Atlanta, Georgia — A university founded by Methodists in the 1800’s has decided to expel the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A from campus, raising questions about whether the decision was over the company’s beliefs in Biblical marriage.
Representatives from the school admit that it was a factor, but state that other reasons weighed in on the decision.
As previously reported, Chick-fil-A first came under fire last year following comments that president Dan Cathy had made to Baptist Press outlining that he is “very much supporting of the family — the Biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” he said. “We give God thanks for that.”
According to the Washington Post, Cathy had also stated on a radio broadcast in June that he believed that the promotion of homosexual “marriage” was evoking the wrath of God upon America.
“As it relates to society in general, I think we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” he opined. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”
A number of colleges and universities that have been offended by Cathy’s comments have considered kicking Chick-fil-A off campus for its beliefs, and some have done so, such as Elon University in North Carolina.
David Giffin of The College Conservative notes that last December, the Student Government Association of Emery University voted to oppose the presence of Chick-fil-A on campus. Dean of Students Ajay Nair said following the vote that while he strongly disagrees with Cathy’s views, he did not believe the restaurant should be removed on the basis of its Christian beliefs.
“Emory University has a long history of creating access, inclusion, and equity for Emory’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty, staff and alumni,” Nair stated. “Recent public statements by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, do not reflect Emory’s values as an institution.”
“Nevertheless, freedom of expression and an open exchange of ideas are also central tenets of the Emory community. Emory therefore respects the right of people to express their disagreement with Mr. Cathy by not patronizing Chick-fil-A,” he continued. “It is our hope that our educational environment promotes diversity of thought and encourages dialogue on this issue with the aim of benefiting our local and global communities.”
However, as Emery University recently decided to redesign its dining area, and students were polled about their interests in what restaurants they would like to have on campus, Chick-fil-A did not make the cut.
“[The] Food Advisory Committee Emory (FACE) presented three proposed floor plans for Cox Hall at a student feedback meeting on March 7, none of which contained the Chick-fil-A currently present in the building,” the Emery Wheel student newspaper explained. “Chick-fil-A will be eliminated as a food option in Cox Hall as part of a facelift the food court will undergo during the summer … The adopted floor plan will place a pizza and pasta venue where Chick-fil-A currently resides.”
The publication also reports that FACE co-chair Karoline Porcello stated that Chick-fil-A “did not meet Campus Life and student values.”
“Chick-fil-A has made their hostility toward gay people clear,” said student Andy Ratto. “It will be a victory for the Emory community … when they are removed from campus.”
Emory University, originally known as Emory College, was founded in 1836 by Methodists in honor of Bishop John Emery. It was initially located in Oxford, a town that was named after the British institution that graduated John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist denomination. Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church remains on the campus today near the main entrance of the university.