It never ceases to amaze me just how political chicken can be. Earlier this year people were screaming about that the Burger King Chicken Strips commercial with Mary J. Blige was racist. A few years ago it was newscasters laughing themselves to death over the “Great Popeye’s Chicken Famine of 2009” and that’s just chicken politics in the United States. Last fall in South Africa you had the government going after the Nando’s Chicken chainfor putting up commercials that made fun of philandering president Jacob Zuma. And this week (and I am totally not making this up) the rising price of chicken has literally caused a national crisis in Iran. The Chief of the Iranian police Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has asked television networks to not show any images of chicken because now that the poultry staple has become too expensive for many middle class Iranians images of the tasty bird in screen might cause a feverish saffron and curry induced riot in the streets. (Okay I’m kidding about the Saffron and Curry part, but the Iranian government has started subsidized chicken lines in order to head off their “Chicken Crisis”.) So with all of these feathers flying here and abroad what’s next for this most polarizing of poultry products? The National Black Church Initiative has flapped themselves into the Chick-Fil-A gay marriage controversy.
In case you were only dining at Subway over the last few weeks you probably heard about the controversy started by Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A who said in an interview with a conservative group that he was vehemently against gay marriage and the Chick-Fil-A chain had supported anti-gay marriage initiatives around the country. The response has been pretty swift, the Jim Henson company (the folks who gave us Kermit and Miss Piggy) stopped making toys for the chain, and Chicago mayor and former Obama consigliere Rahm Emmanuel said he didn’t want Chick-Fil-A in the city of Chicago. Now the NBCI releases a press statement from Reverend Anthony Evans stating:
“The National Black Church Initiatives Supports Chick-Fil-A One Billion Percent: Gay organizations are just plain silly”
Oh the problems we engender when we start clucking around with the tastiest of birds. There are a couple of things about the NBCI that are important to this story, as well as this larger controversy. First, the NBCI claims to have 34,000 members in various churches across the nation, but a quick perusal of their website and YouTube pages makes it clear that this is likely a group of men working out of a church basement somewhere in D.C. Not to suggest that there aren’t many African Americans who don’t support gay marriage, but the NBCI’s desperate attempts to promote themselves by releasing provocative press releases on every issue that comes down the pipe, doesn’t speak well to their actual influence on any policy or changes in government. But even if they did represent something other than the rants and raves of a few conservative black pastors (and they don’t) the larger question is: Why is anyone getting exorcised about this issue at all?
I have gone on record as a black man about my deep and un-abiding love for chicken. Fried chicken, curry chicken, arroz con pollo, I don’t discriminate when it comes to the all things chicken oriented. I am not ashamed. And while I can’t say that gay marriage is an issue that gets my out of my seat with rage (either pro or con) every morning the fact remains that people have a legal right to marry any other consenting adult they want to marry. If the owner of Chick-Fil-A doesn’t like gay marriage that is his right, and if he uses company funds to stop gay marriage then by all means people who disagree should stop supporting Chick-Fil-A, but at the same time Reverend Evans and the NBCI might want to think twice about jumping in bed with CEO Dan Cathy (figuratively of course since they’re against gay sex too.)
If this guy is willing to spend millions of dollars to prevent other citizens from practicing their constitutional rights (sorry it is legal now in several states) it’s not hard to imagine that he’s down with several other causes that aren’t particularly African American policy friendly. Moreover, while Chick-Fil-A does not discriminate against their customers it is entirely reasonable to assume that if the CEO has such hostile beliefs towards gay marriage that he likely establishes a less than hospitable workplace for LGBT employees at Chick-Fil-A, and why would anyone want to support a company whose CEO just admitted they discriminate? The world would be a much better and tastier place if CEOs keep their politics out of our poultry and the black church kept focusing on issues that matter like employment, healthcare and education. For goodness sakes, can’t we just enjoy our chicken in peace?
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.