The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Why Chick-fil-A cannot be a company founded on Biblical principle; after all, they serve chicken.

I am a baptized Christian in the American Baptist Church. But I am also a critical thinker. Many people call today “free speech day.” Many others think this is a day to support Chick-fil-A. Even more others think that today is a day when Christians clearly show their homophobia by buying a chicken sandwich. It’s none of these things. It’s a day to recognize the dangers of using Biblical literalism to justify your beliefs.

The purpose of this post is not to alienate my religious friends or encourage my non-religious friends. You’re both reading it wrong if you read it that way, so stop now. The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that free speech is a two-way street. The mayors of U.S. cities have no legal right to bar a restaurant from opening there just because they disagree with what the company president says. However, I as a citizen have no obligation to respect the statements of a public figure leading a private company and my power in a capitalist system is to withhold my dollar and call out hypocrisy when I see it.  I’ll accept neither the mis-interpretation of the Bible (as a Christian) nor the mis-use of logic and reason (as a scientist and a thinker).

Since COO and company president Dan Cathy says that Chick-fil-A is a company run on “biblical principles,” let’s see just how committed he is. Mr. Cathy has a right to free speech. So do all critical thinkers. One key thing critical thinkers do is spot and call out logical fallacies. Mr. Cathy is, like many who draw bigotry from a Holy text, using the logical fallacy of “cherry picking” to choose the directives of God that make their argument while dismissing those that make their lives inconvenient or their business expensive. If Mr. Cathy is to use the Bible to guide his argument that homosexuals have no right to marriage, even one recognized purely by the State, then he also needs to accept the reality of Biblical principles that dictate other aspects of his business. After all, presumably based on the anti-gay Biblical principles laid out in Leviticus,  Chick-fil-A donated $2M in 2010 alone to anti-LGBT organizations, while only providing $1.5M for educational scholarship money to its own employees.

So, let’s cast aside the cherry picking and consider the one fundamental violation of Biblical principle that allows Chick-fil-A to operate as a company AT ALL:

  1. Chick-fil-A shouldn’t even be serving chicken – they should be serving hamburgers. After all, Leviticus 11:3 states [1] clearly that “you may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud” but forbids any other land animal. Is a chicken a land animal?  Yes. That’s thanks to breeding – Natural Selection applied by humans [3]. The chicken is descended from the Red Junglefowl, which is capable of short bursts of flight. Humans, however, have genetically crafted  the modern chicken to be unable to fly (its body weight and proportion is designed to be rich in meat but makes even short duration flights to high places very unlikely).

    Oops! Too bad for Chick-fil-A. If they are truly founded on Biblical principles, they must abandon serving animals that have no cloven hoof and do not chew the cud.  EAT MORE COW AND LESS CHIKIN, according to the Bible.

It’s fine to pontificate that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry – that’s your right to free speech. It’s my right to call out the fallacies of your speech – that’s my free speech. When you justify your bigotry with Biblical principle, you open yourself to scrutiny. Are you consistent in your application of Biblical principle?
Dan Cathy’s company is not operating on Biblical principles. If it were, it would serve hamburgers and not chicken sandwiches. But it isn’t doing that, so it’s in clear violation of the commandments found in Leviticus – the same book of the Bible cited by fundamentalist Christians to justify bigotry against the LGBT community.  Double “oops.”
I don’t have a high tolerance for bigotry. I don’t have a high tolerance for mis-use of religion. I don’t have a high tolerance for mis-use of logic and reason. So you can imagine why this particular situation is about more than a chicken sandwich or some guy’s free speech. It’s about a public figure who sets themselves up as better than other people because they use Biblical principles to run a company, and how their bad logic and poor reading is then used to justify bigotry.