The Jim Henson Company, founded by legendary puppeteer and creator of the Muppets Jim Henson, announced this week that it has severed ties with fast food chain Chik-Fil-A. The companies had formed a partnership at the beginning of the summer to include Henson’s Creature Shop toys in Chik-Fil-A kids’ meals, but the decision was made to part ways after a number of recent comments by Chik-Fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy condemning gay marriage and suggesting that God’s wrath may be in store for any country that supports it. In a June radio, Cathy explained: “I think we are inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes marriage’ and I pray Gods mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude.” Later, at an event at the Hope Community Church in Raleigh, NC, Cathy lamented (speaking of attempts to legalize gay marriage) “all the twisted-up kind of stuff that’s going on….it’s left us to a deprived mind.” More tension arose between the two companies when it was revealed that Chik-Fil-A donated more than $3 million from 2003-2009 to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality, plus another $2 million to such groups in 2011 alone. The company made $4.1 billion last year.
For its part, Chik-Fil-A insists that it is not discriminatory in either its hiring practices or in its providing service to customers. And it remains to be seen whether The Jim Henson Company can in fact withhold the use of its characters. While CEO’d by Lisa Henson, daughter of Jim and Jane Henson, the company is in fact owned by Disney, an organization that has meant family and home to generations of Americans, and which has been offering its Fairy Tale Wedding package to same-sex couples since 2007.