Christians face tough decisions in multi-front fight to preserve biblical values

Christians face tough decisions in multi-front fight to preserve biblical values

Christians face tough decisions in multi-front fight to preserve biblical values

Some who awakened this week to find that Chick-fil-A is woke may be willing to provide the popular fast-food chain – for years celebrated as a marketplace oasis for Christians – a "They're not as bad as Target" benefit of the doubt. However, that could be a path to more disappointment, says Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological seminary.

Chick-fil-A made a splash in the news cycle this week when many realized it has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) officer. It's likely the position held by Erick McReynolds, who has held various titles with Chick-fil-A since 2007, became more topical after May 23 when Chick-fil-A released its report on progress made toward its social responsibility goals in 2022.

There have been other concerning signs for the company known for its Christian values after its founding by the late Truett Cathy in 1946. In 2019, six years after Truett Cathy's son Dan Cathy became CEO, Chick-fil-A announced it would end its financial support of the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

At the same time, the company began to receive criticism for its 2017 donation of $2,500 to the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, whose list of "hate groups" inspired an attack at the Washington, DC, headquarters of the conservative Family Research Council in 2012.

Chick-fil-A eventually distanced itself from the SPLC contribution.

The complicated Chick-fil-A story

Mohler told Washington Watch host Tony Perkins the Chick-fil-A story is complicated.

"You have two different levels. You have Chick-fil-A corporate, but this is unlike Target in that you also have owner operators at the local level," Mohler said.

"We've seen the website and some of the things that the corporate national entity's doing, but there are an awful lot of faithful Christians who are owner operators of Chick-fil-As at the local level," Mohler said, adding that he has more hope that Chick-fil-A might return to Truett Cathy's vision than he does for a Target turnaround.

Fox News reported this week that Target's marketing vice president also holds a senior position with an organization that pushes transgender policies in K-12 schools. Mohler hopes that's not where Chick-fil-A is headed.

Mohler, Dr. R. Albert Mohler (SBTS) Mohler

"I've known the founding family for a very long time. I just have to hope that sounder policies will prevail here," he said.

Whether that hope is realized may depend on CFA's corporate priorities. Chick-fil-A was the third-most popular fast-food company according to its sales of $16.7 billion in 2021, but the gap between No. 2 Starbucks ($24.3 billion) and No. 1 McDonald's ($46.0 billion) was significant. If Chick-fil-A's goal is to carve out a larger national share, it may have to acquiesce to national trends.

"I hear the logic all the time that, 'We can't do business in this metropolitan area unless we adopt these policies. We can't do business on a broad national scale,'" Mohler said. "That logic just means eventually you're just the same as Target. Eventually you're just the same as General Motors or Bank of America."

The pro-LBGTQ influence in American business has been a slow but successful build. Now Mohler believes we're seeing a tipping point.

"Back when it was called the 'gay rights' movement, it gained an awful lot of traction by saying, 'I think I have an orientation towards same-sex attraction. You can't tell me what I'm really thinking. You can't tell me how my heart's inclined.' Now the transgender movement is telling us, 'You can't tell me if that's a boy or a girl.' Well, yes, I absolutely can," Mohler said.

Boycotts against Bud Light and Target have had sustained success and have cost those companies billions. These are hailed as victories for conservatives, but the boycott game has changed, Mohler says.

"There are companies that aren't as brazen as Target with their Pride month displays that have basically the same policies. They have their corporate people sitting on the boards of these activist organizations. It used to be that Christians could say, 'I'm going to switch to another company.' Well, it probably has exactly the same policies," he said.

Christian apologist and American Family Radio personality Alex McFarland addressed this point earlier this week. "We don't do nothing simply because we can't do everything," he said. Mohler agreed.

"Boycotts are very difficult in the complexity of today's economy, but we're called to be stewards. These companies that are so aggressive in pushing this agenda, I think there are lots of Christians who are saying, 'That's the last product I'm going to buy from them.'"

Conservative fight isn't only in the self-checkout aisles

Conservatives haven't limited their fight to America's self-checkout aisles. It's in the courtrooms too.

In 2020, January Littlejohn, a Florida parent, dropped off her 13-year-old daughter at middle school. When she picked her up, her daughter informed her that school administrators had asked her about changing her name, which restroom she wanted to use and other leading questions to encourage gender transition.

Littlejohn was caught off guard because the same school that won't give an aspirin for a headache without parental permission didn't consult parents about potential gender dysphoria with their child.

The Littlejohns sued their local school district, perhaps hopeful that a quick visit to one level of justice would set things right. They were wrong.

The case is now at the appellate level, and attorneys general from 21 states have signed on. This week they filed a brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"You've got a situation here where a public school has basically inserted itself between a child and the child's parents, and that should horrify everyone. What's even more horrifying is that a district federal district court in Florida found that was okay," Missouri Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Perkins. "It's a long-standing facet of American jurisprudence that parents are the primary decision-makers for their children."

Knudsen said the lower court's decision put at risk a population that has safeguards established for its protection in many other walks of life.

Minors for a reason

"We call them minors for a reason. They haven't reached the age of majority yet to use a legal term," the Missouri AG said. "We don't let minors join the military. We don't let them consume alcohol. We don't let them vote until they're 18. And there there's good reason for that because their brains are not fully developed. We know this from science, but we also know it from thousands of years of just being humans."

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia, all with Republican attorneys general, have joined in the suit.

Proponents of this broad authority for schools say secrecy is necessary for the safety of the students. Knudsen agrees that parental rights have limits.

"As a parent, you don't have the right to make harmful decisions for your children. We have found those limits within the courts," he said.

Littlejohn said after several weeks of discussion with the school district, she was presented with a "transgender nonconforming student support plan" that the school filled out with her daughter.

"This is very scary stuff," Knudsen said. "If a school district can step in – which is basically your local government – and start making gender identity decisions for your children and exclude you as a parent, where does this go? Does it go next to actual transitioning? Does it go to surgery? Does it go to medical decisions? I mean, where does this end?"