The Ugly Coded Critique of Chick-Fil-A's Christianity

The New Yorker has been taking it on the chin lately for its essay about Chick-fil-A’s “infiltration” of New York City. Although most of the piece is about the evils of fast food and the chain’s ubiquitous "Eat Mor Chikin" advertising campaign, the essay has been excoriated for its anti-Christian tone. “The brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism,” we’re told. Not just that: “Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.” 1  And lest we forget: “The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words ‘to glorify God.’”

What the author really seems angry about is that the company’s CEO opposes same-sex marriage. But the framing of the piece made Christianity the villain, and the headline -- “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City” -- was sufficiently troubling that Nate Silver quickly tweeted “This is why Trump won.” Fair point. Religious bigotry is always dangerous. But there’s a deeper problem here, a difficulty endemic to today’s secular left: an all-too-frequent weird refusal to acknowledge the demographics of Christianity. When you mock Christians, you’re not mocking who you think you are.

A 2015 Pew Research Center study of race and ethnicity among U.S. religions provides some basic facts. In the first place, if you’re mocking Christians, you’re mostly mocking women, because women are more likely than men to be Christians. The greatest disproportion is found among black Christians, of whom only 41 percent are male. So you’re mocking black women in particular.

Overall, people of color are more likely than whites to be Christians -- and pretty devout Christians at that. Some 83 percent of all black Americans are absolutely certain that God exists. No other group comes close to this figure. Black Christians are far more likely than white Christians (84 percent to 64 percent) to describe religion as very important in their lives. Of all ethnic groups, black Christians are the most likely to attend services, pray frequently and read the Bible regularly. They are also -- here’s the kicker -- most likely to believe that their faith is the place to look for answers to questions about right and wrong. And they are, by large margins, the most likely to believe that the Bible is the literally inerrant word of God. In short, if you find Christian traditionalism creepy, it’s black people you’re talking about.

It’s true that, politically, black Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, and that’s true of black Christians as well. On the other hand, black Christians tend to be socially conservative: the least tolerant of homosexuality, the most likely to oppose same-sex marriage and the least likely to believe in evolution. 2  If you’re maligning traditional Christianity, the people you’re maligning are disproportionately black.

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