Cynthia Newman, the dean of the business school at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ has resigned over a fast food restaurant. She didn’t resign because fast food is unhealthy, no no no. She has resigned because the university removed the restaurant from a list of fast food places on a campus-wide survey asked which restaurant should be added to the dining options on campus.
The restaurant she is defending is Chick Fil A, the wildly popular, though sometimes controversial, chicken chain that has often found itself at the center of debates like this. The chain, and its owner Dan Cathy, wear their conservative Christian beliefs on their sleeves. They are famously not open on Sundays and their corporate mission statement is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
These staunch Biblical beliefs drew major controversy in 2012 when Dan Cathy made anti-LGBT statements about gay marriage, saying, “As it relates to society in general, 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. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
This statement from Cathy, as well as donations from the company’s charity to anti-gay organizations like Family Research Council, Marriage & Family Foundation as well as Exodus International, who is infamous for its “gay conversation therapy,” has given the chain the reputation of being anti-LGBT.
At various times, the chain has been at the center of boycotts and protests, though usually it’s not in support of their controversial beliefs, but that’s what happened with Dean Newman.
In an interview with Campusreform.com, a conservation blog focused on college life, she explained her reason, as she put it, in an email to the university: “As some of you already know, I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ, as such, I endeavor every day to do exactly what Chick-fil-A puts forward as its overarching corporate value: to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to me and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with me.”
So, apparently it was an affront to her faith NOT to have a chicken restaurant on her campus. We’ve seen people pick strange fights, but this is one of the strangest. What makes a chicken chain so important that you would damage your career to defend it?
Maybe she just really loves their delicious chicken sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes.