*UPDATE 8:58 PM: Just want to let everyone know that I wrote this before I found out about Jonathan Merritt's recent disclosure. It's not right for me to comment on someone else's personal life, so I will not discuss that. I will say, however, that Merritt's got my support.
I hate to sound like a hipster, but I knew Chick-Fil-A donated money to anti-gay rights organizations before everyone else did. But now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, a boycott against the company is spreading all over the nation. Even the Jim Henson company has severed ties with Chick-Fil-A. Who knew the Muppets were such big allies?
Not everyone is hopping on the boycott bandwagon, though. A few days ago, Jonathan Merritt wrote an article for the Atlantic explaining that he will still eat at Chick-Fil-A, not because of the company president's views on gay marriage, but because he feels that our "boycott culture" is already dividing our nation enough already:
Gay and lesbian groups were famously rankled when pro-family activists reacted against Kraft for posting a photo of an Oreo cookie with rainbow-hued filling last month in honor of Gay Pride Month, and also when similar groups protested JCPenney for announcing lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres would be its next spokesperson.
So should the 45 percent of Americans who oppose gay marriage opt for Chips Ahoy! instead of Oreos? Should they begin shopping at Belk instead of JC Penny? If they did, it wouldn't make any more sense than the endless failed calls for liberal consumers to boycott Urban Outfitters, because its owner is a conservative and Rick Santorum donor, or to not order from Domino's Pizza, because it was founded by a Catholic conservative who helped fund anti-abortion causes.
As a bisexual man, I personally choose not to eat at Chick-Fil-A because I don't want to support an organization that says I shouldn't have equal rights. However, Merritt does bring up a good point.
Many of you no doubt remember the kerfuffle last year after Sojourners Magazine turned down an advertisement from Believe Out Loud. I, along with many others, was royally pissed at Sojourners for deliberately avoiding the issue of LGBT inclusion in the Church. However, for many of my friends, it wasn't enough to simply boycott Sojourners Magazine . . . you had to boycott everyone associated with Sojourners as well. To me, that was taking things a little too far. Jim Wallis may have needed to stop tip-toeing around LGBT-related issues, but refusing to break bread with him kinda goes against the whole inclusion thing, doesn't it?
A more recent example is the hooplah surrounding Timothy Kurek's upcoming book Jesus in Drag. Readers will no doubt remember that I criticized the book's concept, but it did open up a dialogue between Tim and me. Some of my other LGBT friends, thought, were less assertive and more aggressive towards Tim. While I definitely understand my friends' anger, I worried that by portraying Tim as an enemy, they were doing the same thing fundamentalists have been doing to us for years.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's silly to boycott Chick-Fil-A. I'm just saying that it's way too easy to get trapped in the cycle of burning bridges. But the more bridges we burn, the harder it is for human beings to connect.