Rider University dumps Chick-fil-A, a professor resigns and the coverage is so-so

Now this is different: The dean of a university in New Jersey quits her job because she’s fed up with her employer’s anti-Christian bias disguised as a dislike for the Christian-owned Chick-fil-A restaurant franchise.

We’re reported before about how Chick-fil-A is a favorite whipping boy for a lot of media.

We noted that the chain stayed open on Sunday to accommodate desperate travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in late 2017. The year before that, in a highly symbolic act, Chick-fil-A people went to work on Sunday to provide food for people donating blood after the massacre at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. And Chick-Fil-A pays its workers well over minimum wage.

But that doesn’t get brought up often. Instead, the chain is portrayed as anti-gay, as you’ll see from this short CNN story.

Finally, one woman said “enough.” And as you see from Twitter, everyone from Franklin Graham to Relevant magazine is commenting on it.

(CNN) A dean at Rider University in New Jersey is stepping down from her post after the school decided to drop Chick-fil-A from a list of possible campus additions. The school's reasoning, says Dean Cynthia Newman, is an affront to her Christian beliefs.

Rider announced in November that it would no longer consider the fast food chain as a new campus restaurant option "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community."

The restaurant chain had previously been one of the choices included in a survey sent to students about potential restaurant vendors.

Newman obviously read the small print and felt that what Rider was saying about Chick-fil-A could be applied to a lot of Christians.

Newman, the dean of college of business administration, said in a resignation announcement shared with the university's student newspaper that the school had made a "judgmental statement about Chick-fil-A's values -- values that reflect the essence of the Christian as well as other faiths."

Newman wrote that she asked administrators to apologize for offending Christians, but ultimately decided to step down after the university stuck to its original stance.

The crime committed by the founders of Chick-fil-A’s s to oppose gay marriage, a stance that reflects what most major religions say about homosexual relationships. Note that the key actions supporting traditional marriage were taken by the foundation operated by the family that built this chain — not the chain itself.

Chick-fil-A has faced criticism over its donations through the WinShape Foundation, a charitable organization started by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. Gay rights groups accused it of donating millions of dollars to anti-gay causes and organizations. Chick-fil-A also came under fire after its president and CEO Dan Cathy said in 2012 that the company was supportive of "the biblical definition of the family unit."

What they mean by “anti-gay’”organizations are groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family. They’re hardly on the radical edge of Christianity, those folks.

What’s interesting is there’s so little exploration as to what kind of Christian this dean is or what church she attends. The site NJ.com had a few more details than CNN did.

“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I read that statement because I’m a very committed Christian,” Newman said in a video interview with Campus Reform, conservative higher education blog which initially reported her resignation. “Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose statement is to glorify God, to be faithful stewards of all that’s entrusted to them and have a positive influence on everyone who comes into contact with them. And I would say that mirrors my personal beliefs perfectly."

The university has maintained that its decision against Chick-fil-A is not an attack on Christian members of the community…

“I couldn’t put myself in a situation where I would in any way be seen complicit when an affront to my Christian values had been made,” Newman told Campus Reform. "No one group’s opinions, values or beliefs should be elevated over anyone else’s. We should be able to respectfully disagree when it comes to values and ideologies…

Chick-fil-A has been banned in more than one place, but this is the first time I recall anyone standing up to those that did the banning.

After Rider’s November announcement, Chick-fil-A issued a statement shortly after, explaining that it doesn’t hold a political stance, and that it would leave debate about policies up to the political arena.

“We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda. More than 120,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand,” the restaurant chain said.

So what this means for Newman is probably a sizeable cut in pay. Why did she do this? We learn from NJ.com that she took three weeks to make her decision and that the university’s refusal to apologize was a crucial factor. Her point seemed to be that, in its rush to not offend certain folks, the university had offended Christians who don’t see biblical teachings against homosexual acts as discriminatory.

Figuring that there had to be more to this story, I looked about for other coverage and saw this Fox News piece mentioned that she got a lot of support from other staff and faculty.

This Philadelphia Inquirer story says the university released “talking points” to staff as to how to answer anyone who criticized the university’s decision. Well, that explains more why Newman stepped down. If she was being forced to defend the university’s decision, that changes the story quite a bit.

It appears the only folks she talked with was this Campus Reform group, whose video is atop this piece. I think an enterprising reporter who showed up at her office might have gotten more, but it appears no one did that except for the students at the campus newspaper. Their piece was quite long and covered every side, including that of a Jewish student who agreed with Newman and a bisexual student who didn’t, but felt the university mishandled the whole situation.

Lost in this whole debate is whether anyone should boycott a restaurant based on what organizations they donate to.

What about the fact that Starbucks donates to Planned Parenthood? If you wish to boycott them, does that mean other people should be kept from patronizing it? Since Rider University allows a Starbucks in its student rec center, then why not let Chick-fil-A on campus?

Good reporting would have called peoples’ attention to this. But as always, journalists are in a hurry and they don’t take the time to think these things through.

These are the issues that no one brought in covering this contretemps and the fact that many restaurant chains donate to controversial groups should have been pointed out. But in the MSM, it’s only controversial when the group happens to be conservative.

Listen to the entire video atop this blog, so you can hear Newman speak for herself.

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