Thursday, July 19, 2012

Maybe You Should Read The Bible, Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy

Dear Dan Cathy:

You know those dreams you have when you imagine you've woken up, dressed, and you've already started your day? And then when the alarm goes off, you're shocked and disappointed, and you have to do it all over again? I think you had one of those. I think you sat down with your copy of the King James, said to yourself, "This is the year, ol' Dan finally blasts his way through this mother," and promptly passed out. Then you just vividly saw yourself paging all the way from Genesis to maps.

You have not cracked this book open. When you say you're against gay marriage, because you want to run your company according to "biblical principles" you are making this painfully clear. Plenty of people are going to kick you for being a homophobe. I want to kick you for being an ignoramus about the Bible.

Okay: Early on, a character called God meets up with this other guy named Moses. And he gives him a list of all the laws that people need to follow. With me so far? And - here's where it gets funny - one of God's biggest subjects is food preparation. The Big Guy has some kind of OCD about the whole deal.

He lists foods you can't eat or even touch, like pigs:

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. -Leviticus 11:7-8

He also says that mice are unclean - touching a dead mouse makes you ritually unclean until the evening of that day (Leviticus 11:31), which means if you ever had a worker deal with a rodent situation, the only decent thing to do would be to send them home with a day of paid leave.

God says that you can't combine certain foods:

Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. - Exodus 23:19

This passage appears two other times in the Bible, and scholars have generally taken it to mean you can't combine milk and meat.

And God also says when slaughtering animals for food you have to drain the blood away thoroughly, because no one is allowed to eat it.

Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. - Leviticus 7:27

It is extremely difficult to kill and prepare an animal so that you don't violate these commandments. You know who are experts at this sort of thing, Dan? Jews. Those guys kept the original notes from all that chatter, and they have people who figure out whether food products and restaurant meals are biblically clean. And according to OUKosher, if you walk into one of your joints you are allowed under God's law to eat these items:

Relish, Ice Cream, 2% Milk, 1% Chocolate Milk, Pickles, and Peppers in vinegar.

Every one of your "Classic Menu" items is out. The Deluxe Sandwich is extra bad, because of that cheese slice. And the Chicken Club adds bacon as well.

Your wraps are an abomination before the Lord. Your breakfast menu is like killing a hooker. And you know what? There's nothing specifically wrong about that carrot raisin salad, but the thing looks nasty.

Finally, there was an item in the Bible about a day of rest - a Sabbath. You're not supposed to do any work on that day, and in fact Numbers 15:32-36 has a story about how the Israelites found a man who was gathering sticks on that day, and the Lord ordered the entire congregation to stone him to death. So it's gratifying that you keep your restaurants closed one day a week to avoid needless tribal killings. The only problem is, you picked the wrong day. The Jews have been keeping records on this. You get forced to stone a guy to death, and it really sticks with you.

Christians switched to Sunday worship in honor of Christ's resurrection. And over the years they also relaxed dietary laws. There are plenty of other Old Testament rules they don't follow. You know what, though? God didn't take any of it back. At no point in Scripture did the Lord speak out of the clouds in a booming voice, and say: "Okay, tell you what. I was kind of a noodge about some of these rules. I made a new list of stuff - here's what you have to follow, and here's where you can kind of shirk." Never. There is no definitive "God was serious/God was just screwing with us" memo. And what that means is that if you are a Christian, you are almost definitely not any kind of Biblical literalist. You are living your whole life with a complicated relationship to Biblical law. There is a lot of gray, here, and you should never think you're in a position to judge others. Which is where many Christians actually want to be. This guy said it best:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? - Matthew 7:1-3

So... there's a lot of stuff in the Bible. You should really read it, Mr. Cathy.

I love your chicken, by the way. I mean, it's so unhealthy it's probably killed more Southerners than crystal meth, General Sherman, and illegal fireworks combined... but it's undeniably tasty. If you stop shooting your mouth off about that book you haven't read, people like me might come back.


  1. Actually there's a bit in the book of Acts where one of the Apostles gets a vision commanding him to eat unclean animals. He interprets it as permission to preach to Gentiles, who were previously unclean, but it's also used to justify the bacon cheeseburgers.

    I got sent to religious school as a kid. They weren't any happier about it than I was.

  2. Thank you! Found the link to the section:

    My argument is that it's unclear that it means all dietary laws are now void, and of course it doesn't cancel out blood drinking and changing the Sabbath.

    Certainly it's part of how Christianity evolved away from Judaic ritual, and that's completely valid. This is what religions do. But I think when you start saying your business is based on "Biblical principles" you shouldn't play fast and loose with Mosaic Law.

    Of course, I'm an agnostic, and my favorite type of burger has cheese and crabmeat on it. Bam!

  3. Considering what Jesus is recorded as saying, a rich man claiming to live by Biblical principles is pretty much an oxymoron. But Constantine did more to Romanize Christianity than he did to Christianize Rome; Christianity was shaped into a religion for the powerful a long time ago.

    P.S. I'm an atheist, which means that I probably believe more or less the exact same things you do. In practice the difference is mostly in whether the unbeliever feels conformist or confrontational toward the religious, and I've become rather tired of them.

  4. Christopher DavisonJuly 21, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    There are actually a few verses in the New Testament which say that those regulations of food and Sabbath are not really necessary because that's not what rids Christians from their sin (or the influence of the "flesh"). There was a purpose for those regulations at the time in the Old Testament, but now that Christ is revealed as the giver of salvation to cleanse people from their sins, those regulations do no good other than to show us that we are all sinners (myself and every other Christian included). These verses show us that now Christ is the answer rather than following dietary and Sabbath regulations.

    Colossians 2:16-23 (ESV)
    "16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

    "20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

  5. Sir:
    It seems to me that your suggestion that Mr. Cathy hasn't read the Bible because he doesn't keep kosher while saying his business is run on biblical principles is really rather sophomoric. Suppose a judge says "I'm following the principles of the U S Law Code." Then I said, well, what about those laws that treat blacks as property, and those that don't allow women to vote, and that forbid the sale of alcohol. He might just write me off as an ignorant rube, or perhaps he might tell me about amendments to the constitution, supreme court decisions and new laws that supercede the old. That's what happened between the Old Covenant (Mosaic law) and the New Covenant (the Law of Christ). As it has already been pointed out to you, the book of Acts shows kosher food law no longer applicable, and the concensus of Christian teaching since the 1st century shows a Sabbath to Lord's day transference. If Mr. Cathy were claiming to be an orthodox Jew, you would have a point. But since he is a Christian, and probably sides with the interpretation of most Christians ever--that food and sabbath and other ceremonial laws have been fulfilled and are no longer applicable, than maybe he has read, and understood the Bible a bit better than you.

    1. You'd be right... if you were modifying a manmade law or constitution.

  6. if the old testament laws are no longer applicable, why then would this not also include the law that a man shall not lay with another?


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