The reason I found myself reading this rather elitist East Coast publication is because I was listening to the radio the other day and the radio personality made reference to an article in The New Yorker about Chick-fil-A. From the discussion on the radio program, it seemed that the article was not very complimentary of Chick-fil-A.
I was sorry to hear that because I kind of like Chick-fil-A. I also appreciate the fact that it is a restaurant chain that is unashamedly Christian. I think their food is pretty good, too. And, along with a number of my friends, we have been glad to see a number of those restaurants popping up in West Michigan.
Anyway, back to The New Yorker article. The title of the article was, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.” The writer, Dan Piepenbring, has an obvious bias against Christians. That’s too bad. He says, “Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose begins with the words, ‘to glorify God,’ and that proselytism thrums below the surface of its new (Manhattan) restaurant.”
I fail to see how glorifying God is proselytism. No one is forcing anyone to become a Christian just because you eat lunch at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. By definition, the word “proselytize” means “to convert or to attempt to convert someone from one religion, belief or opinion to another.”
Glorifying God is actually a great goal to have in one’s life. I also fail to see how that is “creepy.” What is really creepy is a sentence toward the end of the article which reads, “Its (Chick-fil-A’s) arrival in the city augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train.” That’s just disgusting.
The article seems to me like a desperate person’s failed attempt to childishly mock and ridicule an obviously successful business enterprise with name-calling. My mother taught me early on in life not to call people names. To do so is disrespectful and not in keeping with the Christian values she and my dad brought me up with.
But what I really like about Chick-fil-A is that they stand for something.
I remember years ago a parishioner of the church I served in Iowa saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” In this day and age of moral relativism where “truth is whatever you say it is,” it is refreshing to have people or even businesses stand for something.
My son works for Request Foods in Holland. Request Foods is a leading producer of frozen prepared entrees, side dishes and other specialty items. It is worth noting that right here in our own backyard is a company that has very similar values to Chick-fil-A. In fact, the mission statement of Request Foods is: “To honor God in all we do, to help people develop, to pursue excellence, and to grow profitably.” This statement is spelled out in the company’s values: “Honor God, commitment to excel, teamwork, respect for individuals, and continuous improvement.”
Honoring God is listed as the company’s top value. And this is how that is described: “God provides the ultimate standard for our conduct. With the goal of honoring God in our decisions and actions, we will choose to be honest, fair, courteous and professional. We are dedicated to placing priority on Christian principles in every aspect of our business.”
The words of Jesus come to mind where he says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) A similar thought comes from the Apostle Paul who, in I Corinthians 10:31, says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
To my mind, Chick-fil-A and Request Foods are striving to do just that. And their standards are of high integrity. Really, who could ask for more? Would that we all had such high goals in life! Obviously, I am thankful to have a son working in such an environment. Having spoken to him about this on several occasions, I know it has been of great benefit to him and those who he works with on a daily basis.
There’s certainly nothing creepy about that!
The Rev. John Koedyker is pastor of congregational care at First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.