Chick-fil-A location in New York City

The New Yorker warned readers about “Chick-fil-A’s creepy infiltration of New York City.” Above, customers line up outside a Manhattan location.


The New Yorker, a magazine sometimes criticized for having an elitist tone, has turned its attention to one of America’s most beloved fast food joints: Chick-fil-A. In a recent article, writer Dan Piepenbring crucifies the popular restaurant chain for its “pervasive Christian traditionalism,” and warns readers about “Chick-fil-A’s creepy infiltration of New York City.”

The spark? A new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Manhattan – occupying 12,000 square feet and five stories – making it the chain’s largest location in the world. In Piepenbring’s eyes, this chicken palace is hardly discernable from a megachurch.

The famous Chick-fil-A Cows

“The Cows” are a hallmark of Chick-fil-A’s brand.

To Glorify God (and Sell Sandwiches)

The article argues that the restaurant chain, whose official corporate purpose begins with the phrase “to glorify God,” flies in the face of NYC’s secular and liberal values. “Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet,” Piepenbring scathingly points out.

Piepenbring even takes shots at Chick-fil-A’s famous Cows – a popular marketing symbol and the unofficial mascots of chicken eaters across the country. “If the restaurant is a megachurch, the Cows are its ultimate evangelists,” claims the New Yorker. They are “a tool to spread the gospel of chicken.”

Gay Marriage Controversy

Chick-fil-A is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2012, company executive Dan Cathy famously came out in opposition of same-sex marriage during a national radio show. It was later revealed that Chick-fil-A’s charity wing had donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT causes.

The revelations sparked a firestorm of controversy, leading to a nationwide boycott of the restaurant by gay rights activists. But it also generated an outpouring of support from those in favor of traditional marriage. In response to the boycott, they flocked to Chick-fil-A locations in order to keep business booming.

The company has since distanced itself from the issue of gay marriage, insisting they want to leave the debate up to politicians and voters.

Hate the Sin, Love the Chicken?

In a capitalist democracy, it’s said that people get two types of votes: they can vote at the ballot box, and they can vote with their dollars. And on that score, the citizens of New York appear unconcerned with Chick-fil-A’s religious views or any potential covert evangelizing efforts. In fact, hungry patrons have been lining up out the door to get a taste of the highly-coveted chicken sandwiches. Chick-fil-A has reported that it’s selling a sandwich every six seconds in the Big Apple.

Perhaps this is not an “infiltration” after all.

This sentiment was reflected on Twitter, where many users defended the restaurant and criticized the New Yorker for publishing such a negative article.

How Important Are Religious Views?

This all points to a larger question: should a company’s religious beliefs matter? Do you have to share a restaurant’s views and values in order to enjoy their food?

We doubt many people would turn down a tasty shawarma just because the restaurant owner prays toward Mecca five times a day. And how many would refuse a dozen fresh bagels hot out of the oven because the baker believes one shouldn’t use technology on Sabbath?

In a world already fraught with religious intolerance and conflict, wouldn’t it be nice if food could be a unifying force, as opposed to a dividing one?

 

48 comments

  1. Barry says:

    As long as they don’t shove it in my face
    And require their employees to be Christian, I’ll eat there.

  2. Amanda says:

    I live in NYC… Nobody I have ever seen has had a problem with Christian’s on face for being Christan. The problems that occur is when Christians use their religion to disinfranchize others then beat people over the head with it.

    1. Ron says:

      And exactly when have you seen this?

      1. someoneelsehasmyusername says:

        In the laws all across our “free” country. In the very debate of gay marriage. If Marriage was really such an issue to these “Christians”, they’d take it out of secular law and keep it in the church. If there is a secular benefit to marriage in a free country, EVERYONE should get to do it. “Christians” want their cake and eat it too while making sure no one else gets to even look at the cake they want. I put “Christian” in quotes because real Christians should love everyone, as Jesus did. It feels like in this country, Christians only love a specific brand of Christian, and rail against the existence, beliefs and freedoms of everyone else.

        1. Rose St John says:

          All I can say is freedom has always come with the price there are still people that are dying for the right to believe .

  3. Kerrie Walker says:

    For me, it only matters when they use their religious beliefs as a basis to discriminate against others.

  4. Gary Hynous says:

    I go to a restaurant to feed my body. I meditate to control my mind and free my spirit. Don’t confuse the two. The only time I’ve experienced religion and a food crossover was a fleeting involvement with the Mormon church and Loma Linda brands food.

  5. Steve Wehrenberg says:

    Personally, I avoid CFA because much of the profit goes toward causes antithetical to my morality. Also not keen for my $$ to be considered as “glorifying (the Christian) God.” And I would avoid the shawarma place if it’s purpose was to glorify Allah, and the bagel place if it’s purpose was to glorify Yaweh.

    1. David says:

      Steve, well said. The Christian is unable to understand the difference. I’ve never seen in NYC a Jewish baker consistently vocalizing his beliefs and spending mega-amounts of money against others who disagree with them, nor the Shawarma for that matter.

  6. janice Ellery says:

    That magazine is kind of snobby anyways. They probably bash everything that isn’t a five star bistro.

  7. Nellie says:

    I don’t eat at Chik-fil-a. My issue with them is not their Christianity. A person can be Christian and mind their own business. Nothing about being a Christian organization forced them to give to organizations that sought to limit the rights of lgbt people. I won’t spend my money at Hobby Lobby either, again not because of their religion, but because they seek to push that religion onto others through the lobbying/charity activities of their business. If a business openly hates me, or those I care about, and actively seeks to involve themselves in pursuing hateful and discriminatory charities, then I merely reserve my right not to give them any of my money ever again. It has nothing to do with their religion the issue is their conduct. Being x, y, or z religion isn’t a shield for deplorable conduct, and boycotting a business for deplorable conduct doesn’t mean the issue is religious.

    1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

      Nellie, agree 100%, I do not eat at that place, nor will I ever shop at Hobby Lobby.

      1. Lisa Gavin-Cruse says:

        Agree!

    2. BethKCZ says:

      I don’t eat at Chick-fil-a, although I love their product. I just don’t want any portion of my money going toward hateful causes which I certainly do not support. For the same reason I do not shop at Hobby Lobby, although I do some crafts and would use some of their products. I haven’t shopped in either of those establishments, and some others, for years since they brought their religion and politics into their corporate businesses. It would seem to be a bad business-move to incorporate one’s religion or politics in with their businesses. It seems unlikely that Evangelical Christians will eat there substantially more, and it seems quite likely that some would-be customers will take their business elsewhere.

      We have capitalism, and a customer is free to spend his or her money at any establishment they wish. I can obtain craft supplies from other sellers and I can buy chicken fast-food at any number of establishments. It’s worth more TO ME to not support Dan Cathy and his anti-GLBT charities than it is to consume his particular type of chicken.

      I have never been asked my religion at such an establishment, but that’s not the point.

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp M says:

        Great point Beth!

      2. Jay says:

        Brava! I totally agree!

    3. Jay says:

      Well said, and I am right there with you.

  8. John Owens says:

    I have stopped at Chick fil A about once a week for several years. I haven’t ever been “accosted” or “beaten over the head” with Christianity AT ALL, or been preached at or witnessed to or anything more than “Have a blessed day.” If that offends someone, they must have a demon or they are badly constipated. There is nothing wrong with wholesome friendly service from people who believe in cleanliness and friendliness. If they were Mormons or Muslims or Jews or Chinese or Mexican or any other ethnicity or religion and they treated me well and seemed hygienic, I would take my business there. New York is SUPPOSED to celebrate diversity and be proud of all the different kinds of restaurants there. Why would this be offensive? Unless you were just anti-Christian, I mean.

    1. Kizzy says:

      Chick fil A is a euphemism for pegging

  9. Jess Martin says:

    I am a christian but I and tired of christians in the USA claiming to be victims. ridiculous.

  10. James says:

    Why be intolerant of any peaceful religion. I am Christian I eat there. I eat at hindu joints, Muslim joints, etc. If you don’t want to eat there, don’t If enough people don’t eat there then it will close up and move elsewhere. Apparently ,plenty of people lie it or it would not be doing so well. Why get emotional over a person’s personal beliefs and mix that with food! If I told you I will give all my money to the fish God you might think I was off in the head. Yet, if I cooked the best fried fish in the world you might tell me “right on bro!” so stop being so fake. If it’s good eat it! Like Zimmerman says. Crybabies don’t always get the booby. Sometimes they get a spanking.ha

    1. Rose St John says:

      It doesn’t make any difference to me if I’m hungry if I need to buy something I don’t first ask the person what do you believe.

  11. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I agree with John Owens.

  12. Jim says:

    I don’t go to CFA because I think they are overpriced, not because of the owners religious leanings. I shop at Hobby lobby when I need things that they carry which is seldom but does come up. It is a business plan and simple. What the owners feel is their business. The NYC article is typical of what happens when you have a person or Media outlet that wants to “make new”. They try to create a story or controversy where there really is none. I stayed in MYC recently for an extended period of time and found a corner market where the owners were from another country. Not going to say from where but they made a mean Philly steak sandwich. I did not ask them there personal religious leanings nor did I ask them where of if they donate money to any organizations. They made a great sandwich at a great price to I went back several times during my stay. ITS A BUSINESS FOLKS plan and simple.

    1. Nellie says:

      I feel like comparing a big company and how they donate their money to a small corner sandwich shop and how they donate their money is a bit like an Apple and Orange situation. This is due to how much action a big company can effect due to the size of contributions they make. It is also different because nobody had to ask CFA or Hobby Lobby, they are open about their support for these causes ( although after extensive push back CFA has tried to soften their tone), They deliberatly chose to put themselves into these issues in a way that added millions and millions of dollars to causes that are vicious to human beings. Sure business is business, but if I know that my money will definitely be used to support unkind and vicious causes, then I am going to pass them by while looking for somewhere that isn’t shameful to shop and eat at. I have no desire to investigate everywhere I ever eat or shop, I don’t go looking for trouble, but if a business wants to come out in a big anti gay way and say “your friends and family don’t deserve respect and equality.” Then it is fair for me to conclude that they don’t deserve my money. Likewise if a business wants to say “we hope you die.” Which to me is what Hobby Lobby is saying with their fight against Birth control. When I had my second daughter, I had a complication, the main risk was that I could hemorrhage and die in childbirth. I lived, but considering I almost died, I chose to avoid pregnancy going forward. Considering that being on birth control keeps me from having any more life or death pregnancies, I take it extremely personal what Hobby Lobby has been doing. Essentially they are saying to me that they don’t care if women like me die, since they seem happy with wishing me death, it seems like the least I can do to not give my money to the company that wants me dead.

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

        Good for you Nellie, You put your money where you conscience is too!

      2. Jim says:

        I’m not arguing with you. I don’t watch movies with actors who have in my opinion disgraced our country or do business with companies that have bashed the US. Your best bet is to do exactly as you described and spend your money where you want and feel comfortable. I know a lot of folks who do not shop at Walmart because they think they are unfair to workers. I agree with you on those points. I just disagree with your analysis of CFA. There “vicious to human beings” statement I just don’t get it. From what I read they believe in god and their interpretation of his teachings. They don’t push religion that I’m aware of and just wanted to live according to their beliefs. I see nothing wrong with that. I don’t think that they put themselves “out there” either as they had to file a lawsuit because the government was trying to force them to pay for things that went against their religion. Prior to Hobby lobby or CFA being forced into a lawsuit to protect their rights I had no idea of their religious convictions if they made a big deal of it I was not aware. As I stated earlier I don’t eat at CFA so I was not that versed on what they did. Hobby lobby same thing I shopped there a few times but was not aware of their religious beliefs until they were in the lawsuit. As for them wishing you death I think is your interpretation of something that just is not there. The lawsuit was that they did not want to pay for Birth control. That is a far cry from wishing people dead. If you worked for hobby lobby you have a choice, you can pay for the BC yourself or find another job. They have a right to practice their religion just as you have a right not to eat there. That’s all I’m saying. If they tried to push that religion then my take would be different but much like the baker who did not want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. I feel he has the right to practice his religion and refuse. As a business owner to me this makes no sense but then again if I was asked to do something at my business that I totally disagreed with I may change my tune. I’m glad that you and your daughter are both ok.

    2. Carl Elfstrom says:

      You’re right Jim, they are over priced. I much prefer the lunch buffet at KFC. It’s finger lickin’ good !

    3. David says:

      Jim, you are unable to understand the issue. Did the corner bodega tell you their religion or advertise how religious they are? Did they make a point of condemning others that are different then them? That is why CFA is controversial, they can’t keep their religious beliefs out of their business.

      1. Jim says:

        No David I understand the issue fine. Both Hobby Lobby and CFA filed lawsuits due to religious leanings on Birth control etc. My point is that They have a right to follow their religion. Just as we as a consumer have the right not to spend our money their. They are not hurting anyone in following what they believe in, so let them be. To my knowledge they have not condemned anyone that is different then them. If you have proof of that I would like to see it. They want the right to practice what they preach. I say let them, if you want to disagree with them and feel they should not bring religion into the business then don’t spend your money there. I know a lot of businesses that bring their beliefs into the business. If you walk into a gas station that has a copy of the ten commandments behind the counter or other religious symbols hanging on a wall in a restaurant or store. A lot of small businesses do this I’m not going to stop shopping there because of their beliefs unless they try and push them on me then we have a different problem.

  13. rabbi jim says:

    Greetings all! Hey, I wonder if Chick-fil-A serves holy water with their food. As always, I love you all. Sholom, and have a wonderful day! Oh, and ‘eat mo chikin’

  14. John A Anderson, CD says:

    Amusing. People say they support “traditional” marriage, but only mean traditional Christian marriage. Even in Judaism, which most people accept as the nearest ancestor of Christianity, there are occurrences which violate that viewpoint. Those who do not follow Christian paths can see that even historically, marriage had nothing to do with Christianity. Rome had marriage, Persia had marriage, China had marriage, and ALL three predated Yeshua ibn Youssef ben David. Even during the medieval period, the church did not get involved in marriage. It was a contract between the families of the couple, and even the rulers did not get a church wedding until the Catholic Church decided that they could make money off the transaction. If you doubt me, do your own research.
    Getting angry about the policies of a restaurant which doesn’t affect you is silly. If you don’t like the policy, don’t eat there.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I’ve been known to throw pizza slices in CiCi’s, and tortillas make excellent frisbees in Mexican restaurants. Ole ! Chickens don’t fly, but really should. Maybe they only need a little encouragement .

  15. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I wonder what’s become of that arrogant, loud mouth, know it all, Jim. I thought for sure he’d have something silly to say about this.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I made a mistake. I meant to say Tom, not Jim. Please forgive me Jim.

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp MSW, LCSW says:

        Carl, he has been harassing me on another blog. Told him to leave me alone since he just shows his arrogance, holier than thou behaviors, mr know it all, has to get the last word as if he is an expert. Now I will be using delete. Good luck on you getting through to him.

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          I’ll either get through to him or I’ll send him away crying. And as I so Will so mote it be !

  16. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I don ‘t care for christian marriages, but prefer Wiccan/Pagan handfasting, or simply jumping a broom, like they did on Roots.Iether way, I’m happy enough if they have big receptions with lots of free food, and champagne. Cheers !

  17. Carl Elfstrom says:

    As long as the food is good I don’t care what they call their god. I’m quite a method actor and will become whatever they approve of while there. It helps to stay in practice.

  18. Carl Elfstrom says:

    Next to KFC I make the best fried chicken, at home in my Presto Fry Daddy, so why eat out ? And it all starts with Tony Cachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, but that’s all I’m going to tell y’all about my secret recipe.

  19. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I ate in CHICK-FIL-A once or twice several years ago in Lexington,Kentucky, but don’t think there’s one down here in Galveston, Texas. I’m not prejudiced against anyone,not even prejudiced people. Even though it’s obvious by now that I think poorly of the christian religion I think very highly of Jesus , and don’t have a problem with most Christians. I love some of them very much, such as my mother, who isn’t prejudiced iether. I try to ovoid prejudiced people simply because I don’t want to hear them talking about their prejudisms. My father was very prejudiced, and I didn’t talk to him for the last twelve years of his life, I’m still not sorry to say, but was and still am proud of other things about him. His burial flag from the veterans cemetery in Houston is on top of my bookcase, with his obituary and US Marine Corps. cap. He twice enlisted and fought in two wars. That’s something to be proud of regardless of his beliefs and feelings about others. I won’t condemn anyone because of their beliefs, for that doesn’t reflect their entire beings. One of my favorite actors is Chuck Norris. I’ve heard he’s prejudiced against gay people, but he could have fooled me. He doesn’t mention it in the movies and is a very good actor, so I’m going to keep watching him. I’ve even got four seasons of Walker Texas Ranger on DVDs. I try to keep things(and people) in proper perspective. Besides that there’s too many prejudiced people in this world to not have to do business with some of them, without being a self-defeatist. If they shove their beliefs in my face I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, but not until then.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Tom likes to shove his distorted form of peace and love into the faces of ministers on this blog, and wait ’til y’all see what I’ve got in store for him.

  20. Secretary3rd says:

    You have hit it on the head. Want to make loads of money, start a cause. Then start another cause to be against the first cause you started. With two laptops running you can send out a message that supports a cause and with the other be against the cause. Either way you bring in funds to live a lifestyle of pleasure.

  21. ohmo says:

    The New Yorker published the article? LOL! Consider the source. They have the right to write stupid stuff -just like the owners of the corporation have the right to worship as they desire. But neither has the right to force their views on anyone else. Read or don’t read. Eat or don’t eat. Jaysus, what a crock, a pair of crocks.

  22. Bill Fox says:

    Chicken is edible under the Law.

  23. Howard Crane says:

    Maybe it’s just me being from Ireland, but this is so kooky I can’t ready past the second paragraph. I don’t get what the big deal is? Are Christians scouting the streets with assault rifles forcing people to eat at their restaurant? Because if not, this guy is just quite simply a **** *** ****, just **** stirring.

  24. PMiki says:

    I am a New Yorker and we are such we Celebrate diversity. We don’t like cults, people that are do as I say and not as I do, phony individuals, people on a soap box and religious zealots—regardless of what they’re preaching!

    We believe in the Constitution’s separation of church and state! You can’t save my soul and I can’t save yours. Worry about your own salvation. God did not put you here to harass me. If God wants to punish me he will. He doesn’t need your help—believe me.

    That being said: 🐣-fil-A May feel they are not a hit in NY but that has more to do with the amount and variety of restaurants we’re blessed with—many 24/7 in the city that never sleeps. Remember we have in excess of 279 dialects spoken here and the food to go with them. We have many choices and options—the same as businesses that want to force their beliefs on others. You can’t tell me we’re all made in God’s image yet this fair and just God permits you to denegrate others. If so, he’s not my God!

    You can’t have 8.5 million people in a city where everyone is stepping on the next ones rights. So for those of you who think you’re better than New Yorkers think again as we are a diverse city that functions as the financial capital! Because you don’t like it doesn’t make it a sin. Some of your bibles still uphold discrimination—how godly.

  25. Christian says:

    Yum.

    It tastes good ! 🙂

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