I liked Chick-fil-A. The food was OK. The service was great. The restrooms were clean. They put flowers on the table. All good things. I suppose I knew that I didn't see eye-to-eye with the man who owned the chain. But I didn't give it much thought. Until that man spoke up.
He said he opposed gay marriage. A lot of people say that. I don't know why they think it should be their business who marries and who doesn't. But they do. It was what he said next that convinced me I didn't want to eat his food anymore.
"We are going to have to answer for it someday."
We, I presume, means straight America. We will have to answer, presumably to God, because we not only let gays live among us, in some states we even allow them to marry.
This is about the scariest idea in the world.
Throughout history people have been told that they are suffering (choose one) war, flood, famine, drought, plague, recession, because they tolerate (choose one) gays, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, witches, and God is steamed.
Whoever they are, the people who are annoying God, they are never anybody with a lot of money, such as noblemen or stockbrokers. The troublesome group is always part of the rest of us. They are people who hold down jobs, pay rent, shovel their walks in the winter and eat at Chick-fil-A.
They are people like my sister and her partner.
My sister is a lawyer, musician, dog lover, farmer. And she's gay.
She lives with another lady, a silver-haired Jewish grandmother, on 13 acres in North Carolina. In their spare time, they garden, look after their chickens, ducks, goats, dogs and cats. They go to the local festivals. They do craft projects. (The Jewish grandmother has a spinning wheel. She makes yarn that she knits into sweaters for her grandson and two granddaughters.)
They have drum circles. They host a monthly sing-along. There are occasional parties that never run late because my sister's partner likes to turn in early.
They quit smoking right before my last visit. Which made them less than great company. But I'm happy they're quitting.
According to the CEO of Chick-fil-A, the United States will have to answer for allowing them to live together. That kind of thinking terrifies me.
My sister's home is not near much of anything. It would be easy for someone to go out there and kick in the door that they don't always lock. A day or so later, I would get a call from local law enforcement telling me that I will never see either of them again.
It has happened before.
Things weren't all that great in Salem, Mass., in the late 17th century. There was an Indian war. The British government had appointed a former pirate as governor of the colony. There were the usual epidemics, problems with the crops, quarrels with the neighbors.
In 1692 an ambitious minister told his congregation they could blame all their problems on witches. Nineteen people were executed. One old man was tortured until he died. Because they were supposedly practicing witchcraft.
Across the ocean, in France, Louis XIV was busy chasing the Protestants out of France. Catholic clergy assured him he was doing God's work.
France's Protestants were skilled workers -- silvermiths, tailors, carpenters, clock makers. They were welcomed in Switzerland, England and this country (where a man named Rivoire changed his name to Revere). France gained nothing and lost a great deal when the Protestants left.
How many useful citizens would we lose if all the gays went to Canada? How many taxpayers would we lose if they all took off for elsewhere? How many of us would have to get passports to see family members?
We have the right to free speech in this country. The CEO of Chick-fil-A can say whatever he likes. What he said made me lose my appetite for his food.
He also has a right to think whatever he wants. But his way of thinking scares me. It's the kind of thinking that inspired the Spanish Inquisition, persecution of French Protestants, the Salem witch trials and some very unpleasant men in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
So I'm not going to eat at Chick-fil-A anytime soon -- though it was at one of their restaurants that I first heard Bruce Springsteen's tribute to Pete Seeger; though their seats are actually comfortable, which is rare in the world of fast food; though I will miss their waffle fries.
Their CEO didn't know he was talking about my sister when he denounced gays. He was talking about a lot of people's sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and dear friends. Probably some of his own.
If he doesn't want gays to marry, he shouldn't marry anyone who's gay. If he thinks our country will have to answer for tolerating gays, he should move to a country that doesn't, such as Iran. I'm sure his restaurants and his opinions would go over well there.
I'm equally sure we'd be able to get along without him.
Jean Martin is a writer living in Swissvale (LadyJeandeBurg@aol.com).