Dean resigns after college blocks Chick-fil-A


By Diana Chandler

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. (BP) — A dean has resigned from Rider University because the school used Chick-fil-A's Christian views of LGBT lifestyles to block the restaurant from locating on campus.

Cynthia Newman

The Lawrenceville, New Jersey university's decision is an affront to her Christianity and violates her conscience, Cynthia Newman said in resigning as dean of the College of Business Administration, a post she had held since June 2017.

"I am not willing to compromise my faith and Christian values and I will not be viewed as being in any way complicit when an affront is made to those values," Newman said. "I endeavor every day to do exactly what Chick-fil-A puts forward as its overarching corporate value: to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to me and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with me."

Newman's decision, publicized Tuesday (Mar. 5) by higher education watchdog Campus Reform, stems from Rider's decision in Nov. 2018 to strike Chick-fil-A from a list of options surveying students' preference for a new campus restaurant.

"Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community," the university said in a letter explaining its decision. Rider spokeswoman Kristine Brown, in Wednesday comments to CNN, said the decision was "not a judgment on religious values."

Chick-fil-A did not respond to a Baptist Press inquiry by press time, but told CNN the restaurant is inclusive.

"We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda," CNN quoted a Chick-fil-A representative. "More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand."

The LGBT community's disapproval of Chick-fil-A dates to 2012 comments by CEO Dan Cathy that he supports a biblical definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The development is the second time in recent weeks Chick-fil-A's biblical views of sexuality have been referenced in a disagreementinvolving a university.

On Feb. 12, an LGBT advocacy group called Chick-fil-A "homophobic" and objected when the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) invited a Chick-fil-A executive to speak at a leadership symposium. The USAFA upheld its invitation to Rodney Bullard, Chick-fil-A vice president of corporate social responsibility and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, citing the academy's goal of presenting a diversity of viewpoints.

At Rider, Newman decided to resign after a month of conversations with school officials did not resolve her concerns. The school refused to apologize, and gave campus leadership a list of talking points to use when the subject arose.

"It was at that point, when I got those talking points, that I realized I could not, in good conscience, adhere to those," Newman said in a Tuesday Campus Reform interview. "In the absence of the apology for the offense made to Christian values and other values ... those talking points were something I couldn't say in good conscience.

"The implication is people who adhere to values similar to Chick-fil-A's are not responsible citizens," Newman said. "I couldn't put myself in a situation where I would in any way seem complicit when an affront to my Christian values had been made."

Newman will remain on faculty as a marketing professor, she said in her resignation letter.

Rider, granted university status in 1994, describes itself as having "nearly 4,100 undergraduate and 1050 graduate students representing 85 countries, 41 states, and two US territories."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. 

Chick-fil-A, LGBTQ, Rider University