Taking an Unpopular Stand
Almost anyone who has tuned in to the news, or read current events online lately has heard about the unpopular stand of Chick-Fil-A president Truett Cathy. When the 90+ year old founder and CEO of the successful fast food chain was asked whether or not he supported traditional marriage, he agreed that he does.
“We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy is quoted as saying.
According to the ‘Weekly Standard’ post, the media took that statement and ran with it, creating a storm which lead to a nation-wide boycott from some groups, and record sales from another. But how many of those either picketing or supporting Cathy know the true story of the man? It is a truly inspiring one.
Born to Be an Entrepreneur
Cathy was born in Eatonton, Georgia back in 1921. When a boll weevil infestation cost his family their farm, they moved with the young boy to the city of Atlanta, Ga where his Dad became an insurance salesman. Despite his hard work, Cathy’s father could not make enough money to support his family, and thus his Mother began to take in boarders to help make ends meet. For one dollar a day, the boarder shared a room and two meals.
Cathy soon started his own business, when he was just eight years old, in order to help his parents support himself and his brothers and sisters. Aside from setting up a Coka Cola stand in his yard, young Cathy sold magazines and Cokes door to door. He also started his own paper route, selling the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He gave all of his profits to his parents to help out. When he was not working for his own “businesses,” he was helping his Mom with hers, setting the table, cleaning, making beds, and helping to care for their guests. During the next eight years of delivering news papers and such, Cathy would learn such skills as customer service, work ethics, and business management. These skills would become vital in his lifetime as an entrepreneur.
Faith And Determination
As Cathy and his family was living in the public housing of Atlanta, a man came along which would change his life forever. Although his father’s long work hours kept his from spending much time with Cathy, a Sunday School teacher named Mr Abbot was there for the kids of the neighborhood, filling in where a father couldn’t always be. Abbot shared the story of a Father who loved them, and the kids were given hope and faith. The morals and beliefs which Cathy gained during this time would stay with him throughout his life, and Cathy is still fighting the battle to stand for those beliefs.
After spending time in the Army during World War II, Cathy and his brother, Ben, opened a restaurant called the “Dwarf Grill” in 1946. This would be where the original Chick-Fil-A sandwich would be born, although it was not yet called that. As the building was being built, Truett and Ben Cathy were informed that the war had taken all of the supplies, and there were not enough boards and nails available to complete the restaurant. Determined not to be beaten, the brothers proceeded to buy old barns and buildings in the area, and recycled the boards and nails from those. In the entrepreneurial spirit which has built a nation, the brothers pulled those boards and straightened the nails themselves at night, so that the construction crews could use them the next day.
Chick-Fill-A is Born
Not long after the first restaurant was opened, Cathy married Jeanette, a girl he had met while still a boy on his paper route. Jeanette and Truett Cathy had a great deal in common, including their beliefs. They both had been tithing since they were children and intended to continue throughout their lives. Cathy decided not only to follow the words of Malachi 3:10 and tithe his money, but his time as well. Unlike the Biblical instructions, however, Cathy decided to tithe 90% of his earnings, and live on 10%. Normally, one would tithe 10%. He became a millionaire with that logic. With his time, Cathy gave to the youth of his community as well as taught Sunday School.
The very first Chick-Fil-A restaurant opened in Greenbriar Mall of Atlanta in 1967, and several more mall locations opened during the next twenty years. The first freestanding location was opened in 1986, and during the hamburger era, Cathy “invented” the chicken sandwich. His very first slogan became, “We did not invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich.”
Paying it Forward
Truett Cathy has not only flourished in his business while sticking to his beliefs, he has found ways to give back to the world. In 1984, he founded the WinShape Center, which helps young people to live successful lives by awarding scholarships and other programs. As much as $32,000 is awarded by his foundation each year. He also gives a great deal of money to other charities which help the youth to find success. Also among the charities he helps to fund are the Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council.
Cathy was recently asked by the media about his beliefs on traditional marriage. Knowing his ideas were not popular ones, he still exercised his Constitutional rights to both freedom of speech and religion, and gave his opinion. When many groups came forward to chastise Cathy for his stand, he stood his ground, and stated that if he was being accused of standing for the support of the traditional family, “Well, guilty as charged.” As most people know, his statements launched many groups to boycott Chick-Fil-A. In response, those who felt that Cathy had every right to express his beliefs launched “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.”
Restaurants all over the country were packed, many with cars lined up for miles to show their support for Cathy by eating at his restaurant chain. Two days later, those groups which spoke out against him showed up in much smaller numbers to protest at the locations. Their stance is that Cathy is not showing tolerance to those who do not participate in traditional marriage. Chick-Fil-A’s response? Employees at the restaurants which were being protested took time out of their work day to take free water to those who were protesting in the hot sun, showing their own tolerance, and the Christian values which Cathy so bravely took a stand for.