By CAMERON DIIORIO
Chick-fil-A has become the talk of Irvine over the past week because of its grand opening at the University Town Center, next to the University of California Irvine campus. People went to the extreme and camped out overnight in hopes of snagging free Chick-fil-A sandwiches for the rest of the year as part of the grand opening promotional event. This particular Chick-fil-A restaurant is large, spacious and modern, with a convenient drive-through and numerous seating options for its patrons. The menu includes hearty fries and fried chicken between pieces of white bread.
Although the food is cheap and perfect for the budget of an average college student struggling to pay off student loans, many people have boycotted Chick-fil-A because of the owners’ controversial beliefs. The Cathy family, who are Southern Baptist conservatives, founded the chain in 1946 and continues to run the business. Unlike many other fast food chains, Chick-fil-A has stuck to the Cathys’ religious principles, so it is closed every Sunday, upsetting people who crave waffle fries on Sundays.
Truett Cathy, the chain’s founder who just recently died in September, also founded the WinShape Foundation, which works in partnership with Chick-Fil-A to donate much of Chick-fil-A’s profit to Exodus International, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other organizations that are known to oppose same-sex marriage.
The LGBT views of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan T. Cathy, son of Truett Cathy, have led to much controversy. According to the New York Times, Cathy, when asked in January of 2011 about his opinion on same-sex marriage, said, “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.” Soon, college students all over America began boycotting Chick-fil-A, even petitioning to get the chain’s small on-campus locations banned. Efforts have been successful as the board of officials of Boston’s Northeastern University decided on February 28, 2012 to not allow Chick-fil-A on its campus.
Many people besides college students were outraged at Cathy’s statement. The Jim Henson Company, marketer of the Pajanimals, as well as the famous cast of The Muppets, pulled Pajanimals from Chick-Fil-A’s kids meals. According to the Huffington Post, the Jim Henson Company stated that it has “celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and [has] notified Chick-fil-A that [it] do[es] not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.” Many other companies followed suit and terminated business with Chick-fil-A, so sales plummeted.
To reinforce the conservative values that Chick-fil-A has been built upon, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) organized a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” Over 600,000 people RSVPed to the event on Facebook, and sales went up by 29.9%, according to the LA Times. The event helped the company dig itself out of its conventional, right-winged grave, but in progressive 21st century America, rich business owners like Dan Cathy simply cannot afford to make comments opposing hot button issues. Republicans, such as Alaskan governor Sarah Palin and former US Senator Rick Santorum, have praised Cathy’s views and have come to Chick-fil-A’s defense. It seems that America will forever be tied to its former views on gay marriage, though, as many Americans agreed with Cathy, Palin and Santorum. However, the fact that Cathy faced the backlash he deserved when expressing his opinion shows that America is slowly becoming more progressive.
As old as this news is, the controversies behind Chick-fil-A have been brought into the spotlight at University High School (UHS) because of the grand opening at the University Center. When asked about their opinions on Chick-fil-A, students at UHS have various views. “I like Chick-Fil-A,” said Chloe Maniss (So.). “I appreciate the fact that they stand by their own morals.”
On the other hand, Nika Zarazvand (Jr.) said, “It’s absolutely disgusting that the Irvine Company agreed to open a Chick-fil-A in Irvine. They’re sending a foul message to the city’s LGBT population that states [the Irvine company’s] indifference on the restaurant’s anti-gay policies and organizational affiliations.”
The controversies that go hand in hand with large corporations like Chick-fil-A remind us that we need to be careful of what we are paying for. If you do not agree with the politics of a certain company, then it is in your best interest to not buy its products.