The truth behind the Chick-fil-A voteBookmark this
How do believers in Christ respond going forward?
May 1, 2019
In our thriving business community, Christian business owners and our Christian community are sitting up and watching the events of the past few weeks with concerns they’ve not felt before.
For the first time in San Antonio, Christian business owners are asking: am I next? The controversial vote to disallow Chick-fil-A into our airport is bringing uncertainty to our business leaders and to Christians across our community, because San Antonio City Council’s reasoning process causes us all to question our freedoms.
With the National Day of Prayer coming up on May 2 and election day decisions on May 4, our team at The Beacon would like to equip you with a spiritual perspective on what took place, the far reaching implications and the Christian response needed to turn the tide.
Before we look at the events over the past several weeks, it is important to understand that this is a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our response, therefore, should also be spiritual (more on this later).
Let’s take a quick flight over the series of events set in motion by the Chick-fil-A decision to better understand the importance and consequences of this decision:
March 21, 2019: Roberto C. Treviño, City Councilman District 1, recommends dropping Chick fil-A restaurant from the airport plan at the last minute of the vetting process. Read and watch the City Council Meeting (see video at the 3:54:18). “The heart of the LGBTQ community is in District 1,” he said, “and the community has come together to voice its disapproval of this proposal because it includes a company with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. The work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion should not be undone so easily, which is why I cannot support the staff recommendation today. Perhaps the office of equality and inclusion should be involved in the vetting of economic deals to ensure they align with our core values as a city.” Votes were 6-4 in agreement. Chick-fil-A is banned from the San Antonio Airport.
March 22 to current time: Mike Sharrow, CEO of the C12 group, a national organization equipping Christian business owners, converses with multiple Christian business owners in the bidding process for city contracts. “They all have the same question,” says Mike: “‘Is my business next up for discrimination by city council?’”
March 23, 2019: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweets: “The details of this story are even worse.”
March 26, 2019: Mike Sharrow with C12 invites all city council members to attend a breakfast to begin a dialogue. Two accept the offer. In addition, pastors and spiritual leaders from across the city attend. Those in attendance learn the true nature of Chick-fil-A’s positive and welcoming culture.
March 28, 2019: Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, writes a letter to Elaine Chao, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, requesting that she open an investigation into San Antonio’s potential breach of federal law and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulations prohibiting religious discrimination by federal grant recipients. AG Paxton also sends a copy to Mayor Nirenberg.
March 28, 2019: Also, on this date, Buffalo, New York follows San Antonio City Council’s example and says no Chick-fil-A for their airport. Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D) “applauds the decision that has been made to remove Chick-fil-A from the plans.” Read here.
April 6, 2019: San Jose, California residents echo sentiments of San Antonio’s controversy in their local news; leaders of the LGTBQ community protest the construction of a new Chick-fil-A set to open mid-May at San Jose International Airport. Read the story. Former County Supervisor Ken Yeager says he’d like to see rainbow and transgender flags posted near the restaurant “as a counter-signal to the discrimination supported by Chick-fil-A.”
April 11, 2019: Councilman Greg Brockhouse’s (D6) attempt to reconsider the decision to remove
Chick-fil-A loses in a close vote. Although fifty pastors and business leaders attend this meeting to voice their opinion prior to a vote, procedural rules prevent them from public comment. Among them were Attorney Ryan Tucker, Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (see below for his comments); Pastor Ed Newton, Community Bible Church; Pastor Charles Flowers, Faith Outreach International; Pastor John Hagee, Cornerstone Church and Mike Sharrow of C-12.
April 11, 2019: On this same day, AG Ken Paxton sends a second letter to the mayor and council members for the city of San Antonio. This time he requests “public records revealing communications between councilmembers, city employees and third parties that discuss the inclusion or exclusion of Chick-fil-A in the concessionaire contract for the airport,” and some specific internal communications as well.
April 17, 2019: Pastor Charles Flowers and many other pastors join Senators Ted Cruz and Donna Campbell at the capitol to discuss the recent events.
April 30, 2019: Last day of early voting.
May 2, 2019: National Day of Prayer.
May 4, 2019: Election Day for the mayoral race and council seats. Voter guide here.
So — is Chick-fil-A anti-LGBTQ according to the accusations made?
Chick-fil-A’s current CEO, Dan Cathy, made some bold statements about the company’s support of one-man, one-woman marriage in 2012. The company currently contributes to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Salvation Army (among other nonprofits). Salvation Army and FCA have a significant presence in San Antonio. According to Mike Sharrow, Chick-fil-A has never discriminated against people based on their sexual orientation. “In fact,” says Mike (mentioned in the March 22 and 26 events, above), “after the tragic shooting at Pulse, an LGBTQ-associated nightclub in Orlando, Chick-fil-A broke with longstanding company tradition and opened on Sunday Chick-fil-A Donates Food in Wake of Orlando Shooting to provide food to people waiting to donate blood.” As with any business, Chick-fil-A is required to follow the law, and therefore never hires staff based on their political beliefs, race, gender and religious beliefs.
“We do not have a political or social agenda, and our corporate office and 2,300 plus restaurants nationwide employ more than 120,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs," says a Chick-fil-A spokesman. Read story
Regardless of Chick-fil-A’s benefits to a community the issue remains: that a restaurant was banned from city property because of the religious beliefs held by its leadership and the donations made to charities it supports.
What are the implications of this decision?
Ryan Tucker, Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building, legal nonprofit, has seen his organization secure scores of First Amendment victories across the country. One recent and well-known example involved Jack Phillips, the cake artist who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. Citing similarities between that case and the recent debate over the airport concession contract, Tucker stated that “when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Jack last year it found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the Free Exercise Clause because it was hostile to his sincerely-held beliefs. And that’s exactly what’s happening here in San Antonio.” He continued, saying “this is something that should be concerning for every San Antonio business and quite frankly everyone in the city. Because today it’s one belief or point of view. Tomorrow it’s another. Which company are they going to target next?”
Tucker flew all the way from the west coast to his hometown of San Antonio to address the city council on April 11, when the motion for a re-vote on the city’s airport concession contract was taken. He was prepared to provide a statement, but the council refused to hear public comment on the matter — an issue that is much broader than a thumbs-down to chicken sandwiches at the San Antonio airport. Had he been given the opportunity, Tucker said, he would have expressed the magnitude of the Chick-fil-a rejection. “Not only has this council evidenced a clear hostility toward religious beliefs,” he said, but “the council’s actions were in violation of the Constitution on several grounds.” Tucker commented that “the government may not expel people from the marketplace because of their speech, their beliefs, or the folks they associate with. In banishing a business because of the religious beliefs or the speech or association of those who run it, the city council is declaring that some beliefs and some speech are more deserving than others.” What’s shocking, Tucker suggested, was that “what the city said is that in order to do business in this town, you must comport with the city’s views or go elsewhere.”
What is our Christian response?
The Word of God must guide us. Since this is first and foremost a spiritual battle, it must be fought with spiritual weapons. In fact, 2 Corinthians 10: 4 and 5 admonishes us in saying, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
What are these divine weapons? There are many, but we would like to point out three in particular. Love, prayer and faith. These weapons are supernatural. They are Holy Spirit driven. They are powerful.
LOVE. What do we gain by complaining, criticizing, growing impatient and angry? It’s evident that our country’s religious freedoms are threatened, so the disregard for law in and of itself is not something to treasure or hold dear. The people involved are eternal. Jesus saved Paul when he was throwing rocks at Christians. And Paul never forgot that. Love generates empathy which creates a deeper well of patience. Love should guide us towards dialogue and debate (speaking the truth in love). Books like Jackie Hill Perry’s Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been or articles like this one from World Magazine are eye-opening.
PRAYER. For one, Scripture invites us to pray at every turn, and specifically for our leaders. In I Timothy 2:2 and 3, Paul urges that prayers and intercession be made for “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quite lives.” Paul goes on to say, “This is good, and pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of truth.” Just think — who knows whether your prayers, or the prayers said by your five-year-old, will bring an influential leader to faith in Christ? Pray for our current and future council members to seek out and stand for truth (Jesus said, “I am the truth”). Prayer seeds the heavenlies and destroys demonic principalities and powers. If you have been praying, keep it up! If not, join the multitude that are praying now across our city. We encourage you to seek out your pastor to establish a prayer event prior to the election. Watch sabeacon.com for prayer events like The National Day of Prayer.
For another, your prayers can turn the tide of events! Tucker remembers well the spiritual battles alongside Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado last summer. With a sigh that seems to re-live the relief of the win, he says, “You know, we were very aware of the prayers that had been lifted up for Jack and for the team.” When asked if he had any encouragement for those who share his hometown in San Antonio, he says, “I think we need to be in prayer for all of our elected officials whether we voted for those individuals or not. They are there for a reason.”
FAITH. Trust this did not catch God off guard. He is aware of what is taking place and actively involved in our affairs. Faith also requires action (see James 2:26). Take action to educate yourself on each candidate’s worldview. Is it a biblical worldview? Voting guides, giving endorsements and voter location guides like the one published by Texas Leadership Institute for Public Advocacy can help. THEN TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE. Heading to the ballot box is an act of faith. We must make time to register and vote. Together, let’s set a record for Christian turnout in this year’s election.
Under the Constitution, U.S., citizens have a privilege and responsibility to make their voice heard.
You can change the course of history.
You have the awesome opportunity in the coming days to literally change the course of history in San Antonio. Let that sink it for just a minute. We can no longer remain too comfortable and sitting on the sidelines. Each of us must take a stand for righteousness and justice. This may well be the spark that is needed to see revival in our city and across our nation. Take your stand using the spiritual weapons granted us. Love, prayer and faith are at your disposal. Grab them and hold on tight! Come on San Antonio, let each one of us Be A Light!
SPECIAL NOTE: The Beacon magazine will be providing a follow up story in our June Issue covering the outcome of the election and needed next steps. Please visit sabeacon.com for more information and to see a copy of our June Issue. It will be available the last week of May.
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