As Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For those in the 21st century, one other thing can be added to that list: Chick-fil-A will be closed on Sundays and their employees follow up a “thank you” with a “my pleasure.” The modern fast food chain has built a reputation of good chicken sandwiches and Christian principles.
The latter of those two was recently criticized in an article from the New Yorker titled, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.” The piece describes how the restaurant chain is flourishing in New York and is planning on opening a dozen more stores, something the author says “feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.”
If you think Chick-fil-a is creepy, you’re going to be horrified to learn of this thing called “church” that a whole lot of Americans attend.
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) April 13, 2018
Check it out, per the New Yorker:
New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are 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.
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.
Defenders of Chick-fil-A point out that the company donates thousands of pounds of food to New York Common Pantry, and that its expansion creates jobs. The more fatalistic will add that hypocrisy is baked, or fried, into every consumer experience—that unbridled corporate power makes it impossible to bring your wallet in line with your morals. Still, there’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers. Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety. A representative of the Richards Group once told Adweek, “People root for the low-status character, and the Cows are low status. They’re the underdog.” That may have been true in 1995, when Chick-fil-A was a lowly mall brand struggling to find its footing against the burger juggernauts. Today, the Cows’ “guerrilla insurgency” is more of a carpet bombing. New Yorkers are under no obligation to repeat what they say. Enough, we can tell them. NO MOR.
Is there anything funnier than the people who feel perpetually threatened by a Chick-fil-A? pic.twitter.com/kBbtkAamZI
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) April 13, 2018
The swipe at the Christian principles was not well-received by many people who saw and responded to the article.
Like this, from Washington Examiner:
I was honestly astounded the New Yorker actually printed Dan Piepenbring’s bigoted and downright ignorant attack piece Friday titled “Chick-Fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.”
If we want to have a good-natured debate on Chick-fil-A versus Wendy’s based solely on personal preference, I’m all for that. That’s capitalism at its finest. But Piepenbring’s piece objected to the supposed “infiltration” of Chick-fil-A on the basis of its owners’ religious beliefs.
Consider the overt bigotry of this headline statement: Chick-fil-A’s “emphasis on community…suggests an ulterior motive. The restaurant’s corporate purpose begins with the words ‘to glorify God,’ and that proselytism thrums below the surface of its new Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch.”
A fast food chain is “infiltrating” the community with an “ulterior motive” because it chooses a day of worship to close its doors and puts up a few Bible verses in its own corporate headquarters? This is one of the worst instances I can recall since last week’s firing of Kevin Williamson that a mainstream publication has attacked someone for their sincerely-held Christian beliefs.
Piepenbring goes on to describe the restaurant chain’s “Spokescows” as “its ultimate evangelists,” because obviously, this kind of messaging is somehow putting New Yorkers in peril. Seriously? Has anyone ever been converted religiously on the basis of interacting with a Spokescow? And even if you have, so what? Good for you! America, even New York, recognizes that individuals may choose their beliefs, even if they come from a spokescow.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 14, 2018
And, from Daily Wire:
On Friday, The New Yorker honed in on a serious threat to the lives of all New Yorkers: the arrival of Chick-Fil-A in their homey little corner of the universe. In a 1400-word diatribe titled “Chick-Fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” one Dan Piepenring wrote that New Yorkers should not accept the intrusion of a popular restaurant serving chicken because the owner happens to be a religious Christian. “The air smelled fried,” Piepenring wrote, ominously. “New York has taken to Chick-fil-A…And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.” What signs are there of this incipient theocracy? Its Atlanta corporate headquarters – not its New York store or any of its other stores – has Bible verses and a statue of Jesus, and its stores close on Sundays. That’s it.
But the mere whiff of Jesus means that New York must cast out Chick-fil-A like a leper, and that those who refuse to do so have succumbed to the blasphemous entreaties of the Midianites. “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,” Piepenring rants.
And insultingly, Chick-fil-A seeks to build community, using the word in its marketing, he complains. “This emphasis on community, especially in the misguided nod to 9/11, suggests an ulterior motive. 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 ambiance of a megachurch.”
Are workers forced to sing hymns as they work? Are they required to worship while they work? Not at all. No, the problem is that Chick-fil-A’s VP of restaurant experience told BuzzFeed that they want their employees to be efficient but “feel like you just got hugged in the process.”
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 13, 2018