Chick-fil-A Responds to Marriage Backlash

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Chick-fil-A, Inc. has established a media hotline to deal with the backlash from the public after gay activists targeted the restaurant chain over a marriage seminar.

While the company has turned down interview requests, a statement was issued highlighting the restaurant chain's long history of marriage-friendly policies.

Until now, the reviews on Chick-fil-A's marriage policies have been positive.

In 2006, Smart Marriage -- a coalition for marriage education -- gave Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy its first-ever business award for supporting healthy marriages.

"We really are stunned at how hard it's been to get corporations to see this as what they should be doing -- that good strong marriages would be great for the bottom-line," said Diane Sollee, director of Smart Marriages Coalition in 2006. "And all of a sudden we find this guy who's doing it."

Chick-fil-A is well-known nationwide for its chicken sandwiches and policy of closing on Sundays. However, over the years, the company has also poured $30 million into a marriage center for employees and offered them discounts and incentives to attend retreats.

Cathy told CBN News that the marriage commitment made sense for Chick-fil-A, because the company follows biblical principles.

"If a person can't conduct their personal life, you can't expect them to be a high performer in his business," Cathy said.

Chick-fil-A's support for marriage has been criticized by gay rights groups. A Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A store that recently provided food for a marriage seminar is at the center of the controversy. Another seminar sponsor also supported the controversial Pennsylvania marriage amendment.

"We have no agenda against anyone." Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said in a recent statement.

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, said other Christian organizations should not be surprised. Exodus is the world's largest ministry to those impacted by homosexuality, and Chambers said gay rights advocates want to silence any group that publicly supports traditional marriage.

"Unless you're completely silent or completely tow the line of pro-gay idealogy, then you are going to be targeted," Chambers said.

Chick-fil-A is no doubt a tempting target. As one of the largest privately held restaurant chains in the country, its sales in 2009 totaled $3.2 billion.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.