Recently I wrote a brief post on one of the social media sites regarding an extremely well publicized controversy that captured the national news media’s attention for more than a week. I want to expand on that post and touch on a couple of related topics equally as controversial – Class Warfare and Demonizing the Rich.
The negative media blitz started after an interview with Dan Cathy, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A, appeared in Baptist Press on July 16, 2012. Same-sex marriage proponents seized the opportunity to promote their ungodly cause by viciously and cowardly attacking one of the finest Christian run companies in all of the world. The ungodly attacks sickened me and countless other Christians and non-Christians alike.
In all of the hubbub Chick-fil-A and the Cathy family stayed true to the Word of God and well above the temptation to respond in kind. The public showed overwhelming support for the company and family by patronizing in mass their local Chick-fil-A in a vote of appreciation on August 1, 2012. The company hasn’t published sales figures yet but did report that sales hit an all-time one-day record.
Other than the obvious tactics under-girding the attacks by the same-sex marriage and gay community proponents, one in particular really troubles me – the deliberate attempt to classify the openly Christian Cathy family as a group of selfish rich bigots out of touch with reality, disinterested in supporting the communities they serve, and interested only in acquiring more wealth. This type of attack fits perfectly with the agenda of the Occupy Wall Street protestors and the class warfare tactics currently in use by one of the national political parties in their repeated “the rich don’t pay their fair share” campaign rhetoric.
After some scripture references, I’ll discuss this further below.
Scripture: (all ESV unless otherwise noted)
1 Timothy 6:17-19 – 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Matthew 19:23-24 – 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul exhorts Timothy to provide a special message to those of great wealth. Timothy’s message is quite appropriate for our topic. The rich are to recognize and avoid the temptations of sin that their wealth provides … avoid succumbing to pride, acting haughty, thinking too much of themselves, acting puffed up. Their eternal confidence must not be placed in their wealth here on earth. Instead they are to lay up their treasures in heaven. This is a direct teaching of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 6:19-21. The focus on our earthly treasure is wrong and sinful when it becomes the object of our actions. Jesus did not teach that wealth in and of itself is sinful. Instead, He taught that the “love of money” and all that it entails is sinful (Matthew 6:24). The use of money can serve both God and Satan.
Depending on riches will not get the rich man nor anyone else into heaven (Matthew 19:23-24). Trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord is man’s only hope for eternal life. Nothing we can do on our own will ever get us to heaven. Just like the common man, the rich are to see all of their possessions as God’s gift to them … they are assigned as God’s stewards of these possessions. “Everyone to whom much was (is) given, much will be required …” (Luke 12:48). Christians believe that EVERYTHING belongs to God. We are just His stewards. God expects all of us to be good stewards of His possessions. It is far superior for the Christian to be rich in good works.
It is easy to accuse and demonize the rich through class warfare. Class warfare has existed for thousands of years. Often times it was/is justified. Given time each of us could think of historical examples where class warfare was the source of great pain. Here are a few examples that came to my mind:
- The Russian Revolution in 1917 that led to the founding of the Soviet Union in 1922 – a single party socialist state that fell in 1991.
- Hitler‘s rise to power in Germany and the establishment of a one party Nazi dictatorship leading to World War II
- China’s revolutions in 1911 and 1949 where tens of millions were killed when the masses were pitted against the ruling classes. A further note – I believe that China’s current communistic/socialistic system is in danger of a near future class warfare battle – currently 98% of China’s 1.3 billion people have less than $7,600 equivalent USA annual income. Only 2% pay taxes because the government owns and controls most businesses.
- The French Revolution (1789-1789) – a “period of radical and social upheaval…”
Sadly, both the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA are currently engaged in class warfare rhetoric. The Democrats in particular seem to be basing much of their presidential election strategy on this tactic … attack the rich … repeat over and over that the rich are not paying their fair share … pit the masses against the “wealthy” minority, contend that small business did not “build” their own business … and on and on ….
I submit that the ugly and unGodly strategy of pitting the masses against the wealthy is based primarily on covetousness. In the Ten Commandments, the Bible clearly defines covetousness as a sin (see Exodus 20, especially verse 17). All tax systems are a form of wealth redistribution and most democratic governments use some form of taxation to accomplish it. Governments have to pay for their services and must have a way to raise revenues. But when the taxes become burdensome on a small percentage of the population you have to ask the question … is that “fair”? What is a “fair share” when it comes to taxation? Is it 0%, 10%, 15%, 28%, 33%, 39%, 50%, 70%, 90% or 100%? Perhaps I will write on that in a future article, but if you are interested in it now you can refer to this Wall Street Journal article. Suffice it to say that even taxing the top 10% of tax payers at a 100% tax rate, in other words taking everything they earn, won’t cover the spending gap generated by the current administration. So it is an outright lie … and class warfare … to say that all of the USA fiscal problems can be solved by having the rich pay their fair share. Only God defines what is fair. God owns it all anyway and none of us will take any of our wealth with us when we leave this world.
So, how do I tie all of this up and link it back to my opening comments provided above in the “Background” section? Let’s return to the attack of the Cathy family and their Chick-fil-A business. The interviewer for the Baptist Press article mentioned above pointed out to Dan Cathy that “some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family.” Cathy responded with this exact discourse on traditional marriage:
“Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
That was the extent of Mr. Cathy’s comments. Almost immediately Mr. Cathy’s comments were twisted by those groups in support of same-sex marriage to grab media attention and further their “cause”. In summing up the situation on July 27, 2012, CNN reported: “Proponents of same-sex marriage spread Cathy’s comments, eventually creating a firestorm of criticism on social media, including assertions that his comments and position were bigoted and hateful.” Political leaders in major cities like Chicago and Boston jumped on the criticism bandwagon saying they would block Chick-fil-A’s expansion into their area, only later when confronted having to retreat from their unlawful positions. But, when fires start they can consume everything in their path. And in this case, that’s what the same-sex proponents hoped would happen to Chick-fil-A. To the contrary, at the height of the controversy, Chick-fil-A experienced its busiest day ever on August 1, 2012 setting all-time sales records. This was in direct response to Mike Hukabee’s (former Governor of Arkansas) call for a national Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in support of the company and its Christian values. The response of the same-sex marriage supporters was to stage their “kiss in” at Chick-fil-A locations across the nation two days later. Though the media boasted about the response, it was basically a failure and soon after the controversy died down.
But one thing really struck me during the whole incident. It was the level of class envy and class warfare that the controversy aroused … particularly against the Cathy family and their business success. Those who unmercifully attacked Dan Cathy for days on end know little about this fine man, his strong Christian values, his family nor their successful business. Some have even said and/or insinuated that Cathy is a hate monger who excludes those who do not agree with his religious position. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Cathy restaurant empire began with one small restaurant in 1946. After serving in World War II Dan’s father, Truett S. Cathy, at the age of 25, and his older brother Ben, started the single location diner called the Dwarf Grill (later renamed the Dwarf House and still in operation at the same location today) located in Hapeville, Georgia. The restaurant operated 24 hours a day demanding a huge commitment from Truett and Ben. Ben tragically died two years later in a plane crash. Truett continued successfully building the small business into a prosperous enterprise.
In 1967, twenty-one years after founding the Dwarf Grill, Truett opened his first Chick-fil-A restaurant in the Greenbriar Mall in south Atlanta. That location is still in operation 45 years later along with 1,615 other locations in 39 states and Washington D.C. with over 60,000 employees. What a small business success story … made possible by the freedom we enjoy in the USA that is under threat by some in our current administration.
Early on Truett adopted a policy of closing on Sunday so he and his employees could worship at their local church. That policy still exists today. Few companies can boast that. The company is operated on Christian principles and those same principles permeate the private lives of the Cathy family.
In my opinion, the real hate mongers in this situation are those in opposition to the Cathy family and the Christian methods they employ in running their business. Some have even attacked Dan Cathy as a “rich billionaire white man” who inherited his fortune rather than working for it. By doing so, they have attempted to invoke class warfare among the races. They also complain that Dan and Chick-fil-A have exhibited a selfish lack of support for social causes. What foolishness!
Dan Cathy started his career in the family business at the age of nine singing songs to customers in his father’s single restaurant. After graduating from college, Dan joined Chick-fil-A full-time in 1970. He personally led the opening of 50 Chick-fil-A locations across the US. He gradually worked his way up the ladder serving in significant positions in the business for thirty-one years before becoming President and COO in 2001. That doesn’t sound like someone who inherited his wealth does it? I say it is full-blown covetousness in action.
I defy those nay-sayers to equal Dan Cathy’s record of giving back to the community. As dedicated to Chick-fil-A business activities as he is, Dan also gives generously of his time, efforts and resources to the community. This is in accordance with the direct teachings of the Bible. Here’s a partial list of awards, affiliations and associations derived from the Chick-fil-A website for Dan Cathy:
- Member, Board of Trustees, Berry College
- Member, Board of Trustees, Morehouse College
- Member, Advisory Board, Eagle Ranch
- Member, Advisory Board, Global Teen Challenge
- Executive Member, National Advisory Board, Lead Like Jesus
- Member, Board of Councilors, The Carter Center
- Member, Board Trustee, Gordon College Foundation
- Member, The New Hope Baptist Church (and trumpet player in the church band)
- Sunday School Teacher, 12th Grade Boys – Youth teacher for 37 years
- Member, Metro Atlanta Board of Directors, Chamber of Commerce
- Member, Jenkins Clinic Board of Directors, Vice Chairman
- Advisory Board, Heritage Preparatory School
- Recipient of the Outstanding American Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – 2003
- Honorary Doctorate Degree from the State University of West Georgia, Anderson College and Carver Bible College
- Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Anderson College – 2005
- Honorary Doctorate from HBCA Entrepreneur Summit
- Honorary Doctorate, Law Degree, Pepperdine University, 2011
- And in his “spare” time, Dan earned his Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license and has completed numerous marathons in Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Additionally, Dan is a passionate trumpet player, gardener and an avid motorcyclist.
The Cathy family also supports countless life changing ministries through its Winshape Foundation.
The Cathy’s ministries include the following:
- Winshape College Program
- Winshape Camps
- Winshape Homes
- Winshape Wilderness
- Winshape Retreat
- Winshape Marriage
- Winshape International
Chick-fil-A also provides scholarships to its employees. The Chick-fil-A Scholarship Fact Sheet lists some impressive stats: “Through its Leadership Scholarship program, Chick-fil-A has offered more than $29 million in financial assistance to more than 28,000 restaurant team members who have attended 3,168 colleges, universities and other educational institutions throughout the country. The company will award $1.65 million in scholarships to its restaurant team members in 2012.”
A pretty impressive humanitarian record of serving the community I would say! Both the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A are living out God’s commands. Thanks be to God for people and a company such as this. And phooey to those who attack these Godly people and their company to further their own selfish and covetous causes.
Further Reading and Study for those keenly interested in this topic:
- Read Dr. Albert Mohler’s (President of Southern Seminary) 07-31-2012 blog on CNN’s Religion blog site titled “Chick-fil-A Controversy Reveals Religious Liberty Under Threat“
- 1 Timothy 6:6-10
- 1 Kings 3:1-15 – Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom
- Proverbs 11:4
- Luke 12:13-21 – The Parable of the Rich Fool