While big-city mayors crow like roosters to demonstrate who’s toughest on “Chick-fil-A values,” shredding constitutional free speech guarantees as they strut for the media, Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall helpfully shines some light on the chicken franchise’s impressive work to strengthen families.
Of course, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy wasn’t making a speech or otherwise looking to ruffle feathers when he talked about his family’s biblical views. He wasn’t running for—or from—anything. (And, thankfully, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seems to want to tell everybody else what to do, wisely chose to sit this one out.)
Cathy simply was answering questions posed in an interview distributed by the Baptist Press—and that sealed his fate with so-called liberals and progressives, including those in the dominant media.
“The media’s frenzied feeding on the Chick-fil-A flap has implied that family-friendly means anti-gay and given the impression that Cathy’s original comments set out to stoke one of the hottest issues of the day,” Marshall writes in a guest blog for Patheos.com.
Marshall, as director of Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, leads the think tank’s work to advance understanding of the importance of the traditional family to human flourishing. In her Patheos post, she details some of the work that Cathy’s father, S. Truett Cathy, began nearly 30 years ago to support marriage and confront divorce and the breakdown of the family:
In 1984, S. Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A Inc., launched the WinShape Foundation. It supports college scholarships, foster care and international ministries. Several other programs offer camps for youth and families and marriage support for couples at the WinShape Retreat, a beautiful campus in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in north Georgia.
Marshall highlights WinShape Marriage, which offers resources to prepare for, strengthen and save marriages. Sessions for “nearly wed” or newlywed couples equip them with relational skills. Couples can take advantage of marriage retreats, and, for those in crisis, multi-day “Couples Intensive” sessions in a small-group context designed to heal and restore broken relationships “through concentrated counseling and prayer.”
WinShape Retreat has also hosted strategy sessions involving dozens of groups that seek to strengthen marriage in America—among them MarriageSavers, First Things First and Georgia Family Council. A wide-ranging vision aims at cultural transformation, with efforts from marriage education through churches to public service announcements on the benefits of marriage, and from business policies supporting family life to reform of divorce laws.
It’s the kind of work that will take decades—even generations. And it’s not the stuff of headlines, which is why many Americans probably have no idea this critical effort is under way.
To most Americans, the Cathy family’s values—“Chick-fil-A values” —look reassuringly like their own.