01/06/11-by Sue Kerr The Chick-Fil-A saga continues to unfurl on the Internet as the Pennsylvania Family Institute strikes back at critics for exaggerating the relationship.
PFI President Michael Geer told The Christian Post
Setting the record straight, Geer said Chick-fil-A is not sponsoring the event. “There are a couple restaurants that are giving us food,” he clarified. The food, mostly chicken sandwiches, is for a day-and-half-long workshop for couples who want to strengthen their marriages.
According to Geer, the local Chick-fil-A branches involved were simply trying to “be good neighbors” to the marriage retreat being held at two local churches. “We didn’t even get any money,” maintained Geer. The food was freely donated to the churches hosting the marriage retreat.
Geer also denounced mentions in the blog and later homosexual magazine On Top for wrongly suggesting that Chick-fil-A’s corporate office, located in Georgia, is involved in the event. Despite restaurant creator Truett Cathy’s profession of faith, Geer says it was a local decision to give the food.
Food donation is a common practice for many food venues and grocery stores, meant to create ties with its home communities as well as support positive causes established by non-profits.
Good neighbors. Well, as someone who lives just a few hundred miles away from these churches, I am decidedly not glad that the local chicken sandwich purveyors think a homophobic organization is the best place to invest their resources. I can list a dozen organizations off the top of my head that are at least two rungs lower on the realm of hate and bile.
Let’s be clear. This is not a positive cause. This is not about healthy relationships, it is about a narrowly defined view on marriage that excludes LGBTQ families, single parents, non-traditional families and people who are married but don’t buy into this hokum.
Let’s be clear. PFI listed Chick-Fil-A as an event sponsor. I work in the non-profit sector and any time I’ve worked with a chain, there was a clear process to get permission to use the corporate name on PR materials. So either corporate is backpedaling or someone on the local level really screwed up. Franchise or not, they invoked the corporate name and the corporation must accept the fallout.
LGBTQ persons around the nation are waiting for Chick-Fil-A HQ to actually make a statement. It could be positive that this was all local, but remaining mum on the issue doesn’t reassure those of us who spend our money at Chick-Fil-A restaurants around the nation, franchises whose bottom line will be hurt by the bad PR and the utterly poor decision making of the stores who did contribute the food. How is that responsible corporate leadership?
As of this evening, the Christian Post has reached out to correct their inaccuracies and correspond with Good As You, the site which broke the story a few days ago.
While Greer is parsing chicken sandwiches from corporate sponsorship, he’s more concerned with assigning blame than acknowledging how outrage goes viral. He can’t because he can’t acknowledge that a lot of people see right through his attempt to galvanize the faithful to defend marriage in Pennsylvania.
There’s a lesson to be learned by corporate America, a lesson which has reverberated over the past several years — people are paying attention.
The lesson for Pennsylvanians is even more critical. People aren’t paying attention. PFI potentially leveraged a few chicken sandwiches into the guise of a corporate sponsorship and it took a non-Pennsylvania based blog to raise the red flag. As I said in a previous post, we have had two significant stories emerge around “marriage values” while the year is less than two weeks old. Clearly, the gauntlet has been thrown and we need to prepare.
As a local blogger, I appreciate that the national blogs are paying attention and have our back. And we need to invest in the local watchdogs who will be on the ground pushing for equality across the Commonwealth.
UPDATE: At 5 PM this afternoon, Chick-Fil-A posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
”To our Facebook community: First and foremost, thanks for your patience as we made sure we gathered the facts in regards to recent postings. We have determined that one of our independent Restaurant Operators in Pennsylvania was asked to provide sandwiches to two Art of Marriage video seminars. As our fans, you know we do our best to serve our local communities, and one of the ways we do that is by providing food to schools, colleges, civic groups, businesses, places of worship, not-for-profit groups, etc. At his discretion, the local Operator agreed to simply provide a limited amount of food. Our Chick-fil-A Operators and their employees try very hard every day to go the extra mile in serving ALL of our customers with honor, dignity and respect.”