Indiana University at South Bend will resume its use of Chick-fil-A’s campus services on Wednesday after suspending the restaurant chain over its plans to provide free lunches for a Pennsylvania conference on traditional marriage.
The restaurant’s services on IUSB’s campus have featured Chick-fil-A meals with the famous chicken sandwiches and milkshakes every Wednesday at two dining locations: the Courtside Cafe and the Grille.
But the restaurant chain, known nationally as a family-held Christian business that does not open on Sundays, was barred late last month at the demand of Campus Ally Network, a pro-gay campus group.
“Last week, Chancellor [Una Mae] Reck ordered a review of the suspension. The review was completed today, and based on a more complete understanding of the facts, Chancellor Reck ordered the end of the suspension. At this time, Chick-fil-A is a full-service food provider for IU South Bend with no restrictions,” said Ken Baierl, IUSB’s director of communications and marketing in a written statement.
The controversy had become heated as various Christian organizations, including Focus on the Family, publicly claimed a denial of religious liberty.
“The forced departure of Chick-fil-A from IU South Bend is really not about the loss of a food vendor but rather the loss of free speech and religious liberty,” wrote Focus President Jim Daly in his Finding Home blog last week.
The free lunch for the Feb. 11 and 12 conference in Pennsylvania is not the only front on which Chick-fil-A has taken fire over traditional-marriage issues. For example, many gay groups have attacked the company for its sponsorship of the WinShape Foundation’s marriage program, designed for heterosexual couples.
The growing storm prompted Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy to release a video on the restaurant’s Facebook page saying that a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A operator had decided to provide sandwiches and brownies for the marriage event, something many Chick-fil-A franchises have done over the years for community events, businesses, and city groups.
“In recent weeks, we have been accused of being anti-gay,” Mr. Cathy said in a separate statement. “We have no agenda against anyone.”
Mr. Cathy added that Chick-fil-A seeks to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect and believes in the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself “regardless of their beliefs or opinions.”
He also included that “while my family and I believe in the biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees.”
The website for the traditional-marriage conference that caused so much controversy, titled “The Art of Marriage: Getting to the Heart of God’s Design,” notes that lunch will be provided by Chick-fil-A.
The organization that is presenting the conference, FamilyLife, focuses on the development of “godly marriages and families to change the world one family at a time,” according to its site. The website’s conference description does not mention homosexuality, and its declared focus is on strengthening relationships for Christian couples.