Chick-fil-A is an American success story. Founded by Georgian entrepreneur Truett Cathy in 1946, the family-owned chicken-sandwich chain is one of the country's largest fast-food businesses. It employs some 50,000 workers across the country at 1,500 outlets in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia. The company generates more than $2 billion in revenue and serves millions of happy customers with trademark Southern hospitality.
So, what's the problem? Well, Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians who believe in strong marriages, devoted families and the highest standards of character for their workers. The restaurant chain's official corporate mission is to "glorify God" and "enrich the lives of everyone we touch." The company's community service initiatives, funded through its WinShape Foundation, support foster care, scholarship, summer camp and marriage enrichment programs. On Sunday, all Chick-fil-A stores close so workers can spend the day at worship and rest.
For the left, these Biblically based corporate principles constitute high social justice crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats are always ready to invoke religion to support their big government, taxpayer-funded initiatives (Obamacare, illegal alien amnesty, increased education spending and FCC regulatory expansion, for starters).
But when an independent company -- thriving on its own merits in the marketplace -- wears its soul on its sleeve, suddenly it's a theocratic crisis.
Over the past month, several progressive activist blogs have waged an ugly war against Chick-fil-A. The company's alleged atrocity: One of its independent outlets in Pennsylvania donated some sandwiches and brownies to a marriage seminar run by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which happens to oppose same-sex marriage.
In the name of tolerance, the anti-Chick-fil-A hawks sneered at the company's main product as "Jesus Chicken," derided its no-Sunday work policy and attacked its operators as "anti-gay." Michael Jones, who describes himself as having "worked in the field of human rights communications for a decade, most recently for Harvard Law School," launched an online petition drive at www.change.org "demanding" that the company disavow "extreme anti-gay groups." Facebook users dutifully organized witch hunts against the company on college campuses.
Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Kim Severson gave the Chick-fil-A bashers a coveted Sunday A-section megaphone -- repeatedly parroting the "Chick-fil-A is anti-gay" slur and raising fears of "evangelical Christianity's muscle flexing" with only the thinnest veneer of journalistic objectivity. Severson, you see, is an openly gay advocate of same-sex marriage equality herself and the former vice-president of the identity politics-mongering National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association.
In a bitter op-ed on gay marriage laws not changing quickly enough, she asserted: "I don't want the crumbs. I want the whole cake." Severson has voiced complaints about her social and economic status as an unwed lesbian with a partner and child in several media publications.
None of this was disclosed in Severson's advocacy journalism hit job on Chick-fil-A. But therein lies the unofficial motto of The Gray Lady: All the ideological conflicts of interest unfit to print.
Progressive groups are gloating over Chick-fil-A's public relations troubles exacerbated by the nation's politicized paper of record. This is not because they care about winning hearts and minds over gay rights or marriage policy, but because their core objective is to marginalize political opponents and chill Christian philanthropy and activism. The fearsome "muscle flexing" isn't being done by innocent job-creators selling chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. It's being done by the hysterical bullies trying to drive them off of college grounds and out of their neighborhoods in the name of "human rights."
Remember: These were the same tactics the left-wing mob used in California to intimidate supporters of the Proposition 8 traditional marriage initiative. Individual donors were put on an "Anti-Gay Black List." Businesses who contributed money to the Prop. 8 campaign were besieged by fist-wielding protesters. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre was forced to resign over his $1,000 donation.
Message: Associate with the wrong political cause and you will pay. So much for national "civility."