To Chik-fil-A or To Not Chik-fil-A, That Is the Question


A friend e-mailed me today asking if The Passionate Moderate was going to wade in to the Chik-fil-A conversation. I had been mulling it over, but her e-mail really got me thinking about it more. To be honest, I had been pretty ambivalent about the whole controversy, mostly because I never eat at Chik-fil-A anyway so my reasons for not doing so are irrelevant.

As you may know from my previous posts, I am very much in favor of marriage equality. My poor daughter who is all about gay rights is also a Chik-fil-A lover and has decided that she can’t patronize the restaurant any more because it isn’t in line with her most strongly held beliefs. I’m really proud of her for taking a stand, especially because it’s been so hard for her. Giving up Chik-fil-A is really a sacrifice.

That said, I’m not jumping on the boycott bandwagon.

Here’s why…

First of all, I’m not entirely happy with the snarky tone this boycott has taken. It’s all gotten a bit sanctimonious if you ask me. The owners of Chik-fil-A have the right to their opinion, and each of us has a right, as consumers, to voice our opinions through our dollars. If we like a company‘s product, and/or philosophy we buy it; if we don’t we don’t. More on that in a minute.

Secondly, most free-standing Chik-fil-A restaurants have independent operators who may or may not share the founder’s views on gay rights and marriage equality. I kind of hate the idea that someone who is brave enough to start a business risks failing because of issues outside of their control. Yes, yes, I know what you’re about to say. They should research the company they are signing on with, and that’s life. True, but I still don’t like it. I know that one of the owners a Chik-fil-A in my super conservative part of the world is in fact quite liberal. A tough situation.

The biggest reason I have for not necessarily jumping of the anti-Chik-fil-A train can be summed up in this great Gene Wilder meme posted on Facebook  earlier this week:

There it is in a nutshell.

In the highly consumer driven culture of the United States we buy a wide variety of products from many countries. We invest in companies we may not know a thing about. We do support the oil-rich and women’s rights poor countries of the Middle East. We buy cheaper products from China which has an awful human rights record, and on and on it goes. Where does your food come from? Where do your clothes come from? What companies do you invest in and what is their record domestically and/or around the world? It’s funny how we can ignore some  human rights abuses and we get so fired up over others. Dare I even mention our own government and what may or may not go on behind closed doors… torture, covert missions, lobbying, and not to mention how our tax dollars are spent?. How many examples do I need to give to make the point? We can make moral decisions in just about every area in our lives; to actually think about it is daunting. It boils down to the proverb our moms always told us, “Pick your battles”.

So I guess what I’m saying is that a boycott like this always seems a bit hypocritical to me. We can get super self-righteous over one issue while ignoring a mountain of issues behind us,  and while we should take stands for what we believe it and seek to shed light on the issues that concern us, maybe we do it in a spirit of meekness that acknowledges we are only making a tiny difference but that we hope that all of us making our tiny differences together will turn into a world changing force for good.

So if you’re moved to give up Chik-fil-A and take a stand. Good for you. Let people know why you’re doing what you’re doing and then let it go. They will either make their own change or not based on what moves them. And, if you’re really feeling the stress of not eating there anymore there are fantastic fake Chik-fil-A chicken recipes on Pinterest.

(The secret is in the pickle juice!)

Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you decided to take your business elsewhere or are you supporting Chik-fil-A? What other issues have you taken a stand on? We’d all love to know, and don’t forget to like or share this article!

How To Damage Your Child in Two Easy Steps

I’m all about saving time and doing things as quickly and easily as possible so today’s parenting lesson is brought to you by Pastor Sean Harris. In his Sunday sermon he was speaking in support of North Carolina’s Amendment 1 which seeks to define marriage as between one man and one woman. I have no idea what the title of his sermon was, but I’ll just call it “How To Damage Your Child in Two Easy Steps”.

Step 1: Vigilantly watch your sons to see if they’re acting “girlie”, and watch your daughters to see if they’re acting “butch”.

Step 2: When you notice those actions, give your kid a smack.


In case you think I am stretching his words or twisting them in some way, here is a recording of a portion of his actual sermon:

Jesus wept.

Hatred is an awful thing, but it’s even worse coming from the pulpit because like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, it cloaks hate with “God’s perfect plan for humanity”. It wasn’t all that long ago that preachers were using the bible to justify slavery and segregation and to decry inter-racial marriage. Thankfully those types of sermons are, for the most part, not taking place today and that gives me hope for the future for everyone in the LGBT community.

I’ve never understood why homosexuality is considered a worse sin than so many others; it makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Even people who interpret biblical teachings pretty literally have discarded many of the rules and regulations (seen anyone stoned lately? animal sacrifice?), yet they hang on to the prohibitions against homosexuality and use them to justify discrimination (Now, whether those passages actually refer to homosexuality practiced in a loving relationship is very much up for debate, but that’s a whole other post).

Even worse is this idea that you can discern from the actions of a young child whether or not they’re gay and then train it out of them. As if every little boy who tries on his mom’s high heels or every little girl who’d rather wear jeans then dresses is going to be gay in their adult life. It’s ridiculous…..or rather, you’d think it was ridiculous but apparently there are a good many folks out there who believe this stuff.

What are we so afraid of that we can’t let our children play and pretend and explore their world without judgement or labels? As a parent I can’t comprehend not loving my children no matter what their sexuality. In fact, to me, the best part of being a parent is discovering, year by year, who your child really is, what their personality is like, and how they move through the world.

One of my favorite blogs is called Raising My Rainbow. The mom who writes it has a son who loves Barbies, and Disney Princesses, and she loves her son…maybe he’s gay, maybe he’s not. Right now he’s just a little boy who thankfully has awesome parents who want him to be who he is. That is what I wish could be for all children.

If you are interested in reading Raising My Rainbow’s response to Pastor Harris’s sermon, it is re-blogged in the article below, and as always I thank you for reading my little blog. If you liked it, don’t forget to pass it along; the more people get involved, the sooner change will come!

Related articles

Fired for Sin in the Year 2012


You may have heard the story of Emily Herx, a language arts teacher at a Catholic school who was fired after the school learned she was using IVF in an attempt to get pregnant. IVF is not allowed by Catholic teaching because the Church believes that life begins at conception, and in the IVF process embryos are often destroyed which is counter to their pro-life stance. In accepting a job at a Catholic institution, Emily had to agree to follow “tenants of the Catholic faith”, even though she herself is not Catholic.

I’m not even going to argue that one. Let’s pretend that it’s okay for the work environment to intrude upon your personal and private business. I am also going to preface this post by saying that right now we only know Emily’s side of the story, so there may be more going on here than meets the eye, but if the facts hold up I’m going to stay appalled.

As soon as her employer found out about her IVF treatments, despite eight years of apparently exemplary performance according to her annual job reviews, she was was not offered a new teaching contract. I’ve never seen a school that can afford to throw away great teachers, but apparently this one can, because Emily was not even given a chance to make things right with the school and keep her job.

What this story boils down to is that a woman in 21st century America was fired from her job for sinning. Not for sinning with a student. Not for talking about her “sin” to students. Not for teaching her students anything outside of Catholic teachings….No, she was fired for sinning in her private life. Well, who in that school hasn’t sinned in their private life? Are you telling me that no one working at that school is using birth control? No one is having premarital sex? No one is cheating on a spouse? No divorcees? What about mass every Sunday? Lying? Taking the Lord’s name in vain? Where does one cross the line of their particular sin being a fireable offense?

I find it hard to believe that every other employee at that school is following all of the tenants of the Catholic faith, even the priests, nuns and other religious, yet they have contracts next year. In fact Herx claims that it is well known that there are members of the staff who have had vasectomies, use birth control or are divorced. Yet according to her statement, it was she who was fired and even characterized as a ” grave, immoral sinner” by the church pastor.

Are you $%&&%&* kidding me?!?!?!?!

This is a woman who, along with her husband, is struggling with the personal, emotional and financial ramifications of infertility. They have made a personal choice that their family is not yet complete and that IVF is the best way to complete their family. They are NOT Catholic. She is not a priest or even a religious educator. How is it okay for her to be fired over this issue and how is it okay for her to be called out as a sinner?

It smacks of “The Scarlet Letter” and is even more egregious in light of the Church’s sex abuse scandal. It boggles the mind that an institution that covered up decades of child molestation  and even reinstated priests who were known pedophiles under the banner of repentance and rehabilitation, can take it upon themselves to administer such a harsh punishment on a woman who, by all accounts, was unaware that IVF was even against Church teachings.

The double standard would be laughable if it weren’t so awful.

Living Life With Passion

It’s funny how sometimes in your life you get the same message from a bunch of different sources and depending on your personal philosophy think “what an interesting coincidence” or “Hmm, the Universe (or God, or whatever your frame of reference) is trying to tell me something.”

That happened to me this weekend. It seemed that everywhere I turned I was getting messages about living life to the fullest, following your dreams, and how the world needs people who are passionately living their own lives instead of being just another cog in the wheel of modern living.

I noticed people around me who I know have gone against the grain of society and are living their own unique lives and just exude peace and joy. I noticed people around me who are not yet doing that but have started to understand that perhaps the expectations that have always been placed on their shoulders are a burden they are ready to release. I noticed my own reaction to my kids’ desires for their lives and realized I have to let go of some of my ideas about how their lives should be  and teach them that not only is it okay to live authentically, it is essential. Blog articles on the subject appeared in my in-box. Quotes and comments on the subject appeared on my FaceBook wall.

And what I choose to believe is this:

I have just made the decision to go back to school, and while I’m excited about it I am also apprehensive. It will be hard on me and my family. It will be expensive. I might fail, or decide it’s not for me. I might make a mistake at some point which will hurt someone. However, by pursuing this dream I am pursuing a passion in my life. Writing this blog, and exposing my personal thoughts is me, finally, at almost 40, starting to be my authentic self. I needed reassurance that I am on the right path and I feel that the energy of the Universe has placed that reassurance in my path.

I am grateful, and I am ready.

Religious Practices: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Seriously, I’m asking because I think it’s such a difficult question to answer.

A friend of mine is big on anti-circumcision advocacy, and she posts articles about it on her FaceBook page pretty frequently. (Yup, I’ve talked about birth choice and breastfeeding, and now I’m gonna mention circumcision-the newborn parenting trifecta!) She is against all types of circumcision, both male and female, religious and non-religious. (I won’t mention my own feelings out of deference to my son’s privacy.)

Recently she posted an article which grabbed my attention. In it a proud Islamic mom is recounting her baby daughter’s circumcision, gushing about how good the baby was and how quick and easy it was. (I should mention that in this particular case, the way the procedure was done was that they removed the teeniest, tiniest piece of skin. Basically just enough to draw a drop of blood.) As you can imagine there were loads of comments calling her excitement over this procedure barbaric….and that got me wondering why we (in the US) are so up in arms about female circumcision, but so comfortable with male circumcision. Why do we classify someone else’s religious prescriptions as barbaric and our own as normal?

Now, most parents in the US circumcise their boys for secular reasons, and that’s not the argument that is intriguing to me because with secular arguments you can go back and forth and try to convince the other side of your point of view, but as soon as it becomes a religious issue it’s difficult to argue. And that got me wondering, when someone claims religious freedom for a particular practice, when is it OK and when is it over the line?

Now my musings on this go beyond circumcision to all types of religious and cultural practices. Things like mores for female modesty (male modesty never seems to be in the picture though…hmm). Many religions expect long skirts, and sleeves and high collars, some require that and head coverings, and some veils. Are all those okay, and if so, why then do we become outraged at the thought of the niqab or burqa?

Christian Scientists will seek medical help for things like broken bones, but not illnesses, while Jehovah’s Witnesses will not accept blood transfusions. As a healthcare professional, and not a member of one of those religions, I don’t agree with or understand those beliefs, but I can’t force someone to accept treatment in opposition to their faith. Where is the line there? Someone deciding for themselves is one thing, but what about when there’s a child involved and it’s a matter of life and death?

I couldn't afford heath insurance so I became a Christian Scientist.

Then there is the religion debate that I really don’t understand, the line between personal religious/moral conviction and expanding it to the broader community. Here we’re talking about things like amending the Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, teaching creationism in public school science classes and my all time favorite (where, oh where is the sarcasm font when you need it) abstinence-only sex ed classes.

Ignore the naughty bits!

So I put it to you dear reader. What are your thoughts about the line between religious freedoms and other freedoms? Please comment and let me know your perspective. I look forward to hearing from you.

My Mid-life Crisis of Faith (or How I Broke My Father’s Heart)-Part 2

I’d left the Catholic Church and all of the tradition I’d grown up with. I guess I could have left it at that and been just another of the many people who have left for one reason or another, after all a lapsed Catholic is still a Catholic who could potentially return to the church like the prodigal son. But no, I felt I needed some type of spiritual home which meant changing my religious identifier altogether.

But where to go? Clearly, my options were very limited. Protestant was out. Islam was out. Judiasm (reformed) was intriguing but they’re not really looking for converts. Buddhism sounded good, but there’s a shortage of Buddhist temples in the Dallas area. Decisions, decisions…..then I remembered a former co-worker of mine who had been Unitarian Universalist. I didn’t remember much about our conversations about her faith but I do remember her talking about how inclusive and open her church was.

So it was off to Google. Where I found the Unitarian Universalist principles:

  • Protecting the inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equality and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance and encouragement of each individual’s spiritual journey
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  • The right of conscience and the democratic process
  • The goal of a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
  • Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are all a part.

Yes, yes and more yes! I needed more information so I found a UU church in my area and attended a Sunday service; it was a revelation. If you get the impression from the principles that this is a hippy-ish type of group….you’re kind of right. There were definitely some members who looked like they fit the bill. There were also older members, and young families, a whole range of people. They were welcoming and very interested in what had led me there. They shared their stories with me, some very similar, others very different.

The best part, and what I had come to hear, was the sermon. The readings were taken from a Jewish rabbi’s essay, a quote from the great Sufi poet Rumi and Walt Whitman. I can’t remember ever being as connected to what a minister was saying than I was at this service. I have always believed that there is wisdom in all cultures and traditions both spiritual and secular and that we cheat ourselves when we don’t learn from as many sources as we can find.

Rumi-Mystic Sufi Poet

Walt Whitman-American Poet and Essayist

And it has been in this place that I feel comfortable and like I can be myself. It does’t matter how my thinking changes and evolves because all manner of belief systems are embraced. Many members come from Christian and Buddhist backgrounds. Many would identify themselves as Secular Humanists. There’s a smattering of pagan/nature worship followers, and even some atheists. We’re all just looking at the big questions of life without someone else telling us they know the answer. It’s about the wonder of not knowing and feeling that it’s impossible for any human to comprehend fully the greatest mysteries of the universe. In other words, a room full of agnostics.

My favorite UU t-shirt says:

I’m a Unitarian Universalist: The bedrock of my faith is the unshakeable belief  that your guess is as good as mine.

So that was that. I’d found my new place to spend some quiet reflective time, but now I had to tell my parents about my change of heart. I could think of a lot of things I’d rather do than have that conversation, and I felt like a little kid about it. (Amazing that I’m about to turn 40 but my parents are still my parents.) I talked with my mom first and she was surprised but not particularly upset. My dad however was a whole different story and I wasn’t even the one to actually tell him. I guess my mom brought it up one day and he was just devastated. She later told me not to bother trying to talk to him about it, because he was so upset he didn’t want to even discuss it with me. (I should mention here that my sweet dad is still an alter boy. This is the level of commitment we’re talking here…and please, no jokes.) It wasn’t until almost a year had passed that we were able to sit down and talk about my defection.

In retrospect, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I was visiting family in the days surrounding my grandmother’s passing and everyone’s emotions were on edge, but then again isn’t it always when someone has died that the conversation turns to things like religion and God and heaven? Things got heated but were both able to say what was on our minds and express the hurt that we both felt, him at my throwing away what he sees as an identifying characteristic of our family and me at his belief that this was a frivolous and poorly thought out decision. I wish I could say  there was a great meeting of the minds, but that’s not the case. I didn’t sway him and he didn’t sway me. We haven’t talked about it since, but at least we were able to understand where the other one was coming from, and while I may never get my dad to cross the threshold of my UU church, I know he loves me regardless of whether I consider myself Catholic or not. (However, I wouldn’t put it past him to be saying rosaries for my return.)

Thank you for reading my story and for all of the kind and encouraging comments you have sent me on this blog, on my Facebook page and through e-mail. I can’t tell you how much the support means to me. If you like this or any other post, please share it, and follow my blog on this site or through my Facebook page. And since you’ve been so kind I’ll leave you with this quote from Khalil Gibran:

My Mid-life Crisis of Faith (or How I Broke My Father’s Heart)-Part 1

So, now it’s time for me to get personal. I’ve had some friends who’ve read my blog ask me publicly and privately about my characterization of myself as a “former Catholic“. It’s not a story I’ve shared too freely, even with family and friends, because of all of the emotion it stirs up.

It turns out, like many other things in my life, I take my religion in moderation too. Not a great follower of organized religion,  and not an atheist…….nope, I’m hopelessly agnostic.

I grew up in a Catholic family and as a young adult , I found a parish that kept me “in the fold” for many years. The parish priest was a cool dude. He wore sandals constantly. He spent all of his sermons talking about social justice and giving the poor a voice, in politics and society in general. Things I could really get behind.

He was one of the first, and only, whistle-blowers in the clergy sex abuse scandal in my part of the country. He didn’t seem overly concerned with birth control or homosexuality; he always said that Jesus didn’t talk about that stuff and neither would he and then he’d go right back to his social justice work. He made it possible for me to ignore the fact that I fundamentally disagreed with a lot of what my church told me I was supposed to believe. So, I stayed in my comfort zone, I rationalized away my doubts, and worse I condemned myself for having those doubts in the first place.

Then, I moved to Texas.

At first I thought that it would be easier to be Catholic here. Church is such a huge part of the culture and social life of Texans that I thought it would be a great way to get myself and my kids involved and I was looking forward to being a part of a vibrant parish. So I went out and found a huge parish, with a married priest (an Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism), and I thought that I had found the perfect place to continue my family’s religious traditions.

Well, not so much.

Not that it was a bad parish. From what I could see, the families are very involved in the life of the church and in volunteering and trying to live their faith. But this was not the easy breezy church I was used to. These folks take their Catechism very seriously, and I was often reminded that there are certain beliefs that go along with being a Catholic and if you don’t believe those things, you can’t really call yourself a Catholic.

Hmm. Food for thought there, but then again old habits die hard so I tried……I really, really tried to stay a part of the Church. Ultimately though, I had to be honest with myself and admit, that if I were to put a checkmark next to every Catholic or even mainstream Christian teaching I truly  believed, there would be very few checkmarks.

So I left. With a lot of tears. With a lot of soul searching. With a measure of guilt. With a sense of being unmoored. And I started on a journey away from the faith I grew up with and into the faith I could actually claim as my own.

So I hope the words of e. e. cummings are true.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

I feel like they’re true, and next time I’ll touch on where my journey has taken me so far and about the reaction of my family….which as you can tell from my title, was not what I’d hoped.