Food

Culture of Chick-fil-A? A holy ghost in the eye-popping minimum wage planned by this franchisee

Culture of Chick-fil-A? A holy ghost in the eye-popping minimum wage planned by this franchisee

In my first regular job, I flipped burgers at McDonald's for $3.35 an hour.

That was the minimum wage when I was a high school junior in the mid-1980s.

With inflation, the comparable amount today would be $6.62 an hour. The federal minimum wage is, of course, $7.25 an hour.

I bring up those figures in light of an eye-popping news out of California, as reported by The Washington Post:

By 2022, the minimum wage in California will rise to $15. But the owner of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Sacramento plans to go ahead and raise the wages of his employees now, offering a huge bump to $17 to $18 from the $12 to $13 he pays now.

The sizable raise represents a possible new high-water mark for fast-food workers, say restaurant industry analysts, at a time when competition for even unskilled labor is rising amid low unemployment, greater immigration scrutiny and fewer teenagers seeking to work in fast-food jobs. While analysts can't say whether a $17 to $18 hourly wage is the highest in the country for front-line fast-food workers, it certainly appears to be among the higher ones, said David Henkes, a senior principal with Technomic, a restaurant research and consulting firm.

"We’re seeing a lot of operators that are in that $12 to $15 range, especially in higher-price areas like California, but that’s sort of a new threshold," he said. "In an era of 3.9 percent unemployment, restaurants — which typically are not seen as the most attractive of jobs — are struggling to not only fill jobs but then retain workers." 

Here's a strange question, one that won't sound so strange to those familiar with Chick-fil-A: Is there any chance that this story is haunted by a holy ghost? Any chance at all?

After all, Chick-fil-A closes its restaurants on Sundays so employees can rest. When is the last time you read a story about the Atlanta-based chain that didn't include a reference to the Christian faith of the chain's owners (or their beliefs on marriage)?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Still thinking about Chick-fil-A, as well as the emerging face of world Christianity

Still thinking about Chick-fil-A, as well as the emerging face of world Christianity

Every now and then, a magazine like The Atlantic Monthly -- a must-read publication, no matter what one's cultural worldview -- publishes a cover story that transforms how thinking people think about an important issue. At least, that's true if lots of members of the thinking classes are open to thinking about information that may make them uncomfortable.

This was certainly the case in October, 2002, when historian Philip Jenkins published a massive Atlantic cover story that ran with this provocative headline: "The Next Christianity." For those with an even longer attention span, there was the book, "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity."

Now, before I hit you with a key passage from that important Atlantic piece, let me tell you where we are going in this Sunday think package.

Jenkins was writing about a wave of global change in pews and pulpits, as the face of Christianity moved -- statistically speaking -- from Europe and North America to the multicultural reality that is the Global South. Thus, if you are looking for a "typical" Christian in the world today, it is probably an African woman in an evangelical Anglican (or maybe Methodist) congregation. She is probably a charismatic believer, too.

Now, I thought about that Jenkins piece when reading an amazing new Bloomberg essay by Yale Law School professor Stephen L. Carter, addressing the media storm surrounding that bizarre New Yorker sermon about You Know What (click here for my most recent piece, and podcast, on this hot topic). Here is the dramatic double-decker headline on the Carter piece:

The Ugly Coded Critique of Chick-Fil-A's Christianity

The fast-food chain's "infiltration" of New York City ignores the truth about religion in America. It also reveals an ugly narrow-mindedness

What's the connection here, between Jenkins and Carter?

Hint: Demographics is destiny (and doctrine is important, too). Here is a famous (and long) summary paragraph from the 2002 Atlantic essay:

If we look beyond the liberal West, we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in affluent American suburbs and upscale urban parishes, is already in progress.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Can New York City survive Chick-fil-A invasion? Let's look at Manhattan history!

Can New York City survive Chick-fil-A invasion? Let's look at Manhattan history!

On a personal note: I just finished one of my two-week sojourns teaching journalism at The King's College in New York. As I have mentioned before, if you add up my various duties here I live in lower Manhattan just over two months a year.

I'm not a New Yorker, but I hang out with them a lot -- even in local diners and fast-food joints.

Anyway, at the end of my final seminar session last night one of the students gave me a thank-you card and the perfect gift to sum up life in this neighborhood right now.

It was, of course, a Chick-fil-A gift card.

Don't worry, I will be able to use that card in Oak Ridge, Tenn., even though our town has only one Chick-fil-A sanctuary, compared to New York City's three (with more on the way as part of the much-discussed Bible Belt invasion of the Big Apple).

The bottom line: If was the perfect end to the week. And you will not be surprised that we also talked about the now infamous New Yorker sermon about Chick-fil-A -- "Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City" -- during this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in.

In my GetReligion post about this whole kerfuffle ("The New Yorker stirs up a storm with analysis of Chick-fil-A evangelism in the Big Apple"), I tried to avoid -- for the most part -- some of the most common themes in the Twitter madness about this piece. Here are three of the more low-key, constructive tweets from that amazing storm:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Friday Five: Chick-fil-A, Southwest pilot's faith, Waco anniversary, clergy sex abuse scandal and more

Friday Five: Chick-fil-A, Southwest pilot's faith, Waco anniversary, clergy sex abuse scandal and more

I have a confession to make, dear reader.

I eat too much Chick-fil-A. Way too much Chick-fil-A.

I love Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits for breakfast. I love Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches — minus the pickles, which I know is heresy to some— for dinner. I love anything on the Chick-fil-A menu for Sunday lunch. Or, I mean, I would if Chick-fil-A would just do me a favor and open on Sunday.

Go ahead and encourage me to #EatMorChikin (not to mention waffle fries). I'm just not sure it's possible. My waistline will back me up on this.

Yes, in case you're wondering, there's a religion news angle on Chick-fil-A in this week's Friday Five.

Let's dive right in:

1. Religion story of the week: A devout Christian pilot with "nerves of steel" calmly maneuvers a Southwest Airlines flight to the ground after a blown engine kills one passenger and injures seven others.

How can that not be the religion story of the week?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

The New Yorker stirs up a storm with analysis of Chick-fil-A evangelism in the Big Apple

The New Yorker stirs up a storm with analysis of Chick-fil-A evangelism in the Big Apple

First things first: I am not a New Yorker. I just live here -- lower Manhattan, to be specific -- two-plus months a year. Thus, I do not pretend to offer any special insights into the heart and soul of New York City.

However, part of my ongoing relationship with this great city is that I spend lots of time talking to New Yorkers about life in their city (as opposed to the New York seen in movies and television). I do this, in part, to help students in the New York Journalism Semester at The King's College, since they come here from all over America and even overseas.

Now, a wise New Yorker gave me this advice when I first started working here. This scribe advised me to never, ever, think of New York City as one place. If you do that, he said, your head will explode. New York City is just too big, too complex, to do that.

Instead, he advised me to figure out how people live in their own unique New York City neighborhoods and then move out into the wider city. And avoid the tourist places. Visit the neighborhood delis, pizza joints, coffee shops, pubs, hole-in-the-wall grocery stores. Talk to people there and, before you know it, those people will know your name and call it out.

The paradox: While New York is the world's greatest Alpha city, its neighborhoods are more like small towns. New York is not a super-crowded shopping mall.

You will not be surprised that this brings me to that viral headline in The New Yorker, the one that proclaimed: "Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City." The photo tagline on the picture of the new Chick-Fil-A on Fulton Street, in my way downtown neighborhood, perfectly captures the tone: 

Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of its new Fulton Street restaurant.

Yes, this piece was commentary, as opposed to news. But that raises an interesting point, one heard often here at GetReligion: Why settle for commentary? If New Yorkers are angry or upset about a Bible Belt company selling chicken sandwiches, shouldn't there be a way to write a hard-news story about this fact?

Another question: Did the author of this piece simply assume that HIS New York is one big monolithic place, that it is one unified city where everyone thinks and feels the same way? Did he make the same mistake as millions of New York-haters.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Small steps toward clarity: Reuters takes (yet) another look at media-friendly 'weed nuns'

Small steps toward clarity: Reuters takes (yet) another look at media-friendly 'weed nuns'

When it comes to effective public-relations campaigns, California's Sisters of the Valley -- the "weed nuns" -- take the cake.

Well, now that I think about it, that would probably be brownies, not cake.

The problem, of course, is (a) these nuns are not real Catholic nuns and (b) their love of traditional religious garb make them look like nuns. In the past this has been confusing to journalists, especially those looking for a novelty story, as opposed to a piece of fact-based religion coverage.

One of the all-time classic stories stirred up by the PR efforts of the sisters ran at Newsweek (surprise, surprise). That led to a blog piece by Catholic Deacon Greg Kandra, a former CBS News professional who, before moving to the altar and pulpit, won two Emmys and two Peabody Awards. The blunt headline:

Newsweek, Go Home. You’re Drunk. Those Aren’t Nuns.

Now, the lede on the Newsweek did say that the nuns were "self-proclaimed" -- but the visuals probably overwhelmed that one moment of clarity (which wasn't explained very well) for most readers.

So now, Reuters is back with yet another "weed sisters" report, which has been distributed by Religion News Service. In terms of factual clarity, this piece deserves attention. It is a step forward, in terms of "weed sisters" PR materials. Here is the overture:

MERCED, Calif. (Reuters) The Sisters of the Valley, California’s self-ordained “weed nuns,” are on a mission to heal and empower women with their cannabis products.
Based near the town of Merced in the Central Valley, which produces over half of the fruit, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States, the Sisters of the Valley grow and harvest their own cannabis plants.
The sisterhood stresses that its seven members, despite the moniker, do not belong to any order of the Catholic Church.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Friday Five: GetReligionistas out West, In-N-Out's ghosts, #ShockingNotShocking story and more

Friday Five: GetReligionistas out West, In-N-Out's ghosts, #ShockingNotShocking story and more

Today's "Friday Five" comes to you from the Pacific Time Zone.

The GetReligion team doesn't get together often in person. But this week, the crew -- including editor Terry Mattingly and contributors Julia Duin, Richard Ostling, Ira Rifkin and me -- met on the West Coast to contemplate the future. That's the sort of thing people do when a website turns 14 years old -- as in our Feb. 2 anniversary.

Why talk about what's ahead? Well, strategic planning is always a good idea for a forward-thinking organization. Beyond that, our prolific leader -- tmatt -- isn't getting any younger (which he told me to point out). As if to prove the point, the Boss Man celebrated his 64th birthday during our gathering. Even better, we had a reason to eat cake!

As for our future plans, when there's something to announce, count on someone above my pay grade to do so! Planning and blue-skying things takes time.

Meanwhile, back to the Five:

1. Religion story of the week: tmatt highlighted this simple-but-beautiful story Thursday.

"Every now and then, you run into a story where all the journalists covering it really needed to do was round up some facts, find a few compelling voices, capture the images and then get out of the way," tmatt noted.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Yes, Chick-fil-A opened on Sunday to help stranded fliers in Atlanta (This wasn't a first)

Yes, Chick-fil-A opened on Sunday to help stranded fliers in Atlanta (This wasn't a first)

Thanks to The Drudge Report, the Internet is buzzing with Chick-fil-A news linked to that massive power outage at the massive Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The hook for this blitz of cyber chatter? That would be the fact that the fire that shut down America's busiest airport took place on a Sunday. Thus, it was very symbolic that Chick-fil-A -- an omnipresent reality in Atlanta culture -- came to the rescue.

But most of the news coverage is missing a crucial fact about this Chick-fil-A on Sunday story. You see, this isn't the first time that this conservative company has done this. Can you remember the other emergency that inspired similar action? Think back a year or so ago and, yes, think "religion angle." Hold that thought.

Now, here is the Mashable.com report that, with lots of Twitter inserts, is getting all of that Drudge traffic:

Chick-fil-A, famed for never opening on Sundays and will likely never be, has made an exception.
The fast food chain is stepping in to feed passengers left affected by the Atlanta airport blackout, according to the City of Atlanta. They'll be served at the Georgia International Convention Center, where they are able to stay overnight, which is a pretty nice consolation given what some of these people have gone through. ...
It's a remarkable aberration from the company's policy on Sunday trading hours, rooted in founder Truett Cathy's devout Christian beliefs. The policy remains the same at the Chick-fil-A in the newly opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Its main tenant, the Atlanta Falcons, will only play one regular season game that doesn't fall on a Sunday. ...
See, this is how bad it has to get for Chick-Fil-A to open on a Sunday.

Actually, something is missing from that report and, well, the same angle is missing from most of the other online news reports about the not-on-Sunday angle in other reports.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Reporters and the Supreme Court cake bake-off: Was religious freedom the guiding issue?

Reporters and the Supreme Court cake bake-off: Was religious freedom the guiding issue?

Although the opening arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (transcript .pdf here) included a plea for religious freedom, that point got lost in articles about Tuesday’s historic hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s true that the plaintiff’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner, barely got out one paragraph of her intro before justices began interrupting her with questions about cakes and compelled speech.

It’s also true that covering a Supreme Court hearing (I’ve done it two or three times) is like covering a knife fight between 10 participants (nine justices and the hapless attorney before them). It takes discipline for media scribes to remember the main thing is the main thing; in this case, whether a believer can be forced by the state to give a message that contradicts his or her religious convictions.

GLAAD, the gay-rights organization that monitors coverage of homosexuals by the media, saw that “main thing” as such a threat, it sent a note to major media outlets, urging them to dump terms like “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” for “religious exemptions.” Read about their directive on Poynter.org and see one New York Times opinion piece that obeyed this instruction to the letter.  

(Tell me: What if a conservative group had sent out a similar missive to mainstream journalists? The Poynter piece, by the way, didn’t include any quotes from media experts who find it problematic that an activist group feels it can tell journalists what to write.)

Fortunately, reporters generally ignored GLAAD's directive. We will start with the Denver Post, the hometown newspaper for both parties in this suit which had a headline that reflected how Kennedy asked “sharp questions” from both sides. It began with a very static lede: 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a Colorado case about a same sex-wedding cake that ultimately could determine where the legal system draws the line between discrimination and religious freedom.

Please respect our Commenting Policy