Chick-fil-A and the Mosque

There has been so much written, said, posted, and preached about Chick-fil-A, most of which occurred while I was out of the country, missing the entire phenomenon. As I watched the pictures of people lining up to support Chick-fil-A and as I read the way the media slanted the story, I was struck by two things: the loyalty many Americans have to this very good, well-run, admirable American business and the tendency on the left to demonize those with whom they disagree. The charge of bigotry is too loosely employed.

But, for Christians, I think this is an important moment. I sense that most Americans who went to Chick-fil-A on Appreciation Day did so, not necessarily out of support for traditional marriage values, but to support the right of a businesses owner to express his views and not suffer retribution from the government. Freedom of religion, of speech is a vital aspect of the American experiment. It was not a demonstration of hate against homosexuals. There were even many Christians who decided to use this as an opportunity to make friends with those in the gay community as a way of showing the love of Christ.

But there is an aspect of this that I’m not sure many Christians are thinking through. If Chick-Fil-A is a moment where Christians stand up and say, “boycotts are wrong” and more importantly, “freedom of religion matters,” then we need to ask ourselves if we’re being consistent.

For instance, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, there is a lot of controversy over the building of a mosque. Many Christians in that area oppose it and implore the federal government to disallow it. It looks as if their attempts will be in vain and the mosque will open. There was similar uproar when a mosque was proposed near Ground Zero in New York City.

I’m not sure if the anti-mosque Christians in Tennessee are pro-Chick-fil-A or not, but this is a moment for Christians to pause and consider the consistency of our message and the real cultural battles worth waging.I think the real battle is for religious freedom. Will we have a society that allows us to express our religious views without fear of retribution? It is my view that Christians should actively fight for this. But we must not only fight for the right of Chick-fil-A to open for business in places like Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere, but we should fight for the rights of Muslims or any other religious group to worship freely.

I don’t think we realize that when we push the government to shut down a religion we don’t like, we’re also giving them the power to do the same thing to a religion we do like. I believe, as do most evangelicals, that Christianity is the truth and that all other religions are false paths to God. But I believe that those other religions, however false, should have the right to express themselves freely in our society. I also believe that the gospel is more powerful than a mosque and that God is not threatened by the presence of other religions. We should win the argument, not with the force of government power, but by the strength of our arguments, by the testimony of our changed lives, and ultimately, by the moving of the Spirit in the hearts of those who don’t yet know Jesus.

In other words, if we fight for the rights of the Muslims to build a mosque today, we’re also fighting for the rights of Bible-believing churches to preach the gospel, however culturally unacceptable, tomorrow. We’re fighting for Christians businessmen like Dan Cathy to express his views on marriage.

This is the very freedom that many around the world don’t enjoy. This is the freedom that brought the Pilgrims to our shores hundreds of years ago. This is the freedom that made America unique.

Whether its Chick-Fil-A or a mosque in Murfreesboro, I think religious freedom is a fight worth waging.

Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He previously served five years as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church. He is a contributor to Leadership Journal, Homelife,, Stand Firm,” and a variety of other evangelical publications. He has written several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “Chick-fil-A and the Mosque

  1. I myself was a little tired of everyone jumping on the Chic Fil A bandwagon. But maybe that was because, as a pastor, I saw a lot of people "pro-Chic Fil A," yet who actions the rest of the time never struck me as "Pro-church." But the truth be told, many of them are the same who copy and paste all the Jesus pictures and statements, yet never seem to be assemble themselves with other believers on a regular basis.

    As I thought of all the ramifications of the issue, I never considered the Mosque angle. The one thing about that issue, which I don't have the answer for, is when does this go from a freedom of religion to a terrorist organization? Seems to be a bit of a slippery slope. When do we, as pro-bible, pro-family, get declared as terrorist down the road?

    One way most did not think this issue all the way through was when many were upset at the pro-homosexual crowds who wanted to boycott Chic Fil A. The same people who got upset at them wanting to boycott Chic Fil A were the same people who told me I should boycott Pepsi, Starbucks, etc. It seems both sides are often inconsistent in these areas.

    • Brad, I actually thought the Chick-fil-A support was good in that it seemed to be about freedom of religion. I think that had the mayors not threatened to keep the restaurants from their cities, there would have been no Appreciation Day. I also feel like if groups who disagree want to oppose by boycott–great. I'm not sure it's that effective (Christians fail at this constantly).

      Marty Duren actually has a great article on the inconsistencies on both sides. Well worth reading:

  2. Glad I'm not the only one thinking this way! I wrote last week about the need for those who are serious about protecting religious freedom (particularly here in middle TN) to be as passionate (or more) about the rights of Muslims to worship freely as they are about Dan Cathy's right to an opinion. But I can tell you for sure that a lot of the anti-Mosque Christians around here were at Chick-Fil-A last Wednesday.

  3. My only problem with the aspect of giving muslims freedom to worship (which they do have) is that I would NOT want to live in an area that turns into another Dearborn, MI, with their muslim festivals and stoning of Christians. There is talk of allowing them to invoke sharia (sp) law and that CANNOT be allowed. Religions do NOT have the right to subvert the rights of others, or make any part of our country into "little islam".

    • Carol, you say that they \”do have\” freedom to worship. But if we don\’t let them build a house of worship, how do they have freedom? And wouldn\’t we be similarly upset if the same municipalities denied us the right to build a church? I think this is inconsistent. Furthermore, I was in Dearborn, Michigan this year and I met many Christians with the opposite attitude as you. They wanted to go into Dearborn and engage the Muslim population with the gospel. I agree on Sharia law, but most of those fears are unfounded. Most muslims in America want freedom and opportunity. As followers of Christ, we cannot simultaneously resent a people group and still attempt to reach them with the gospel.

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