New Yorker thinks Chick-fil-A's Christian values are 'creepy'
This article in the New Yorker by Dan Piepenbring would make an excellent parody of the incredible provincialism and insularity of the east-coast elites – it if weren't absolutely dead serious.
The author is disturbed by the arrival of Chick-fil-A restaurants in New York City because the corporation espouses "pervasive Christian traditionalism," describing the chain's arrival in Manhattan as an "infiltration."
It gets worse:
Its headquarters, in Atlanta, is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple's feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company's charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage. "We're inviting God's judgment on our nation," he once said, "when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'" The company has since reaffirmed its intention to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect," but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups. When the first stand-alone New York location opened, in 2015, a throng of protesters appeared. When a location opened in a Queens mall, in 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a boycott. No such controversy greeted the opening of this newest outpost. Chick-fil-A's success here is a marketing coup. Its expansion raises questions about what we expect from our fast food, and to what extent a corporation can join a community.
No doubt many secularists are uncomfortable with the kind of open expressions of faith that Chick-fil-A and other Christian companies have decided to embrace. But the author speaks of these Christian values as something alien or unnatural. Even in New York, there are perhaps millions of Christians who are not perturbed by open declarations of faith.
Worldwide, there are about two billion Christians. Just who is espousing alien or unnatural values?
Of particular concern to the author are Chick-fil-A's ubiquitous cows, who amusingly sport signs in ads saying "Eat mor chikin." The hidden message in the cows, according to the author, is downright evil.
Since their introduction in the mid-nineties – when they began advising Atlanta motorists to "eat mor chikin" – they've remained one of the most popular, and most morbid, advertising campaigns in fast-food history, crucial to Chick-fil-A's corporate culture. S. Truett Cathy, the chain's founder and Dan Cathy's late father, saw them as a tool to spread the gospel of chicken.
The "gospel of chicken"? Yikes.
It's worth asking why Americans fell in love with an ad in which one farm animal begs us to kill another in its place. Most restaurants take pains to distance themselves from the brutalities of the slaughterhouse; Chick-fil-A invites us to go along with the Cows' Schadenfreude. In the portraits at the Fulton Street restaurant, the Cows visit various New York landmarks. They're in Central Park, where "eat mor chikin" has been mowed into the lawn. They're glimpsing the Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo, where they've modified a stop sign: "stop eatin burgrz." They're on the subway, where the advertisements ... you get the picture. The joke is that the Cows are out of place in New York – a winking acknowledgment that Chick-fil-A, too, does not quite belong here.
Not quite belong? The article mentions that Chick-fil-A sells a sandwich every six seconds in Manhattan. Just who is it who doesn't "belong"?
Senator Ted Cruz was roundly and severely criticized during the presidential campaign for citing "New York values" compared to traditional values. This article perfectly captures the mixture of haughtiness, arrogance, cynicism, and a provincial outlook on the rest of us living in flyover country that encapsulate "New York values."
The fear of the author is palpable. Those who have no faith in anything generally fear those who do. But in rejecting the traditional, normal values espoused by Chick-fil-A, the author rejects the values of most of the citizens from the city he lives in.
That is the supreme irony of it all.