Comments from the president of Chick-fil-A, the prominent, nationwide chicken fast food chain, about his stance on gay marriage are causing a firestorm nationwide from civil rights groups and critics.
Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, told the Baptist Press on Sunday that he and his company are "guilty as charged" when it comes to a stance on traditional family values and, namely, a stance against gay marriage.
Cathy says in the Baptist Press that he doesn't run a "Christian business" per se, but that the organization is run on Biblical principles.
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business (and) a family-led business."
In a statement to CNN, Chick-fil-A spokesman Don Perry said that the company's intent, though, is to leave the debate over gay marriage "to the government and political arena."
Chick-fil-A has a long history of exhibiting its Christian values. The chain's 1,600 stores are closed on Sundays nationwide. It's hardly the only fast-food company in the United States to exhibit those values, though. Since the early 1980s, In-n-Out Burger has printed references to Bible verses on its packaging.
Commentary, both positive and negative, has poured in from across the country. Many loyal customers say that they'll no longer visit the restaurant after Cathy's comments. Others believe that it's Chick-fil-A's prerogative as a private business to hold its own values dear.
In response to support and criticism from all sides on Cathy's comments, the company put out a statement:
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.