NANAIMO, British Columbia – The city council of a small Canadian town canceled an event in a city-owned facility last month after learning that the event was to be sponsored in part by Chick-fil-A.
Nanaimo, Canada, is a small town in southwestern British Columbia with a population of approximately 85,000. The city had planned to rent out an event center to a Georgia-based leadership organization for a simulcast on May 9, but that changed when city leaders learned that the event would be sponsored in part by Chick-fil-A.
Evidently, the Nanaimo city councilors took issue with the Christian faith of Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy. According to minutes from a May 5 city council meeting, city leaders voted 8 to 1 to cancel the event because they did not want to be associated with Cathy’s Christian beliefs.
“[A]s owners of the facility,” the event-canceling motion states, “any events that are associated with organizations or people that promote or have a history of divisiveness, homophobia, or other expressions of hate [will] not be permitted [by the city].”
As previously reported, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has drawn sharp criticism from pro-homosexual advocates in years past, including when he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. Cathy said the court ruling marked a “sad day for our nation,” adding that the “founding fathers would be ashamed of our generation.”
The Nanaimo city councilors are not the first governing body to reject Chick-fil-A due to the chain’s Christian owners. As previously reported, a North Carolina university voted in 2012 to ban the restaurant from its campus, then a Methodist university in Atlanta followed suit last year.
During the May 5 council meeting, Nanaimo city leaders repeatedly bashed Cathy’s faith and Christianity in general.
“[Cathy] has a rich history of homophobia and other divisive practices,” Councilor Fred Pattje stated during the meeting. “ … This is about an organization that is being sponsored by a man who has done tremendous damage.”
City Councilor Jim Kipp drew a comparison between Cathy’s Christian beliefs and radical Islamic terrorists in Nigeria. He then likened biblical Christianity to “organized crime.”
“I find [Cathy’s beliefs] almost to be a criminal point of view in this day and age,” he claimed. “… This is just nuts, it’s just nuts.”
The Nanaimo City Council’s decision has since generated widespread criticism, with many describing it as an act of discrimination against Bible-believing Christians. Ezra Levant, a Canadian lawyer and best-selling author, wrote in a Toronto Sun column that the city council’s motion was an example of “shocking bigotry” against Christianity.
“Councilors took turns defaming the convention, Chick-Fil-A, one of its speakers, its organizers and those in it—all without the burden of facts,” Levant wrote. “They falsely accused one conference speaker of being anti-gay—even though city staff reminded councillors that the conference wasn’t about homosexuality at all.”
Following criticism, the Nanaimo City Council released a statement, in which they insisted that the motion to cancel the event was not driven by anti-Christian discrimination. Nevertheless, many individuals—including non-Christians—were upset by the council’s decision.
“I am deeply shocked by this and hope that these councilors pay dearly for this,” one commenter wrote. “I am ashamed to be Canadian. I am not a Christian, but I defend [the Cathys’] right to their beliefs. The conference itself has nothing to do with what these councilors are alleging.”
As this latest round of Chick-fil-A controversy continues, a recent USA Today report suggests that the Chick-fil-A owners plan to focus less on social issues in the future. Though the Cathy family is still well-known for their Christian business practices, they say they will distance themselves and their company from the pro-traditional marriage stance.
“I’m going to leave it to politicians and others to discuss social issues,” Cathy promised.