Saturday, July 28, 2012

Perhaps It's Time To Borrow A Page From The Freemasons . . .

There are two topics Freemasons don't discuss in lodge--one is religion, and the other is politics.  Those are two topics that divide people, and Masons have always understood that.  So from the start, it was decided, that if a lodge's goal is to work together, make good men better, and ultimately make the world a better place, perhaps they ought to set a few ground rules early on--like removing two topics that men never tire of arguing about and fighting over--religion and politics.

A recent controversy has broken out over remarks made by the President of Chick-Fil-A.  He's a Christian man, and he expressed a personal opinion that he's opposed to gay marriage.  The city of Chicago is now trying to ban Chick-Fil-A from expanding in their city based on the President of the company's beliefs.  Boston is now spouting the same thing.  I'm not going to comment on which side I come down on gay marriage because it doesn't matter.  But I want us to think about this long and hard, and what kind of precedent this sets.

If you don't agree with a company's actions or the beliefs of the owner, by all rights, don't shop there.  If you're a community, you have every right to say you don't want a strip club across the street from a church, or a porno shop in your community at all.  And by all means, local government has every right to go after a business that is discriminating against their employees or customers for race, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc.  We have very strict laws about that which are vigilantly enforced. 

But that's not what this is about.  This goes further.  This about a government banning a restaurant based solely on the owner's personal beliefs and ideology.  It has nothing to do with the business, or any evidence of unethical or unorthodox business practices--it's a fast food chain.  And Chick-Fil-A couldn't have become as successful as they are if they weren't complying with all the non-discrimination rules currently on the books that protect employees and customers.

You have to ask yourself--where does this end?  And is this the America we want to live in?  A country that if I'm pro-gun control, I'm not going to be able to get a license to open a barber shop in a community that shuns any restrictions on gun ownership.  If I'm pro-life, my license to open an antique store in a pro-choice community may be rejected?  As a small business owner, I wonder if there will come a day if whether I'm registered a Republican or a Democrat might impact my ability to do business within my community depending on which party is dominant in my local government.  As a business owner, is there a day coming that I'll have to disclose what charities and organizations I support as an individual?

We have, in this country, the freedom of speech.  We're allowed to speak our mind.  We also enjoy the freedom of religion.  We're allowed to worship and believe whatever we want.  We've fought for these rights for generations.  Are we no longer allowed to enjoy these rights once we start a business?  As a business owner or CEO, do we forfeit those personal rights?

Perhaps we should take a page from the Freemasons--if you want to work together as a community, to build something that benefits everyone, perhaps we should leave religion and politics out of the discussion.  Let a business succeed or fail based on the products and services they provide.  No matter what you think about the Chick-Fil-A controversy, if we head down this path where a government can make decisions about who can and can't do business in our communities based on ideology and religion, it's a step in the wrong direction.



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