Chick-fil-A Day in America

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 1 2012 7:11 PM

Chick-fil-A Day in America

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- A police escort parked near the entrance to the local Chick-fil-A, directing traffic, so that the crush of cars and people didn't clog the rest of the Silver Spring shopping center. I drove past it to work at a Panera (free wifi, diet coke refills), but through my window, from 3:30 to 7, I could see a line-out-the-door become a sort of festival, and the lines of cars start snaking around the entire parking lot. At 5, three local TV crews pulled up, taking b-roll and interviewing the chicken-eaters.

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"Support Chick-fil-A Day," from this vantage point, looked like a bona fide national Happening. Every table in my corner of the Panera was abuzz about it. "I guess some people still support free speech!" said a pastor to a family sitting down to pray over their soup-and-sandwich combos. When I needed to leave to meet a source, I detoured over to the crowd, right as another pastor was checking on "prayer warriors." There were regular spoken prayers -- the wait at the end of the queue was rumored to be two hours.

"Lord, we thank you for this food and for this fellowship," said Bob Nemoyer, a local pastor. He was carrying a copy of John Lennox's against-atheism book God's Undertaker. We had a nice, short conversation about psychologists and scientists whose work enhanced Christianity without degrading it, and then Nemoyer made his elevator pitch.

"I am not here because I hate gays," he said. "I don't believe people choose to be gay; there's sound reason to believe that sexual preference can be explained by hormonal balance, and that's innate. I'm just here because I think marriage is intended for child-rearing, and you should be able to say that -- like this Dan Cathy said that -- without fear of retribution."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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