Chick-fil-A And The Conservative Appropriation Of Christianity As An Anti-Gay Wedge
Earlier this week, a ThinkProgress reader wrote us, objecting to our description of Chick-fil-A as a ‘Christian-run’ company. He cited the many steps the Episcopal Church has taken toward supporting LGBT equality as ‘real Christianity in action,’ accusing Chick-fil-A of using Christianity as ‘cover for their own bigotry.’ Obviously, ThinkProgress cannot and will not impose judgment upon how any individual, anti-LGBT or otherwise, expresses their religious beliefs. Nevertheless, the reader’s concern has considerable merit, and as conservatives flock to ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,’ it’s important to consider what exactly they are defending and how.
Arguably, the rise of the Christian Right is due for a 40th anniversary to mark the appropriation of Christianity by conservatives like Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Ralph Reed. This coalition of mostly evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Mormons has largely succeeded in reducing the cultural definition of being Christian to those who share their beliefs. The present-day ravings of faux-historian David Barton seek to push even farther and erase the religious diversity at the heart of American patriotism. The ‘culture war’ over LGBT equality presents one of the clearest dividing lines, with anti-gay talking heads like Tony Perkins over-dominating the media on behalf of ‘Christianity’ while LGBT-affirming Christians are severely under-represented.
Some have tried to shrug off the controversy about Chick-fil-A’s donations to anti-gay hate groups and condemnations of marriage equality, but it provides a very clear example of how conservatives hide behind the respect they expect for their religious beliefs to avoid accountability for the harm caused by their anti-gay words and actions. In doing so, they maintain a wedge between ‘Christianity’ and the LGBT community that is far more volatile than the race wedges they have attempted. Here are some current examples of this ‘cover’ in action: