The Sabbath/Shabbat is rooted in Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. It is a most basic reminder “to rest, to cease, to keep.” Jesus brought new light to the Sabbath law and traditions. Should a doctor stand by at home on the Sabbath and let a patient die? Does a doctor need a day to rest? What does a Sabbath day mean to you, your neighbor or another faith tradition?
Let us fast forward from Bible lessons and questions about Sabbath to 2019 and fast food and retailing. Toss in a side salad of hypocrisy with a dash of paradox and let us go under the surface to find the truth beyond the headlines on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite newsfeed. Remember Paul Harvey (1918 – 2009) and ‘The Rest of the Story’?
My taste in fast food has evolved over six decades. My favorites over time went from Frisch’s (especially the fish sandwich, double tartar sauce and onion rings during Lent) to White Castle (midnight snack and delicious coffee ) to McDonald’s (double quarter pounders – no cheese), to Wendy’s (Chili, Frosty and fries) back to McDonald’s (Egg McMuffin or McGriddle) and recently to Chick-fil-A. They offer exceptional chicken sandwiches with pickles, fresh salads and funny advertising.
There has been a mysterious fuzzy line in my mind between hypocrisy and paradox. To others the difference in these two words and concepts might be obvious, but not to me. I went to a dictionary and the Greek root of the words and found hypocrisy = to pretend to be something one is not. Paradox = to find something contrary to expectation.
Personal hypocrisy – I have a love/hate relationship with sugar and could eat a dozen donuts all by myself in one day. I know that sugar is bad for me and causes systemic inflammation in my body. I tell people to cut back on sugar yet don’t walk the talk as I can put down four chocolate chip cookies with a glass of chocolate milk as an afternoon snack before my nap. This hypocrisy annoys me. I beg for forgiveness and pray for the strength to resist.
Personal paradox – I know Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays to give their employees a day off to rest and enjoy personal time. Chick-fil-A is thus a rare corporate enterprise that walks its talk and honors the Sabbath. But my digital newsfeed recently announced that the city council of San Antonio, Texas, approved a measure that barred my current favorite fast food chain from opening a location in the San Antonio airport. What? How in the world is a fast food restaurant creating such controversy? What is in the heart of this corporation?
The media pot was stirred when it became public that some of the donations by the Chick-fil-A Foundation in 2017 went to among others, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home. Certain donations by the WinShape Foundation founded in 1984 by the Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, also came into question. And questions now are swirling regarding the position, if any, of Chick-fil-A on same sex marriage. Dive a little deep in their website and you find more about who Chick-fil-A is and their corporate purpose – “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Consider too the Chick-fil-A response to tragedy despite the corporate position to honor the Sabbath and rest on Sundays. Aaron Earls, online editor of Facts and Trends, wrote a 2018 article describing four recent times certain Chick-fil-A restaurants were open on Sundays: 2018, Hurricane Florence; 2017, Atlanta Airport; 2016, Orlando mass shooting; 2015, Dallas tornadoes. And my wife recently showed me an article about Memorial Day and how Chick-fil-A honors those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
So, I wrote a letter to Chick-fil-A and asked about the Sabbath and Chick-fil-A and got this reply from Kimberly A. on May 16, 2019.
Dear Mr. Eck,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A. You are very important to us and we appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us.
Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A, made the decision to close on Sunday when he opened his original restaurant, The Dwarf House, in Hapeville, GA. He has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual. Operating a 24-hour a day business left him exhausted. Being closed on Sunday allowed him time to recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And, of course, being closed on Sunday is in keeping with his personal religious convictions and beliefs.
In Truett Cathy’s book, It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, he comments on this subject that, “How could I teach the thirteen-year-old boys in my Sunday school class to observe the Lord’s Day if my cash registers were jingling at my restaurants?” To explain this at our restaurants, a sign states, “Since 1946, it has been our nationwide policy to be closed on Sunday. Thank you for your patronage, and we look forward to serving you Monday through Saturday.”
Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A.
Would you go out of your way to boycott a business exhibiting behavior and practices you find objectionable? Would you go out of your way to support a business whose behavior you find admirable? What would Paul Harvey have to say if he were alive today? Here is a little more of … the rest of the story.
Mike Eck is a Food Justice Advocate and is actively involved in the local organic food movement in southwest Ohio. Mike and his wife, Denise, are members of Christ Church, Glendale.