Lying Republican says New York bill would force Chick-fil-A to stay open on Sundays
That's... not what's going on
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After all these years, I can’t believe we’re still talking about the Christian-owned restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. But we have to because a right-wing lawmaker wants to stir up controversy where none exists.
Recently, lawmakers in New York proposed legislation that would require all future vendors at state-owned transportation hubs and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to be open seven days a week. The bill makes perfect sense. After all, Sunday is a really busy day for travel, including for truckers who need to rest and refuel, and giving customers options is a win-win for everyone.
As it stands, Applegreen, the company that’s contracted to operate those service areas, includes Chick-fil-A at seven locations. That’s perfectly fine… except for the fact that the chain is (famously) closed on Sundays because its Christian founders wanted to observe a day of rest to honor God.
The proposed legislation, which would only affect new restaurant locations (and not the seven Chick-fil-As that already exist), points out the obvious problem:
While there is nothing objectionable about a fast food restaurant closing on a particular day of the week, service areas dedicated to travelers is an inappropriate location for such a restaurant. Publicly owned service areas should use their space to maximally benefit the public. Allowing for retail space to go unused one seventh of the week or more is a disservice and unnecessary inconvenience to travelers who rely on these service areas.
That makes a lot of sense! This wouldn’t be a stand-alone restaurant; the stores are literally there to serve the public and keeping them closed on Sunday hurts the people who want or need food options.
In 2015, this became a source of contention because we learned that the vending contract for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport said all restaurants must be open seven days a week… except for Chick-fil-A, which was granted an exception. The reason? They made more money in six days than pretty much every other airport restaurant in seven. So officials felt the trade-off was worth it. Customers had plenty of other options on Sundays, anyway.
The New York situation, however, is a little different because those rest stops are operated by the government, and they have an obligation to serve the public, not just make money for the company in charge.
So even if Chick-fil-A can make a ton of money, is it helpful for consumers that they’re closed on Sundays? Absolutely not.
… New York State Assemblymember Tony Simone, who sponsored the bill, told CNN’s Abby Phillip in an interview that the bill “has nothing to do with religion” and came about despite Chick-fil-A’s record on LGBTQ issues, which he criticized as “terrible.”
“This is about making sure the thruways have rest stops that support and have our travelers be able to be serviced,” he said. “This is a consumer protection bill.”
It’s important to mention that religion isn’t the issue here. Yes, the founders of the chain have a history of donating money to anti-LGBTQ organizations and speaking out against same-sex marriage, but keeping rest area restaurant chains open on Sundays isn’t anti-Christian; it’s important for the people who want to buy food. It’s not like other Christian-owned businesses are being targeted. And if Chick-fil-A offered to stay open at these locations on Sundays, they would be eligible to open up shop there.
But pretending religious persecution exists when it really doesn’t is a favorite pastime of Republican lawmakers.
Enter Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who’s already fundraising off of this. Graham said that if the New York legislation passes, he’ll introduce a bill in Congress “withholding federal funds from any city or state that requires Chick-fil-A to open on Sundays.”
It’s all talk. He’s not actually going to do that. He’s a professional bullshitter. Still, he acted like this was theological warfare:
"The idea that the state of New York is going to make a company change its policies it's had from its founding — they want to have one day off for their employees to recognize the Lord, and they can do it," Graham went on to tell "FOX & Friends." "And to the people in New York who are pushing this: You're in for one hell of a fight."
Literally no one is forcing Chick-fil-A to change its policies. But if they want to operate by their religious rules, and those rules are deemed bad for public venues, then the chain doesn’t get to have it both ways. They have to play by the rules or choose not to. No one’s forcing the chain to go against its owners’ beliefs. They can open up shops wherever they want… just not in certain public rest stops where food options ought to be available every day of the week.
There’s nothing illegal happening with the New York bill. There’s nothing to rally around. No one’s calling for a Chick-fil-A boycott. This is nothing more than a right-wing grifter using any opportunity he can to cosplay as a defender of Christianity from the evil evil forces that… would ultimately make Chick-fil-A more money if it followed the guidelines being set by the state and not even affect the several locations currently in New York rest areas.
So much persecution. Truly.
New York Assemblymember Tony Simone told reporters that Graham just hadn’t read the bill, and if he had, “he would know that the legislation would not affect current Chick-fil-A locations.” That’s far too generous. Graham knows what the bill says. He just doesn’t care because it’s much easier for him to whip gullible conservatives into a frenzy over a culture war issue—and raise money off of it—than to tell them the truth.
The restaurant chain itself hasn’t issued any statement about the New York bill. Why would it? It’s doing just fine and the proposed legislation is sensible.