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Posted by on Jul 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Baptist Pastor Pens Open Letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy

Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber is Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Rev. Yarber has penned an open letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy in the wake of his media storm-causing comments to Baptist Press.

Below is the full-text of Rev. Yarber’s letter:

An Open Letter to Dan Cathy
From a Concerned Baptist Pastor
July 19, 2012

Dear Mr. Cathy,

I don’t expect you to remember me.  You and your father spoke at chapel during my freshman year of college in 2000.  You both spoke of how being a Christian business person involves loving your neighbor and serving God and your customers faithfully.  Since I had recently received an award from the college I was invited to attend a small group discussion with you and some of the college trustees.  At that time I was impressed by your compassion, faithfulness, and good humor.  Even though I do not eat at your establishment because I am a vegetarian, I have always spoken highly of you, your father, and your restaurant based on those initial experiences.

Since that day in chapel I have served as a minister in local Baptist churches, attended seminary, became ordained, and earned a Ph.D. in religion.  I am now the pastor of a Baptist church in North Carolina.  I have committed my life and vocation to scholarship and ministry, faithfully translating and interpreting scripture and seeking to live as Jesus taught.

Imagine my disappointment when you recently made a public statement against gay marriage.  You see, in addition to faithfully serving the local church as an ordained Baptist minister for the past twelve years, I am also in a committed relationship with a woman.  My partner is professor of Christian and family ethics at a local university.  We are currently working to expand our little household by adopting a child, something that I know is dear to the heart of your family.  Based on our vocations and callings, it is clear that Christian and family values are very important to us.

So, I simply want to ask why you think it is so important for us not to get married?  Do we not deserve the same rights as you and your family?  Are we not also your neighbors?  You see, I could understand if you simply have a theological problem with gay marriage.  Unfortunately, many Christians feel this way.  I do not interpret scripture or the message of Jesus in this manner, but I respect the freedom of your conscience to do so.  What I don’t understand is why your theological stance should impact citizens in our country from receiving the same rights that you and your wife receive as a married couple.

Did you know that, upon marriage, couples are granted over one thousand rights and privileges by the government?  Examples include the right to file joint taxes, the right to receive a deceased spouse’s social security, employee benefits for federal workers, COBRA, and many more.  Why do my partner and I not deserve these rights?  Our relationship is committed and covenantal.  We both work hard.  We are citizens and Christians just like you and your wife.  But because we cannot legally marry, we do not get to enjoy these 1,000+ rights.  It is also worth noting that extending these rights to same-sex couples would not take your rights in any way.

I am not asking you to change your theological position on marriage.  I disagree with you and I do not think that your stance is a faithful interpretation of scripture, but I respect your right to your beliefs.  What I ask is that you remember what you preached about when you spoke at chapel twelve years ago.  I ask you to consider what it means to love your neighbors.  Some of your neighbors are LGBT and you have made it clear that your political position entails withholding over one thousand federal rights from these neighbors.  What do you think Jesus would say about that, Mr. Cathy?

If you’re interested, the church I pastor is Wake Forest Baptist Church at Wake Forest University; you’re welcome to worship with us if you’re ever in town.  We are the only Baptist church in the country with two lesbians as head pastors.  I serve a diverse congregation; many of our members are LGBT families raising children.  And I refuse to look into their eyes and tell them that their families do not deserve the same rights as your family.  For me, that is unethical.  It is un-American.  And it is unchristian.  I ask that you thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the magnitude of the statements you have made and ask yourself and your company: what does it mean for us to love our neighbors?

With Hope and Peace,

A Concerned Baptist Minister
Rev. Dr. Angela M. Yarber
Pastor for Preaching and Worship
Wake Forest Baptist Church at Wake Forest University

[Editor’s note: The mission here at has—for many years now—been to cover Baptist-related news and voices not already reported on elsewhere and to provide a forum for discussion on Baptist topics.  In the aftermath of the Richard Land-Plagiarism saga, I was forced to strictly moderate comments due to a flood of nasty replies. However, I’m now removing comment moderation and invite all readers to comment and offer their own response—agree or disagree—to Rev. Yarber. Thanks.]

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  1. Thank you for writing this…I was so pissed off, and I didn’t have an outlet. You did good, you spoke for me and so many others, and I’m not even gay. You go girl!

    • Yes, the Rev. Dr. Yaber has said it all – and very beautifully. I believe in ‘live and let live’ but am not one of the many lesbians – but can fully appreciate and have known many such relationships, and understand a lot of the reasons. Sometimes, people just don’t understand the torture that some LGBT peoples go through physically. Well said.

  2. I am always amazed that when someone who is oppressed gets so upset when someone speaks their thoughts and takes action on them that you get so upset. If the shoe were on the other foot and it is you are in favor of this marriage and are willing to take action and view that as ok.
    This man simply took his constitutional given right and acted on it.
    This has nothing to do with who I agree with it is his right to do what he did and your right to do what you do. In this country we have freedom like that yet those who seek change want to squelch the rights of those who disagree. I am confused about who the real loving Christians area????

    • Wayne, many a civil rights movement has offended both sides of the arguments. And each side has the right to voice it. So what you are saying is that it is un-Christian to voice your opinion?

      I love those that agree and disagree with me. My mom disagrees with my sexuality and my beliefs many a time, but I love her unconditionally. I am going to speak my mind to her and she will to me.

      This is how discussions work. Sometimes, you’ll get angry and not be nice, but in the end, it just shows that we’re human. Yes, many of the people who have voiced their opinions said very un-Christian things, but how can you say what Rev Angela says is anything but a loving Christian who happens to disagree with another loving Christian?

  3. Wayne, do you seem confused. I’m simply saying that, in the case of gay marriage, there are two separate discussions. One is based on theology and scripture. On this account, I disagree with Mr. Cathy, but I affirm his right to believe the way he does. The other is a matter of civil rights. Just because you disagree theologically with gay marriage does not give you the right to withhold federal rights (visiting your spouse in the hospital, receiving your spouse’s social security when they pass, etc) from gay people.

    • Rev. Dr. Ang,

      I disagree with your stance, but respect your position. I believe that theologically same-sex unions are condemned. In my studies I find that they are no different from other sexual sins like aldultery. My question to you is this:
      Should we grant federal civil rights to “Cheating Charlie’s” mistress of the past 3 years? Where does it end?

      I applaud Dan Cathy for being bold in his faith and standing by his principles in a world where it seems everybody is bending their’s to justify their sinful lifestyles.

      • You are trying to conflate committed homosexual relationships with extra-marital affairs.

        • No, I’m quite sure she is categorizing-correctly–homosexual relationships with fornication.

      • Sharla,
        Thank you for your response. I agree with you, as well! I stand with Mr. Cathy and agree with him, as well. Somewhere along the way, we got it all mixed up. Folks are becoming even more confused; especially with messages like these coming out of The Church itself. But then…this was FORETOLD!!

      • Dianne,Once again you’ve outdone yosurelf with the pictures. These are fantastic! We had such a wonderful time working with both of you and are so thankful you able to make every stage of our planning and wedding so smooth. I’ve enjoyed noticing the little details I missed on the wedding day through your pictures.Erin

  4. I appreciate the distinction Rev. Dr. Angela makes between the theological debate and the question of civil rights. If I’m ever in Winston, I’d love to worship with this community. I’m all for equal rights. Oh, and I don’t eat chick-fil-a anymore either. I just can’t get behind them.

  5. I knew rev Dr Yarber. Many years before she was a PhD in religion, long before i knew she was in a same sex relationship. Setting aside those facts she has been and always will be a woman of and for God. One of the best women i have and will ever know. A friend. A friend more deserving than many people in the baptist faith of exercising every right that every American citizen should share. Angela, you have the most beautiful soul and wish you the best always. Big daddy weave ,miss you man.

  6. Jess, we would be delighted to have you worship with us at WFBC!
    And Brandon, I sure am proud to say I was once your youth minister! I appreciate your kind words and support.

  7. I think this is a fantastic letter. This letter should make Mr. Cathy think.

    I’m a transgendered friend of your friend Will R. from Woodstock, GA. I know he’s really proud of you too.

    I wish I could boycott Chick-Fil-A with other members and friends of the GLBT community but their food is too good.


    Richard T. Haines
    Denver, CO

  8. I enjoyed the heart felt letter and agree completely and would like to add: Chick-Fil-A is still willing to take money from the gay community-right? Of course they are. I believe Chick-Fil-A is being very divisive in a political charged time. Why make those statements now? Sounds like political pandering. I’d like to know how they treat their gay employees and if they hire gay people at all. My family used to eat at Chick-Fil-A, however, I’m no longer interested in eating there. I don’t want to feed that kind of mindset.

  9. “What do you think Jesus would say about that, Mr. Cathy?”

    How about, “Go, and sin no more”?

    • He’d say, like he did…”Above all else, LOVE one another as I have loved you”. He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, etc. I don’t think he would have a problem with gay people. Maybe he would tell you, like Paul, “it is good for a man to not touch a woman”.

  10. Beloved,

    After reading all of the comments and responses here, I am saddened. We are, indeed, in a lot of trouble here! Yes, everyone has a right to do what they wish! I do believe that’s called FREE WILL. What saddens me is the fact that this conversation is even taking place. (Read into this what you will…mine is not to judge.)

    The Rebel Reverend

  11. My personal beliefs are that everyone should have the right and opportunity to be legally joined together in a committed relationship and enjoy the same rights s everyone else. I find it both sad and disturbing that others are so opposed to everyone having those rights. I saw where someone was arguing that next perhaps “Cheating Charlie’s” mistress of 3 years will be looking for federal civil rights. Well, considering the fact that half of all marriages today end in divorce and at least part of those marriages began after the people in that marriage had an affair… I would say its a pretty good bet that some of them HAVE been given those rights when they married. What about people who get divorced and remarried in general, aren’t all of those people theologically committing adultery when they get married if their former spouse is still married?
    I try to treat everyone, regardless of whether they live and love the way I do or would, with the love and respect I want shown to me. As a human being, I fall short on many occasions. Still, I grew up in a time where women and blacks were fighting for their rights and there were so many against it. I would think we would have come to a point now of recognizing we are all human beings and citizens of the world and, as such, should all have the same rights no matter what. I personally don’t like liars and cheaters and bullies. Do I think, because I don’t like the way they behave that they should not have the same rights as me? Maybe, but I would never take those rights away from them provided they haven’t gone outside of the law to harm others. I’m thankful I have taught my children, and my children have taught me in return, to be more open to the rights of everyone, not just those who believe, and do, as I do.

  12. This issue has really taken ahold of the national debate, but I do have a few thoughts I would like to share.

    First, I do believe everyone should have the freedom of choice. I believe that’s why God gives us free will. However, I think that we will all have to answer for our “free will” choices we make in our lifetime.

    Second, Cathy voiced his opinion, that he felt marriage should be between a man and a woman. He has the right to his opinion, just as you have a right to yours. Just because he runs a national food chain, doesn’t mean he can’t speak out on his beliefs. President Obama spoke out on his beliefs that he felt gay marriage should be allowed, and Cathy was doing the same. To say he shouldn’t have voiced his opinion is unfair, just like it’s unfair to the LGBT community if they weren’t allowed to voice their opinion. It works on both sides. Just because you don’t believe in someone’s opinion, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to speak it. We have freedom of speech in this country for a reason. Cathy was exercising that freedom, just like many exercise that same freedom on the other end of the spectrum.

    Third, as a strong believer in Christ, and someone who takes the Bible as literal truth, it’s hard for me to understand how someone can preach the Bible, but not fully believe it. If the foundations and principles that Jesus taught aren’t 100% truth-All of it-then what’s the point of being a Christian. I don’t believe that you can take bits and pieces of the Bible as truth and believe other portions are false. Either it’s 100% truth or 100% false. In my opinion, I don’t think there’s a middle ground.

    Again, these are just my opinions. Do I think you should be allowed to marry under your own free will? Yes, because that’s why God gave us free will. Do I agree with it? No. Do my beliefs teach me that we will answer for our choices? Yes.

    I understand many of my Christian friends won’t agree with my stance that would allow gay marriages, but it’s not my life and not my choice. I do believe it’s wrong and have talked to friends about it who have openly expressed their homosexuality.

    All I can do is share God’s love with people and express what I believe the Bible teaches. Whether others take that and throw it all or bits and pieces of it away is their choice. In the end, I know that I will answer for myself and my choices, and not the choices others made on their own free will.

    • The problem is that if you take the bible literally, it contradicts itself all over the place. If you don’t understand the times in which it was written, the men whowrote it and their agendas, the men who edited it and their agendas, and the poetic way it was written, then you are picking and choosing what works for you. Study it as a history and you will see it much more clearly. Please don’t just take your pastor’s word for it. They have their own agendas too.

  13. Firstly, I’d like to offer my complete respect to you, Dr. Yarber, your level of academic achievement and firm stance for your beliefs and values are quite admirable.

    That being said, I must say, I’m quite on the fence. I disagree with you theologically, I see in the Bible many places where it condemns homosexuality as a sin, and strictly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Since that is a part of God’s Word, it makes it a part of the Christian theology and to attempt to force that to be redefined to include same-sex marriage is an affront to God.

    On the other hand, this is a free country, and all rights and privileges are freely open to all persons. Currently, the civil institution of marriage uses the Biblical definition of marriage, and that prevents those in the LGBT community from enjoying those same, freely offered rights and privileges. I see no reason why those same rights should not be as available to you, as they are to me and my wife.

    My conflict arises here: the government is just as much an institution founded by God as the Church is; therefore, for it to accept, allow, or promote something the Bible clearly speaks out against, it would be just as much in sin as the Church if it were to do the same.

    In summary, I respect your stance and your rights, but I think to extend marriage to the LGBT community would be a terrible sin; however, there should be a parallel institution in place, not a Biblical union, but a civil union, that would give and allow all the same rights and privileges as marriage. If you wish to cry foul, and call it a separatist idea, fine, but marriage is a religious institution, and the “separation of church and state” guarantees that the government cannot impose or force anything on the church. That includes changing what God considers a sin.

    I understand you won’t agree with the perspective of this post, but this is what I read in my Bible, so I felt to share it. I pray that, in the near future, you and the congregants you mentioned will be able to enjoy all the rights and privileges currently offered to heterosexual marriages, but I also pray that it doesn’t come by violation of the sanctity of marriage.

    • Well said!

  14. Anyone ever read the fall of the Roman Empire?It is amazing to me that all of a sudden there is new illumination of Scripture? The culture is defining scripture rather than Scripture directing the culture.
    Having a PHD does make you a theologian,at one time in Southern Baptist Life only 36% who graduated from Southern seminary believed in the virgin birth. has changed in the last 25 years due to the conservative resurgence and return to the inerrancy of Scripture.Sorry Mrs.pastor you are wrong and the day will come when you will know it.Please don’t anyone come back with me being unloving.I am actually being Biblical by speaking the Truth in Love.See Romans 1 and 2 Tim.3:16.

  15. For all the comments about the religious foundation of marriage I assume you all believe that atheists and other non Christians have no right marry either? Marriage is a civil, legal contract. If you insist that it is defined by the religious definition then you surely must be against atheist marriage, interfaith marriages, and any marriage of non Christians to each other.

    • No, in the civil arena, I’ll settle for the one man-one woman aspect of marriage. It applies to both types of sinners–saved by grace and lost by rebellion. It’s those saved-but-rebelling, like Angela Yarber, that do the church harm.

  16. Aaron, thank you for sharing this.

    If Mr. Cathy sought publicity for Chic-Fil-A through fostering ill-will, and it has been a success for him and his business.

    When a Christian woman, and a minister at that, speak up against the hate that erupted from his actions, I am thankful.

    People deserve in this country to have the same civil rights as all of us . . . no matter what their sexual orientation is.

    Those rights are there for them because they are American citizens and human beings.

    This whole episode places some Christian people on a sliding scale that at its most extreme end, they will find themselves in the company of the Westboro Baptist Church folks . . . the contempt is the same, it’s just a matter of degree

    the homophobia and hatred must end … gay people are our fellow Americans and deserve our support to get the same rights and privileges that we all enjoy as Americans.

  17. Since Dr. Yarber refers to “the magnitude of the statements you have made,” I’m wondering exactly what those statements are. Not a paraphrase or summary. What are Dab Cathey’s quotes – in context- that carry such magnitude?

  18. Christianse please read the Baptist Press article and pinpoint where “Mr. Cathy sought publicity for Chikfila by fostering ill will.”

    What you are saying is this: when a business owner is interviewed by a newspaper of his own denomination (whether it is Jewish, Episcopalian, Catholic, Catholic, Pentecostal, or whatever) and states that he/she believes in the Biblical definition of marriage, he/she is “fostering ill will.”

    And making hate erupt from his/her actions. (Do you have examples of hate erupting? I heard that a Chikfila had to close due to a bomb threat; I saw a hateful person chiding the drive-through order girl for Chikfila’s support of traditional marriage; do you have examples of hate from the “appreciation day” supporters? Is buying a sandwich hate?)

    It seems to me that the only acceptable course that many of you believe Mr. Cathy could take, when interviewed, is to (a) remain silent on “the family,” (b) not support ministries of his choice with his privately-owened company, or (c) change his opinion. That’s pretty restrictive. Are you willing to live by that standard?
    Plainly no one should talk of any definition of marriage if that alone fosters ill will and induces hate…

    Come to think of it, much of the gospel fostered ill will, so maybe you are literally correct.

  19. Ang –
    Very happy and proud of all you do to make sure your light shines from the highest of hills. Just wanted to let you know that I will always admire and support your efforts, if only in spirit. This old friend still disagrees “theologically”, but only by definition (of marriage), of course I wish nothing but happiness, health, and equal rights to you and your E. You two will make the best of parents!

  20. I’d like to address some of the comments I’ve seen here. Contrary to the way this story has been covered by most news outlets, this is not about freedom of speech or freedom of religion. No one is saying that Mr. Cathy isn’t entitled to his beliefs and isn’t entitled to express those beliefs. The problem is that his company donates millions of dollars to groups who are dedicated to fighting any sort of pro-gay legislation of any kind, and rolling back all instances of anti-discrimination laws, on the local, state and federal level. Some of these groups have been classified as hate groups. They liken gay men and lesbians to animals and say they should be jailed, exported or put to death. They are opposed to all school anti-bullying policies that don’t have exceptions for bullying gay children because they don’t think those children deserve any protection and are completely unconcerned when these children are bullied and harrassed to the point of suicide. Anyone buying from Mr. Cathy’s business is contributing to these groups. Also, his restaurant chain has beein involved in almost 20 lawsuits involving discriminatory practices against many groups, not just gay workers. Many of us have been quietly boycotting this restaurant for these reasons for years; the only difference is that it’s gotten attention. But it’s never been about Mr. Cathy’s views.

    Reverend Yarber, thank you for writing this!

  21. Sheva, when mayors and alderman threaten to exclude a privately-owned busines based on the owners’ stated “values,” freedom of speech and religion certainly are implicated.

    As to the rest of your summary, no comment.

  22. ” . . . many of our members are LGBT families raising children.” Ahh now, that presents a problem which never should have happened. How did children get mixed in here? I guarantee you it didn’t come about naturally. No child has ever been BORN into a family with two same-gender adults as parents! All children have, and are best-blessed to be in a family with, a female mother and a male father. Homosexual couples have the same rights as any co-habitating unmarried couple. Fine. For the kids’ sake, I wish no child was subject to a home with a homosexual couple.

  23. The Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman FOR LIFE. When the church comes out against remarriage following a divorce, to make it illegal, and treats remarried people with the same opprobrium that it applies to gays who wish to marry, then perhaps the rest of society can take their stance seriously. Until then, the church is HYPOCRITICAL. BTW, it should also so treat the greedy, those who fail to support the poor, etc.

    It is time to recognize that the church is full of sinners and it should not pick on one group of sinners and not apply the same standards to all.

  24. BTW, if celibacy is required for gays for life, then it should also apply to the divorced for life, whether or not they remarry, there should be no sex, ever. So if the church preaches celibacy in one case, it should preach it in the other as well.

  25. The scripture is very clear on marriage and the pastor role;can we simply return back to the foundation God has given….true truth revealed in His words and not man’s thoughts, ideas, and poor hermeneutic which leaves out the historical, grammatical, literal interpretation of His Word…


  1. Angela’s Upcoming Events and Recent Publications: « Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber - [...] rights, Angela composed an open letter to Mr. Cathy on July 19.  The letter has been posted at The…

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