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The Last Word: University wrong to attack Chick-fil-A

Kerry Hubartt

Some University of Kansas faculty members want America’s favorite restaurant removed from campus for being what they call a “bastion of bigotry.”

Bigotry means intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself; obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices. I do not agree that Chick-fil-A, which has three Fort Wayne locations, fits that definition.

Chick-fil-A’s mission statement is, “Be America’s best quick-service restaurant.” They are. For the fourth year in a row, the fast-food chain topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index for limited-service restaurant chains. The Chick-fil-A corporate purpose is: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Who are the bigots here?

After KU administrators in Lawrence, Kansas, relocated a Chick-fil-A from a basement to “prime real estate” on campus in the Memorial Union. a faculty council, filled with “extreme frustration,” demanded the fast-food restaurant be removed from campus.

“The culture of Chick-fil-A fosters hate and discrimination on multiple levels,” the Sexuality & Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council wrote in a two-page letter. They accused university leaders of being “more concerned about money and corporate sponsorship than the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of marginalized and LGBTQ people.”

The faculty letter argues that the very presence of the restaurant threatens the school’s mission of fostering a multicultural, inclusive environment that is “safe and accepting and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The faculty objects that a Chick-fil-A would do business in a building it has declared a symbol of victory for LGBTQ rights where school funds helped install transgender restrooms.

“The arrival of Chick-fil-A in this building is insulting, counterproductive and unacceptable,” the letter stated.

The letter ends with a call for the university to sever its partnership with Chick-fil-A and only do business with those that embrace and promote the LGBTQ agenda: “We beseech you to rectify this situation immediately, promoting inclusion and equity instead of hatred and intolerance.”

So exactly where do you find bigotry, hatred and intolerance in this scenario, except for the clear intolerance of the faculty council?

Every Chick-fil-A restaurant I have visited in Fort Wayne and other locations throughout the country has been friendly, cordial, pleasant and helpful to all their customers, no matter what color or gender – sexual orientations don’t enter into the discussion because no one is asking whether customers are L, G, B, T or Q. Nor should they.

But you see, CEO Dan Cathy’s beliefs are deeply rooted in Christianity. The fact he stated in 2012 he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit,” which means marriage should only be between a man and a woman, apparently is supposed to mean he hates those who don’t believe the way he does because he donates money to other causes that reflect his own beliefs.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the restaurant has the audacity to close its doors to all customers on Sundays. Founder Truett Cathy made that decision in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Ga., so he and his employees could have one day of the week to rest and worship if they choose.

Chick-fil-A is doing nothing to show intolerance or discrimination. If you don’t like the CEO’s beliefs, go ahead and boycott their business.

This is not the first time Chick-fil-A has faced discrimination because of Dan Cathy’s comments about marriage.

In March, administrators with the San Antonio, Texas, City Council blocked the restaurant from operating at the San Antonio International Airport because of its “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded that the exclusion of a company based on its leader’s personal religious beliefs “demonstrates a total disregard for Texas law and the First Amendment protections in our Constitution. I look forward to reviewing the City of San Antonio’s records surrounding this discriminatory decision,” he added. “Our great state deeply values the First Amendment, and my office will defend those rights for all who live and operate in Texas.”

I hope the University of Kansas administration will take the same approach to its disgruntled faculty council as well.

–Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.

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