Do My Morals Govern My Wallet?

I remember when I was in middle school, there was this new drink to come out. It was bottled – like, in real glass! – and had delicious fruit flavors that sounded exotic, like kiwi watermelon. I wanted some SO BAD. Everybody was drinking it. They even had facts under the pop-top lids, so you were LEARNING while you drank it! I would envy my friends as they would show up with these bottles at school, and I would have my stupid Diet Pepsi or whatever.

It was called Snapple, and my mother wouldn’t let us buy it, because she had heard that the parent company had ties to the KKK.

Now, you can go check that out and see that, obviously, it wasn’t true. But in 1991, we didn’t have Snopes to guide us in the way of urban legends, so my mother stuck to her convictions. Now that I’m old enough to have to make the same decisions, I’m really kind of proud of her. Her money would not go to support things that she didn’t believe in.

Now I’m staring into the belly of the beast, and I’m just not sure how to feel.

The Boy Scouts of America

Last week, the Boy Scouts of America – which, is to be noted, is a privately-run group – reaffirmed their stance that they would not welcome or accept gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered scouts or leaders into their organization. They feel – and have been open about it – that the LGBT lifestyle is not reflective of what they believe represents their organization.

For whatever reason, we’ve never had either of the boys mention anything about Boy Scouts. I don’t know if it’s just not big around here locally or if they just didn’t know such a thing exists, but I’ve asked Bryan frankly what we would do if they did ask to join.

Bryan mentioned that Jack is of an age that we can discuss openly with him why we’d hesitate to participate with the organization, but also noted that we send him to a private Christian academy. His curriculum is just as .. traditional as the beliefs touted in Boy Scouts, and yet we pay for him to attend there and be educated in those beliefs.

“How would we address that hypocrisy?” I asked.

Bryan sighed. “I don’t know. I guess it’s up to us to educate him in diversity.”

So there’s something to be said there. It’s up to us as parents to show the kids what a colorful tapestry we are as human beings, but .. it feels incredibly exclusive to participate in a group that doesn’t acknowledge all the threads.

I was especially moved by the recent flux of Eagle Scouts returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, because they feel that the recent affirmation of exclusion is counter-intuitive for what they stood for. I also didn’t realize how much weight an Eagle Scout award carried, and just how important it is for it to be returned.

In summation, we haven’t had to cross this bridge. But my boys are still young, and there’s still enough time for one of two things to happen: they could want to join the Boy Scouts, or they could discover that they are gay. Both of those things could happen. And I hate that one completely negates the other.

Chick-Fil-A

Just as I had never been affected by the Boy Scouts of America and their stance, the recent affirmation of Chick-Fil-A’s similar stance has shaken us to our core. We eat there weekly, to be frank. Bryan grew up dining at the original Chick-Fil-A, actually called The Dwarf House, because his father worked overnight at the Atlanta Airport and the Dwarf House was open around the clock. When we visited Atlanta in March, we took the boys there so they could go through the little, dwarf-sized door.

And I have similar ties. A couple of our local Chick-Fil-As were owned and managed by my BFF’s dad when we were in high school. Needless to say, there were always trays of chicken at every occasion. Their chicken tastes like home to me. I know that sounds silly to say, but seriously! A lot of my friends worked there in high school and college, and we still know folks who work there.

This is the subject Bryan and I cannot agree on.

(Mostly because I cannot settle on any one opinion.)

There is the one hand, where I feel that exclusion is not okay. I am very much not a fan of Focus on the Family, which is an organization that backs traditional marriage, but in a fire and brimstone manner.

But then – there is the other hand. In which Chick-Fil-A does so much right.

Chick-Fil-A gives millions of dollars in scholarships to its employees that are starting college. They donate to MULTIPLE charities year-round. They donate food to emergency workers like no one’s business. They provide books in their children’s meals, instead of some crappy plastic toy that I’ll just end up throwing away anyway. They use high quality products, which make me feel better about driving through. They believe in customer service like none other I’ve seen.

They do so much right. And I’m sad that this is such a large wrong.

But here’s where Bryan and I had lengthy discussions. Bryan pointed out that Chick-Fil-A’s mission statement has always started in a religious manner. They are closed on Sundays, to allow their employees time to worship. They have never, ever hidden who they are. So this recent admission by founder Truett Cathy that he is “guilty as charged” when it comes to backing traditional marriage is not a surprise. It is not new.

They are also not tasked with shaping young men into upstanding citizens, as are the Boy Scouts.

They are tasked with deliciousness. And on that, they deliver.

Yesterday, the Jim Henson Company announced that they would be severing any ties with Chick-Fil-A. They announced that any backlogged payment that came from Chick-Fil-A would immediately be donated to GLAAD. To be honest, that was what lowered the hammer for me. Jim Henson has been my moral beacon for many, many years.. his message of inclusion through puppetry shaped a lot of who I am today. It’s not easy being green, as Kermit says. It’s not easy being different. So we should love everyone in their various shades of green.

But – doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t exclude those who disagree with us? I’m speaking to inclusion, of all people, and doesn’t that mean that I should preach tolerance? Doesn’t that mean I should have an open dialogue in my home, with my progeny, to explain what we believe to be fundamental truths?And that we still acknowledge and love those who don’t necessarily agree with us?

I DON’T KNOW.

(Of course I know.)

As has been said, the front lines of the civil rights movement was the lunch counters. Where you spend your money matters.

I stand with Jim Henson and Kermit.

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16 Responses to Do My Morals Govern My Wallet?

  1. Hillary July 24, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    My Eagle Scout husband has been contemplating turning in his certificate and is not supportive of our boys joining. We don’t go to Chik-Fil-A often, but I’ve decided to make that as close to never as possible. I’ve been boycotting Domino’s for years, ever since they started the planned college town, Ave Maria, in central Florida. I know my money isn’t exactly missed by large corporations, but it makes me feel better to be doing something.
    Hillary wants you to read ..Be warned: rant ahead

  2. Zoot July 24, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Donnie and I have been talking about the Chik-fil-A thing a lot and my dilemma – as always – is that if you really try to spend with your morals, just about EVERY company is doing something I don’t agree with. And let’s face it – I’m LAZY – I can research every dollar I spend.

    BUT – Chick-fil-a is so OPEN about their stance that I don’t agree with. It’s all over the media. Everyone knows about it. So now, I feel like if I eat there, it is telling people, “YES. I know they hate the gays. I’m okay with that.” Other companies I can just plead innocence because I don’t know.

    Same with boy scouts. If everyone around me is aware of their stance that I don’t agree with, then I can’t turn a blind eye. I’m not going to judge people who do, by any means, I just can’t do it myself. But I’m also not going to get uppity and act like I don’t ever spend my money on immoral companies. Donnie hates I buy Nike stuff b/c they sponsor Michael Vick. But I don’t really understand that sponsorship nor have I researched any of his “repentance” that he’s supposedly done. So I don’t know for sure if they’re supporting evil. And I like their clothes.

    So…for me? No chicken sandwiches or boy scouts. But I’m not going to get on a high horse about it because I’m not disciplined enough to research every dollar I spend.

  3. Elizabeth July 24, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Ok, so I never eat at Chick Fil A, just because we don’t have any.
    And I had no idea they did any of those things, which is great. I don’t have a problem with their religious beliefs or the charity work they do. This is America, you can believe whatever you want.
    However, for me, they crossed the line when they donated money to groups that actively work against gay marriage. When you deny an entire group of Americans a right that all other Americans have, you are violating civil rights. It’s not ok, in America, to violate someone’s civil rights even if your religion tells you that it is. Your religion is in charge of what you do, sure, but not what every American does. That’s at the foundational belief of our country. So when they take money that I spend in their store and they turn around and give it to organizations that use that money to deny Americans civil rights and to break down the separation of church and state? That’s where I draw the line.
    Believe whatever you want, all the live long day. Close on Sunday, whatever, I could not care less. But giving money to Prop 8? Nope, not going to support that.
    Elizabeth wants you to read ..What I Wore This Week: Now With More Bronchitis

  4. Elizabeth July 24, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    And Miss Zoot makes an excellent point too. Since I AM getting up on my high horse about a place I never even eat, shouldn’t I make sure that all the other stores I shop at (Target, Anthropologie) etc, aren’t taking my money and giving it to support Prop 8? But then if I find out that all these stores are all giving money to causes I hate, then what do I do? Where can one shop? ARGH I WILL HAVE TO GET ALL MY CLOTHES FROM COSTCO.
    Elizabeth wants you to read ..What I Wore This Week: Now With More Bronchitis

  5. Catherine July 24, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Thank you Sarah for expressing you opinion in such a level-headed, kind way and for also acknowledging the good that Chick-fil-A does as a company. I know that people are offended, but it is so hard to read and hear such hateful, mean things that some people have said in the media and on the internet. I just want people to know that after 25 years of being an operators daughter, I have never, not once, seen anyone denied food or employment based on any sort of diversity. (Social, religious or otherwise.) Ultimately, they sell chicken, and I think they do a darn good job of it! =) Btw, I hope you are finally feeling better.

    • Sarah Lena July 24, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      I wanted you to know that both Bryan and I SINCERELY believe in the good that Chick-Fil-A (and even specifically your daddy’s store!) has done over there years. We know pregnant high-school dropouts that were employed there, when no one else would hire them; we know MANY MANY kids who got scholarships from there that found it hard to qualify for any other scholarships.. and we also know that Truett Cathy is standing up for what he believes in. That’s to be commended, even if we disagree with him.

      There’s a LOT of good that CFA has done, no question.

  6. Nik July 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Do I support or condone gay marriage? No I do not. Do I judge my lesbian cousin? Sure don’t.
    Do I give a hoot if my fast food restaurant supports gay marriage? Absolutely not.
    Am I proud of what I believe in? Yes.
    Am I proud that others have their own individualized beliefs?
    Absolutely!
    With that being said..who really cares. Some people are making this a crusade against gays. Some are making it a crusade against Christians. How awesome would it be if we just didn’t make it anything?

  7. susie July 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I’ve been struggling with the Chick-Fil-A question. That’s one of the things we miss most, having moved away from the South. We get excited every time we go home because we get to eat it. I swear I didn’t even like it that much till I moved away, but the thought seriously makes my mouth water. I’ve been getting uncomfortable about it though, for the reasons you state: they are so damn LOUD about it, and they are actively working against gay marriage by funding organizations I am decidedly NOT OK with. CFA definitely does a lot of good, and I know the individual restaurants do great things in their communities, but I’m pretty sure I’m done with them till all this BS is history.

    Boy scouts is easier for me, somehow – I guess because I’ve never personally been involved. That one ends up being cut and dry. I’ll take my hypothetical sons camping myself, thanks.
    susie wants you to read ..The Hill, Part 2: HepB

  8. dellekincaid July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Here’s my thing. This is MORE than the argument that everyone should be allowed to have their own opinion because this is America. Yes- we have known that Chick-fil-a has been a Christian organization all this time. And that is great with me, because this IS America. But, I know a lot of Christians who are fine with homosexuality. So, to make the assumption that because we always knew that they were a religious organization and their beliefs as a result means that we always knew they were actively opposing GLBT people, is, in my opinion, not correct. It is the recent statements and revelations that they have been taking their profits and using them to actively support political and social agendas with which I oppose that has made me decide to no longer be a patron. In addition to funding these organizations, like the boyscouts, they will not allow GLBT children or adults participate in the various camps that they support. That is not okay. I just can’t be aligned with this company in any way. Kermit apparently feels the same way. It is their ACTIONS not their beliefs with which I take issue. Hateful actions rooted in bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia, have no place in a civilized society. And, when last I checked, THAT is what America is. A civilized society in which we all are allowed to have our individual beliefs, but have to be civil in our ACTIONS. Attacking people, kids and adults alike, for something that they have no control over is not civil. I will, however, miss their chicken minis. But not eating their is hardly that big of a sacrifice in the bigger picture….

  9. Aunt Gee July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Most of the people that I love most in this world are gay. I will always support the gay community and advocate for e
    Aunt Gee wants you to read ..Thanksgiving: A tradition steeped in blood and served with a side of artery-clogging awkward family food moments. And pumpkin.

  10. Aunt Gee July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    …Equal rights for gay families. (I had a weird thumb spasm, and my comment got spliced!) I respect that not everyone feels that way, and I’m ok with that. I just can’t in good conscience support an organization that takes a stance that excludes people I love. I’m too Italian for that.

    Now, I don’t go out of my way to research companies I buy from to see if they meet all of my “moral shopping criteria”. When it’s just so open like that, I can’t help but react accordingly. I’m not saying everyone who eats at Chick-Fil-A is a horrible person who hates gay people and shouldn’t eat there. I just personally can’t do it now, knowing what I know without feeling like I’m turning my back on people I love dearly. I love “the gays” more than my chicken!
    Aunt Gee wants you to read ..Thanksgiving: A tradition steeped in blood and served with a side of artery-clogging awkward family food moments. And pumpkin.

  11. Geoff July 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Just read that a protest is planned for this Saturday, 1pm, at the CFA in south Huntsville. This is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion. I’d link to it but can’t from my phone.

  12. Melissa July 25, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Well said, Sarah.

    I am sooooo torn on this. Mostly because, as you said, they totally deliver on deliciousness. And if I’ve realized anything thus far with this pregnancy it’s that (most) food I loved before getting pregnant tastes even better right now… so I’ve had a hard time pulling away.

    And like most other folks have stated, I don’t have the time to research every place in which I shop. I have no issue with people standing up for what they believe… but just as CFA and various other organizations have done, so can I… so can we. Delle hit the nail on the head.

  13. Ginger July 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    My husband and I had a long talk about this just last night actually. We both LOVE CFA. Love. It is the best place to take our kiddo for a special but easy dinner out, and oh do we love that chicken. Love.

    But.

    We decided that we just can’t. It would be one thing if Cathy believed what he believed and that was that. But when the money *I* spend at a company is going (directly or indirectly) to things I would never in a million years put my name on, AND they are so incredibly vocal about it? I can’t. I wish I could, because I’m gonna miss that chicken and that lemonade, but I can’t willfully ignore something that is slapping me in the face at every turn.

    I’m like Zoot, I don’t do a lot of research. I’m a lazy consumer, and I know it. And you can absolutely find things to abhor in MOST companies, even as you can find things that are admirable at the same companies. But when it’s so overt? The only voice I have is with my money. So no more CFA for me (but MAN do I wish I had known the last time was gonna be the last time. I would have savored it more).
    Ginger wants you to read ..Sensory Overload

  14. The BookMamma July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Great post. Like a lot of you, I am torn for all the reasons Sarah laid out. I’m having a harder time with Boy Scouts however, since at least with CFA I have options. (Zaxby’s is rocking my world of late!)

    What are the alternatives to Boy Scouts? Especially when my 7yo is anxiously awaiting joining Cub Scouts this year? The good local troops have done in the Madison community is too long to list here, but I’m still struggling with feeling comfortable letting him join. Any ideas?

  15. The BookMamma August 1, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Hey LOOK! Have your CFA and eat it too!

    http://skippingtothepiccolo.com/2012/08/01/have-your-chik-fil-a/
    The BookMamma wants you to read ..The Key to Shopping Tax-Free

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