Friday, July 27, 2012

Bigotry in the Public Square

big·ot 
[big-uht] 
noun
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
 
Those loyal readers of this blog (all three of them) had to know that sooner or later I would respond to the current Chick-Fil-A controversy.
 
For them and any welcome newbies, if you don't know what's going on, the most current outrage sweeping the nation is regarding recent comments by Dan Cathy, President and CEO of the fast-food chicken restaurant known not only for their cuisine but for their catchy billboards.  On July 16 he was quoted in the Baptist Press as saying the company was "guilty as charged" of adhering to traditional beliefs about marriage. 
 
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
 
(For the record, the interview was 99% about the success of the company and its core beliefs, with only three sentences discussing families. And the words "gay", "homosexual", "lesbian", or "LGBT" are not once printed.)

The outrage over Mr. Cathy's stance was predictable, if not sad.  Well, maybe not predictable, as rather than just condemnation from the usual suspects, he has faced the wrath of the enlightened from all around the nation.

Politicians from LA to Chicago to Boston have lined up to prevent Chick-Fil-A restaurants from opening, rallied protesters and organizers, and have issued terse statements.

"Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
 
That statement just chills me as a Christian and native of the Windy City.  To boldly state publicly that the values of the city of Chicago are anti-God should be a wake up call to us all!
 
But rather than try to defend Chick-Fil-A (I'll let the Bible do that), I want to ask my readers a simple question.
 
In this whole controversy, just who is the bigot?

As I put at the head of this post, Dictionary.com defines the word bigot as "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion."
 
In this whole fiasco, who should be seen as "utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion"? 

Is it Mr. Cathy, who runs a company that obeys the laws of this nation and does not discriminate against employees or customers who hold differing views?  Indeed, I'm sure that he and many within the company pray for them.  They may also pray that the hearts and minds of those customers and the culture at large change, but in the meantime still provide tasty, reasonably priced food.

Or is it people like Chicago Alderman Joe Morino, who has vowed to stop the restaurant chain from expanding into his ward.  Is it Mayor Emanuel who supports the Alderman's attempts to prevent the company's growth?  Is it other politicians who have promised that Chick-Fil-A will never open in their cities?

Is it the very progressives themselves who will fight for the free expression of those with whom they agree, while seeking to stifle those with whom they differ?

Will the real bigots in the audience please stand up?

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Change the World

Got your attention with that title, didn't I?

Some of you already know this, but I spent last week  in St. Louis in the company of 160 adults and teenagers fixing up houses as part of World Changers, a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It's Mission Statement is simple:
World Changers seeks to provide Christian youth and adults with opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others through practical learning experiences that teach servant-hood and personal commitment to missions.
Now that's very professional and clinical, so let's cut through all the fancy talk and talk about what really happened.

The world changed.

Wait, you didn't notice it?

I don't mean that mountains crumbled, or temperatures cooled (ya, right), or politicians suddenly respected each other and worked for the common good.  I mean lives were changed- some forever.

An 8th grader in our group led FOUR neighborhood children into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

A high school sophomore girl noticed people living and working in the street, and now that she's noticed them, she talks to them.

A teen aged boy realized that there is a difference between doing the religious rituals of some church traditions and really living and working for and with Jesus.

Adults came to new appreciation for teenagers, and vice-versa.

People shared their stories, their gifts, their food with each other and with strangers.

We worshiped and we worked.  We swung hammers and opened bibles.  We prayed and we painted.

We sweated but God worked.  And when God works, the world changes.

But maybe the most practical change (forgive the word; I know all of this is practical) was the reason we paid money to work for strangers.  When asked why we would do this, we were given a GREAT answer.

We're doing this because we love Jesus.  Can I tell you about Him?
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