St. Augustine locals stay loyal to ‘Jesus Chicken’

By Caroline Young |

St. Augustine Chick-fil-A manager Janette Manning has no idea about last week’s controversy when a gay rights group lashed out about the fast-food chain’s support of an anti-homosexual organization in Pennsylvania.

“I haven’t heard anything about it,” Manning said. “No guests or anybody have said anything about that.”

But Flagler College junior Adam Krell is aware of the controversy. Krell, who is gay, will not be changing his tri-weekly trips to the St. Augustine Chick-Fil-A.

“I wasn’t that surprised to hear what Chick-fil-A did, nor do I blame them,” Krell said.

Krell said he thinks Chick-fil-A had no intention of making an anti-homosexual statement.

“That’s extremely bad PR,” he said.

According to founder Truett Cathy’s website, the restaurant chain’s corporate purpose is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted in us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Although Krell attended Catholic school for 13 years, he sees no problem in Chick-fil-A’s Christian culture that has also created controversy.

“They are a Christian-based restaurant and they have their beliefs and I respect them,” Krell said. “I have always been treated equally and exceptionally with their outstanding customer service at almost every Chick-fil-A location I’ve been to.”

However, The New York Times reported college students in other parts of the country pushing for bans on Chick-fil-A restaurants in their cafeterias.

Brian Winfield, director of communications at Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy organization, said EQFL is involved with 110 to 115 active student gay rights organizations.

Winfield has yet to hear about Chick-fil-A making any contributions to groups challenging homosexuals in the state. But he said EQFL would take action if something like the Pennsylvania incident happened in Florida.

“If we discovered there was something going on… certainly we would be willing to potentially support them,” Winfield said.

Krell said he thinks it is an extreme move to ban the fast-food chain from cafeterias.

And Becca Hoadley, another Flagler College junior, Christian and weekly Chick-fil-A customer, agrees with him.

“I don’t see them shoving faith down anyone’s throat,” Hoadley said. “It is simply a reflection of what they believe.”

But Flagler College senior Jamie Yeomans, who is Jewish, has a different stance than Krell and Hoadley. Yeomans views Chick-fil-A as “faith-based food.”

“I’m honestly appalled…I feel as though they should separate their opinions from church and state,” she said. “I feel like Chick-fil-A is trying to preach.”

Manning said a person’s religious beliefs have nothing to do with his or her chances of being hired at the St. Augustine Chick-fil-A.

“It has to do with their experience and the individual,” she said.

There have been no changes in customers or profits within the past week, according to Manning.

And Yeomans has no plans to give up Chick-fil-A, despite her frustration with the chain’s religious affiliations.

“I think the message they are trying to get across is dumb and is going to affect a lot of views on them,” she said. “As far as the food goes, I will still eat it.”

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