Santorum: ‘Zero Tolerance’ in Chick-fil-A Protests

Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 | 9:29 PM ET

Calls for the boycott of Chick-fil-A following its CEO’s comments in support of traditional marriage is little more than a witch hunt, former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told CNBC on Thursday.

“You just keep seeing this more and more, which is the absolute intolerance of the left in America. There can be no dissent from what their position is,” he said on “The Kudlow Report.”

The idea that the company would face pressure for its leader’s beliefs was antithetical to the idea of the United States.

“This is why the Hugenots came to America,” Santorum said, adding the Dutch Reform Church and Catholics to that list.

“They didn’t want the government telling them what to believe and that they couldn’t say things in public, that they had to keep it to themselves,” he said, or be “barred from doing business.”

The Chick-fil-A Culture War?
Why do liberals bully business? Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston officials are bullying the company because of the CEO's controversial statements about marriage. Nick Gillespie, Reason.com editor-in-chief, and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R), share their opinions.

Santorum added that radical Islamists were anti-gay

“In Iran, if you’re found to be gay, you’re killed,” he said. “Sharia law has zero tolerance toward gays.”

Last week, a story in The Baptist Press quoted Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy coming out in support of traditional marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” he said.

The comments sparked protest from supporters of same-sex marriage, and led to city officials in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston to come out swinging against the chicken chain restaurant.

Even the Muppets, which had a marketing agreement with Chick-fil-A, severed ties with the company following the firestorm.

Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared next Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” to support the business.

Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com, said he believed, “as a libertarian, as somebody who believes absolutely in marriage equality,” that consumers can vote with their dollars: If they don’t like the company’s stance, they can always eat elsewhere.

“By the same token, there is something absolutely, fundamentally wrong with politicians saying what kinds of businesses can set up shop in their city and where,” he said.

Gillespie also pointed out that the company had not appeared to break any laws.

“It doesn’t ban or bar gay employees, it doesn’t ban or bar gay customers — and that’s worth keeping in mind — because they’re good businessmen,” he said.

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"