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Hundreds of supporters turned out at the Mission Chick Fil-A restaurant on Wednesday, following a nationwide call to action in support of the restaurant franchise. Similar scenes played out at Chick-fil-A restaurants all across the country.
The crowds were responding to former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's call to make Aug. 1 a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, as a show of support for the restaurant's president Dan Cathy, who spoke out in favor of traditional marriage recently.
Gay rights activists besieged Cathy with harsh attacks since he made his comments two weeks ago, as the national media fanned the furor.
During the lunch hour Wednesday, there were no signs of protestors at the Mission restaurant located on Expressway 83 and Shary Rd. – only hundreds of supporters patiently waiting for orders that took longer than usual, due to the crushing crowds inside.
Jim Baker, of Mission, came to show his support.
"We're here to support Chick-fil-A's stance for Biblical marriage. And we are totally against the attacks that are coming against the business and against the individuals – Dan and Truett Cathy – because they have a right to their own expression. And they're not trying to force anybody else to do what they believe is right. They're not preventing the gay community from coming into their restaurants. They're not prejudiced against them. They're just saying, 'We believe this is the Bible view of marriage. One man, one woman.' And I stand right there with them."
Mission resident Joe Vela, said, as he waited for his meal, "We're here in support of Chick-fil-A. It's refreshing to see a company promote Christian values. We need more businesses that do this."
Jeff Bridwel, of Mission, shared his support also.
"I simply want to support an organization that believes we have religious liberties," he said. "Certainly other people are entitled to their own opinion, but we as Christians have the freedom and the right to believe as we believe. We are not being hateful; we are just believing what we believe God asked for us to follow."
Regarding the response by gays to Cathy's comments, Bridwel said, "It's incredible. People say they have freedom to say what they want to believe, then they want to hate people who believe something different. They call us intolerant."
George Mandes, of Mission, said, "We support Chick-fil-A in what they are doing 100 percent. You can see the turnout of everyone here supporting them," he said in the crowded restaurant filled with patrons coming out to show their support. "We have to stand up for what we believe.... One of the biggest problems we have as Christians is we don't stand together and unite and tell these people, 'Enough is enough.'"
Anna Hunsicker, of McAllen, said, "We just feel like Chick-fil-A has been mistreated and we wanted to support them because we feel it was a personal feeling of Dan Cathy's and we didn't feel they had a right to go against him when it was just his personal beliefs. And we support his personal beliefs. Nothing against gays, but we don't feel like they should have come out against it like they did, because he didn't do anything to them, other than tell his personal beliefs."
Jose Garcia said, "We support the beliefs of this man. We're Catholics and we're supposed to go and worship God on Sundays, and that's what (Cathy) said."
Ted Venecia, owner/operator of the Mission franchise, was cautious not to offend, but was very appreciative of the support shown by his customers.
"We've opened our doors and welcomed anybody and everybody who comes to visit us today," he said. "Our supporters have decided that today was a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and have come out in support of the things that have been talked about in the media. We're here to serve anybody and everybody."
He also said he store had broken its one-hour sales records for the last two hours in a row at the time he was being interviewed by the Progress Times Wednesday just after 1 p.m. He added, "Our one-day sales record is $19,800 and we're looking to break that today."
His sister, Jennifer Venecia, who helps manage the restaurant, said, "It's been just crazy, non-stop, since pretty much 11 o'clock. It's awesome, but it's a bit overwhelming."
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.