At the end of last month, the world’s largest Chick-fil-A opened in New York City. Standing five stories tall in the Financial District — with its included rooftop terrace — the Fulton Street Chick-fil-A opened to an enthusiastic crowd, eager to get their hands on that tasty fried “fil-A.” (Personally, I tend to crave those tasty grilled nuggets along with the “superfood” broccolini and kale blend.)
It took little time, no less, for The New Yorker contributor Dan Piepenbring to blast one of the country’s most popular fast food franchises, calling it a “creepy infiltration of New York City.”
Said Piepenbring: “… the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism…”
The piece elaborates by mocking and criticizing much — from Christianity to all things Chick-fil-A — their practice of being closed on Sundays, their intentional sense of community, their slogans, smell, spelling, and promotional use of the cow… “If the restaurant is a megachurch, the Cows are its ultimate evangelists… The joke is that the Cows are out of place in New York—a winking acknowledgment that Chick-fil-A, too, does not quite belong here…” The author adds that Chick-fil-A’s “arrival in the city augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train.”
The author takes issue with statements and support Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made six years ago, speaking out against gay marriage. He sincerely disagrees with Cathy, but then allows his disagreement with Cathy’s personal conviction to evolve into a denigration of the entire existence of the franchise.
Let’s acknowledge other activity by Chick-fil-A…
When a major power outage stranded tens of thousands of passengers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport last December, Chick-fil-A (on a Sunday), handed out sandwiches and water. Said a spokesperson for the company: “The mayor called about 10pm and asked for assistance. We immediately mobilized staff and team members who live and work near the airport, and they are making sandwiches and delivering them to the EOC (emergency operations center). City and airport officials there are distributing sandwiches to passengers who are stranded due to the power outage. It has been a very difficult day for thousands of travelers, and while Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, our restaurants open occasionally to serve communities in need. We do not make a profit, but do what we can to offer comfort to people experiencing hardship.”
In January in Georgia, all food was stolen from a food pantry set to distribute meals to more than 60 families. When hearing the news, multiple nearby Chick-fil-A locations promoted one evening in which they offered a free sandwich or nuggets to any who brought canned food to donate and help re-stock the ministry’s shelves.
Chick-fil-A is known for countless examples of giving to those in need — from the over $19 million given in scholarships the past 14 years through the Peach Bowl — to the Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, “an annual charity motorcycle tour to raise money for, among other charities, Victory Junction, a camp for terminally ill children.”
Perhaps the most poignant example, however, but omitted in The New Yorker column, was how Chick-fil-A responded in the immediate aftermath of the deadly shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in 2016. Multiple Chick-fil-A employees (again, on a Sunday) worked and took free food to the scene. Said a company spokesman: “The events in Orlando stirred our local restaurant owners and their teams to band together to provide nourishment to first responders as well as volunteers who donated blood. We do not think this requires any recognition. It is the least we can do in this community we love.”
… the least we can do in this community we love…
What’s wrong with us?
What’s wrong when the only angle we can see — even in valid disagreement — keeps us from seeing any other good in another?