Religion & Liberty Online

The Denver City Council’s Despicable Disregard for the First Amendment

chickfilaIf you want to sell chicken sandwiches as the Denver Airport you need to check your First Amendment rights at the gate.

That seems to be the message sent by the Denver City Council to Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chain that is seeking to open a store at the Denver International Airport. The Council is considering turning away the popular franchise because the company promotes a Christian ethic in their business dealings. This offends the Council who is worried about how it will affect LGBT rights.

No one is really concerned that Chick-fil-A will flout the city’s nondiscrimination laws and refuse to hire or serve the LGBT community. Chick-fil-A has never in the past discriminated against gays or lesbians and is certainly unlikely to start doing so now. So what is the council’s concern? That Chick-fil-A executives may express their religious beliefs or that the company may use their profits in ways the council member’s find inappropriate:

Robin Kniech, the council’s first openly gay member, said she was most worried about a local franchise generating “corporate profits used to fund and fuel discrimination.” She was first to raise Chick-fil-A leaders’ politics during a Tuesday committee hearing.


Ten of the 13 members attended Tuesday’s meeting, and none rose to defend Chick-fil-A, although some didn’t weigh in.

“We can do better than this brand in Denver at our airport, in my estimation,” new member Jolon Clark said.

The behavior of the city council needs to be called out for what it is: anti-religious bigotry. This is unacceptable behavior, for the government officials are misusing their power to impose their views on citizens.

As the Denver Post article notes, “At the committee’s next meeting, Sept. 1, city attorneys likely will brief the committee behind closed doors on legal considerations affecting the decision.” Perhaps at that meeting the lawyers can read the U.S. Constitution to the council members and explain to them how they don’t have the authority to trample on the First Amendment rights of their fellow Americans.

In the meantime, any residents of Denver who care about religious liberty should contact their council members and tell them that such un-American behavior by elected officials will not be tolerated.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).