Forum

Chick-fil-A continues to mix beliefs and business

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The famous fast food chain Chick-fil-A recently donated food to an anti-gay marriage group. The corporate owner, Truett Cathy, was apparently aiming to preserve the restaurant’s “Christian DNA.” Last time I checked, restaurants were not subdivisions of religious entities. Not only is this a horrendously poor business model by ostracizing a significant percentage of Americans, it is also incredibly offensive.

Chick-fil-A’s decision to promote Christian values has created a lot of controversy with human rights activists, who are unsurprisingly fighting back. According to a CNN news blog, the Human Rights Campaign, a major gay-rights group, began a letter-writing campaign, and Indiana University South Bend temporarily closed down a Chick-fil-A service in its campus dining facilities.

The public’s reaction resulted in Cathy making a written statement of apology. “In recent weeks, we have been accused of being anti-gay,” Cathy said last Saturday. “We have no agenda against anyone.... While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees.” Cathy also posted a video on the chain’s Facebook page in an attempt to mitigate the spur of resentment the donation caused. Neither apology changed the public’s general sentiment.

Even beyond donating to an anti-gay organization, Chick-fil-A’s incorporation of its “Christian DNA” business model hinders success to a significant degree. Not only does its corporate purpose aim “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” but all of its locations are closed on Sundays. Sunday is a vital day for generating business and making profit. If the restaurant wishes to grow and expand, as a normal business would, it is ridiculous to cut off such a large group of potential clientele. By de-secularizing, the business can only cater to a small portion of Americans, an utterly backward economical plan.

According to Lake Lambert, author of the book Spirituality Inc., “If you have a faith-based corporate identity and you want to function in the national marketplace, you’re going to continue to encounter resistance to those values because not everybody is going to share them....The only other option is some sort of secular identity, and that’s not where Chick-fil-A is going.” Owners can’t possibly expect to increase their revenue with such a strategy; catering to the few will not result in success.

It is understandable to want to inspire good values throughout a corporation, especially in a family-based restaurant. However, mixing personal beliefs with business etiquette is never a good idea. Building a successful business requires owners to take a neutral stance on controversial topics; otherwise severe backlash from the public will be the norm and will eventually result in an economic downfall. It would be wisest for Chick-fil-A to separate its beliefs from its business.