Inside Story on Chick-fil-A Controversy
N.C. based journalist who did original interview says, whole thing against the company ‘was distorted, an invented, manufactured story’ by gay activism
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
CARY — Some six weeks after writing an article about Dan Cathy, Biblical Recorder Editor K. Allan Blume is still shaking his head in disbelief at how the words of the Chick-fil-A president were distorted to create a maelstrom of controversy.
“He said nothing offensive, nothing putting down anyone,” Blume said Wednesday from his home in Boone. “I was very upset that the whole thing was distorted, an invented, manufactured story.”
Claims that Dan Cathy had denounced gay marriage and resulting attacks from homosexual activist groups exploded in the mainstream media after Blume’s article, published on the Biblical Recorder Web site and in the print edition the first week of July, was reprinted by Baptist Press at its BPNews.com site July 16.
Blume said one of the first national stories he saw was Huffington Post’s version, which was headlined “Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A President, On Anti-Gay Stance: ‘Guilty As Charged.’” He said during his entire interview with Cathy, the words “gay marriage,” “lesbian” or “homosexual” were never once spoken and that the businessman’s “guilty as charged” comment was in response to a question about his company’s support of family values.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy had added during his June 20 half-hour conversation with Blume in the prayer room of Colonial Baptist Church where he would later address a men’s seminar. The editor said the two had discussed a variety of topics from sports (the Chick-fil-A Bowl features an ACC/SEC matchup) to the company’s “second-mile” service philosophy (Matthew 5:41). It was only when Blume asked about Chick-fil-A coming under attack for providing food for an “Art of Marriage” event in Pennsylvania last year that Cathy began to discuss family values.
After the Christian executive’s quotes were taken out of context and presented as anti-gay statements, Blume said that some reporters told him that when someone champions the traditional family it is automatically assumed that they are speaking against gay marriage.
“My response to them is that he didn’t bring up polygamy, which is also not considered a family value, so why didn’t they write an article saying that he was against polygamy? He didn’t say anything about people living together without being married, so why wasn’t that an issue?,” Blume challenged, pointing out the lack of logic in the anti-gay assumption. “He said ‘we are married to our first wives,’ so why didn’t someone say that Cathy hates divorced people?”
“It is obvious the gay community was looking to twist this because they don’t like the fact that Chick-fil-A invests some of their money in groups like Focus on the Family and Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Blume added. “They stirred this up, literally invented it.”
The Weekly Standard, among a number of other publications that have taken a closer look at Blume’s interview, agree.
“To say that Cathy condemned gay marriage is stunningly dishonest,” wrote The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway. “And yet, Cathy’s had to endure headlines such as ‘Boston Mayor Blocks Chick-fil-A Franchise from City over Homophobic Attitude’ — and that headline comes from Time, which is allegedly one of the more responsible media outlets.”
He said more than a few news organizations owe Chick-fil-A “some serious corrections and/or clarifications.”
“It’s also been known for decades that Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians that support traditional famly values, yet only now has there been a national furor over Cathy and his company’s position on this,” Hemingway added. “That controversy came only by taking his quotes out of context to suggest he was attacking supporters of gay marriage rather than defending his own beliefs. And it certainly doesn’t justify supposedly mainstream news organizations calling him ‘homophobic’ — an astonishingly biased and juvenile way of framing what he said.”
Charlotte Observer columnist Mark Washburn pointed out that Cathy didn’t sound like he was pushing a political agenda when he told the Biblical Recorder: “We’re a business that serves the public, all people are welcomed into Chick-fil-A, and frankly we do not feel called to weigh in on a lot of social activism that’s taking place as it relates to the definition of the family, but we do definitely want to encourage strong families.”
The comment was completely in line with the statement released when the restaurant came under attack weeks later: “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
“They have been consistent. There was no change of policy. They have stayed on course and I think their testimony has been strengthened by it,” Blume said.
Still, he said he was upset that the quotes he published in the Biblical Recorder were later distorted, and that what were very positive comments during the Cathy interview were turned into something so negative.
“It bothered me that this could cause the Cathy family any kind of pressure,” he said. “Although I know once Mike Huckabee got it and started the appreciation effort, it turned into a positive thing.”
He said after Chick-fil-A restaurants were flooded with customers Aug. 1 showing support for Cathy’s right to free speech, several people suggested that his article had “awakened a sleeping giant.”
One thing Blume said the experience taught him is that Christians must be aware that anything they say can be twisted, no matter how positive the comment.
“Sadly, this is the truth, especially in today’s secular climate,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But rather than make us timid, we must be bold to speak the truth with both our actions and our words so that Christ is glorified.”
“That is the beauty of this bad situation,” he added. “Although it put the heat on Chick-fil-A, it also shined a light on a business model that employs some wonderful Biblical principles. People who may not have noticed before got to see that these Judeo-Christian ethics really do work in the real world.”