BCI is digging through the latest news about Boston Mayor Menino’s criticism of Chick-fil-A and as of this writing, no one can find any statement from the Boston Archdiocese about the recent Chick-fil-A fracas.
For those unfamiliar with the fracas, the fast-food chain wants to open a francise in Boston. Mayor Menino, who, coincidentally, considers himself “Catholic,” got national attention after telling the Boston Herald that Chick-fil-A was unwelcome in Boston due to an executive’s criticism of same-sex marriage. “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult,” Menino was quoted as saying. The mayor backtracked a little bit and later said he would not block licensing the chain, but amidst a national uproar over the situation, the silence by the Boston Archdiocese is concerning.
In case the archdiocese is at a loss for words, here are a few examples they might draw from:
The president of Chick-fil-A opposes gay marriage. While this view goes against the grain in a state that made history by embracing it, it’s no reason for Mayor Thomas M. Menino to oppose a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Boston.
The fast food chicken sandwich chain was reportedly looking at property near Faneuil Hall…Then company president Dan Cathy stirred national controversy when he said that “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” In response, Menino told the Boston Herald, “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the City of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.
Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting… But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations
…using the power of government to freeze the company out of a city sends a disturbing message to all businesses. If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.
Ironically, Menino is citing the specific location along the Freedom Trail as a reason to block Chick-fil-A. A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents.
While the mayor’s support for policies of inclusion is admirable, his threat to deny a company the basic right to open a law-abiding business in a commercially zoned area was philosophically offensive and legally foolish.
As far as we can tell, no one has proven a pattern of Chick-fil-A discriminating against gay employees or prospective employees.
[New York City Mayor, Michael] Bloomberg, meanwhile, took to the airwaves in Gotham and said he’d welcome Chick-fil-A into Manhattan with open arms. The billionaire businessman-turned-New York mayor said Menino, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, are wrong “to look at somebody’s political views and decide whether or not they can live in the city, or operate a business in the city.”
So here we have yet another striking example of how the love that once dared not speak its name now wants to slap a muzzle on anyone uttering a word of resistance to its agenda. And this is the crowd that pleaded for tolerance?
Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, became a lighting rod for their vilification when he let it be known his life was shaped by biblically founded beliefs, one of which held that marriage is an institution ordained by God, defined through the ages as the union of a man and a woman.
For that affront to political correctness, he’s been portrayed in this town as a small-minded bigot whose business may be allowed here, but certainly won’t be warmly received.
This is civic insanity and it’s spreading like a plague…
There are dozens of other outstanding editorials that put this in proper perspective. In the midst of a national controversy, a voice of moral clarity from the local archdiocese giving support for the positions expressed by the president of Chick-fil-A seems appropriate. In these challenging times when Catholic Church and our moral views are under fierce attack, is it not appropriate for the Boston Archdiocese to make a statement saying a business owner’s religious beliefs should never be used as criteria to determine whether they can get a business license in Boston? Where is the commentary on Cardinal Sean’s blog? Hello!? Hello!?
(ps. BCI has been on a blogging break to handle other responsibilities and also go on a much-needed retreat and vacation. We are still here and blogging, just on a reduced schedule)