The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The world according to Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy

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S. Truett Cathy, the Chick-fil-A founder who helped his restaurant chain become as well known for its support of traditional, socially conservative policies as for its chicken sandwiches, has died at the age of 93.

Although it is Cathy’s son, Dan, who is currently running the company — and whose 2012 comments on gay marriage prompted a boycott of the chain — the elder Truett was also an outspoken proponent of the socially conservative way of life that defined the chain.

It is thanks to Truett that every single one of the chain’s stores remains closed on Sundays, as a day of rest for its employees. And around the time of his son’s comments, reports emerged that Truett Cathy’s beloved charitable endeavor, WinShape Foundation, was donating to groups advocating against same-sex marriage.

Here is the world according to Cathy, based on some of his comments over the years.

On Christianity and business:

“Sometimes people ask if they have to be a Christian to work at Chick-fil-A. I say, ‘Not at all, but we ask that you make your business decisions based on biblical principles.’ There seem to be no conflicts when we tell people of various faiths how important it is to stick to the Scriptures in business decisions.”

— Decision magazine, 2004

“I see no conflict whatsoever between Christianity and good business practices. … People say you can’t mix business with religion. I say there’s no other way.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2006

On closing on Sundays:

“People appreciate you being consistent with your faith. It’s a silent witness to the Lord when people go into shopping malls, and everyone is bustling, and you see that Chick-fil-A is closed.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2006

“It’s possibly the best business decision I ever made.”

— Macon Telegraph, 2005 (h/t Joe Kovac Jr.)

On his employees:

“We tell applicants, ‘If you don’t intend to be here for life, you needn’t apply.'”

Forbes, 2007

Cathy had a few other points he made on employees to Forbes, which were only partially quoted by the author. “If a man can’t manage his own life, he can’t manage a business,” Cathy said, adding that he’d most likely fire an employee if he found out that the person “has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.”

[Q]: Talk to me about your operators. Because you’re extremely respectful of your operators and you really feel like it’s a marriage with divorce not really ever being an option.
Cathy: Well I motivate what I see in young people because we employ about forty thousand young people in our various Chick-fil-A units. Some of them come to work because they need to work, others just work because they just like to work. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“But I’m really motivated by what I see in young people because two thirds of our operators grew up in Chick-fil-A. They worked for us in high school and college and enjoyed what they’re doing and made a career of it. We have some that never had any job other than Chick-fil-A. They don’t know what the real world is. But they’re very aggressive, determined, committed to the task and I find in the interview process of people, if they can’t take care of the personal life, how you expect them to take care of business.
“So it’s very important to the character of our operators and any staff person that comes aboard.”

— Georgia Public Radio, 2007

On his upbringing

“Back when I was in elementary school, they required us to bring a Bible verse to school on Monday morning. The teacher would select one Bible verse to be the Bible verse of the week. With the help of my mom we selected Proverbs 22:1, which simply says this, that ‘A good name is better to be chosen than great riches.’ I got my name up on the blackboard along with the Scripture … and that always stayed with me.”

— Macon Telegraph, 2005

“My daddy made use of a leather strap.”

— Macon Telegraph, 2005

“In the early 1920s my father lost our farm, and he never really recovered. My mom was the breadwinner for the family, and that meant she worked a lot on Sundays. But, as often as she could, she listened to the radio broadcasts of Charles E. Fuller and she always made sure we were clean and ready to go to church on Sundays. At age 12 I became a Christian.”

— Decision magazine, 2004

On chicken jokes:

“Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done.”

— Macon Telegraph, 2005

On the afterlife:

“I lost two brothers in an airplane crash, both of them leaving a wife and kids. When I get to heaven that’s probably the first question I’d like to ask: ‘Why was it necessary?'”

— Macon Telegraph, 2005