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Recently, Georgia-based restaurant Chick-fil-A decided to back away from the issue of gay marriage and stop funding organizations that try to oppose it. Up until recently, the 1,614 branch restaurant affirmed a very pro-traditional family (based on the Holy Bible) stance on marriage, and they received much publicity (more negative than positive) because of this.
The founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, as well as his son, the President of the corporation, Dan T. Cathy, have made it clear that they are against the idea of man redefining marriage (they are looking at this issue from a Southern Baptist perspective).
Their family also started the WinShape Foundation, a charitable institution that made significant monetary contributions to various interest groups that were also against gay marriage.
I’m not here to harp on about what reasons Chick-fil-A had for retreating, or why the founding family of this chicken restaurant decided to fight this battle in the first place.
The important take away (pun intended) from this entire debacle is that businesses (the ones that are oriented to offer products and/or services to the general public) should not be taking sides on any issue that involves issues of religion and spirituality.
Allow me to present a few solid reasons that support my opinion on the subject:
We Live in a Multicultural World
There are very few barriers that separate the various cultures from intermingling with each other. People from all origins, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, ways of thinking, etc. are living alongside each other. We are bound to have differing perspectives and opinions, and that’s all fine and good, for as long as these opinions do not call for the stifling of other people’s ability to have their own beliefs and opinions (or a lack thereof).
Now is probably the worst time in the history of human civilization to start discriminating against a group that isn’t harming or hindering non-supporters of their cause. As an example, sane gay people aren’t forcing non-gay people to marry someone of the same gender, nor are they condemning non-gay people for being born straight.
Let’s go back to the Chick-fil-A. They’re not exactly a Christian religious supplies store; they serve chicken and other food to people who want to eat. You need not have the same beliefs as the company’s founders to enjoy their chicken.
Being a gay person in their establishment shouldn’t prevent other patrons from enjoying their chicken (unless you’re making a scene, but in that case, it doesn’t matter what kind of sexuality you have; you’re disturbing the peace!).
As a business, there’s no point in alienating potential customers just because they have different religious/supernatural/spiritual/political beliefs from yours. Don’t count on people promoting your business just because you share similar beliefs, either. They’re there primarily for your product or service. Everything else is pretty much secondary.
It’s a Waste of Time and Money
The effort and resources spent on bannering some belief is not going to grow your business (unless religion IS your business; stop reading this post, in that case). Granted, a sound mindset and philosophy is something integral in running operations and promoting your product/service, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the business.
Let’s realign ourselves to the idea of having a business: you’re in it for the money. It sounds unapologetically materialist, but if you’re not doing it for financial prosperity, then you’re running a non-profit organization.
There’s a Proper Place for That
In case some readers are missing the point, this is not a call for squashing all things religious and spiritual and banishing it from the face of the Earth. It merely implores putting things in their proper place.
You have your place of worship, your charities and outreach programs, you have your community gatherings, and you have your household; all of these venues are open to matters of religion and spirituality.
Companies can and should have charitable endeavors that give back something to the community. The Cathy family did right in having their WinShape Foundation; things only went awry when their business somehow got involved.
All in all, it’s just a matter of proper focus and a sense of propriety; faith can be a great motivator for your entrepreneurial endeavors, when done right.
“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Mark 12:17
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