Categorized | On Campus, Other

Chick-fil-A gay rights controversy comes to IWU

It was only a matter of time before this debate found its way to Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus. The comments made by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy a few weeks ago about his stance in favor of “the biblical definition of the family unit” have drawn much public criticism. That backlash, in turn, also prompted support for the company from former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

IWU Chick-fil-A

Customers wait in line for Chick-fil-A at the Express location on IWU’s campus for the Aug. 1 “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day.” Sojourn credit/Kourtney Mack

Huckabee created an event on Facebook titled “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day” (his grammar), calling for people to eat at the popular restaurant chain on Aug. 1. The idea received support from fellow former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and the Rev. Billy Graham.

IWU, a private Christian university with a Chick-fil-A Express on its Marion, Ind., campus, seems like an ideal place for this controversy to heat up like a spicy chicken sandwich.

According to Ron McGinly, food service director of Pioneer College Caterers at IWU, around 2,000 people showed up on Wednesday and filled the restaurant.

“We’re very, very impressed,” McGinly said. “It was orderly, it was nice, they didn’t complain about being in line, they were very patient… it’s a wonderful thing.”

Many patrons had to wait more than an hour and a half in line, but a number said it was worth the wait.

Young Chick-fil-A Patron

A young patron gets his chicken sandwich, people of all ages showed up in support of the popular fast-food chain. Sojourn credit/Kourtney Mack

“We waited about an hour,” said Kristin Raikes of Upland, who brought her four children. “I’ve always loved the company and I’ve always wanted to support them, so this is just an extra way we can show our support. We definitely love the food, but we wouldn’t have come over today unless it was for the event.”

The majority of the crowd was from the Marion community, but several IWU staff, faculty and students also showed up, including Tim Witte (sr).

“Because of the controversy, I do want to support Chick-fil-A,” Witte said. “I believe it solidifies my own convictions about homosexuality and gay marriage. If my few dollars shows support to a company because of its beliefs and its use of free speech, then I’ll be willing to spend it.”

It was clear that people weren’t just coming for the food; enough showed up that store managers had to stay open an hour later than the advertised closing time of 2 p.m. People said they came for the cause.

“(I’m here) to support Chick-fil-A and what I believe is right,”

People didn’t seem to mind the hour-and-a-half wait for Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1. The line for Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day sometimes nearly stretched out of the Barnes Student Center. Sojourn credit/Kourtney Mack

said Nan Turner of Marion. “I don’t think that what (Cathy) said was wrong, I just think he said what he felt and how he believed, and I don’t think that what he said was wrong, and I think that it’s good that people have the right to come out and support him and do what they believe is good and right.”

Not everyone on IWU’s campus agreed with how that support was shown, however. Joel Cash, husband of the Lodges’ resident director, Sandra Cash, said “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day” is going about support the wrong way.

“It’s a nice way to show support of a Christian that they feel is being persecuted,” Cash said. “But at the same time what they’re doing is dividing the two sides even more, and they’re basically making it a lot harder to be able to reach the people that it affects.”

Cash said the negative light the comments have been viewed in make it a difficult thing to support.

“When something has basically been declared hate speech and then you stand up for it, you run the risk of looking hateful even if you’re not,” he said. “I don’t think that it was necessary. I think it’s a great attempt on Chick-fil-A’s part to make some money off of people’s support. It looks more like a business opportunity than any kind of ministry.”

As for Chick-fil-A’s stance on one of the most-debated topics of this century, the company noted its future role on its Facebook page: “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

This post was written by:

- who has written 143 posts on The Sojourn.

Jeremy Sharp is the Editor-in-Chief of The Sojourn. A senior at Indiana Wesleyan University, he's been writing for newspapers, magazines and sports teams since age 15. A Cincinnati native, Jeremy has a passion for sports journalism, although he likes to wander into all sections of the paper.

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One Response to “Chick-fil-A gay rights controversy comes to IWU”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think this whole issue has been spun to become something that it just isn’t. Dan Cathy was asked a question which he answered with his opinion. He stood by his beliefs and did it it with dignity. He has every right to speak his thoughts and should not be hated for it. I have grown very tired with hearing how wrong he was for answering the way he did. Those that are against what he has said are just proving their own hypocrisy. It is ok for them to believe certain things and push those beliefs onto others, but if someone offers a differing belief/opinion that is automatically deemed horrid and hateful. If you heard what Dan Cathy has to say, it is not hateful at all. So please, stop perpetuating this controversy as anti-gay and start seeing it for what it really is–a large group of people trying to strip away a man’s Constitutional right. I will continue supporting Chick-Fil-A; not because I am “anti-gay” but because I like their food and stand by the Constitution.

    P.S. If this were really about being anti-gay, Ben and Jerry’s would probably be suffering pretty bad right now (Ben and Jerry’s supports gay marriage), but because that is not really the issue here there have been very few boycotters/protestors of that company.

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