Last week, reports emerged that Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy had condemned gay marriage. It's no secret that the company is run by devout Christians, but this still caused an uproar. Boston's mayor threatened to deny the company business permits, celebrities condemned the company, and the Muppets announced fast food chain wouldn't be able to license any new toys for their kids meals.
One small problem: The president of Chick-fil-A never actually said anything condemning gay marriage. Here's how CNN reported the story:
(CNN)–The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that.
But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.
"Guilty as charged,", Cathy said when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that," Cathy is quoted as saying.
But Terry Mattingly at the website GetReligion (where I am an occasional contributor) notes that if you look at the original context of the interview, Cathy wasn't asked specifically asked about gay marriage nor did he say anything about it. Here's the actual interview CNN and others cited from the Biblical Recorder and that was carried by the Baptist Press:
“We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy told the Biblical Recorder in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, “There is no such thing as a Christian business.”
“That got my attention,” Cathy said. Roach went on to say, “Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.”
“In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are,” Cathy added. “But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”
And here's what Cathy says about marriage:
The company invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation (WinShape.com). The name comes from the idea of shaping people to be winners. It began as a college scholarship and expanded to a foster care program, an international ministry, and a conference and retreat center modeled after the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
“That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries,” Cathy added.
Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. …
“We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
To say that Cathy condemned gay marriage is stunningly dishonest. And yet, Cathy's had to endure headlines such as, "Boston Mayor Blocks Chick-fil-A Franchise from City over Homophobic Attitude" -- and that headline comes from Time, which is allegedly one of the more responsible media outlets.
CNN, Time and many other news organizations owe Cathy and Chick-fil-A some serious corrections and/or clarifications. It should further cause news organizations -- particularly in the wake of ABC's absurd speculation that the Aurora killings were done by a Tea Partier and many news organizations falling for Greenpeace's intentionally deceptive campaign against Shell Oil -- to reflect on why these kinds of egregrious media errors habitually reflect left-wing political narratives.
UPDATE: A reader informs me Cathy also gave a radio interview on the topic last week where he said, among other things, "I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'" Again, if you listen to the the interview he doesn't utter the words "gay marriage," and it's clear that in the broader context Cathy is speaking about many different issues leading to the general breakdown of the family.
When I wrote, "The president of Chick-fil-A never actually said anything condemning gay marriage," I was referring specifically to the Baptist Press interview that formed the basis of the attack by CNN and many other news outlets. It's also been known for decades that Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians that support traditional famly values, yet only now has there been a national furor over Cathy and his company's position on this. That controversy came only by taking his quotes out of context to suggest he was attacking supporters of gay marriage rather than defending his own beliefs. And it certainly doesn't justify supposedly mainstream news organizations calling him "homophobic" -- an astonishingly biased and juvenile way of framing what he said.