The New Yorker has a problem with Chick-fil-A.
Mainly because the company’s corporate purpose begins with the words “to glorify God.”
The (somewhat) weekly magazine is decrying the fast food chain’s move into Manhattan posh business district because, well, it’s a Christian-owned company that espouses traditional Christian values.
In an article complaining about Chick-fil-A’s “creepy infiltration of New York City” last week, the author — Dan Piepenbring — whines that Chick-fil-A’s latest restaurant, its fourth in Manhattan, feels like a megachurch. He points out that Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta headquarters are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. And, as if that isn’t bad enough, Chick-fil-A actually closes on Sundays.
Because the Cathy family threads their Christian faith into their chicken-sandwich business, and because they aren’t shy about sharing those Christ-influenced values, The New Yorker proclaims that their presence in NYC has “an ulterior motive.” Because, Piepenbring writes, “the restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambience of a megachurch.”
The New Yorker article goes on to proclaim that Chick-fil-A “does not quite belong here,” and that its arrival in the city “augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train.”
New Yorkers, apparently, beg to differ. Piepenbring himself admits that on the day he visited the newest Manhattan store, the line to get in the door “stretched to the end of the block,” and one of the three previous Chick-fil-A locations in Manhattan estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds.
The New Yorker’s hit piece on Chick-fil-A isn’t the first attempt by city big-wigs to see the Big Apple’s residents shun the deep-fried goodness of the Southern invaders. When Chick-fil-A opened its second NYC location, at a mall in Queens in 2016, none other than Mayor Bill de Blasio urged a boycott.
Of course, New Yorkers didn’t boycott, and The New Yorker article, which urges the city’s residents to say “No Mor” to Chick-fil-A (a take off the purposely misspelled cow ads that are central to the corporation’s marketing scheme), will similarly fall on deaf ears. It must pain Piepenbring and de Blasio to know that Chick-fil-A has already announced plans to open 12 more locations in Manhattan alone.
The invasion will continue, it seems.
It remains to be seen whether the “ulterior motive” will be realized…whether the Cathy family is looking to evangelize to the lost and dying heartbeat of America’s cultural scene more than they’re looking to serve up chicken — whether they’re looking to feed the souls of New Yorkers with the word of God more than they’re looking to feed their bellies with fried poultry, you might say.
Most likely, though, Chick-fil-A is just looking to minister through the customer service standards that have made it stand alone in the corporate world. People flock to Chick-fil-A for a reason. Chicken is chicken, and it’s probably more than just the waffle fries that entice people to pay a little more for a meal at Chick-fil-A than they’d pay at similar fast-food joints. Their workers are friendly — the friendliest you’ll find anywhere you go to eat. When you eat there, the hospitality feels heartfelt — even if it isn’t. And that’s probably because Chick-fil-A’s commitment starts with its employees. Its employee turnover is just one third of the industry average. That carries over to the way employees treat their customers, which has in turn made Chick-fil-A the nation’s second-largest fast food restaurant chain, behind McDonald’s.
Color me crazy, but I hardly think non-spiritual New Yorkers have anything to worry about from Chick-fil-A’s presence. I’ve been inside a lot of their restaurants, and not once have I had a worker hand me a religious tract or offer to wash my feet. I’ve never seen a passing of the plate or a fellowship handshake. No altar calls and not even a single verse of Just As I Am. What I’ve seen is workers who treat their customers the way customers want to be treated, which is very likely because the Cathy family treats their employees the way themselves would want to be treated, a lesson taught by Jesus himself. That’s what keeps Americans of every walk of life going back to Chick-fil-A, even if they don’t realize that they’re drawn to the overpriced chicken (let’s face it: Zaxby’s is cheaper) by the restaurant chain’s corporate practice of Godly principles. It’s what will keep New Yorkers going back, too.
But let’s call a spade a spade and not mistake why there is so much disdain of Chick-fil-A’s presence oozing from the decision-makers and -influencers of NYC. The New Yorker was, at least, transparent. It’s because the corporation’s purpose begins with the words “to glorify God.”
For America’s mainstream media, at least, it has become okay to crucify (are we allowed to use that word or does that make us “creepy”?) those of the Christian faith, be it businesses or individuals. As college football analyst Barrett Sallee asked of The New Yorker piece, “Substitute ‘Christian’ for any other religion in the world, and what would the reaction to this be?”
He has a point. Can you imagine a Muslim-owned business opening in any American city and a media outlet running a story about how it “feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Islamic traditionalism”? Hardly. To do so would be to risk a public stoning — figuratively speaking, at least — and to be shunned from the mainstream.
That’s the America in which we live. A nation founded largely by Christians who espoused Christian values has succumbed to a brand of political correctness that allows Christianity to be the only religion that is fair game to the thought police who seek to brainwash with bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Yet, hungry Americans flock to a corporation that treats them right by espousing those same Christ-like principles that are becoming so quickly vilified. It’s perhaps ironic, but perhaps from within there’s a lesson to be gleaned.