to encourage folks to eat at other places. It would be a shame if CFA becomes the new Cracker Barrel (it was a major target of boycotts because of its policy of refusing to hire LGBT people–they have since changed that policy).

    CFA has a good product, great customer service, and a commitment to the community. If we could only get the LGBT community included in their definition of community, this would be a restaurant chain worthy of our support.

    Kathy Kelly, MEGA Family Project

    1. I explained to my son last night that he can no longer go to Chick-fil-a because the money we spent there is used to fund groups that don’t think his friends parents have the right be a family and we don’t support that.

  20. They are a well run store that is invariably polite to me, great customer service, and I enjoy eating their food, especially the breakfast burrito… But the response was a whole lot of Decatur, without any gay and lesbian in it. A company has a right to have an opinion about gay marriage, but my understanding is that corporate has also contributed to Exodus International, the group that tries to change gay people. I also have a right to have an opinion about their opinion, and alas, this response doesn’t make me feel any better about eating there.
    A more gay-positive ad in the GA Voice would go a long way toward making amends in my mind. But their response suggests that they are not in any way pro-gay, and that pro-gay would not pass muster with their corporate leaders.

  21. People are entitled to their opinions, but when an opinion states that some people are not entitled to the same human rights and basic human dignity as others, it isn’t just an opinion–it is bigotry. CFA has practiced bigotry for years, and all the facts have been there for anyone to read. CEO Cathy just put it out there for more people to hear.

    No matter how much good an individual franchise may do, it does not change the fact that money spent there goes towards the effort to deny people rights and dignity. Another thing Cathy’s remarks have done is turned the CFA name into a symbol for hated and intolerance (if it wasn’t that so much in this part of the country, it has been for years in most of the rest of the US). Wherever CFA shows up now, there will be people who will associate that venue or event with the bigoted CFA corporation. Cathy has screwed his franchise owners, but for many of us, the rotten core has long been evident and has long been reason enough for us to boycott.

  22. Precisely right, it’s not about religious beliefs, it’s about the choice to give money to companies/organizations that in turn give your money to organizations that are in the business of oppressing American’s freedom.

  23. I will not spend money in Chik Fil A if the corporate profits are funding discriminatory policies and organizations. I care too much about too many same sex families with children to betray those commitments.

    If the Cathy family spends their money so be it. If the corporation spends money I will not support them.

    If Cathy speaks for himself and draws a political line between his views and those of the individual owners, I will return and dang, I do love those sandwiches and ice cream. I will miss the food until Cathy takes his actions, which I find reprehensible, off the backs of the owners and gives them the freedom to serve chicken sandwiches instead of deep fried southern discrimination. The local owners deserve the right to serve their own community.

  24. It’s simple Mr. and Mrs Crays. If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas. Back in the bad-old-days of segregation and blatant discrimination against blacks, there were plenty of hard-working, church-going, civic-minded business owners like yourselves who did not take a stand on equal rights. We look back and see those businesses and now recognize they were on the wrong side of history. You and your operation may be commendable and cooperative, but by your association with CFA – [edited: no name-calling]. My wife has not spent a penny at your restaurant since she discovered the corporate penchant for supporting pro-hate organizations. I, on the other hand, fear I will now never enjoy another waffle fry. Please prove me wrong. Take a stand against hate and let the chips fall where they may. Your community will support you if you choose bold action. Otherwise, we’ll let history characterize you. Even if CFA Decatur weathers this, it will always be associated with bigotry for me.

    1. Melton’s serves a pretty reasonable waffle fry substitute. I have no information as to the Melton family’s beliefs or charitable giving history.

  25. These people try to pathologize homosexuality when in truth, homophobia is the pathology.
    There is no justification for making comments negating a portion of the population other than to lift yourself up to feel more powerful. This search for power is for those that actually feel weak.
    I looked through the letter that these Decatur franchise owners wrote, looking for some sort of acknowledgement that the statements (supposedly “personal”) by the company they represent were wrong and are harmful. They are harmful and hurtful to people and to “families”. People have brothers or sisters who are gay. I’m done with Chik Fil A. The suing of the Vermonter for the ‘Eat More Kale’ slogan had me raising my eyebrows. The chicken is CAFO bred. (disgusting) This latest opinion put me off for good. Family values? Hypocrites.

  26. I guess I finally need to enact my plan of getting a job at cfa corp, and start secretly re-routing all the money meant for the anti gay organizations to HRC and local ones…..

  27. The following comments are not meant as sarcasm, cynicism, or snarkiness…I’m just curious about where we draw the line.

    Every day, each one of us buys products and services, fully knowing that some of the proceeds go to areas we wouldn’t want them to go. For example, one of the cruelest and most repressive regimes on earth is China. Yet I’m assuming everyone here buys things like TV’s, refrigerators, toys, etc. Many of those dollars go to a government that considers organizations like the Falun Gong a threat.

    Another example: many major petroleum-producing countries are just as repressive and cruel (Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.). Yet we buy their products. Do we do it with a clear conscience? Again, where do we draw the line? I realize the decision is easier on a local level, but it all gets muddy above that.

    Although I am also in complete disagreeement with Dan Cathy’s comments, I will continue to patronize the Decatur Chick fil-A, because I believe in the power of small business, and the sincerity of the Crays.

    1. It’s not about drawing a line. It’s about individual and community priorities. You bring up China. China is a long, LONG way away from here. Their issues are only going to be solved through decades of diplomatic work, economic sanctions and cultural shifts that will have little to do with me.

      That is to say, LOCAL is always going to be a good reason to give something priority. I can do far more to effect change in Decatur than I can the Southeast. And I can effect change far more in the Southeast than I can in the entire country. And I can do far more still to effect change in this country than I can in far-flung China, where I know no one, don’t speak the language and have no assimilation with the culture.

      So my priorities lie where my friends and I live and work first and foremost, and that’s where Cathy’s comments affect us directly. If there is not equality for everyone, there is not equality for anyone. Where there are corporate entities fighting to keep my friends and colleagues relegated to a second-class status in my own community, I have some small amount of power to push back against that and not let my money be used to further that cause.

      That is my individual priority. You can’t fight and win all the battles. Sometimes, you have to pick the ones you have some small chance of winning. It’s not about drawing lines. It’s about helping your neighbors.

      1. True, China is a long, long way away, but so is South Africa . . . And 150 years ago Massachusetts was a long way from Georgia. Either you care or you don’t about doing the right thing or you don’t and you don’t rationalize how hard it would be to use your consciousness to foster change. Ultimately, Jeff, it is about your priorities and not your pieties here. Local chicken sellers are easy, attacking Christian-based bigot is safe, and besides, Decatur is that blue dot in the sea of Georgia Red so we’re sticking it to the buffoons! Boycott Chik-Fil-A! Free Tibet! Whatever. But let’s not actually consider telling the Cray children that their Mommy and Daddy lost the business, all the family savings, fired all those nice DHS students, because some guy somewhere “in charge” spouted off his mouth.

        Bring back the Hardee’s! End the madness!

        1. Barry White says: ” Either you care or you don’t about doing the right thing or you don’t and you don’t rationalize how hard it would be to use your consciousness to foster change.”

          Being what I can imagine is a relatively intelligent human being, you know it’s not as simple as this, despite what many would have you believe. If you have the ability to fight every injustice in the world equally, fight (and potentially win) every battle, I encourage you to do so. Perhaps you have resources the rest of us do not. Perhaps you have connections, money, power, fame … I don’t know you and, thus, cannot speak to your status.

          For most of us, however, we occupy a small circle and simply don’t have the resources to fight them all. We must rely on others to fight battles we’d fight if we were in their position, and we do what we can, where we can, when we can. Make what mark on the world that you can make, and don’t get distracted by the desire to be perfect, preventing you from doing small good.

          If they lose the business, it’s not because he “spouted off his mouth.” It’s because the company donates to causes that fight to maintain and even increase inequality among the citizens of this community and this nation we live in. Him spouting off his mouth simply confirmed that these donations are willfully doing so. Words DO have consequences, Barry. I fully support Cathy’s and anyone else’s right to say whatever they want about whoever they want. I also retain my right to vehemently oppose what they say and show my opposition the only way that matters in the business world: with my wallet.

          1. You see CFA and know what they have funded, and are happy to cut off the good along with the bad. Your actions are mine in this regard. If something has Made in China on the packaging I move on to something else. It’s pretty simple in that regard. Join the discussion. If you choose to limit the power of yourself then limitation has been established. If you choose to wrestle with great things then that is what you shall do.

            You picked up on the notion of “you made your choice now live with the consequences”. Being a person of reasonable conscience I guess you have chosen to pick the fights you wish to pick. CFA is getting the beating they are getting. Rightly, or wrongly, it doesn’t matter. What’s the expression? “Write what you will about me just make sure you spell my name correctly.”

            1. Barry White says: “Being a person of reasonable conscience I guess you have chosen to pick the fights you wish to pick.”

              There’s no other choice. It’s what we all do. There is no other option. We have priorities, and we pick the battles we feel strongly about and feel we can have some effect on. I don’t begrudge you your choices; there’s no reason to begrudge me mine. If I could fight and have an impact on every battle I wanted to, I’d do so. I cannot, so my focus goes where I feel I can have an impact. As should we all. If you feel strongly about “Made in China,” I commend you on your stand.

                1. It’s not about “faith in spending priorities”. It’s not about the faith intertwined in the business. People have a definite right to do that, and in some faiths, an obligation. It’s that the version of Christianity and the place where their corporate dollars go are places that propound limiting the civil rights of a good segment of our population:
                  2009 Corporate Giving:
                  Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: $994,199
                  National Christian Foundation: $240,000
                  Focus On The Family: $12,500
                  Eagle Forum: $5,000
                  Exodus International: $1,000
                  Family Research Council: $1,000

                  1. Here’s a question: Does Chik-Fil-A get tax write-offs for those contributions? I suppose, if the organizations on that list are 501(c)(3)s, they would.

                    Wow. I’m all for freedom of association. But, well, just wow.

          2. Thank you, Jeff, for your comments in this thread. You have articulated so many of my thoughts better than I could have done myself.

    2. +1 / people who oppose intolerance sometimes show intolerance for other peoples sincerely held views

      1. I’ve heard this sentiment a lot over the past week. I have to ask: At what point does an opinion cross the line? A year or two ago, fashion designer John Galliano got himself into a lot of hot water for making some pretty outrageous pro-Hitler/pro-Nazi/anti-Semitic comments. As he faced a barrage of criticism, lost his celebrity clients, and so forth, I don’t remember hearing, “Hey, he’s entitled to his opinion,” or “Just because he feels that way doesn’t make him hateful”.

        Not so very long ago we could have inserted race into this dialogue in place of sexuality. At that time, many would have agreed with, rationalized, or “tolerated” those opinions. But people fought to change customs and laws. Today, we can look back and see how wrong-headed those notions were. Why is it “intolerant” today to see this issue in the same light? Is every “opinion” truly worthy of tolerance or respect? I don’t think so.

        1. This about bigotry, discrimination against a group of people, and civil rights. It is about institutionalized discrimination against a group of people in my community, country and family. I don’t tolerate that. I was a little kid in the 70s in a small town in Mississippi. My mom didn’t tolerate the bigot across the street who circulated a petition when a black family moved on our street. She baked the black family a cake and delivered it full view of the bigot.

          Zephir, go tell your gay neighbors how you feel about people being intolerant of Cathy’s sincerely held bigoted views. See how they feel.

          1. You misunderstood me, which is a risk of written media. I also grew up in Memphis and Mississippi and can curl hair with the stories of bigotry. I absolutely support civil rights for ALL. However, selective outrage is an issue, as is affecting families like the local CFA owners. many shades of grey.

            1. A couple of really good points are made above that pretty much be summed up with the old adage “when you lie down with the dogs you get up with fleas”. Also, judging from what I have read, CFA works very hard to ensure its operators share the corporate values.

          2. I have dear friends, two women, who have been together for nearly twenty years. The kinds of discrimination they have faced and continue to face as they try to raise a child both breaks my heart and makes me angry. Chick-fil-A matierally and philosophically supports not only the continuance of that discrimination but in some cases an escalation of it. No amount of good works in the community is going to offset that, not for me anyway. As NellieBelle pointed out, substitute “black” for “homosexual” in this debate and would there even be a debate?

      2. You’re equating intolerance for an opinion with intolerance of a person’s right to express that opinion. The Cathys are entitled to say and do whatever they believe. And any of the rest of us has the right to speak out against words and actions that we find intolerable. In fact, it’s clear that many of us feel obligated to speak out when we feel core values are on the line. The fact that so many have been so careful and non-confrontational in these discussions, while managing to be honest and direct and also exploring and owning ambivalence and conflict, knocks the props from the case that such comments reflect “intolerance.”

  28. Last week I sent a letter to John Crays expressing my regret that, despite the fact that he runs a fine establishment and is very active in the Decatur community, I could not continue to support the Chick-fil-A organization. Yesterday I received a very gracious response from Mr. Crays. He is a class act.

    1. I wonder if they had to submit the letter to corporate before sending it out to you, and whether it will become CFA’s next form letter.

  29. More information on just how much “independence” the Crays have:


    $5,000 franchise fee, 50% of monthly net profits to the corporate office.

    And from Forbes:

    “Chick-fil-A pays for the land, the construction and the equipment. It then rents everything to the franchisee for 15% of the restaurant’s sales plus 50% of the pretax profit remaining….

    …Bureon Ledbetter, Chick-fil-A’s general counsel, says the company works hard to select people like Yokum, who “fit.” “We want operators who support the values here,” Ledbetter says.”

    1. Wow. That is pretty shocking Nellie.

      So, by the operation of these terms (15% of sales and 50% of net profits), Chickfila corporate actually makes more money from the Decatur store than the Crays do.

    2. I imagine the operator buys the food, drink, and all supplies from the home office as well, further enriching the corporate coffers.

    1. The anti-chick-fil-a comments in that article are more compelling than the article. Thanks.

  30. I was so disappointed to read Cathy’s comments. I was vaguely aware of CFA’S political agenda, and do not understand why Cathy felt compelled to push the issue into the spotlight. Now that he has, my family has made the difficult choice not to eat at CFA until the company changes course. Such a shame because we eat CFA from the Decatur location at least once a week and love it. We also pick it up for breakfast meetings and events at my daughter’s school. We love the food and the customer service is fantastic. We’ve also been impressed with the Cray’s commitment to the Decatur community, particularly our schools. But, because of Cathy’s comments we can no longer ignore the company’s destructive intentions to prevent formation of marriages and families. In my view, the company’s efforts are not very Christian or neighborly. They leave us no choice but to vote with our feet.

  31. Where does Mayor Floyd or other mayors in metro A stand on the issue? I’m just wondering, Here are two notable examples of how other mayors approach the issue, albeit mayors of city’s without CFAs — http://consumerist.com/2012/07/heres-the-letter-where-boston-mayor-tells-chick-fil-a-to-stay-the-cluck-out-of-his-town.html and http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/13988905-418/ald-moreno-trying-to-block-new-chick-fil-a-over-boss-stance-on-gay-marriage.html.

    1. Both of these officials are grandstanding IMHO. I believe Menino has had to backpedal a bit after hearing from the ACLU. Moreno has the power in his Chicago ward to block the store but I think he’d be setting the City up for some major legal problems if he does block it.

      1. I posted about this above. Anyone who supports what these guys are doing doesn’t care at all about rights or freedom, it is as simple as that. And it goes to show how even the most basic first amendment rights are always under threat. I don’t support the Cathys but government supression of speech is much worse than a Chicken store owner donating his own money to private groups.

    2. Not that I disagree with their public stance, but if the mayors tried to block a CFA from opening based on the comments of the CEO, they would be violating the right of free speech contained in the US Constitution. As elected officials, their duty is to uphold the Constitution, even if they don’t like it. If a legal business wants to open up shop, they can’t be denied b/c they expressed their religious or political views.

      1. I would begrudgingly agree with DawgFan here. I’m not for the government legislating which opinions should and should not be approved. Be careful about which opinions you lobby the government to legislate out of existence. Yours might be next.

      2. I agree with DawgFan. I public statement of admonishment would be fine. But it would be unconstitutional to block a CFA from opening a store simply because of their political or religious beliefs.

        Remember, the First Amendment only applies to government action. Private companies or individuals are free to punish someone for their speech, but the government cannot.

        1. Exactly right. A private boycott is competing in the marketplace of ideas. Government punishment for holding an idea is something else entirely — i.e., censorship and a clear 1st Amendment violation.

  32. The Cathy’s have been open about their homophobia and religious fanaticism for a very long time. I find it hard to believe that people opening a Chick-fil-a in Decatur did not know about this issue before they agreed to the franchise. You play with fire, you’re gonna get burned. Whether the Cray’s like it or not, they signed up to represent Chick-fil-a and they have to take the good with the bad. That is part of being a franchise to a corporate owner. Maybe next time they will open a real small business and not have to be beholden to their corporate masters.

  33. I’ll own up to being persuaded by comments here that the letter was not as forward moving as I’d initially thought. No real support for the LGBTs of Decatur. What’s sad is that if the sentiments here are widespread and are followed through, the local franchise is going to end up closing anyway for lost business, so the operators have an option to take a stand: Come out opposing the corporate line and go down in a flame of glory. Then Decaturites would support the next business they open. Without that, though, the operators risk just dwindling out of existence. (P.S. I’ve never eaten at a Cracker Barrel.)

    1. I think the fact that for every dollar you spend at Chick-fil-a Decatur, more money winds up in the hands of the Cathy’s than the Crays is all you need to know, despite the good intentions of the local operator.

    2. FYI, Cracker Barrel changed their ways as a result of the public outcry regarding their corporate policies. As of 2002, they now hire openly LGBT employees, and even have “sexual orientation” listed in their company’s non-discrimination policy. They also include sexual orientation issues in their diversity training. As of 2011, they scored a 55 on the HRC’s rating of companies (up from a low of 15 in the early 90’s).

  34. Not to worry, CFA will be just fine without your money. As evidenced by state elections, most people in the country still oppose gay marriage; it’s not like Cathy went out on a limb there.

    Maybe time and money would be better spent building a more compelling case for the American people, not trying to punish one (wealthy) individual out of that large opposition group.

    In other words, don’t try to silence the opposition; win on the merits of a better argument.

    Right now it’s too reminiscent of hard Leftists going after big GOP donors and fundraisers. It shows weakness, desperation and hurts their own cause. Don’t make the same mistake if you want to win this argument.

    1. G Buck says: “Maybe time and money would be better spent building a more compelling case for the American people”

      One cannot dissuade through logic from that which was not arrived at through logic.

      The culture is shifting slowly, as it will continue to do. There is no logical argument against gay marriage, so there’s really no case that needs to be made. As it becomes more and more socially unacceptable to hold such bigoted views, fewer and fewer people will hold them, express them and be willing to put money behind them. As such, this is a PERFECT opportunity to vote with our wallets to send the message that Cathy’s views and choice for monetary support is not acceptable to a large number of us.

    2. Actually, the polls show about a 50-50 split on the issue of gay marriage nationally. This PR disaster will harm Chick-fil-A’s business, no doubt. Not only will this be a 70-30 issue in 15-20 years, but in order for Chick-fil-A to grow now, it is going to have to open more locations in urban areas, the west coast, and northeast where most people do support gay marriage. Now while I don’t think the government ought to ban them from opening anywhere Chick-fil-A is a toxic brand right now in these areas.

  35. John and Christina,

    I appreciate your deep connection to our Decatur community, but I cannot offer you any financial support knowing that some of that money also supports and validates the work of the Cathy’s and Chick-fil-A.

    Chick-fil-A knowingly and proudly funds hate groups. In addition, the scholarships you mentioned are likely at my alma mater, Berry College. Recipients of those scholarships are expected to attend weekly meetings that inculcate the Cathy’s extremist, right-wing, fundamentalist understanding of Christianity – and to sign a contract built from that same fundamentalist agenda.

    The corporate values of Chick-fil-A run directly contrary to the family values we came to Decatur to embrace and support.

  36. Y’all.
    What is it that you didn’t know about Chick Fil A before Dan Cathy opened his mouth? Anyone could easily find out about their connection to Focus on the Family, etc. and their belief system. Google it already!! I really really thought it was well-known, so actually I’m really surprised that there has been so much outrage right now. This has been the case for YEARS. So I really don’t understand why this sudden “OMG, Chick Fil A is against gays” is all about. You all are a little sanctimonious (spelling?) .. seems a lot like the old, don’t ask, don’t tell. If you didn’t TELL me that the Cathy’s were anti-gay rights, then I will look the other way when I buy their incredible sandwiches…

    1. Not sanctimonious at all. I was unaware that these were Cathy’s feelings. Did you know this? How? I hadn’t seen/heard any public statements from him or anyone at the company on the matter of gay marriage, but I’ll admit I could have missed them.

      I was aware that they supported several Christian nonprofits, but they make no bones about being a Christian company. And, since Christians are largely the ones fighting against gay marriage, if you donate to enough Christian causes, you’re eventually going to start hitting anti-gay marriage ones. Admittedly, I hadn’t made a concerted effort to dig deeply into their finances in past years, but I don’t really have time to do that for any company. His comments brought this to light, and now I’m well aware.

      1. CFA has made a play on its fundamentalist Christian values from its inception.

        That’s all you needed to know, and then you could have figured out the rest.

        1. Right! Because there is absolutely no difference between someone saying “I believe that you are sinful and I will pray for you” and someone saying “You are going to burn in Hell and, until you do, I will actively work to deny you basic civil rights – but if you’ve got 8 bucks I’ll happily sell you some factory raised chicken parts and fried potatoes and then use a portion of your money to further oppress you!”

          1. @J_T
            Sure, fundamentalist Christians can be good people and great neighbors and all of that, but they also have a serious thing against homosexuals (and evolutionists and climatologists).

            They also go about exercising this bias on more than an occasional basis.

            I view their exercises of bigotry clinically, mostly for what they are: as something they use to define the boundaries of their communities. Scholarship like that of Martin Marty has proven again and again that fundamentalisms thrive in part on defining outsiders who are not, and cannot be, members of their community.

            So when a company like CFA comes along that is proudly rooted in a fundamentalist Christian culture and effectively brands itself on the basis of this identity, you don’t have to be a brilliant climatologist to predict where this might eventually head.

            And when a franchise opened in the middle of a community like Decatur, with its significant LGBT subculture, I have to tell you it definitely raised my eyebrows.

            I’m not going to tell you I predicted this day would come, but that we are now having this discussion doesn’t surprise me in the least. At all. Specifically because of its corporate ID, I’ve not been much of a CFA patron all along for this very reason. I just don’t like what their particular brand of family values implies.

            I actually think most CFA franchises are going to benefit from this controversy, because you can already see a lot of wagon circling and rallying to the flag out there in the conservative social media world (Marty also writes about this is characteristic of how fundamentalisms thrive on being “intentionally outrageous”–these pitched battles are important for them).

            And there are a lot more of them then there are LGBT and their sympathizers. So the law of averages will win.

            But it will be interesting to see to what degree the Decatur franchise is affected.

            I’m sure the operators are great people, and they’ve done a great job of getting involved in the community and all that. I just think they’ve invested in a flawed brand that doesn’t fit Decatur as cleanly as, say, it would in Snellville.

            1. Clearly either you misinterpreted my comment or else I misinterpreted your first one. This is what happens when I don’t use a 😉

    2. This is an interesting point and one I was hoping would come up. That is, in the marketplace of products and ideas, I believe what Cathy has done reflects the utmost in corporate responsibility. Not *what* he said, mind you (which I absolutely disagree with in every way possible), but that he said it at all.

      As others have pointed out, we patronize all kinds of businesses every day with absolutely no idea what they stand for or support financially unless some sort of “whistle-blower” enters the picture. We have little to no opportunity to consider where our money is ultimately going and are therefore unable to make choices based not just on taste or convenience or quality, but on our own values.

      Cathy’s flat out wrong on this one, but I appreciate and admire the fact that he had the stones to come right out and say what he’s about. This enlightening thread wouldn’t have existed without it.

      1. I’ve been thinking about this too. I would bet that Cathy still believes in what he said and will never retract it.

        But I bet he wishes that he hadn’t said it to a newspaper reporter.

        My guess is that Cathy was a little more loose-lipped knowing that he was speaking to a Baptist paper and among friends. I sincerely doubt he would have said what he said if he was talking to the New York Times or some such.

    3. I knew the restaurants aren’t open on Sundays due to the Cathys’ religious beliefs. I don’t share those beliefs, but have not found that to be a reason to avoid CFA when they are open. I also knew of an instance up north somewhere, in which a CFA provided refreshments for an event held or sponsored by some anti-gay organization. Did my antenna twitch a little? Yes. Do I love CFA lemonade and breakfast burritos and deluxe sandwiches? Yes. It was easy to assume the actions of one franchisee did not necessarily reflect a corporate stance or company-wide philosophy. In the past week or two, I’ve learned a lot more about Cathy’s viewpoint and the corporpation’s support of what I consider to be some extreme activist organizations, via direct support and through their WinShape Foundation. Those organizations advocate against my own core values. Heightened awareness has led to serious contemplation on my part.

      To Scott’s point below, in no way do I fault Dan Cathy for his forthrightness about what he believes and what he and his business stand for. That being said, I personally no longer feel inclined to patronize CFA. Furthermore, I think the personal decision is the easy part — each of us is free, indeed obligated, to follow the dictates of our own conscience on this. What seems a lot trickier is figuring out what the City and the school system should do in terms of accepting support from our local CFA. On the one hand, the Crays have made sure their CFA store is a generous and active member of the Decatur community. On the other hand, they (and the CFA brand) don’t walk away from that empty-handed. They get a lot of exposure and the opportunity to build brand loyalty among our kids starting at a very young age. I want to see CSD and the City take a long, hard look at what seems like some very cozy relationships, and whatever they each decide to do, be prepared to explain it.

      1. Re CSD and the City taking a hard look: I don’t know about the City but I think it’s usually PTAs/PTOs or maybe a non-profit like DEF that are involved with our Decatur CFA, not the actually school staff. Whether it’s a fundraiser or a direct donation of food items (e.g. for a school picnic), it’s volunteer parents who are doing the arranging. Which makes this all the harder. Volunteers were trying to do good for our students and never intended to support groups that would discriminate against many of the parents of those students. It’s hard enough for busy parents to find the time and energy to volunteer and raise the tens of thousands of dollars that they raise for each school every year, without feeling horrible about the times that they guided “The Cow” at dismissal when it was their school’s CFS night or went through the CFA drive-thru because they were too exhausted to cook dinner that night.

        1. Not a parent and rarely if ever attend school-oriented events, so not tuned in to the mechanics but what you say makes sense. I know PTAs/PTOs work hard and certainly don’t mean to point fingers at anybody, nor am I thinking I necessarily know what’s best in that context. The point I was making was that IMO it’s pretty clear-cut that as individuals and families, we all get to decide what we think and how strongly we feel about it and act accordingly, but that as a community it’s much trickier. I’m just saying I hope this issue gets aired among the people who are doing the work to make things happen around the schools, and not glossed over or avoided. And to the extent (if any) that the school system is involved, I certainly want to know it gets addressed and intentional decisions made.

          1. Oh yes, completely agree that what we choose to do as individuals about CFA purchases is our own business but activities at a school or any other community level have to be held to a stringent standard. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the PTA or the school system involved. But the school system operates as one entity when it comes to decision making whereas PTAs/PTOs are teams of volunteers that are more comfortable with fundraising than consciousness raising. I know that some, if not all, of the school PTA/PTOs have been discussing participation with CFA. In fact I think they were discussing it before I became fully aware of the issues. I was puzzled about what was All the surprise, pain, and confusion we’re seeing on this blog is probably playing out in the PTO/PTA arena too.

            1. “… completely agree that what we choose to do as individuals about CFA purchases is our own business but activities at a school or any other community level have to be held to a stringent standard.” — That’s not really what I’m trying to say. What I’m trying to say is that, in the absence of laws guaranteeing civil rights, recognizing those rights becomes a matter of conscience. That makes it tricky to define community standards. How to arrive at consensus while respecting each individual’s right to their own opinion and standards? A sticky wicket. Also (as is so often the case) an opportunity.

        2. I’m on a PTA. I began working to limit or eliminate the school’s involvement with CSA months ago. Many parents were ready to step up then; many more will be ready to step up now, as I suspect will many local businesses.

  37. Competition is the American solution for this type of issue. So how about somebody opens a new fast food restaurant with an incredibly friendly staff, clean restaurants, affordable and mouthwatering chicken biscuits, and a big rainbow flag on the roof? If this place already exists, let me know and I will go there. If not, it seems like a business opportunity.

    1. By the way Joshua, a friend shared with me your blog post about the Bible. For anyone interested in further discussion about the use and misuse of the Bible and context, etc., I strongly recommend giving it a read. Hope you don’t mind if I post it here.


        1. And so I checked out other material on your site. Like the “15 Ways to Acquire A Biblical Wife.” You, sir, slayeth me!

        2. Wow. Josh– I’m very impressed with your well-written, reasoned counters to fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. Good onya!

        3. Great blog. (Except I can’t find that “15 Ways” piece that RScott thinks is so funny.)

          1. Why is it that CFA and others who claim a desire to defend traditional marriage don’t support groups that seek to ban most divorces and discriminate against divorced people? Maybe they do but I haven’t heard of it.
            After all, the Bible only allows for divorce in the case of adultery and even then one is not supposed to marry a divorced woman. About half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce so isn’t divorce the real threat to traditional marriage.
            I know I’m not making an original point here, but I’ve never heard the question answered. Why? Maybe its because to propose such ideas would put THEM in the distinct minority, with little to no support from the public?

            1. Some ultra-fundamentalist groups DO try to prevent divorce. Which, like any other practice, can be disastrous if practiced rigidly without any attention to the circumstances. Sometimes they lose at least half of a couple that way, the half that won’t stay in a situation bad for themselves or their family.

  38. First, fast food raises its own issues.
    Second, to discriminate against ANY group of people is simply not acceptable. Especially in Decatur.
    Local folks holding the franchise – who are you folks? Really? What does this say about you?

    I think multiple communities should simply boycott and watch the $$ go down and guess what, CHANGE.

    All you folks lining up for that fast food and their discrimination – SHAME ON YOU!!

    1. Did you heap shame on Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA in 1996? Same for Obama, who ran for president while making absolutely clear that he regarded marriage to be betwen man and woman and opposed extending the same privilege to gays?

      I get the outrage over Cathy’s position. I will never understand why it appears to have been so selective.

    1. Now that’s surprising ! (He said in his most sarcastic voice.) I wasn’t going to be the first to suggest that, though.
      I imagine the Crays were forced to publish it upon penalty of losing their franchise and I feel sorry that they were put in that position as I’m sure, knowing Decatur, they knew what kind of response they would get.

      1. So I wonder which locations have used this form letter? I tried Googling the next-to-last paragraph because it reads as the most personal, but only Decatur and Hollywood came up right away.

        1. Independently operated, perhaps, but not independently owned. CFA owns the property, the building, the fixtures and everything else. If it’s rented space, I imagine CFA pays the rent.

          1. Steve,
            My point in posting that was that it’s one of the same lines from the Cray’s letter. Except I did notice an interesting difference in the letter from the Chicago operator in that it mentions supporting LGBT groups.

  39. Wow, essentially the same letter as the Hollywood location. The Internet’s a b****, isn’t it?

  40. Incidentally, I just went by the local CFA around lunch time. They’re booming. Packed to the gills.

    Anyone here surprised? You really shouldn’t be. Also, don’t be surprised if the Cathy family don’t lose their religion for you. If they believe they’re listening to Jesus, they’re not going to all of sudden start listening to Piers Morgan because you get miffed.

    Again, I’m not championing their cause for them. Far from it. I’m just reminding the echo chamber that their local indigation isn’t shared be enough people to financially hurt the Cathys. They’ll lay low a while – you’ll go back to protesting Wal*Mart again, or G W Bush, or some nonsensical Obama straw man, and everyone will eventually go back to blissfully enjoying their delicious bird sandwiches (but only from Monday through Saturday.)

    1. Sometimes it’s not all about the financial pain. Nobody likes to be pegged as a bigot; don’t discount the power of public shaming. The fact that they have “to lay low a while,” as you put it, says something doesn’t it? As for the rest of your comment, sounds like a feeble excuse to show your disdain for Obama more than anything.

      1. What? All those inflammatory observations, and you pick Obama’s rhetorical failings to criticize?
        A) I must not have been pointed enough on my other comments about how little the CFA will be affected *in the long run.*
        B) True believers feel pride, not shame, when they live their religion. Any Islamists apologizing for stoning gays, independent women, or so called “adulterers” in Muslim lands?
        C) How could anyone be dissatisfied with our current President’s performance? Surely not you and me?

        1. “All those inflammatory observations, and you pick Obama’s rhetorical failings to criticize?”


          The rest:

          A) You must be psychic.

          B) I wouldn’t go so far as to equate the Cathy’s with supporters of Sharia law, as you did.

          C) I have no idea what this has to do with the topic, but hey, if it makes you feel better.

          1. Just for fun, and I do mean this lightheartedly,

            A) not psychic, just experienced. This will blow over very quickly as the media move on to the next crisis du jour. That’s the Obama strawman comment: he’ll pick a target – say Bankers – then some group will Occupy Wall Street and that will take the news for weeks. Or Guns, or Illegal immigrants, or some other mythical bogeyman…Nothing more sinister than newsmaking for newsmaking’s sake.
            B) You should have seen what I was going to write, but didn’t. I love Christians, they’re wonderful people. Islamists kill for their religion – they kills westerners, women, children, other tribes, other sects, and justify it with religion. But we all get bent out of shape because Dan Cathy thinks boys should marry girls. I think some have lost their perspective. Or perhaps I should say, have misplaced their indignation. Christians aren’t evil, even if they don’t agree with your morals.
            C) You suggested I have disdain for Obama. Not so. I simply question why anyone would say that. How could anyone disagee with someone who is always right. (Almost a religious argument, if you take my meaning.)

            Obligatory 😉 face – just cause the internets are more for fun than for serious commentary.

            1. Re “Christians aren’t evil, even if they don’t agree with your morals.”: Actually, there are many Christians and Christian churches, including churches in this town, that support gay marriage and full rights.

            2. Actually, my distinct impression (today and on several previous occasions) is that your disdain is mainly reserved for the rest of us. If you don’t consider “the internets” to offer any forum for serious commentary, why do you bother stopping by?

    2. I don’t expect CFA’s business to collapse, certainly not overnight, and I doubt anyone else here does. People are choosing not to patronize CFA for one or both of two reasons: to avoid the icky feeling that comes with behaving contrary to one’s own values, and to try exerting economic pressure on the Cathys to adjust their behavior. I also don’t expect Dan Cathy will change his beliefs. But it’s possible CFA might change its approach to blending personal and corporate advocacy around social issues. It’s happened before, doesn’t mean it will happen again or happen right away.

      In any case, what is important to many of us is not what CFA does but what we do: stand up and be counted among those who think speaking out for equality is worthwhile in and of itself.

      1. “In any case, what is important to many of us is not what CFA does but what we do: stand up and be counted among those who think speaking out for equality is worthwhile in and of itself.”

        Very well said.

    3. We get it, they’re rich. Now that we’ve got that cleared up-

      Just because you see something with your own 2 eyes, doesn’t mean it applies everywhere. J_T posted an article here a few weeks ago that referenced a student center ultimately rejecting a Chick Fil A. So while they won’t go bankrupt, these things can affect a bottom line. I’d like to know what makes you so incredibly defensive but after that little off topic Muslim/Obama ridiculousness, I doubt anything of value would follow.

      Btw, your stereotypes about what individuals support what cause, are completely misguided.

      1. “Just because you see something with your own 2 eyes”

        Now, if he had seen with someone else’s two eyes, that would be something.

  41. In what is certainly an interesting contrast to all of this, Jeff Bezos at Amazon just dropped $2.5 million into a campaign supporting gay marriage in Washington State, becoming the single largest supporter of that cause.

    In the book ecosphere, Amazon is considerably more destructive to local businesses than Wal Mart.

  42. Our letter was authored by John and Cristina Crays but we did submit it to corporate for review and I am sure it has been used as a model for other statements. These were our heartfelt thoughts on the issue.

    Thank you.

    John and Cristina Crays

    1. Like others on this thread, I found your letter to be heartfelt and sincere. While I take you completely at your word that you were the original authors of this letter, doesn’t it strike you as somewhat cynical of your corporate employer that it would then take your sentiments and turn them into a form letter to, essentially, help put the proverbial piece of steak on its black eye? Please don’t take that as snark– it’s an honestly pondered question, and it’s the first thing I wondered when I read your explanation as to how your letter is so similar to the others out there.

      1. It sure doesn’t help the Hollywood location if they simply changed the relevant details.

      2. I’d be interested in knowing how Mr Cathy “made it clear to me those were his personal views, and that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner,” as is claimed in both letters. I note that the word “me” is used in both, and that the letter from the Hollywood location is signed by the one owner.

        1. I find it interesting the Crays bothered to come on here to defend their letter but not to offer support for lesbian and gay families. Just sayin’.

          1. I have to go back to the contractual issue here. We don’t know what their operating agreements say, and it is quite likely that those agreements indirectly address public statements concerning the LGBT communities. I am not saying that is right, or that I support it, but in situations like this, the agreements are often non-negotiable for the boilerplate language provided by the party with more power. For someone (or a family), that is interested in pursuing owning a CFA as a livelihood, and who probably never anticipated that such bold statements would be made by corporate, I would imagine that this provision seemed fairly innocuous, and likely was worded to the extent that no operator can issue public statements that do not support the goals and beliefs of the CFA organization. This would be broadly interpreted to include many things, and with a lack of defined terms, can really be read to control most anything. Hence the need to have this statement blessed by corporate legal.
            I respect everyone’s choices (both lifestyle and eating). But I hesitate to jump on the Crays here for not doing more. Quite simply, I would bet they could lose their business if they did more. Think about what you are willing to stand up for if it means losing your job in a down economy. Tough decision, but many organizations (federal government included) prohibit what employees can say, do and support in terms of politically-charged issues.

    1. Wow, if one believed in a God who directly interceded in human events, this would be a very strong message……

      1. Sorry – me again. That’s the larger point I was trying to make about over the top response this news item is getting. If, like, small town gal, individuals simply choose to not patronize CFA out of conscience, that’s one thing.
        But mass boycotts, idiot politicians, and celebrities loudly weighing in, will have the opposite effect of consolidating opposition. That sets back the cause. Just my 2 cents.

        1. If standing up to be counted on this issue will set back the cause, then what will advance it?

        2. What is a mass boycott but a collective of individuals acting as their consciences dictate?

          Islamists kill for their religion and Christians are good people? You like a broad brush, eh GBuck?

  43. This entire episode will only serve to accelerate the inevitable moment that a c-level boss at CFA is busted for soliciting a male prostitute, swears he’s not gay and attends a special healing retreat.

  44. All of these responses guide us to what should be a fairly obvious understanding. Individuals, people, groups, just life is not monolithic. When B Life is complex. I have decided not to eat Chik fila because at the end of the day money to support their corporate beliefs are highly offensive to me. I do not hate or dislike people who decide to do otherwise.

    Any business whose funds go to support any groups who have made statements like, “all homosexuals should receive capital punishment” will not receive my business. Again, if you choose to do so, I don’t hate you.

  45. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Evelyn Beatrice Hall/often attributed to Voltaire.)

  46. Who said “all homosexuals should receive capital punishment”? I Googled the quote and found it attributed to Muslims in the U.K. and the Ugandan Parliament (and that whackadoodle pastor in Kansas).

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