I’ve held off commenting on this topic for quite some time because, for anyone that knows me, I really like Chick-fil-A. Not just the chicken, which was fabulous, but also that, for the longest time we didn’t have one near me. I started eating a Chick-fil-A late, and only recently has there been one in my area.
So you can imagine that it was quite interesting when the latest commotion came about where Chick-fil-A changed their mix of charities that they were donating to and removed two Christian groups and picked up one that supports homosexuality.
So this raised a dilemma, for many on the Christian right were calling for a boycott to attempt to pressure Chick-fil-A to change their mind about the Salvation Army. Some were ambivalent. But what about me, the guy who has a Chick-fil-A cow on his desk and has told people how much he likes the place.
I have to say, it did affect my opinion of the company, but it wasn’t the first thing that made me wary. Earlier last year I read an article about how much it was changing from its original vision:
The Insider had an article out about Chick-fil-A, and it showed me a cause for concern:
“Truett had this philosophy always getting better, always getting better,” David Farmer, vice president of menu strategy and development at Chick-fil-A, said. “He didn’t care so much about getting bigger. He was just obsessed with getting better. He would drill that into us: If you focus on getting better, bigger will take care of itself.”
Farmer, who has worked at Chick-fil-A for nearly three decades, said Dan Cathy has a different approach, one centered on innovation. Dan wants to get better, but he’s also ready to get bigger.
In December 2012, Chick-fil-A opened an innovation center called The Hatch, a 35,000-square-foot building inspired by companies like Pixar and Apple. (The center is set to expand by roughly 15,000 square feet in the next few years.) Chick-fil-A’s headquarters are undergoing a Silicon Valley-esque transformation, with employees losing desks for an open-office plan filled with nooks, hanging chairs, and an upscale café selling vanilla cardamom lattes.
The mission statement — to glorify God — is still hanging by the front door, but posters hanging from the walls of The Hatch quote the Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki and the psychoanalyst Carl Jung.
The renovations represent a psychological shift at Chick-fil-A, taking Christian values and injecting them with Silicon Valley ideology.The church of chicken: The inside story of how Chick-fil-A used Christian values and a ‘clone army’ to build a booming business that’s defying the retail apocalypse and taking over America
While the article goes on to say that the values are not negotiable, it sounds like they aren’t in the foreground any more. Which seems weird to say when Dan Cathy made all the news a few years back by saying things that were politically incorrect, but Biblically sound.
Chick-fil-A put a big target on its back, and stood firm from the pressures from without, but neglected an attack from within. With the openings of other philosophers, to the siren-song of not offending anyone, I believe they let the culture get to their inside while believing that they had not. They have brought in management and leadership that are of the God+ variety, and are more liberal in their thinking.
This doesn’t affect the taste of their chicken, their southern hospitality, or their commitment to quality– at least, not yet. What it does do is take what truly made this place exceptional– that they were unafraid to be Christian in a secular society that was rebelling against Christian values. This caused some Christians to go out of their way to support the chain– and now they won’t.
Right now, I’ll still visit– I still enjoy their chicken and hospitality, and I love hearing “My pleasure” when you say thank you. But the path that they are on is the path to becoming just like everyone else, if not in what they offer then in what they believe.