Southern fast food chain Chick-fil-A is under scrutiny on college campuses across the country. Indiana University South Bend even temporarily banned the company from its campus.
The controversy isn’t over unsafe food or underpaid employees, but rather the company’s perceived opposition to gay marriage, something that shouldn’t warrant such demonization.
The problems started after Chick-fil-A donated free food in January to seminars for the non-profit Pennsylvania Family Institute, which, according to its website, works to “strengthen families by restoring to public life the traditional, foundational principles and values essential for the well-being of society,” The institute opposes gay marriage.
It’s no surprise that Chick-fil-A is a company with religious motivations.
In addition to closing restaurants on Sundays – the Christian Sabbath, or day of rest – the company holds prayers when stores open and states that its corporate mission includes working “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” according to CNN.
Even if the company conclusively states its opposition to gay marriage – which it hasn’t – it shouldn’t matter. As a privately owned family business it should be allowed to adhere to its religious beliefs as long as it’s within the confines of the law.
Opponents who hope to punish the company through boycotts or efforts to remove the chain from campuses and elsewhere are just as discriminatory toward Chick-fil-A as they accuse the company of being toward the gay community.
At the most, the restaurant made minor donations but has released statements openly expressing its tolerance of the gay community and its views on gay marriage.
Meanwhile, opponents have worked to bring down the company because of their own intolerance toward the religious beliefs of Chick-fil-A’s leadership – which is equally offensive as intolerance toward gays.
College students should learn to respect others’ opinions, even if they disagree with their own.
Gay marriage rights are certainly a major question of college students’ generation, as it’s a heavily debated and emotional topic for both sides.
But that shouldn’t mean that some should be prohibited from purchasing chicken sandwiches and waffle fries on campus or that the company should be demonized for the slightest hint of support of traditional marriage proponents.
This divide will make compromise even more difficult to reach.
Students should boycott Chick-fil-A if they don’t like its food, but not if they don’t subscribe to the same ideologies as the private company’s leaders, especially ones that are as widespread as support of traditional marriage.