George Carlin once said, "I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to." People in groups do some really detestable things and as Americans in 2012, we have to ask ourselves has any organized group of people done anything socially valuable in the past 30 years in our country? I think we'll each be shocked at the answer once we cogitate the question.
The whole Chick-Fil-A / same-sex marriage debacle is important for three reasons:
- It demonstrates exactly why corporations should never take a side in a religious or political lifestyle public debate.
- The media exposure is escalating Same-Sex legal rights to the level of Civil Rights.
- It shows how dangerous and desperate Christians can become when they no longer hold the moral high ground.
#1: Corporations Should Never Take a Side in a Religious or Political Debate
Here I am speaking about the corporate entity of Chick-Fil-A having donated millions of dollars to anti-same sex causes (Snopes) combined with the CEO's public denouncement of same-sex marriage during a broadcast interview.
Now why in the world would you divide your customer base over something that has no arbitrary value to fried chicken, french fries or milkshakes? Sure, it lead to a single day's boost in protest revenue but the long term effects of this are going to stifle the company's growth forever. They will never be what they could have become had they operated in silence, letting the donations of individual contributors from their company support the causes they each believe in.
#2: Same-Sex Legal Rights Are Quickly Escalating to Become Civil Rights
This happens with media exposure, public discourse and successfully executed protests. We all know the images of southern black crowds marching on Selma while police officers with fire hoses blasting and police dogs attacking the non-violent protestors as they carried signs demanding social justice. Powerful stuff. Today this can happen with a well constructed 60 second YouTube clip.
If you concede that the words in the Declaration of Independence are true, "That all men [meaning human beings to me] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."--then you must be in support of same-sex legal rights. I believe this is the greatest sentence ever written in human language because it actually says that the pursuit of happiness is a right imbued upon us by birth. Now, saying it doesn't make it true--we as a civilization, as individuals, have to bring truth to that statement and we do so through our behavior every day. And part of that behavior is recognizing that consenting adults who wish to make a public and legal commitment to each other out of love is the very definition of pursuit of happiness and the battleground on which the next level of civil rights for all human beings must be fought and won.
#3: Christians Become Dangerous When They No Longer Hold the Moral High Ground
Christians are great people. Until they're not. This is generally the moment when they stop listening to what Jesus actually said and start listening to what their churches, pastors, priests, congregations and their Bible said thousands of years ago when it was just fine to stone people to death when they worked on the Sabbath and many other vicious penalties for what seem today to be completely arbitrary and ridiculous offenses.
I think back to when I went to Sunday School as a child and i don't remember anything being said about Jesus only loving the little boys who loved little girls and the little girls who loved little boys. Jesus loved ALL the children. See you couldn't sell Jesus to children if he was exclusionary; if he hated certain people and loved only the holy few. The world had seen all that before and the message of inclusion which Jesus taught was something new, special; it still is. Jesus was a revolutionary. He was a rebel. He was a radical. His teachings were so controversial and anti-establishment that every institution founded upon them eventually crumbles under the weight of their own self-righteousness. I believe this is because only individuals can be righteous, and that institutions are inherently corrupt or at least corruptible, always susceptible to outside influence and degradation. Enter the firehoses, the dogs, the systemic molestation of little children, the political corruption and yes the organized and glutenous lines of humanity, their bodies filled with saturated fat, salt, sugar, their minds and spirits handicapped by ignorance or outright hatred.
I propose that Christians briefly put aside their churches, their congregations, their pastors and priests and throw the Old Testament to the side for a few minutes and consider what Jesus taught in the New Testament. Go ahead, he didn't say much and it won't take long. Just run through the parables and Sermon on the Mount, all that good stuff. Now, picture yourself asking Jesus if he believes you should hate and conspire against another human being because of who they willingly chose to love and spend their lives with--what do you think Jesus would say? What would he do? I think the answer should make most Christians ashamed of the way they have been acting, the way Hazel Massery (the shouting woman in the famous Little Rock 9 photo) felt ashamed of herself years later--because she grew to understand that it was morally reprehensible.
America has always been great when it followed the path of inclusion and has always been a disaster when it fell to the level of exclusion and history is going to have the final say on both Chik-Fil-A and same-sex marriage. We as individuals have daily choices to make in our attitudes and behaviors as to whether these stories are going to be triumphs of humanity or footnotes of failure.