Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s call to make Wednesday, Aug. 1 “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” has drawn a tremendous response — he tells Newsmax that more than 20 million people have viewed his Facebook event page to learn about the Day.
And more than half a million people have already said they will heed his call and eat at a Chick-fil-A restaurant on Wednesday to show their support for the chain that has come under attack from the left for promoting its Christian values.
The controversy began when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the family-owned company, which puts faith ahead of profits by closing on Sundays, was “guilty as charged” for backing the “biblical definition of a family.”
He later ratcheted up the rhetoric in a radio interview, saying: “I think we are 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.’”
Gay rights groups responded by calling for a boycott of the business. The mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. told the chain it is not welcome in their cities and vowed to stop further expansion of the restaurants there.
Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate who now hosts a show on Fox News, responded quickly on his website, declaring: “I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company because.... Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld.”
He said the success of Chick-fil-A is “a great American story that is being smeared by vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left.”
And in an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday, he explained why he has called for the Appreciation Day.
“The media has called it a ‘protest.’ It is most certainly not,” he said. “No one is protesting anything. This is not a stand against a person, a group of people, or even someone else's belief. This is a simple act of having a meal at a place that sells chicken, not politics. It's to affirm to a Christian brother, Dan Cathy, that he has not been disenfranchised from his citizenship or his right of free speech as a taxpaying American. It is about taking a stand for businesses to be free of economic bullying and hate speech.
“It is an opportunity to have a decent meal at a decent place that was founded and continues to be run by decent people who believe in treating their customers and employees with kindness and to say ‘thank you’ to them.”
Asked what message he hopes to send with the event, Huckabee told Newsmax: “That the rules are the same on both sides of the issue.
“When Christians speak up and say what they believe, they are ridiculed and threatened by small militant minorities of groups that try to shut them down and shut them up by any means they can. People have a right to free speech in this country and we can’t let people take it away no matter what side we are on. I disagree with a lot of what other people say but I think they have a right to their opinion."
Huckabee talked further about that '"hypocrisy" on Tuesday on his radio show.
“[It is] ironic,” Huckabee said, that the left “is always talking about intolerant bigotry of the so-called ‘homophobes.’
“I’m just tired of having one side play by a completely different set of rules than I am supposed to play by.”
He continued saying it is the left that seems intolerant.
“There was, once, an attitude among those in the same-sex marriage community . . . who said why can’t we just live and let live?” Huckabee said.
“I guess they now believe that’s fine unless you happen to be a Christian. Then you can’t be who you are. Do you not see the irony here?
“You cannot have an America where one set of values are tolerated but another’s are not.”
As for tomorrow's events, he knows Americans will support the company.
“On Wednesday I hope there is a line out the door and around the block of every one of the over 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants. We have had over 20 million people reached in the last week through our Facebook page. We have over 515,000 people who have ‘RSVP’d’ for the event, and both of those numbers are still growing.”
Finally, Huckabee was asked if Chick-fil-A is prepared for the huge numbers of customers expected to visit one of the chain’s restaurants on Wednesday.
“I hope they are,” he responded. “One thing I do know about Chick-fil-A is they are an efficient company and a customer service-driven company, so I bet they excel tomorrow.
“They have great food, great service, and tomorrow they will have a great day.”
Editor's note: To join Mike Huckabee's efforts, visit www.mikehuckabee.com
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.