That Chick-Fil-A Defender From The Atlantic Was Just Outed

by evanmcmurry

Well fuck me running. I spilled 2,300 words on Jonathan Merritt’s absurd defense of Chick-Fil-A yesterday, only to pop open my computer machine this morning and read this:

Jonathan Merritt, the son of famous evangelist James Merritt, has become a prominent evangelical blogger, writing for, among others, USA Today and The Atlantic (where he most recently wrote about his support of Chick-fil-A). Turns out he’s, as Queerty puts it, also “a deeply conflicted gay man” who just got busted for canoodling with gay blogger Azariah Southworth.

Well, that explains the oddly bad logic of Merritt’s defense of Chick-Fil-A; seems like Merritt might have been using an argument about the efficacy of boycotting an anti-gay organization to paper over something else. (Why the Atlantic published it is a different story.)

You know what would make this better? If he talked in that awful new-agey evangespeak that manages to blame the other party for his behavior while remaining sanctimonious about the nature of the sin. Hit it:

Joe.My.God’s Joe Jervis posted a rundown of the relationship between Merritt and Southworth that occurred in 2009. Merritt says he and Southworth began emailing and sexting each other after Merritt wrote an article saying “that Christians must love people who experience sexual brokenness.”

There it is. Gays, J-Mer would like to have a text you with about your sexual brokenness, for your own good of course. Please be as explicit as possible.

Merritt says he saw a Christian counselor to sort through his childhood and “what I believed God wanted for me. I also began to acknowledge to myself that I have sin in my past, sin for which I accept responsibility. Inappropriate texting, inappropriate actions are inappropriate no matter who the other party is. These were my decisions and no one else’s. It’s from my brokenness, that I feel I can now be transparent, honest, and authentic about these accusations. Those close to me know I have actually been planning to share the story of my brokenness for some time. Because it is part of my spiritual journey. And because it underscores the power of the Gospel to transform lives.”

The only piece missing from this is the CFA connection. I’m not one to psychoanalyze from a distance [a-HEM], but I’ll throw down A Flea In The Fur Of The Beast‘s annual budget that Mr. Merritt’s first experience of sexual brokenness happened at a Chick-Fil-A, and his continued patronization and defense of the organization is a way of both returning to the thrill of the original act and flagellating himself for his transgression. The “legendary” sandwiches were just cathectic.

To pile on the sadness, Donald Perry, vice president of public relations at Chick-Fil-A, died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday. All in all, Dan Cathy really seems to have opened a portal of awfulness around his company this week. If Mr. Cathy had a time machine, do you think he would go back and respectfully decline to answer the Baptist Press‘ question about same-sex marriage?

ADDENDUM: Merritt has tried to soften the church’s stance on homosexuality as well, accusing evangelicals of using “clobber scriptures” to unnecessarily condemn homosexuality, for which he took some heat from his own side. So good on him for that.

Also, from blogger Joe.My.God:

This morning JMG reader Dwight tipped us that Merritt will be making a “special announcement” at the Georgia church where his father, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is head pastor and where the younger Merritt had been scheduled to continue a four-week series of sermons.

Update! A Special Message This Sunday, July 29
Join us this Sunday for a special and heartfelt message by the Pastor and Jonathan Merritt. Services are at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Merritt’s Twitter feed has been uncharacteristically silent since Southworth’s revelation. I’ll have an update on his “special announcement” when it’s available.