A lone supporter of Chick-fil-A stood outside of the restaurant located on North Atherton Street Wednesday afternoon, in the midst of the heavy traffic of people coming to the restaurant.
Wednesday was the official Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, a movement started by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Facebook. The movement was for patrons of the restaurant to come out to show support and give business to Chick-fil-A and to affirm the company’s Christian principles.
“I’m not here to demonize anyone’s views but to exercise my freedom of religion and speech,” said supporter Mary Connelly, of State College. “People are not entitled to eat at Chick-fil-A. There needs to be more tolerance for Evangelicals, Christians and Catholic views.”
In an interview with Baptist Press in July, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy stood by his company’s position on views of a traditional family.
“"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,” Cathy said.
Cathy’s comments have sparked outrage from gay rights groups and other same-sex marriage supporters, since an executive of a major corporation was taking a public opinion for his personal views.
The Cathy Family Foundation also donates to many organizations that promote traditional family values, conservative values and Christian ministry programs.
Despite the controversy, thousands throughout the day lined the drive-thru, with cars coming out of the parking lot and stretching down North Atherton Street, with patrons and cars passing by honking horns and taking pictures of Connelly and her sign.
Patron Gary Gaisior, of Mifflintown, drove 45 minutes to State College just to have lunch at the restaurant.
“The movement is fantastic,” Gaisior said. “We should support Christian people and businesses.”
Another Chick-fil-A patron, Johnny Miller, of Lewistown, said it was “wonderful” and that people need to “patronize and support” Chick-fil-A.
The controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A has aroused new speculation about the chain in the HUB-Robenson Center. Co-President of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Student Alliance member Alyssia Motah said a meeting held on Tuesday to discuss matters on the issue allowed the group who attended the meeting to “hear from the minority groups on campus.”
It also “gauged what the minorities’ stance is” on Chick-fil-A and the recent comments released from Cathy.
This Friday, a group is holding a National Same-Sex Kissing Day, “Kiss Mor Chiks,” at the chicken chain’s restaurants across the United States. Their event is not a response to Wednesday’s Appreciation Day, because the Same-Sex Kissing Day was created on July 19, a week before Huckabee announced his plans, according to the event.
The group encourages all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people to meet at a Chick-fil-A chain at 8 p.m. EST to show “love, equality and family” values in wake of the controversy between supporters of same-sex marriage and supporters of Chick-fil-A.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.