Chapter 62 — Proselytizing at Popeyes

All I really wanted from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen  was a two-piece chicken dinner, all white meat, spicy, with red beans and rice.  Didn’t expect the extra helping of free salvation.

I know.  Popeyes chicken contains 630 calories (one breast, one wing), 170 milligrams of cholesterol and 1,940 mg of sodium.  You might fit  the calories into   a 2,000-calorie daily diet—especially if you don’t eat the biscuit and the red beans and rice.  But the government suggests a maximum of 300 mg of cholesterol per day—and that chicken is pushing it.  The Department of Health and Human Services also recommends 1,500 mg of sodium maximum per day for those of us over 51.  Well, there goes the old blood pressure.

I had put off  going to Popeyes for several weeks, but if it reaches the point that you think about Popeyes chicken when you’re dangling with your head upside down at yoga, the only answer is to hit the drive-through.

So I did, on a recent Sunday.  Greta did not accompany me.  She loves chicken, and her answer to being tempted by anything—such as a box of carryout chicken—is:  don’t give it a second thought.  Just give in.  Eat the bones too.

What I got with the chicken was a bookmark-sized  ad for what was called “The Living Cross ‘The Choice.’”   It was to be held at a local independent fundamentalist church, and  was billed as “An Unforgettable Night of Drama and Music Featuring  the  Church . . .Choir and Orchestra.”  There was no description, but the photo showed a stage with lots of people in robes.  There were four performances scheduled, from March 24 to March 29.

The back of the ad posed the question “Are You Sure . . .(ellipsis in original) About Heaven?”  It went on to advise me that I need to know I am a sinner, there is a penalty for sin, Jesus Christ paid for my sins and I need to ask Jesus now to save me.  A sample prayer for the latter purpose was included.

Well, honestly, I’m not sure about heaven.  I’m reasonably sure there isn’t a place somewhere above the clouds with streets paved in gold–wouldn’t that be hard to walk on?  And reasonably sure there’s no old guy at the gate giving us the thumbs up or down after consulting a big ledger.  Today, he’d have a computer.   But is there some form of consciousness after our hearts no longer beat and we no longer breathe?  I don’t know.

First thought:  I’m fine with the chicken, but spare me your religion, which isn’t my religion.  Second thought:  doesn’t the CEO of Popeyes, Cheryl Bachelder,  have the right to push a fundamentalist church’s unforgettable night of drama and music, just as the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, has the right to oppose gay marriage publicly?   Especially since  Bachelder thoughtfully included coupons for reduced-price meals along with the promise of her chosen brand of salvation.

I tried to call the local Popeyes to ask whether they would give equal time to, for example, an invitation to a Passover Seder or to Vesak (the celebration of the birthday of Buddha).  There are two telephone numbers listed for the fast food establishment.  One clicks over to the announcement, “No one is available to take your call,” but doesn’t give  an opportunity to leave a message.   On the other, no one answers after 20  rings.  So we don’t know  Bachelder’s views on equal opportunity in religious advertising.

Like Cathy and Bachelder, I have a choice, too.  Just as gay rights advocates have the right to picket and/or boycott Chick-fil-A, I have the right to boycott Popeyes.  So long, two-piece dinner, all white meat, spicy.  So long, red beans and rice.

Greta will be disappointed.  After I took the spicy skin off, she really enjoyed the leftover chicken.

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