Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Chick-fil-gay

So… Chick-fil-A is anti-gay because something traditional Bible marriage (which I assume translates to: ewww boys holding hands is gross to my penis and that’s what’s important.)

This isn’t really news. At least I thought it wasn’t. I’ve never even eaten at a Chick-fil-A, or even lived near one until recently, and I knew about the WinShape Foundation and their love for ending the gays via charity. But now everyone knows.

And gay allies are boycotting Chick-fil-a. And conservatives are all fuck the obesity epidemic! Eat ALL the fried chicken! Because CHRISTIAN NATION!

What’s interesting to me, is that there’s been very little mention (that I’ve seen) about the charities, and a lot of focus on homophobic statements made by CFA’s president.

Which makes me wonder—how often do we concern ourselves with the privately held (even if not-so-privately-stated) beliefs of business owners?

Is it reasonable to avoid giving money to businesses for having owners, spokespeople, employees who disagree with your own beliefs? Do we have an ethical obligation to boycott businesses that hold such ideologies? Do you care at all as long as the money you are giving to the company isn’t directly used to promote their agendas? What are your consumer deal-breakers? Would you rather eat at Chick-fil-A or Pollos Hermanos?


The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Los Pollos Hermanos…is that a real restaurant or just a Breaking Bad reference? :-)

    1. I think the take away is that chicken chains are terrible. They either pray you ungay or they establish meth empires. Either way, maybe just order a pizza.

    2. If I remember correctly, it was strongly implied on the show that the “hermanos” were more than just brothers.

  2. I think we should spend a whole lot more attention to what’s being done with profits we’re contributing to. Capitalism means some people can end up with a lot of power on their hands and either use that to make more money, and more power, or do things we don’t like, and we should pay attention and don’t give them more if we can help it.
    But when most people with lots of money aren’t doing anything particularly offensive it becomes a bit of a drag to go to much effort to find out who not to “support”.

  3. It’s reasonable to avoid any interaction with businesses who support views antithetical to your own, though it may not always be practical to do so. And just because it’s reasonable doesn’t mean one will actually do so. People are lazy. “Give me convenience or give me death.”

    From an ethical standpoint it’s more complicated. Your own personal ethics may demand that you boycott business x, your neighbor who feels the same as you may have other factors to consider that preclude their ability to do so. Which is a long winded way of saying don’t bully others into acting based on your ethics.

    I care where my money goes and who it supports. I’m not particularly enamored of either Target or Wal-Mart but there are times I need things that I can only reasonably get from one of them. I try to shop with small local businesses as best I can and I know the owners and know they have a social policy outlook that is closely (though perhaps not entirely; I’m pretty far left) aligned with my own.

  4. “Is it reasonable to avoid giving money to businesses for having owners, spokespeople, employees who disagree with your own beliefs?”

    It depends. If it’s an employee, I’d rather just avoid them, but everyone needs to work. Owners or corporate officers, on the other hand, are a different story. They aren’t taking their salary and using it for personal uses (which I’m all for, even if I disagree with them), but they are using the company as a whole’s income. That means it’s not their personal speech, but the company’s, and I will not participate in that.

    It also depends on how much power they have. A racist waiter at a fairly progressive company isn’t that big of a deal. The low-income person may get a tip and a salary, but it’ isn’t related to my patronage too closely, and they are unlikely to have much affect themselves anyway.

    A corporate executive bringing millions of dollars from salary and stock options to bear on a policy issue that affects me directly, however, is a bigger thing and deserves a response.

    “Do we have an ethical obligation to boycott businesses that hold such ideologies?”

    Yes. How is buying a chicken sandwich different from donating to NPR for a T-Shirt? Either way you’re getting something worth a bit less than the money you’ve parted with, so that the organization selling whatever-it-is can do something with that money. You are supporting their political agenda.

    “Do you care at all as long as the money you are giving to the company isn’t directly used to promote their agendas?”

    It depends on how directly, and how much influence it has.

  5. As far as me and my wallet are concerned, I really don’t care what the owner or board of a company believe. If I tried to boycott the stupid out of companies, I’d spend a lot of time alone with my unusable money. I do however feel that when a company acts on their beliefs that I disagree with, that I wouldn’t feel right knowing that an (admittedly economically insignificant) amount of my money was going towards actively trying to make the world a worse place. But, one person not spending three bucks on a chicken sandwich is not going to make that much of a real difference. To make sure that my economic boycott doesn’t get lost int he noise of a very complex industry, I try to find time to let companies I will actively avoid doing business with an email to their PR department. I usually never hear back, but someone somewhere has to register that they have a policy that is hurting their bottom line, at least a little bit, this way.

    1. But, one person not spending three bucks on a chicken sandwich is not going to make that much of a real difference.

      What about thousands of people or tens of thousands of people?

      Also, the LGBT community has spending power of nearly $800 billion dollars. This doesn’t even include the spending power of our allies. It’s not exactly a smart business decisions to piss off our demographic if you’re a business owner.

      Will this bring down CFA? Probably not. But you see the kinds of business partnerships they’re losing over it. It’s certainly not helping their business.

      1. Poor phrasing on my part. In aggregate, yes, boycotts and divestment campaigns are particularly effective in changing outward behavior, if not the underlying beliefs. But some of the companies that I choose not to do business with do not have a large,organized effort to financially punish them for poor corporate behavior. And in those instances, I think making me reasoning known to company in question is important.

    2. Personally, I don’t like the idea of any of my money, even in insignificant amounts, being used to persecute my own.

  6. I will avoid doing business with a company when the company itself or it’s majority shareholders (so, those who make a profit from the company, rather than simply getting paid by the company, if you follow me) support causes that I find troubling. In this case, I had never bothered with Chick-fil-A before, and I have known for a few years that the owners have the views they do, so even when I moved into places where it was convenient to buy from them, I didn’t.

    Now, if it simply an employee of the company (someone who is paid hourly or draws a salary) who holds views with which I disagree, as long as they are not using the company as a tool to advance those views, I don’t worry about it. Yes, in a way, I am paying them by paying the organization that pays them, but by the same token, I use the money I am paid by my employer to advance causes that some other people would find bothersome, but I would be bothered if they felt inclined to not pay my employer because of my own personal views.

  7. I never buy at shops that I know have a religious owner. If possible I buy at shops that sponsor my footbal (soccer) club. Most of these shops are family businesses with a long affiliation with my traditionally working class club.
    I would never buy at a business that was anti-gay and I would encourage others to do the same.
    We do have an obligation to boycott businesses that hold despicable views.

    1. Ugh. I try to buy local even if it is a few bucks more, and unfortunately local here = Godiot.

      As long as they aren’t funding hate groups (“pray the gay away!”) then I won’t automatically boycott them.

      Hate the belief, not the believer, and many of them are nice folk who happen to have stupid, destructive beliefs. Maybe they can’t help it; they were brainwashed as kids and never learned to think for themselves.

  8. The beauty of the society we live in is that we have so much choice (certainly for fast food) that itr’s not a binary choice. However the question of Chick-Fil-A vs. Los Pollos Hermanos is easy. Meth heads will always want meth. Money given to Pollos directly supports criminals. Money given to ignorant homophobes is, at best, a delaying tactic. History is not on their side – we become more tolerant, more inclusive over time. By all means, we must keep fighting the good fight, but history will will not look kindly on this particular kind of petty, small minded hatred.

  9. I never liked Chik- fil-a in the 1st place so a boycott has no bearing on me. The only one near me is at the University of Minnesota and I predict this will severely crimp their sales there.

    I pay attention to the donations companies make. I just found out that Menard’s donated at least $1 million to the Koch Bros. I will never shop there again.

    1. I was unaware there was a Chick-fil-a in Minnesota. Now my choice not to eat there actually holds meaning.

  10. I guess if they aren’t using the money I spend to further their agenda, I wouldn’t mind spending money at a place just because we differ politically. The thing is that you might not ever know exactly what they do with it.

    Even them putting a couple dollars in the collection plate at church would be something I don’t want money going towards. Technically, I wouldn’t be able to buy anything anywhere if I went by that logic, because lots of people are Christians and probably use some of the money they earn on Christiany things.

    The big problem is that they donate the money to impede our progress, and that is a real problem. I don’t really mind them holding the views that they have, because in the end, an opinion is an opinion and nothing more. Taking political action against a minority is unacceptable.

    I’m glad I’ve never eaten at a Chick-fil-A.

  11. I began boycotting Chick-fil-A during my clerkships in med school- they were the only place in the hospital open after midnight so they were clutch when I was on call. The only problem was that they closed at midnight on Saturday for the Lord’s day. At midnight on the dot they would roll out a preachy sign about being closed on Sundays. I found it especially annoying since there I was working on a Sunday. It’s not like we want to work weekends- people need us to. Anyway, the sign made me read up on them, and I never ate there again.

  12. We hardly ever do fast food, but I’ve got to say that CFA, at least the one near us, is really clean. There seems to be less of a haze of vaporized grease. We’ve not gotten the kids’ meals because they include religious propaganda, and until now I’ve managed to ignore their hateful politics because of the seductive convenience.

    On the positive side, they’ve created another staunch LGBT ally in my 8 yr old son. He was so disgusted when I explained their bigotry that he doesn’t even want to go one last time to spend the $10 gift card his teacher have him last school year. I’ve explained that the company already has the $10, but he’s having none of it.

  13. Fuck Chick-Fil-A. One of Chicago’s alderman is in the process of telling them to denying their permit to build in our Logan Square neighborhood.

    I hope as many municipalities deny them market entrance as possible. This christian-white-man-rules-the-world hegemony needs to continue crumbling…

    1. Municipalities can’t use their powers like that. First Amendment says that the government can’t punish you for speech, even if it’s racist or bigoted.

      However, building new locations and having them fail costs a lot of money. Let them open locations and let their crap views chase away their business.

  14. It’s not an obligation, it’s a choice. Anyone can buy anything. That’s why we’re so screwed. That’s why we’re all going to drown, die of starvation or be swept away by a fucking dechero in the next ten years.

    Go ahead, eat that chicken that was probably raised in a battery cage. Ignore their social policies. If this restaurant doesn’t cause you hair-raising nightmares, the policies of some other chain will.

    Notice the sprawling development and parking lot at Chick-Fil-A? That’s where a forest, healthy soil or waterways used to be. Don’t bother thinking about discrimination while you’re trying to chow down on fast food and big gulp in your styrofoam cup.

    Enjoy the storms, everyone!

  15. Yikes, at eight months pregnant all the talk about Chick fil a is making me crave it hard core! Though I’m staying strong and not giving in.

  16. The first time I ever heard of Chick-fil-A was when I proofread a press release for them. My coworkers laughed at me when I pronounced it “chickfilla”. Never ate at one, likely never will. At least Target had the PR sense to look uncomfortable when they were called out.

    As Los Pollos Hermanos showed us, it’s improbable that we’ll be able to even KNOW all of the things our consumer dollars go to help fund, however, brazenness certainly speaks less highly of an organization.

    Also, I guess Mike Huckabee is taking a break from his diet to promote bigotry. That’s nice.

  17. Elyse,

    I’m really glad people are boycotting Chick Fil A. I’m also really glad I never ate there now, so I won’t be tempted to eat there now.

    1. Thanks for the link, but since either, 1) the included food chains are not in my area, or 2) their food is such horrible crap I would “boycott” on the basis of quality, I don’t need to worry about them. Carl’s Junior is a west-coast thing, right? I’ve heard vaguely of them, but being pretty solidly mid-Atlantic east-cost have not seen any.
      Domino’s on the other hand… ugh.

    2. Mrmisconception

      I’ve eaten at Carl’s Jr. many times so when I saw it on the list I was a little worried, however, when I read what they wrote about, I noticed something. Everything was in past tense, and founder was not even alive anymore,

      Carl’s Jr. founder Carl Karcher, who died in 2008, had been a supporter of anti-abortion causes for decades. In particular, Karcher was fond of funding the anti-choice group Operation Rescue. He also had a mean anti-gay streak as well. From the AP story that followed his death:

      He was reviled by abortion rights activists for his contributions to anti-abortion groups and his oft-repeated story about talking a Carl’s Jr. employee out of an abortion. Gay rights groups dubbed his hamburgers “bigot burgers” after Karcher supported a 1978 proposition that would have allowed school boards to fire teachers who were gay or advocated homosexuality.

      What’s the politics of the current restaurant’s biggest share holder like? Based on that, I have no idea. It does make Karcher sound pretty bad through.

      1. I guess you would have to ask Salon that.

        I’m not sure how much more digging I want to do (though I know I will because I’m aware of this now) because I will no longer go to one of my favorite sandwich shops. Seems Jimmy John’s is owned by a right-wing, safari hunting, union-busting douchbag that is taking his headquarters to Florida because Illinois dared to raise taxes.

        I may end up eating at home more, which is good I suppose. I just hate doing dishes.

  18. Is asking whether boycotting a company because of the views of the CEO even the right question in the case of “Chik-fil-A” or whatever capitalization (CFA)? I have been doing my own boycott of CFA for a year or so (to some annoyance to my family) because of the FACT that profits from the company are used to support anti-gay groups (that may affect the outcomes of elections). A company’s CEO can spout off all kinds of stuff and I may or may not decide not to give that company my money, but when a direct link exists between company profits and monetary support for positions that I am morally opposed to (as in the case of CFA), I am just not going to give them even a fraction of a penny of my money.

    I’ve read more than my share of comments on different news outlet blogs by (probably christian) right-wingers decrying the supposed violation of the CFA’s first amendment rights. To what? Not have people disagree with you or act on that?? This is not a first amendment issue. I am free to not give any money to people who I think are jerk-bigots. That is not a violation of their right to free speech. The CFA CEO can put about, in sideways terms, that gay people should not have the same right to marry as the rest of us *and* back that up with donations to political groups supporting that position. I am free to not buy that *****’s mediocre food because he uses some of that money to support his religiously motivated anti-equality causes.

    1. But you see, it is a First Amendment issue once local governments tell businesses they are not allowed to operate in their jurisdictions because they don’t approve of the owners’ political speech and contributions.

  19. People vote with their money, i try to avoid some places because i disagree with their practices. Generally being consumer conscious of what your money helps preserve is very important in my opinion.

    That said, i’m not an American and can’t say that there are cases of places that i should avoid here in Greece as obvious as this case that you described in this article.

    A place that i try to avoid is a huge mall that’s in my city. I do that for various reasons one of the main ones being that it’s the bigger illegally constructed building in Greece. Also, generally i don’t like malls as much as i like small businesses, and this mall is killing small businesses in my area.

    The multiplex cinemas in it play mostly Hollywood bs while there are various lovely little cinemas in the area playing better movies from all around the world.

    The restaurants in it are mostly junk food or/and huge corporate food chains, i prefer little restaurants they’re more cozy, care more for their customers, have better foods.

    etc etc, the whole idea is trading quality for easier access, having all the types of stores one would like to visit in one place etc and i don’t like it.

    Anyway, yeah i would definetely avoid going to a chick-fil-a place if there was such a place here in Greece. I would apreciate a better consumer culture all around the world, a culture so advanced that it allows the person to easily understand what are the practices related with the product that he/she’s getting but for this to ever be achieved people must spend a little bit of their time actually giving a damn about what they’re consuming/buying.

  20. Here in Germany there is an electronics chain that uses what appear to be pornographic robots in its advertising. I find these offensive and will not enter their shops. So if my kids want to go in one I will wait outside.
    But if it was the only shop in town I would have to, I suppose…

  21. I certainly wouldn’t eat at Chik-Fil-A anyway. But if it was a brand I otherwise liked, I’m not so sure.

    I’m a bit uneasy about the whole “good business/bad business” dichotomy that we’re starting to develop. For one thing, even if the CEO of a company has a particular political affiliation, maybe the manager of the local store is on the opposite side, or maybe your waitress at the restaurant with the bigoted owner spends all her free time working at the homeless shelter.

    And from a larger perspective — I’m not sure if I really want to live in a country with a “red” economy and a “blue” economy. We’ve already arrived at that state in the news business, but do we really want that to spread to the rest of the business world as well? Sure, let’s take the “under God” section out of the pledge of allegiance — but do we want to take the “one nation, indivisible” part out as well? What about “united we stand, divided we fall”? Aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be saying that “e pluribus unum” is the nation’s true motto?

    I remember a time when I was growing up (possibly just in my imagination) when it didn’t seem as if political differences automatically created a huge social gulf. I’d like to believe that maybe someday, we could start finding a national consensus again — but that doesn’t seem likely if we’ve split the country up into opposing camps.

    Just some (non-greasy) food for thought.

    1. For one thing, even if the CEO of a company has a particular political affiliation, maybe the manager of the local store is on the opposite side, or maybe your waitress at the restaurant with the bigoted owner spends all her free time working at the homeless shelter.

      Except the CEO and other big-wigs who run the company are the ones sending tons of money to anti-gay organizations.

      Including Exodus, an organization that promotes the EXECUTION of gay people.

      This isn’t just about gay marriage in the US, you know.

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