Chick-Fil-A Not Welcome at Rider University

Or is it its Christianity that isn’t welcome?

Chick-Fil-A is not welcome at Rider University.

Rider is a modestly-sized liberal arts university in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  During the spring semester of 2018, administrators distributed a survey in which students were asked about which restaurant franchises they’d prefer to see locate to their campus. 

Most students chose Chick-Fil-A above and beyond any other option.

And yet Rider—again, after inquiring into their preferences_—_refuses to honor students’ wishes on the grounds that Chick-Fil-A’s “corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider.” 

According to _Campus Reform_, a subsequent email explaining the administration’s decision was sent to the student body.  Evidently, Chick-Fil-A fails to “promote…inclusion for all people.”

Julia Pickett, a political science major and junior at Rider, objected to Rider’s decision, telling Campus Reform that since Chick-Fil-A “sell[s] chicken,” its corporate values shouldn’t be “the focus.” She added: “If people didn’t want to buy their food then they don’t have to.”

Pickett also shared what she takes to be the real reason that accounts for Rider’s decision:

“I think that the administration of Rider felt that having Chick-Fil-A on campus would cause unwanted controversy and felt that the easiest fix was to find another restaurant.”  This being said, the administration should “be honest about it though instead of trying to cover it as a deep offense to the school.”

The Rider Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Jan Friedman-Krupnick, informed Campus Reform that both he and the University find it “important…that all voices are heard.” However, while it’s correct that Chick-Fil-A is (most) popular amongst students, “there are members of the community (faculty, staff, and students) who strongly opposed the option as well.”

Of course, as anyone who has been paying any attention to the cultural landscape for the last so many years knows all too well, Chick-Fil-A is anathema to the political and ideological left for no other reason than that it’s a traditionally Christian corporation.  As such, it creates employment opportunities for people young and not-so-young, male and female, and the members of every conceivable racial, ethnic, and religious background while insisting upon the highest quality of customer service. Moreover, Chick-Fil-A has managed to become a remarkably successful company, in many instances blowing away the competition, even as it closes every Sunday to observe the Christian day of rest.

Also in keeping with its Christian vision, Chick-Fil-A continues to affirm what all peoples in all places and at all times have always affirmed until pretty recently, namely, that marriage is an inherently heterosexual union. 

Chick-Fil-A, in other words, refuses to celebrate “same-sex marriage.”

But even this way of putting the matter is misleading.  As such, it reinforces precisely the narrative that the left has shaped in its campaign to demonize one of the finest businesses in the country.

Chick-Fil-A is a family-operated business that was founded by S. Truett Cathy.  Back in 2012, its president and chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, made an appearance on a radio program during which he made the following comments:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

Cathy went on to confess that he prays that God extends His “mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

A month later, when asked about Chick-Fil-A’s “support of the traditional family” and the opposition against it, Cathy replied:

“We are very much supportive of the family—the Biblical definition of the family unit.”

Cathy elaborated:

“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.  We are very much committed to that.”

Cathy insisted that, despite the pressures that leftist activist groups were bringing to bear upon his family’s business, Chick-Fil-A had every intention of “stay[ing] the course.”  He concluded: “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Chick-Fil-A has donated money to organizations known for their opposition to “same-sex marriage,” organizations like the Pennsylvania Family Institute, the Family Research Center, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.   But notice: the business whose “exclusive” or “anti-gay” “corporate values” are allegedly incompatible with those of Rider University hasn’t a single policy that so much as remotely speaks to the question of homosexuality, to say nothing of “same-sex marriage.” Cathy was speaking to the Christian vision of his family, a vision that is not only compatible with, but which actually demands that gays, along with every other human being, be treated with the God-given dignity that inheres in all persons.

In other words, a person’s homosexual orientation is utterly irrelevant to obtaining either a job or characteristically superb customer service at Chick-Fil-A.

Yet perhaps it is ultimately this Christian vision that Rider University finds incompatible with its values.