Reporting Bob Conway
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chick-Fil-A controversy now has Francis Cardinal George upset, but Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) –who said he would deny the fast food restaurant a permit to open in his ward – is firing back.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, the cardinal weighed in on the controversy in an eight-paragraph blog post this past weekend. He took issue with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s comment that “Chick-Fil-A values are not Chicago values” by comparing it to the Red Scare of the early 1950s.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports
“I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval,” George said in the Sunday posting. “Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a ‘Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities’ and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?”
The cardinal spent the rest of the post arguing against gay marriage using philosophical arguments.
“Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus,” he wrote.
George wrote that marriage by definition has to involve “complementary” genders, and that same-sex marriage is “a contradiction in terms, like a square circle. He also said people who are not Christian or religious at all “take it for granted” that marriage is between a man and a woman “for the sake of family, and, of its nature, for life.”
“Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of ‘two becoming one flesh’ (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society?” he wrote.
He argued that same-sex marriage clashes with freedom of religion, and, “Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.”
Chicago Archdiocese spokeswoman Colleen Dolan told the Chicago Tribune that the blog post had gotten the largest response the Archdiocese has ever seen, and most of it was “overwhelmingly positive.”
But Moreno fired back at the cardinal. Speaking to the Tribune, he accused the cardinal of saying “Jesus believes in this, and therefore we all must believe this,” a position he called “disingenuous and irresponsible.”
Moreno told the Tribune he was raised Catholic himself, served as an altar boy, and now occasionally attends church. He told the paper that the God he believes in is “about equal rights,” including the right to marriage.
Moreno also told the Tribune that he questions George’s right to the “moral high ground on equal rights,” noting the scandal in the Catholic Church surrounding pedophile priests.
The controversy over Chick-Fil-A in Chicago erupted last week, when Moreno said he would be blocking Chick-Fil-A from opening its second Chicago city location in his ward, in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue.
“I’m not going to sit on the sidelines, and allow them to come in, when I know in my heart that they believe in discriminating against gay people,” Moreno said last week.
The comments by Chick-Fik-A president Dan Cathy that sparked the controversy were published in an article on the Christian news site Baptist Press and a prior radio interview. He said his business is “very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” and in the radio interview, added that questioning the definition of marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”
Mayor Emanuel criticized Cathy’s stance last week, but in a statement, Mayor’s office spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper said this does not mean the mayor will be involved in trying to block the restaurant.
On Wednesday, crowds of supporters turned out in the Chicago area and across the country for a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” organized by former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Meanwhile, gay rights supporters held an “Eat for Love Day,” urging people to eat at a local restaurant that supports LGBT rights and “is unafraid to show its support for equality for everyone.”
The Chicago Republican Party also filed a complaint Wednesday against Moreno with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, accusing Moreno and Mayor Rahm Emanuel of breaking civil rights laws pertaining to religious freedom and the First Amendment when Moreno said Chick-Fil-A would be denied a permit.
Another protest is coming on Friday, when Equality Illinois is urging gay and lesbian couples to go to their local Chick-Fil-A restaurants for a “kiss-in” campaign, which the group is promoting along with other gay rights organizations nationwide.