Does Chick-Fil-A’s Leader Have Civil Rights?

August 2, 2012

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Do Christians Have Civil Rights?

Civil rights is a phrase whose origin can be traced back to the early 1700’s. The concept of individual civil rights can be traced back to England’s bill of rights in the 1600’s. Civil rights concept is almost perfectly interchangeable with constitutional rights. Constitutional rights typically refer to all of a US citizen’s rights protected by the US Constitution. Civil rights include constitutional rights while specifically referring to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and plethora of anti-discrimination laws. Civil rights are enforceable laws protecting rights and privileges of individuals in a group.

Do Christians have civil rights? I think we can all agree that Christians are a group. I think we can all agree the First Amendment prevents limiting the free exercise of religion. Constitutional rights certainly protect Christians and other religions. This still leaves it a little murky as to whether Christians has civil rights. When we look at the most famous civil rights legislation in the 20th century, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, we have our answer. This civil rights act (there were plenty more before this one) protects “all individuals”. In addition Title II, III, IV, and most of the eleven titles place religion as a protected class right along with race. Christians and other religious people without a doubt have as many civil rights as other groups.

What is religious discrimination? Religious discrimination is the unfavorable treatment or different treatment of an individual because of the individual’s religious beliefs. This includes sincerely held religious and moral beliefs. For example, if a Christian owned a business and was denied zoning, building permit or anything else that was needed to participate in the economy solely based on their religious belief is discrimination. It is a violation of their civil rights.

Let us consider other groups in the same situation. Imagine Mayor Thomas Manino, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, alderman Joe Mareno, or city councilwoman Christine Quinn opposed an establishment of business based solely on their race! Instead imagine those same people opposing female business owners. It would be a crime and equally so if discrimination was based on religion.

If you’re still not convinced then consider President Obama’s position on civil rights as stated on his webpage.

“…He knows that our country grows stronger when all Americans have access to opportunity and are able to participate fully in our economy…” [emphasis added]

The religious discrimination in our nation seems to steadily increase. A couple of high profile incidents come to mind. In 2008 McCain – Palin lost the election yet Gov. Palin’s church was set on fire. In 2010 the Cross in the Mohave Desert dedicated to WWII vets was stolen. Now most recently officials in Chicago, Boston, and NY have intimidated and threatened Chick-Fil-A because of the religious and moral beliefs of the franchise owners. President Obama should be appalled. Attorney General Holder should be investigating. The Civil Rights Commission should launch a parallel investigation.

The franchise owners and private owners of Chick-Fil-A restaurants have had their civil rights violated. You won’t find the Rainbow Coalition protesting. The Black Panthers don’t have a $10k bounty on anyone. What is going on is a peaceful expression of support for free speech and civil rights by being a patron of the Chick-Fil-A. This is powerful movement that any civil rights leader could envy. I’m feeling like chicken.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 09:06:46

    While I disagree with Cathy’s stance on gay marriage, I do feel that he should have the right to say it.

    Now, if Chick-Fil-A employees were actively discriminating against gays, that would be different.


  2. The Angry Squirrel
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 09:28:30

    Well all I have to say is the whole thing is the the pot calling the kettle black. Conservatives on a weekly basis have something new that irks them and call for and a boycott on something or someone and as evidenced by the droves of people line for hours for a crappy fast food meal. they are good little sheep following their marching orders As far as the cities saying they dont want them in their community it is that local governments choice. places deny businesses ability to set up shop all the time for differe nt reasons. an example would be walmart. and as far as the whole thing goes it was silly to me to arguement that only what we believe is correct so if you take up against that and disagree with us then our ri.ghts are being takenay it is freedom of speech for all, not just those who agree with you. they have their right to say their piece and boycott you and you have your right to eat mor chikn in solidarity to show your love of their organization or the radio host that told you to go there.


  3. Martin Kelly
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 21:57:40

    Angry I agree with you on the right of individuals to boycott, but political leaders who are supposed to protect all of their constituents are using their positions to intimidate and coerce. There are no laws being broken by Chick-fil-a or their ownership. An equivalent measure would be if the mayor of Atlanta threatened to ban the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream within the city limits because the owners of that brand have openly declared that reading the Bible is hate speech. That has not happened in over a generation.

    Be careful how often you accuse large groups of getting marching orders from charismatic spokespersons. Those spokespersons get large audiences because large groups of people agree with then, not because the are auto-trons looking for masters. If that were the case, air america would have taken over the airwaves.


  4. Peter Shaw
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 11:16:53

    Angry I like your Walmart example. The thought behind that is that a Walmart would kill small locally owned businesses. In that situation Gov. official’s intent is to protect their constituents and their businesses. Whether or not that actually works is a different debate but I can agree their intent matches their respsponsibilities.

    In the Chic-Fil-A situation what are the gov. officials protecting their constituents from? A sincere religious and moral belief that many of their constituents agree with?!? No, obviously any action these gov. officials take agains Chick-Fil-A based on the excercise of their constitutional right, speech and religion, is a violation of their civil rights.

    It was Mayor Thomas Manino, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, alderman Joe Mareno, and city councilwoman Christine Quinn that persuaded me to go to Chick-Fil-A, Mike Huckabee just gave me the date.

    Thanks for reading my article!


  5. kosmo
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 07:24:05

    “In that situation Gov. official’s intent is to protect their constituents and their businesses. ”

    Actually, the government is trying to protect a subset of constituents – the business owners. Others groups of constituents may be better off having a Wal-Mart in the community. If that’s the case, the government is placing the interests of the business owners ahead of not only Wal-Mart, but those other citizens. “Playing favorites” would be a good phrase to describe it.


  6. Squeaky
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 09:23:29

    Actually, isn’t it usually the liberals that are calling for boycotts and ranting about something?
    This drink is more than 16 ounces, you can’t sell it.
    This happy meal makes kids fat because it has a toy in it.
    The CEO of chik-fil-a doesn’t approve of gay marriage, don’t eat there.
    Don’t stay at Hyatt Hotels because they take advantage of workers.
    Boycott any business that doesn’t show support of collective bargaining rights.
    Don’t drink coke products because they were mean to the unions.
    Don’t shop at Sears because they sell Firestone tires.
    Don’t shop at Walmart because they take advantage of their employees.
    It’s the liberals camped out in the state capitals and parks across the country.

    While there will be some examples of conservatives avoiding or even boycotting some businesses, the comment about a new cause every week is off target.

    I agree with the assertion that governments should not be deterring business because a leader in that business expresses his religious belief to a religious news organization. If that speech were hateful or meant to incite a riot, I would agree with you. However, I do not call stating an opinion on the definition of traditional vs gay marriage hateful. You may disagree, but I don’t. If you do, then until Biden put Obama in the hot seat, Obama was using hateful speech until his opinion evolved. I think calling this hateful is a stretch.


  7. kosmo
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 08:50:35

    Sometimes it’s conservatives setting boxes of “gay” Cheerios on fire with a torch. Just sayin’


  8. Martin Kelly
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 09:31:32

    So I tried to find the original statements from Dan Cathy. Unfortunately, I could not find where the Baptist Press has an on line archive. The closest thing I coiuld find was the Atlanta Journal Constitution article at After reading it, there are plenty of comments from other people, but the quotes from Cathy appear to be reather mundane. He actually takes a bigger hit at divorce than at gay marraige. He states “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” He is also quoted as saying “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” That’s it, no other quotes. This seems to have been a media created event.


  9. kosmo
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 10:18:32

    Here’s the original article from Baptist Press.


  10. Martin Kelly
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 17:45:56

    Thanks Kocmo. So I read the whole article, and the Atlanta paper pulled out two sentences from the last paragarph. I guess I just do not get what got people so excited.


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