Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, is participating in a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” campaign being organized by former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee on Aug. 1.

By Bob Allen

A Southern Baptist seminary is responding to controversy over Chick-fil-A’s support of organizations that oppose gay marriage by heeding the fast-food chain’s familiar advertising slogan: “Eat Mor Chikin.”

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced July 25 the school expects to purchase more than 200 sandwiches at a Chick-fil-A located near the campus in Fort Worth, Texas, on Aug. 1 as part of “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” announced by former presidential candidate and Southwestern alum former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

“Southwestern Seminary wants to encourage Chick-fil-A’s support of the traditional family and the First Amendment right of Dan Cathy to live out his religious beliefs,” Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications, said in a press release. “We gladly partner with organizations like Chick-fil-A who take a stand for faith, and we will also be providing all of our students with Chick-fil-A sandwiches during our all-campus picnic in September.”

Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and current president of the restaurant chain, reignited a controversy that had died down a year ago over the company’s support for conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and Exodus International when he answered “guilty as charged” to a question about his response to critics of the company’s support of traditional family values in an interview with a Baptist newspaper.

The comment gained wider exposure when picked up by Baptist Press July 16, setting off a media firestorm and sparking an announcement by the Jim Henson Company that it would no longer partner with Chick-fil-A by producing toys for its kid’s meals, and mayors in Boston and Chicago saying that the company’s restaurants are not welcome in their cities.

Chick-fil-A attempted to quell the controversy with a July 19 posting on the Atlanta-based company’s Facebook page saying the restaurant’s policy is “to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender” and that its intent “is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”