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2012 – A glance back at stories of the year

December 31 2012 by BR Staff

As 2012 came to a somber close – one that included a deadly hurricane, a divisive presidential election and a horrific elementary school shooting – many might conclude it was a difficult year. But for North Carolina Baptists, – and others throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – it also was a year of church planting, strong missions giving, outreach and signs of hope for the future. The Biblical Recorder has compiled a list of some of the more notable headlines of 2012. We hope it will provide a good look at one memorable year.
 

1 The election of Fred Luter

 
Though it was merely a formality when the official vote was taken, the election of Fred Luter as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June was no less historic. He became the SBC’s first African American president. “[It is] one of the most significant events in SBC history since the convention’s founding in 1845,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. “It makes a statement as to who we have become and what we hope to be in the future,” added Akin, who nominated the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans as first vice president of the convention in 2011 during the annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. “I long for the day when the church on earth looks like the church in heaven. The election of Fred, one of the finest and most godly men I know, will move us further down that road.”
 
12-31-12year-(2).jpgFormer SBC President Bryant Wright, right, with the newly elected president Fred Luter at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans.

2 Marriage

 
On May 8, many N.C. Baptists celebrated the passage of a marriage amendment to the state’s constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. In doing so, N.C. became the 30th state to define marriage in its constitution as being between a man and a woman. But the issue is far from settled. In November three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington state – voted to legalize “gay marriage,” bringing the total number of states where same-sex marriage is recognized to nine. The United States Supreme Court also announced that it plans to take up two cases involving the issue. Before being re-elected to a second term, President Barack Obama became the first president to publically support same-sex marriage. While many N.C. Baptists are pleased with their state’s stand on marriage, it could be overturned in the coming months if marriage is redefined nationwide.
 

3  Church planting

 
N.C. Baptists are leading a variety of church planting partnerships throughout North America and abroad. Through its Office of Great Commission Partnerships, the Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC) has focused its attention on leading Baptists across the state in partnerships in New York, Boston, Toronto and Moldova. In late October, a group of N.C. pastors traveled to Moldova on a vision trip to look for ways their congregation can partner with Baptist leaders in the country to plant more churches. In July, about 90 N.C. Baptists attended the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send North America Conference at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. More than 2,200 church leaders and pastors attended the event. Attendance nearly tripled initial expectations by bringing both young and older generations together to learn how they can plant more churches. This year, NAMB will follow up with conferences focused on church growth and revitalization. A conference will be held April 25 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh. For more information online go to http://www.namb.net/revitalization/North_Carolina.
 

4 Giving

 
NAMB recognized N.C. Baptists in June at the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans for being the top state in giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. In 2011, N.C. Baptists raised $5.6 million for the offering. That amount was just over Alabama’s offering of $5 million. N.C. Baptists were also on top with $12.6 million in gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO) that year. The Dec. 22 issue of the Biblical Recorder reported that the SBC’s International Mission Board released a list showing that 17 N.C. Baptist churches were among the top 200 giving churches to the 2011 LMCO. Between the months of March 2011 and February 2012, those churches gave a total of $2.4 million to the offering. And for the eighth year, in an effort to increase its support for SBC ministries, the Baptist State Convention of N.C.’s Cooperative Program budget for 2013 includes a one-half percent increase of the allocation that will go to the SBC. The increase will bring the SBC allocation to 36 percent.
 

5 Calvinism

 
The issue of Calvinism or soteriology (the study of the doctrine of salvation) made headlines this summer when a group of Southern Baptist leaders signed a statement affirming what they call the “traditional Southern Baptist” view of salvation, which draws a distinction from “New Calvinism.” The document entitled “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptists Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” includes a list of signatures, some of whom are seminary presidents, state executive directors and former SBC presidents. Immediately following the release of the document, Southern Baptists took to the blogosphere to voice their thoughts on the issue. Some N.C. Baptists also wrote related letters and guest columns that were published in the Biblical Recorder. During the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans, leaders encouraged messengers to avoid divisive rhetoric and remain united for the cause of the Great Commission. Executive Committee President Frank Page also formed a committee to look for ways that both sides can come together on the issue.  The committee has met twice and plans to meet again. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is among those serving on the committee.
 

6  Chick-fil-A

 
The fast-food chain Chick-fil-A found itself in the middle of a media storm after their company’s president Dan Cathy shared his traditional views on family and marriage in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. The Biblical Recorder published a story on the interview in its July 7 issue. The story was later re-posted on Baptist Press’ website, which recently declared the story to be the site’s most read article of 2012. In the days to follow numerous mainstream news agencies focused on Cathy’s statement of support for traditional family values. Some ran headlines suggesting Chick-fil-A and its president were “anti-gay.” As support and criticism grew for the fast-food chain, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which was held on Aug. 1. In the wake of some city leaders threatening to keep Chick-fil-A from opening new restaurants in their area, the company drew thousands of supporters that day across the country in support of its stand for traditional family values. This fall Chick-fil-A made headlines again when news reports suggested the company had backed off its stand by agreeing not to contribute to what critics called “anti-gay” organizations, such as Focus on the Family. Cathy later released a statement noting Chick-fil-A’s support for organizations that promote biblical family values remains the same.
 

7 Prayer, spiritual awakening

 
As a divisive election approached, Baptists through-out the state and around the country spearheaded a variety of prayer and fasting events that called for spiritual awakening in the country. On Sept. 2, just before the Democratic National Convention (DNC) held its meeting in Charlotte, about 9,000 people who represented more than 100 churches gathered for a city-wide worship event called Charlotte 714. Those who attended prayed, worshipped and were encouraged by a variety of speakers on the issue of spiritual awakening. Life Action Ministries promoted the event and continues to lead a prayer movement, called OneCry. That week the Metrolina Baptist Association and area churches, along with N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief ministry, led a variety of outreach efforts geared toward those visiting the city for the DNC. In October, leading up to its annual meeting in November, the Baptist State Convention of N.C. challenged Baptists in the state to participate in 30 days of prayer and fasting that focused on spiritual awakening. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Awaken.”
 

8 Disaster relief

 
N.C.’s Baptist Men’s disaster relief ministry had another busy year of relief efforts around the country as they helped people in need. A relatively busy year ended with relief efforts well underway in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated homes in the Northeast in October. Hundreds of N.C. Baptists descended on the area to minister to those who were impacted. The storm claimed more than 100 lives and caused widespread destruction from flooding, high tides and winds that reached around 80 mph. Thousands of homes were without electricity for weeks. During their Christmas break about 50 students worked with N.C. Baptist Men to help with relief efforts.
 

9 Discipleship

 
In July, the Biblical Recorder published a series of stories highlighting some of the ways N.C. Baptists are putting more focus on discipleship. The issue included a story on Chuck Campbell and how he is leading the Transylvania Baptist Association in Pisgah Forest to help church leaders define and teach discipleship. Other stories included how discipleship and mentoring changed Jim Gillespie’s life after he became a Christian. Today, Gillespie is pastor of men’s ministry at Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest. The Biblical Recorder followed up with related stories in later issues that focused on discipleship and outreach groups geared toward neighbors. The Baptist State Convention continues to lead an effort called 3D, which challenges churches to make discipleship a part of their congregation’s culture.
 

10 Great Commission Baptists

 
The SBC adopted Great Commission Baptists as an “unofficial descriptor” in June during its annual meeting in New Orleans. In 2011, Bryant Wright, president of the SBC and pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., selected a committee to study the possibility of changing the Southern Baptist Convention’s name. Some of the reasons behind forming the committee focused around the idea that the name had become outdated and too regional, too divisive and not reflective of today’s convention. After much discussion, the committee proposed an unofficial descriptor in February that could be used by congregations that felt more comfortable with using Great Commission Baptists. Though the final vote was closer than many had predicted, messengers approved the descriptor and appeared to move past an old debate – at least for now.
12/31/2012 2:58:39 PM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Baptist Press’ most-read stories of 2012

December 27 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE (BP) – A story that put Chick-fil-A in the national spotlight and led to hundreds of thousands of customers showing their support is Baptist Press’ most-read story of 2012.

That’s according to Google Analytics, which tracks web traffic. In fact, four of the Top 10 stories for 2012 were about Chick-fil-A. But the list also shows readers were interested in matters of doctrine and Bible history.

Following is the complete Top 10 list for 2012, with each slot accompanied by a brief description and a link to the original story:

1. “‘Guilty as charged,’ Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on biblical & family values.” In July Baptist Press re-posted a story from the Biblical Recorder newspaper that quickly put Chick-fil-A in the national spotlight – and eventually led to hundreds of thousands flocking to the restaurant for Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It remains the most-read story in Baptist Press’ history on the Internet. http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38271

2. “Statement on Calvinism draws approval, criticism.” In May a group of current and former Southern Baptist leaders signed a statement affirming what they called the “traditional Southern Baptist” understanding of the doctrine of salvation. It sparked a debate over what Southern Baptists believe on the issue and whether there is room for both sides in the convention. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37939

3. “Andy Stanley’s stance on homosexuality questioned.” In April and May megachurch pastor Andy Stanley was criticized for a sermon illustration involving a gay couple in which he labeled adultery, but not homosexuality, a sin. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37742

4. “Chick-fil-A’s Christian ties stir college opposition.” In March, before the Chick-fil-A media storm truly started, Baptist Press ran a story about opposition to Chick-fil-A restaurants on college campuses. The story spotlighted the student senate at Northeastern University which voted to end negotiations to bring the fast-food chain to campus. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37344

5. “Chick-fil-A, in nat’l media storm, swims against cultural tide.” The nation began focusing on Chick-fil-A in July and August, and it quickly became obvious that the restaurant was different from businesses such as General Mills, Nabisco, JC Penney and Target, all four of which seemingly compete to appear the most supportive of gay marriage. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38301

6. “Q&A: A first-century fragment of Mark found?” In February, a New Testament professor said during a debate that a first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel may have been found. If true – and confirmation could come in 2013 – it would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament, placing it in the very century of Christ and the apostles. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37197

7. “As Titanic sank, he pleaded, ‘believe in the Lord Jesus!’“ The Titanic sank 100 years ago, and Baptist Press remembered the anniversary by posting a column by Douglas Mize recounting how one of the victims – pastor John Harper – pleaded with those onboard the ship to trust Christ before they perished. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37601

8. “Obama: Sin is what doesn’t match ‘my values.’“ In the first few months of 2012, an interview President Obama conducted in 2004 about his faith got a second look after being re-posted on a popular website. It showed that on several major doctrinal issues – including sin, heaven and the gospel’s exclusivity – he steps outside historic Christianity. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37310

9. “Some Chick-fil-A news reports called ‘distorted.’“ With the nation focusing on Chick-fil-A in July, Biblical Recorder editor K. Allan Blume – who wrote the story that started the storm – said many of the media reports of his conversation with the company’s president were “distorted.” http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=38314

10. “T.D. Jakes says he has embraced doctrine of the Trinity.” In January, Bishop T.D. Jakes said he has moved away from a “Oneness” view of the Godhead to embrace an orthodox definition of the Trinity – and that some in the Oneness Pentecostal movement now consider him a heretic. http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37054

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
12/27/2012 2:59:50 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Visits to Chick-fil-A increase after controversy

October 26 2012 by Baptist Press

ATLANTA – Visits to Chick-fil-A restaurants increased by 2.2 percent in the third quarter, apparently driven by those supporting the restaurant in the face of criticism over the issue of gay marriage.

Research specialist Sandelman & Associates reports that across the board – from consumer use to market share to ad awareness – Chick-fil-A’s numbers were up in the July-September period, a span which includes Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in which hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the restaurant Aug. 1. USA Today and several other national outlets reported the data.

The appreciation day was a way for Chick-fil-A’s supporters to speak out in light of the criticism the restaurant was receiving after its president, Dan Cathy, defended the biblical definition of marriage.

Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman & Associates, said the controversy was “something that brought Chick-fil-A to the forefront of peoples’ minds.”

“There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand,” Davis told the newspaper. The restaurant broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 media markets, Davis said.

Sandelman surveyed more than 30,000 fast-food customers and found that Chick-fil-A’s market share was up .6 percent and its ad awareness up 6.5 percent.

It is an “unusual situation,” Davis told ABCNews.com, for a company to struggle in the public relations realm and to come out ahead in support.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
10/26/2012 2:15:24 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chick-fil-A’s Cathy still backs ‘biblical families’

October 5 2012 by Baptist Press

ATLANTA – Chick-fil-A still supports “biblical families,” company president Dan Cathy said Oct. 3 during a brief interview with an Atlanta TV station.

“Families are very important to our country,” Cathy told WXIA-11. “They’re very important to all of us that are concerned about being able to hang on to the heritage that we have. We support biblical families, who’ve always been a part of that.”
 
The TV station asked Cathy about the company’s position on marriage during an interview at Cathy’s Rock Ranch in Georgia. The station said it was invited to do an interview about the ranch and its fall events, and that Cathy knew ahead of time the station was going to ask about his marriage views that have stirred nationwide controversy.

“Chick-fil-A’s focused on families,” Cathy said. “We’ve always been that way. We’re a family-owned business. We’re led by a family, and our restaurants are operated by families, and we serve millions of families every week at Chick-fil-A.”

During the summer, gay groups and some mayors criticized Chick-fil-A after Cathy told the Biblical Recorder newspaper the restaurant is “very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit.” A radio interview then surfaced in which he had said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage.’” Chick-fil-A’s donations to groups that support biblical marriage also became an issue.

The criticism became so great that hundreds of thousands of Chick-fil-A supporters – looking to speak out for the restaurant and for religious liberty – took part in a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day organized by Mike Huckabee, which became the most successful single day in Chick-fil-A’s history.

In September, media outlets reported that Chick-fil-A had agreed to stop funding pro-family groups in order to get approval for a restaurant in Chicago. That led to more outcry from the very supporters who stood in line for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and led the company to say its corporate giving had “been mischaracterized” for many months and that it will continue to fund programs that “strengthen and enrich marriages.”

Cathy released a statement telling Huckabee, “There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect. Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
10/5/2012 12:12:17 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy: We have made no concessions

September 21 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

Following reports that Chick-fil-A had agreed to stop funding certain traditional family groups in order to get approval for a new Chicago restaurant, company President Dan Cathy said Sept. 21 the restaurant made no concessions and “we remain true to who we are.”
 
Cathy’s statement, posted on Mike Huckabee’s website, came one day after the company released its own statement saying that its corporate giving has “been mischaracterized” for many months and that it will continue to fund programs that “strengthen and enrich marriages.”
 
Said Cathy, “There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect. Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”
 
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly – whose organization supposedly had been de-funded by Chick-fil-A – also has spoken up for the company. And gay activist groups – who initially applauded Chick-fil-A’s supposed move – now are criticizing the restaurant once again.
 
Chick-fil-A was facing a backlash after Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and an Illinois gay activist group announced in Sept. 19 news reports that Chick-fil-A had agreed to no longer fund groups opposed to gay marriage. That alleged agreement led Moreno – who had criticized Chick-fil-A for its president’s comments affirming the traditional marriage – to stop blocking a new franchise from being built. In comments to the Chicago Tribune, Moreno called it a “big win.”
 
Media stories nationwide then gave Chick-fil-A another public relations headache. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s headline read, “Chick-fil-A said to change stance.” The Los Angeles Times’ headline: “Chick-fil-A promises to stop giving money to anti-gay groups.”
 
The problem? Chick-fil-A’s base of support remains largely in conservative states, and those customers hardly consider Focus on the Family and other groups “anti-gay.” Many felt Chick-fil-A had caved.
 
09-21-12chick1-(1).jpg

Earlier this summer, hundreds of thousands of customers took part in Chick-fil-A Appreciation after company president Dan Cathy was criticized for comments supporting the biblical definition of marriage. Chick-fil-A’s stance on values is well-known: It is closed on Sundays, and its corporate statement includes the desire to “glorify God.”
 
In the 24 hours after the story out of Chicago broke, Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page was flooded with criticism of the new policy. Chick-fil-A released a statement Sept. 20, saying that “for many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized.”
 
“And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving,” the statement said. “A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas.Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.”
 
The company also released a document that had been referenced in the media called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.” In it, the company repeats language from this summer and says its tradition is to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
 
The Who We Are document also says Chick-fil-A “supports programs and marriage retreats to help strengthen and enrich marriages,” which more than 4,000 couples attend annually. The document did not address whether Chick-fil-A has indeed agreed to stop funding certain groups. It’s also unclear how the company’s policy will appease gay activist groups.
 
In fact, the Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest gay group – expressed disappointment in Chick-fil-A’s new statement, particularly its pledge to fund marriage enrichment programs.
 
Focus on the Family’s Daly said in an article at Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink that he supports the company. He did not directly address whether Chick-fil-A was no longer funding Focus on the Family.
 
“I feel bad the Cathys are having once again to endure media accounts mischaracterizing their values and charitable efforts – and, unfortunately, I know how they feel,” Daly said. “How is an organization that helps save one marriage every six minutes and helps parents navigate through a crisis involving their children every 90 seconds deemed ‘anti’ anything but ‘anti-family breakdown’?” Daly concluded.
 
Gay groups also were upset that Dan Cathy was helping raise money for traditional groups, including taking part in a Sept. 18 WinShape Ride for the Family fundraiser. The money, the Advocate said, will benefit the Marriage and Family Foundation, which it said funds the Marriage CoMission, a traditional group.

Related stories

‘Guilty as charged,’ Dan Cathy says of Chick-fil-A’s stand on faith
Editor ‘recounts’ positive Chick-fil-A story; some reports ‘distorted’
Guest Column: Dan Cathy’s views are in the majority
9/21/2012 8:40:29 AM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chick-fil-A Day: N.C., thousands across country show support

August 1 2012 by Michael Foust

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A television news crew set up their gear Wednesday at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Apex, N.C. to capture the action as cars snaked around the parking lot and people lined up outside the building. A poster on Randy Dye’s parked vehicle carried the message: “Supporting: Christian Values, American Business, First Amendment, Chick-fil-A.”
 
This one restaurant, according to local reports, saw a 30 percent increase in sales for the day as people came out to show their support for the fast-food chain.
 
“It sends a message that the general public still has biblical principles,” said Dye, a member of New Salem Baptist Church in Pittsboro. “Do we hate anybody? No. Is it about sending a message of hate? Absolutely not.”
 
Dye was just one of thousands across the country who showed up to eat and show their appreciation for the company. Chick-fi-A has been under fire the past few weeks since its president Dan Cathy took a public stand for traditional family values.
 
08-02-12cfa.jpg

BR photo by Shawn Hendricks

People line up at Chick-fil-A in Apex during the "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" Aug. 1 planned and promoted in response to comments about the company and its president. Dan Cathy, president, recently was interviewed in the Biblical Recorder voicing his support for traditional marriage.


“Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” as organizer Mike Huckabee called it, may have been more successful than even he envisioned. More than 625,000 people had signed up on Facebook to participate, and it seemed that each one came - and brought a friend.
 
In Clarksville, Ind., the parking lot was packed, and cars were parked in the adjacent Lowe's lot. In Kansas City, Kan., a line of at least 50 people stretched outside the doors. That was also the case in Nashville, Tenn., and Ontario, Calif. And in Chicago, Ill., where local politicians had spoken against the restaurant, dozens stood outside the doors, waiting just to get inside. At some Chick-fil-As, such as in Dyersburg, Tenn., the number of people in line was 100 or more. 
 
In some locations, police were on location to direct traffic, with cars backed up on main roads. Churches, too, were getting involved. In Salisbury, N.C., Cornerstone Church cancelled its Wednesday evening services so members could support the restaurant, the Salisbury Post reported. But at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. - as well as at a host of other congregations - church officials were ordering Chick-fil-A food to serve at their weekly Wednesday evening meal.
 
For most if not all day Wednesday, #chickfila was trending on Twitter. Some people even were pledging to eat at the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 
Heading into the day, Huckabee said the event was not about gay marriage - as some had made it to be - but about free speech and religious liberty. A business owner, he said, should be able to state basic Christian belief without being castigated. He stood by that on his radio show Wednesday.
 
“We're finding out that people in America still believe that every American - every American - has a right to an opinion,” Huckabee said. “You don't have to agree with it. You don't have to like it. But you ought to respect that people have that wonderful right. You don't have that in North Korea. You don't have it in Iran.
 
“And I guess if the mayors had their way you wouldn't get it in Boston, Washington, Chicago or San Francisco,” he added, referencing city mayors who have spoken out against Chick-fil-A.
 
Chick-fil-A, which has more than 1,600 restaurants, long has had a passionate base, led in part by families with young children who appreciate the family nights and the indoor playgrounds available at various locations. Support also is strong among Christians who support the company's values and the fact it is closed on Sundays. Of course, people also enjoy the food.
 
The national debate over Chick-fil-A began when Baptist Press re-posted the Biblical Recorder’s story – that was first published in the N.C. Baptist newspaper's July 7 issue – in which Cathy, asked about the company's support of the traditional family, said “guilty as charged.”
 
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
 
A radio interview with Cathy, recorded several weeks earlier, then came to light. In that interview, Cathy said, “As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage.' I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
 
A media storm then ensued, with some gay groups calling for a boycott of the company. The Human Rights Campaign - the nation's largest gay group - began labeling the restaurant “Chick-fil-Hate.” The mayors of Chicago and Boston implied they would block construction of new restaurants, although they eventually backed down. One Chicago alderman called Cathy's remarks "bigoted" and "homophobic.”
 
Huckabee said he launched Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to stand up for a company that seemed to be held up to a different set of standards by society. Companies often support gay marriage, Huckabee noted, and little attention is given by the media or by the activist groups. Cathy, Huckabee said, simply affirmed what many Christians believe.
 
Chick-fil-A's supporters took to social media Wednesday to speak up for the company.  
 
“I applaud this man's courage to stand up for his convictions by speaking up for Christ's teachings,” Dorothy Cox Neal wrote on Baptist Press' Facebook page. "More people need to be so bold.”
 
Irene Settlemyre Brooks wrote, “Praise God that a godly man like Mr. Cathy has awoken the Christians to make a stand. We have been silent too long. God will bless his company.”
 
Pam Parr of Plano, Texas, sent Baptist Press an email saying Cathy "has the right to be true to his convictions, just as gays can chose to live the way they want based on their morals/beliefs.”
 
“I am weary,” Parr wrote, “of people trying to force their views on others - Mr. Cathy didn't say he wouldn't serve anyone in a respectful manner because they were gay now did he? If he treats everyone with Christian love, what do they care if he doesn't agree with their personal lifestyles? He has just as much right to his belief about what constitutes a family as gay people do. If gay people treat Christians hatefully because of their beliefs, then how are they different than what they accused Mr. Cathy of?”
 
The company, in fact, issued a statement July 19 saying that it does not discriminate. It said “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that its tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” It also noted that it has applied “biblically-based principles” to business management and will continue to do so.
 
Several colleges and seminaries also got involved in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. In Fort Worth, Texas, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary paid for about 250 chicken sandwiches, which the seminary family could pick up at the local Chick-fil-A by using a seminary ID.
 
“We feel it's important to stand with Mr. Cathy and his First Amendment right and his freedom of religion to express whatever views he believes,” said Thomas White, Southwestern's vice president of student services and communications.“We also believe it's fine for protestors to come. We welcome them, treat them with kindness and love them even though we disagree with them.”
 
At New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, seminary president Chuck Kelley purchased 200 Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits for NOBTS students, faculty and staff. Kelley said he wanted to show support for Chick-fil-A because of the company's consistent commitment to biblical values.
 
“The Cathys have done a marvelous job of seeking to keep their faith, their personal lives and their business practices in alignment,” Kelley said. “Along the way they have been generous and consistent givers to more people and causes than any of us will ever know. They were extremely kind to the NOBTS family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We stand proudly with them as they stand for marriage as God intended it to be.”
 
The Cathy family's involvement with the seminary dates back to the late 1940s when Jeanette (McNeil) Cathy attended New Orleans Seminary before she married Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. Truett Cathy and his sons, Dan and Bubba, have each spoken at NOBTS events and the company often donates food for seminary functions.
 
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Chick-fil-A provided breakfast for the displaced NOBTS faculty and staff members meeting in Decatur, Ga.
 
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Shawn Hendricks, managing editor of the Biblical Recorder, contributed to this story. With reporting by Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Gary Myers of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
 
8/1/2012 9:08:22 PM by Michael Foust | with 2 comments



Billy Graham plans to ‘Eat Mor Chikin’

July 27 2012 by BR staff

With many media outlets covering the recent controversy over statements made by Chick-fil-A’s president, more people have begun publicly supporting the business.
 
Evangelist Billy Graham released a statement July 26 supporting Chick-fil-A and its stance on the traditional family.
 
“I want to express my support for my good friends Truett Cathy and his son Dan Cathy, and for their strong stand for the Christian faith,” Graham said in the release. “I’ve known their family for many years and have watched them grow Chick-fil-A into one of the best businesses in America while never compromising their values. Chick-fil-A serves each of its customers with excellence, and treats everyone like a neighbor. It’s easy to see why Chick-fil-A has become so popular across America.”
 
Graham declared his support for the traditional definition of marriage earlier this year as North Carolinians prepared to vote on the issue. That amendment, which defined marriage in the state’s constitution as being between a man and woman, passed May 8.
 
“Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God’s word,” Graham’s statement said. “I appreciate the Cathy family’s public support for God’s definition of marriage.”
 
07-27-12graham-(1).jpg

Along with the support for traditional marriage, Graham indicated he will join with thousands of Americans in eating at a Chick-fil-A restaurant Aug. 1 for “Support Chick-fil-A Day.” Almost 270,000 people have indicated they are going to join Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and current host of “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel. As some were calling for boycotts of the company, Huckabee challenged others to show their support for the organization.
 
“I also appreciate Governor Mike Huckabee’s leadership and for encouraging Americans to support Chick-fil-A on August 1,” Graham added in the statement. “As the son of a dairy farmer who milked many a cow, I plan to ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ and show my support by visiting Chick-fil-A next Wednesday.”
 
Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, said the company was “guilty as charged” when asked about supporting the traditional family in a Biblical Recorder interview in June. The media storm grew larger when a June 16 radio program was spotlighted in which Cathy underscored the need for children to have a mom and a dad.
 
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” said Cathy during his interview with the Recorder. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Related story
Experts: Politicians can't legally block Chick-fil-A
7/27/2012 1:01:02 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Experts: Politicians can’t legally block Chick-fil-A

July 27 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

CHICAGO – Attempts by Chicago and Boston politicians to block the opening of Chick-fil-A restaurants because of the company president’s views on marriage would be unconstitutional and also set a dangerous precedent for other businesses, say several attorneys.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel each have been quoted as saying they want to prevent Chick-fil-As from opening in their cities, with Menino declaring in a letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” The Freedom Trail is a path through the city’s streets highlighting historic buildings. Emanuel voiced agreement with a Chicago alderman who also opposes a new Chick-fil-A, saying of the company, “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.”

Menino and Emanuel backed off their statements Thursday (July 26) – with each saying they realize they constitutionally cannot block a restaurant from opening – but the Chicago alderman has not.

Cathy, in two interviews in recent weeks – including one in the Biblical Recorder that was reposted on Baptist Press – has said he believes in the biblical definition of marriage. The company issued a statement saying it treats every customer with “honor, dignity and respect” and that, “going forward,” it is going to stay out of the gay marriage debate.

David Cortman, an attorney with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said a restaurant cannot be blocked from opening because of the restaurant’s or the owner’s beliefs.

“It absolutely is not constitutional,” Cortman told Baptist Press. “And I think the irony here is that they are claiming this is an issue of freedom and civil rights, but they’re actually the ones who would be violating the civil rights of Chick-fil-A not to allow them to open up their business simply because of their views.”

But the issue concerns more than just Chick-fil-A, Cortman said, and impacts any business or organization in America whose owners hold views different from that of the government. Boston and Chicago would be practicing viewpoint discrimination – a violation of the Constitution’s Free Speech clause, Cortman said.

“It does create both a dangerous and an illegal precedent,” Cortman said. “The government shouldn’t be in the business of threatening or punishing people for their thoughts or ideas – whether they are individuals or businesses themselves. And, there’s certainly a double standard. You did not hear a politician threatening to deny permits to companies like Home Depot or Starbucks or Target over those companies’ aggressive promotion of the homosexual agenda.”

Mat Staver, president of the legal group Liberty Counsel, said he, too, believes the attempts would be unconstitutional.

“No city can ban Chick-fil-A because the [company] president has his own view regarding marriage – a view that is held by much of the American public,” Staver told Fox News. “To discriminate against Mr. Cathy because of his biblical view and then to extrapolate that to Chick-fil-A is illegal. It would be unconstitutional and certainly any city trying to do so would not win that battle.”

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, wrote on his blog, “Denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation.”

The Chicago alderman who initially spoke up against Chick-fil-A, Joe Moreno, told local media he might simply block a proposed new Chick-fil-A in his ward because of traffic concerns. Moreno, though, previously said he opposed a new Chick-fil-A because it was “intolerant” and because he disagreed with Cathy. On Thursday (July 26) Moreno told WBEZ radio he wants an explicit guarantee from the potential local owners of the restaurant that they won’t donate to political causes. But that, too, apparently would be unconstitutional.

Cortman, the ADF attorney, said Moreno won’t legally be able to use a legitimate reason – traffic concerns – as cover for his previous comments.

“His true motivations already have been made public, so I think any attempt to backtrack to create what normally would be a legitimate reason wouldn’t work in this situation,” Cortman said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – which supports gay marriage – also said the politicians’ attempts would be unconstitutional.

The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe editorial boards – normally not sources of traditional beliefs – also have defended Chick-fil-A’s right to open restaurants.

“Which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand?” a Globe editorial read July 25. “A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.”

The Chicago Tribune editorial board wrote, “We’re sure there are plenty of businesses in town run by people whose views are offensive to some. It’s not up to the mayor or the alderman to decide which opinions are appropriate.”

Meanwhile, support for Chick-fil-A continues to grow. Sign-ups for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” launched by Mike Huckabee, surged past 250,000 Thursday (July 26). The event will take place Wednesday, Aug. 1. (More information is available at www.ISupportChickFilA.com.)

Billy Graham also spoke up for the company Thursday.

Huckabee has said Chick-fil-A deserves support.

“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1,” he wrote on Facebook. “Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.”

“There’s no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle,” Huckabee added. “Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, August 1 or by participating online – tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

Related story
Billy Graham plans to ‘Eat Mor Chickin’
7/27/2012 12:55:36 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



‘Chick-fil-A Day’ sign-up tops 175,000

July 26 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 175,000 people have signed up so far to take part in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1, despite the fact that Facebook workers may have censored the event page for about 12 hours Tuesday.

Mike Huckabee launched the idea for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day over the weekend, saying he was “incensed” at the “vitriolic assaults” that have been made at company president Dan Cathy for affirming a biblical definition of marriage. Cathy made the comments to the Biblical Recorder in a story re-posted by Baptist Press, and he also discussed the issue in a radio interview.

On Tuesday, a Facebook sign-up page that Huckabee had launched suddenly disappeared, leaving him and others wondering what had happened. Huckabee posted a note saying he had asked Facebook “to look into this,” and about 12 hours later the page reappeared.

“We caught a 12-hour bug, apparently it hits when large numbers of Christians support something and post about it on Facebook!” he wrote, about midnight.

Huckabee went a step further July 25, saying Facebook had censored the page for a short time.

“Yesterday, Facebook decided to censor and delete the entire event page, and it was down for over 12 hours until they finally decided that maybe that wasn’t really smart,” Huckabee said.

He noted that during those 12 hours, Facebook had left up a webpage sponsored by gay activists promoting a “national same-sex kiss day” at Chick-fil-A Aug. 3. (About 4,700 have signed up for that event.)

“But they were censoring one that said simply, ‘Go and buy a chicken sandwich,’” Huckabee said.

As part of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1, Huckabee is asking supporters to visit the restaurant or speak up for it via social media. (More information is available at www.ISupportChickFilA.com.)

Meanwhile, a handful of city politicians continue to speak out against the restaurant chain. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was the first to say he would try and block a Chick-fil-A from opening in his city, and a Chicago alderman, Joe Moreno, followed by saying he opposes a Chick-fil-A opening in his area. Chick-fil-A wants to open a restaurant in Moreno’s ward, which would be its second store in the city, the Chicago Tribune reported. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed with Moreno, alleging of Chick-fil-A in a Politico.com article, “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.”

But Chick-fil-A has received support in some surprising corners. The Los Angeles Times editorial board – which supports gay marriage – said it is wrong for politicians to block construction of the restaurants. The editorial was written before Chicago’s politicians joined the mix.

“Menino suggested that it would be appropriate to block the chain from opening in Boston because Cathy’s views amount to discrimination,” the editorial read. “That would rightly apply if Chick-fil-A were to refuse service to gay customers; the city has a right and an obligation to prevent discriminatory actions against its residents and visitors. But there’s no evidence that any such thing has occurred. ... It was the freedom to express politically unpopular views and to oppose such views that the Founding Fathers fought to establish.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins asked rhetorically on Twitter, “Could you imagine the outrage if a mayor in TX decided to block a Starbucks from opening in her town b/c of their support of SSM [same-sex marriage]?”

Business, though, appears to be booming at Chick-fil-As. About 200 people were camping out in Forest Hill, Md., Wednesday, waiting for the newest Chick-fil-A in the area to open, according to the Baltimore Sun. The first 100 customers were set to receive free meals for a year.

The company issued a statement July 19 telling its customers that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and that its tradition is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” It also noted that it has applied “biblically-based principles” to business management and will continue to do so. There are more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide.

Chick-fil-A continues to receive the most heat on the issue despite the fact that other companies have taken the exact opposite position, with little media attention. For example, the same week the Chick-fil-A controversy broke, the video gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) signed onto a legal brief opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Just this year, General Mills, Target, JC Penney and Nabisco all have taken actions in support of gay marriage.

Huckabee said the goal of the Aug. 1 event is “simple.”

“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1,” he wrote on Facebook. “Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.

“There’s no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle,” Huckabee added. “Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, August 1 or by participating online – tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

Related story
Seminary to support ‘Chick-fil-A Day’ Aug. 1

7/26/2012 2:16:49 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Seminary to support ‘Chick-fil-A Day’ Aug. 1

July 26 2012 by Keith Collier, Baptist Press

 FORT WORTH, Texas – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will be buying chicken sandwiches for faculty, staff and students on Aug. 1 to show its support for Chick-Fil-A as part of a nationwide initiative launched by former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. Central time, the Fort Worth seminary expects to purchase more than 200 sandwiches at the local Chick-fil-A in Fort Worth.

In light of harsh criticism and calls for boycotts of the company after Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy recently stood for the biblical definition of marriage, Huckabee is urging people to visit the restaurant on Aug. 1 for “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.” Huckabee, who was honored as a distinguished alumnus by Southwestern Seminary in June, created the website ISupportChickfilA.com where people can “RSVP” that they intend to participate Aug. 1. More than 125,000 have signed up.

“No one is being asked to make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate,” Huckabee wrote on the site. “The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.”

Southwestern Seminary, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, is one of the largest seminaries in the world with more than 3,500 students, faculty and staff. The seminary affirms the biblical definition of marriage and is in full agreement with the Southern Baptist statement of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message 2000, which says in its article on the family: “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Additionally, the seminary’s administration supports Cathy’s First Amendment rights.

“Southwestern Seminary wants to encourage Chick-Fil-A’s support of the traditional family and the First Amendment right of Dan Cathy to live out his religious beliefs,” said Thomas White, the seminary’s vice president for student services and communications. “We gladly partner with organizations like Chick-fil-A who take a stand for faith, and we will also be providing all of our students with Chick-Fil-A sandwiches during our all-campus picnic in September.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, swbts.edu/campusnews/.)

Related story
‘Chick-fil-A Day’ sign-up tops 175,000
7/26/2012 2:13:50 PM by Keith Collier, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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