By SUZANNE DOWNING
A three-year-old video of a Chick-fil-A executive discussing race relations surfaced this week, thrusting the fast-food chain into an undesired spotlight alongside Bud Light, Target, J.Crew, and Disney.
In the video, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy shares thoughts on Christian repentance and the need for an “apologetic heart” concerning black Americans. He suggests that white Americans should “pick up the baton and fight for our black, African-American brothers and sisters.”
Filmed during a particularly tense period, as Black Lives Matter violence and looting swept across America, Cathy knelt to shine the shoes of Black Christian rapper, Lecrae Moore.
This act mirrors the biblical story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, a not-unheard-of practice in the Christian race-reconciliation movement. The poignant symbolism of washing the feet of those who may harbor anger and resentment toward your race is powerful.
Yet in 2023, this reconciliatory video encountered a metaphorical guillotine. Public frustration with ever-shifting corporate “woke” ideologies has prompted some conservatives to call for a boycott of Chick-fil-A — a chain they helped elevate to the third-largest restaurant chain in the country, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Critics contend Chick-fil-A has entered the culture wars by also hiring a vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which some perceive as a departure from merit-based employment and a surrender to the “woke” agenda.
However, Chick-fil-A has been simpering for liberal approval for over a decade. Since its inception, the Chick-fil-A Foundation faced vehement criticism from LGBTQ advocates for donations made to pro-family organizations like Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, and even the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Under pressure, Chick-fil-A caved.
In 2019, ThinkProgress chastised the Chick-fil-A Foundation for donating to two Christian groups supporting traditional marriage: Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The foundation capitulated and ceased donations.
Over the years, boycotts from those opposed to the company’s Christian leanings, even attempts by elected leaders to block franchise openings, have targeted Chick-fil-A. Yet the brand has grown and now boasts over 2,500 locations. Only Alaska and Vermont lack a Chick-fil-A franchise, with Texas hosting the most locations — 471 stores, comprising 16% of the company.
Ironically, sales would often skyrocket on days when a boycott was called, with customers queued for blocks to buy a breaded chicken sandwich. Like Budweiser, Chick-fil-A had become as American as apple pie, with conservatives expressing their support through their wallets.
Nevertheless, Chick-fil-A is not invincible to consumer discontent and should brace for a protracted battle with Americans who are looking to economize their hard-earned dollars.
Anheuser-Busch is a case in point. Since Bud Light partnered with transgender Dylan Mulvaney, the company’s stock price has plummeted over 18% within a month. It might take years to recover, if at all.
Similarly, Target is investing in security near its Pride Month displays, while consumer resentment appears to be escalating. This week, JPMorgan downgraded Target’s stock to “neutral,” citing growing concerns over the company’s waning fortunes. This marks Target’s longest losing streak since 2000.
Disney is also under fire after hiring a man dressed as a “fairy godmother apprentice” to guide girls into a boutique on its property. Disney’s stock has plummeted.
Chick-fil-A, Bud Light, Target, and Disney are not the only brands provoking Americans’ ire. Kohl’s has come under criticism for marketing infant clothing adorned with “Pride Progress” flags. These companies have become emblems of a cultural trend that at least half of America deems detrimental to the very survival of the nation.
Perhaps June is now the month to spend quality time at home with our families and reconsider funding companies that dismiss our values. After all, we’re increasingly hearing that every time you leave the house, it costs you $100. Save money, spend time with your family. And here’s a practical note: You’re likely to need those savings later this year, considering the precarious economic climate America is in.
Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.