Social media has been buzzing over Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s comments regarding same-sex marriage. “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,” Cathy is quoted as saying in the Baptist Press. Cathy, who acknowledges that Chick-fil-A’s support for the traditional family may not be popular with everyone, stands by the company’s position: “Guilty as charged,” he says. CNN reports that response to the article has been mixed, with both support for and condemnation of Chick-fil-A’s position filling Facebook and the Twitterverse.
A recent survey found that a slim majority of Americans (52%) reported that they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared with 44% who are opposed. With opinion shifting dramatically on this issue over the last few years, there are now religious groups on either side of the same-sex marriage debate.
Cathy grew up in the Baptist church, and this week’s Baptist Press article claims that he continues to act upon the values he learned there as a child. Support for same-sex marriage is low among white evangelical Protestants, with only about 2-in-10 (21%) reporting that they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. More than three quarters (77%) are opposed. Additionally, few minority Christians favor same-sex marriage (43%). On the other hand, white mainline Protestants and Catholics both show majority support for same-sex marriage (56% and 59%).
While 53% of Americans report that same-sex marriage is “not that important” of an issue compared to other issues facing the nation, the recent Chick-fil-A controversy nevertheless illustrates the prominence of the debate in the public square as the election nears, as well as the critical role that religion plays in shaping this public policy.