BRENTWOOD — Hundreds of thousands of people all across America ate at least one meal at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant on Aug. 1.
According to a report posted by abcnews.go.com, Chick-fil-A posted a record setting day as people endured long lines to show their appreciation for the pro-family position of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.
“Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” as organizer Mike Huckabee called it, may have been more successful than even he envisioned. More than 650,000 people had signed up on Facebook to participate, and it seemed that each one came — and brought a friend.
In contrast, advocates of gay marriage planned to make a statement on Aug. 3 by encouraging same-sex couples to go to Chick-fil-A and take photos of themselves kissing outside the restaurant.
About 11,000 people said on Facebook they would take part in that event. The Chick-fil-A response on Facebook was more than 60 times as many.
In Clarksville, Ind., the parking lot was packed, and cars were parked in the adjacent Lowe’s lot. In Kansas City, Kan., a line of at least 50 people stretched outside the doors. That was also the case in cities and towns across Tennessee and Ontario, Calif. And in Chicago, Ill., where local politicians had spoken against the restaurant, dozens stood outside the doors, waiting just to get inside. At some Chick-fil-As, such as in Dyersburg, the number of people in line outside the doors was 100 or more.
In some locations, police were on location to direct traffic, with cars backed up on main roads. Churches, too, were getting involved. In Salisbury, N.C., Cornerstone Church cancelled its Wednesday evening services so members could support the restaurant, the Salisbury Post reported. But at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova — as well as at a host of other congregations — church officials were ordering Chick-fil-A food to serve at their weekly Wednesday evening meal.
Baptist and Reflector Editor Lonnie Wilkey stood in line for about 45 minutes to get food for himself and some fellow staff members. Writing on his blog about the experience, he commented about the attitude of those waiting in line.
“Normally, people do not like to wait, especially for their food, and there tends to be some grumbling and foul moods,” he wrote, but that was not the case on Aug. 1.
He commented on that fact to fellow TBC staff member who was also in line. Salva’s response was “right on the money,” Wilkey wrote. Salva said, “Today, it wasn’t about the lunch.”
Tennessee Baptist evangelist and pastor Jerry Drace noted he had e-mailed pastors in Madison-Chester and Crockett Baptist Associations, encouraging them to have at least one meal at Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1.
“I asked for those who could to meet for breakfast at the Chick-fil-A on Vann Drive in Jackson. At 7:30 a.m. the line of cars circled the building and down the street. Inside the lines were eight to 10 deep,” Drace said. Long lines continued throughout the day, he noted.
Heading into the day, Huckabee said the event was not about gay marriage — as some had made it to be — but about free speech and religious liberty. A business owner, he said, should be able to state basic Christian belief without being castigated. He stood by that on his radio show Wednesday.
“We’re finding out that people in America still believe that every American — every American — has a right to an opinion,” Huckabee said on his radio program. “You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to like it. But you ought to respect that people have that wonderful right. You don’t have that in North Korea. You don’t have it in Iran.
“And I guess if the mayors had their way you wouldn’t get it in Boston, Washington, Chicago or San Francisco,” he added, referencing city mayors who have spoken out against Chick-fil-A.