Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Oh yeah, they have great sandwiches, incredible customer service and their peach shakes were good enough to consider selling your soul. But when it comes to religious tolerance, they have a long way to go.
So yesterday, during our weekly pilgramage to Target, my wife reminded me that we needed to stop by the dollar savings section to "pick up stuff for the Chic-Fil-A boxes."
She said this matter of factly, as if I had clue the first as to what she was talking about.
"Huh?" My face said.
"We picked up these charity boxes from Chic-Fil-A that you fill up with gifts for underpriviledged kids."
Great idea, right?
Now, like most folks, I think I fit under the category of "good people." I grew up with parents who were active in giving to charity. One of my strongest memories is driving through Philly with my father, delivering turkeys and gifts to people who didn't have enough money to get them for themselves. It was a defining moment in my life as it brought home how lucky I was. It's also something I've wanted to replicate with my kids, so I saw this as a nice opportunity.
Needless to say, I was excited -- an emotion my children never see on their dad's face while shopping. Their reciprocal excitement from being ENCOURAGED to buy as many toys as possible was only equalled by their stunning disappointment that these toys weren't actually for them. Welcome to charity girls, smells good don't it?
So after that spirit-crushing trip, we returned home with a couple bags of stuff and started filling the boxes like middle-aged Santas. It was really . . . nice. It was warming to think $35 could cause some kid to dust off a smile he hadn't used as much as he'd like -- even if it was just for one day and even if it was just over a coloring book and a toy dinosaur.
While I was filling one box, I happened upon the sheet that accompanied it; a blue worksheet intended for my chidren to fill out. it asked their names, what they like to do, their favorite this and favorite that. Then, about half way down the page, there was this bold question/assumption:
"I love Jesus because . . . "
And then there were three blank lines after it, like there's a bunch of 8-year-old religious scholars who can expound on the significance of a magic Jew who lived before Dora or even, gasp, the Electric Company. At most, I would think a kid would finish the sentence with "because he turned Christmas over to Santa Claus."
And what's with this "love Jesus" stuff? Maybe Jesus and I aren't that cool. Maybe we're like "work friends" or just neighborly. You know we wave when we see each other but we don't know each others last names (which isn't saying much because no one seems to know Jesus' last name). Either way, I don't know that I like Chic-Fil-A rushing Jesus and I into some serious thing. I mean back off, will ya?
What really pissed me off was not the pint-size preaching, it was the assumption that my giving had something to do my supposed love with Jesus (again, we are NOT going out, OK?). If I knew I had to be "This Religious" to ride this ride, I would have gone to a different park. But, seriously, this isn't really about me, specifically. I don't practice any religion, so I know Chic-Fil-A doesn't even consider me, but what about the millions of Muslims or Hindus, or, uh, what do they call them, you know Jesus' mom and dad were . . . oh yeah, JEWS! What, they don't find happiness with a #1 combo with those fucking tasty waffle fries? Do THEY have to go steady with Jesus in order to fill a couple of boxes with middle-class regret in the shape Transformer pencil sharpners to gain Chic-Fil-A's affections?
I know you're thinking, "dude, just leave the question blank."
Sure, that would be the "rational" thing to do. Besides, Chic-Fil-A is an openly-Christian business (they're closed on Sundays). But this is about principle. There's principalities to be considered.
Soooooooo . . . . we left it blank, but I desperately WANTED to write something very snarky in there like
"I love Jesus because he doesn't care if I'm a Christian, and neither should you" or "I love Jesus because he knows all the winning lotto numbers."
Truth is, I'm not going to stop going to Chic-Fil-A, not unless I want my children to slit my neck in my sleep, but I just wanted to point out our society's bias towards the faithful. It may seem harmless or even cute, but to me it's bigotry. Deep, golden-fried bigotry that goes great with lemonade.