Chick-Fil-A To Stop Donations To Anti-LGBT Groups

Chick-Fil-A is ending its charitable giving to organizations that oppose LGBT rights, and conservatives are predictably freaking out.

After facing years of controversy from LGBT rights groups and others, Chick-Fil-A has announced that it is ending its support for organizations that take positions against equal rights for LGBT Americans, a change in policy that is resulting in criticism from the predictable sources:

Chick-fil-A is making major changes to its charitable foundation, ending donations to two organizations that have been criticized for being anti-LGBTQ.

The fast food chain announced Monday that beginning next year it will only donate to a certain group of charities. That list no longer includes the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Both organizations have taken controversial stands on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

In 2018, the Chick-fil-A foundation donated $1.65 million to the FCA and $115,000 to The Salvation Army, the company revealed Monday.

The FCA writes in its employee application that “neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.” It also states on its website that “marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.” FCA did not respond to CNN Business’ request for comment.

The Salvation Army has said in the past that the Bible forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex, that gay Christians should embrace celibacy and that scripture does not support same-sex marriages, according to Snopes. However, the Salvation Army says its services are available to all people, and the organization strongly refutes accusations that it is anti-LGBTQ.

“We’re saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which the Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed,” the Salvation Army said in a statement.

The organization said it believes it is the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population.

“When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk,” the Salvation Army said. “We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.”

Going forward, Chick-fil-A said it will work exclusively with organizations that focus on education, homelessness and hunger. Those are Junior Achievement USA, Covenant House International and donating $25,000 local food banks.

“No organization will be excluded from future consideration — faith-based or non-faith-based,” said Tim Tassopoulos, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, in a statement. But that leaves open the opportunity that it could donate to foundations in the future that might hold anti-LGBTQ views.

Chick-fil-A’s donations and comments from its executives have sparked controversy over the past several years. CEO Dan Cathy said in 2012 that the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

In a 2018 interview with a local Atlanta TV station, Cathy reiterated his position on same-sex marriage but said he’s not anti-gay.
Gay rights organization GLAAD said in a statement that Chick-fil-A customers and employees should “greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism” but says the company still has a checkered policy when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

“In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents,” said Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response.

Not surprisingly, the conservative religious giving strategy of the company foundation, which sparked a boycott several years ago, has proven to be controversial during this expansion:

The new initiative will no longer include donating to organizations like the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, Chick-fil-A says, all of which sparked criticism in the past from the LGBT community due to the organizations’ stances on homosexuality.

The move comes after several U.S. airports rejected the company from concessions deals earlier this year. More recently, the landlord of the first Chick-fil-A in the U.K. announced eight days into its lease the pop-up venue would not be welcome to extend — all because of the company’s perceived anti-LGBT stance. 

The company is also months from opening its first location in Boston, where the late Mayor Thomas Menino pledged to ban the company from opening within city limits after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy voiced his opposition to gay marriage in 2012. 

Starting next year, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9M to organizations like Junior Achievement USA to support education, Covenant House International to fight homelessness and community food banks for its hunger initiative in each city where the chain operates. The company intends to dedicate $25K to a local food bank each time it opens a new location. 

“This provides more focus and more clarity,” Tassopoulos said. “We think [education, hunger and homelessness] are critical issues in communities where we do business in the U.S.”

(…)

Chick-fil-A surpassed $1B in sales in 2001 and eclipsed the $5B mark in 2013, the year following Cathy’s statement on gay marriage. The chicken chain became the third-largest U.S. fast-food chain this year with $10.5B in sales, according to Nation’s Restaurant News data. Only McDonald’s and Starbucks bring in more revenue among fast-food chains. But after years of “taking it on the chin,” as a Chick-fil-A executive told Bisnow, the latest round of headlines was impossible to ignore. This time, it was impeding the company’s growth.  

The San Antonio City Council was voting on an airport concessions contract in March when ThinkProgress reported that Chick-fil-A was still donating to anti-LGBT groups. The Chick-fil-A Foundation had donated $1.8M in 2017 to the Salvation Army, the FCA and the Paul Anderson Youth Home. A San Antonio city councilor brought up the article at the council meeting, and councilors voted in favor of the concessions contract — as long as a planned Chick-fil-A was dropped from the deal.

The story had ripple effects. Delaware North, the concessions handler for Buffalo Niagara International Airport, also decided in March not to move ahead with plans for a Chick-fil-A at that airport, and officials in San Jose, California, announced they would not renew the chain’s lease at the airport when it runs out in 2026.  

The company’s giving history and Cathy’s previous comments on marriage equality have also dealt a reputational blow to its international expansion.  More than 100 LGBT and animal rights protesters showed up to opening day at Chick-fil-A’s first Toronto store in September. After protests and a boycott by a local LGBT group, the landlord behind a Chick-fil-A pop-up store at a mall in Reading, England, announced eight days into the lease it would not renew with the chain because the mall is meant to “offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome.”

A Chick-fil-A in Scotland is still in operation, but company leaders still felt a new message was needed — especially in foreign markets, where the most prominent brand exposure to Chick-fil-A are headlines about its support for organizations with anti-LGBT stances.

As expected, the response from conservatives is, well, rather negative:

Rod Dreher, meanwhile, goes into full-on panic mode:

So, let me get this straight: Chick-fil-A has managed to become the third-biggest fast-food chain in the US, despite earning so much progressive hatred for honoring what its leadership once claimed was fidelity to “a much higher calling.” But now, in 2019, as it sits near the summit of business success, Chick-fil-A suddenly finds that it can no longer afford to follow that “higher calling,” and is cutting the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes off.

I love Chick-fil-A, but it’s going to be a while before I go there again. This is nothing but gutless surrender.

And it’s a lesson to all of us. The LGBT lobby, and their progressive allies, will never, ever leave you alone. Never. You watch: within five years, Chick-fil-A will be embracing woke advertising campaigns.

Anyway, shame on you, Chick-fil-A. You had no reason to capitulate. You have successfully resisted the mob for years, and built a booming business in spite of it! But capitulate you did. I am reminded of the late Australian poet Les Murray’s lines against demonstrations. Murray was bullied badly in school, and never forgot it. Here, he’s not focusing on a specific cause; he’s just saying that he will not join any demonstration, at all, because having been the victim of a mob, he radically distrusts it:

Whatever class is your screen
I’m from several lower,
To your rigged fashions, I’m pariah.
Nothing a mob does is clean,
not at first, not when slowed to a media,
not when police. The first demos I saw,
before placards, were against me,
alone, for two years, with chants,
every day, with half-conciliatory
needling in between, and aloof
moral cowardice holding skirts away.
I learned your world order then

Chick-fil-A’s surrender today reveals the true order of this world, and who holds the power in it, and who are the pariahs.

Allahpundit at Hot Air questions why the company would annoy their fans on the right, most of whom seem more concerned with opposing LGBT rights than chicken sandwiches:

These people do realize that they’re practically the official fast food of right-wing America thanks to the left’s endless culture-war assault on them, right? To turn around and surrender after all this time seems baffling. Look how far they’ve gotten by sticking to their guns: Not only are they now the third biggest fast food chain in the United States, behind only the twin behemoths of McDonald’s and Starbucks, this summer they topped the charts for the fourth year in a row in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s ranking of fast food restaurants. In a post-Obergefell world, the red/blue battle over Chick-fil-A often felt like a distant memory. Chick-fil-A (mostly) stuck to its guns but gays got the right to marry anyway and everyone went back to eating their chicken.

But it wasn’t a distant memory for everyone. The struggle towards total wokeness is never over, which is why Chick-fil-A continues to find itself unwelcome at certain domestic airports and in certain foreign countries. It’s a stubborn pocket of resistance in the LGBT culture war otherwise won resoundingly by the left, and so the left is going to continue to bomb it occasionally — or was, until today.

(..)

I’ve always been baffled by the mystique of Chick-fil-A apart from its status as a conservative holdout in the culture clash over gay rights. And I like some fast food. Wendy’s? Definitely. Sonic? Yes, please. McDonald’s? You may scoff at how basic it is, but those fries are America’s greatest cultural legacy. There’s nothing wrong with CFA in a pinch, but if you’re up for fast food and have options, why would that be your first choice? For some righties, maybe it won’t be anymore.

The decision, which comes roughly five years after the death of the chain’s founder S. Truett Cathy, and also comes at a time when the company has been undergoing a major expansion into parts of the country where it previously had not had a presence, including major metropolitan areas such as New York City. It is also seeking to expand overseas in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The controversy stretches back to the early part of the decade when the battle for same-sex marriage was still being fought and the company’s giving strategy, which at the time included groups actively campaigning against marriage equality, was proving to be quite controversial. The company responded to that decision by ending the practice of giving to those organizations, It continued, however, providing charitable support to organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Foundation for Christian Athletes, and other organizations that generally oppose LGBT rights on the basis of religion.

In the end, this was a business decision on the company’s part that is perfectly understandable. They are seeking to expand into new markets both here in the United States, in Canada, and in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe where support for LGBT rights is far stronger than it is in the American south where the chain got its foothold before growing into the large and growing operation that it is today. In the end, the job of a corporation is Chick-Fill-A is to make money and advance the company’s interests. If that means adjusting the charitable giving strategy of the business, that’s what it means. Conservatives and anti-LGBT activists will complain, of course, but in the end, this is Chick-Fil-A’s decision to make and, from a business perspective, and a moral one, it is the right decision to make.

Update: This post was updated to include additional comments from conservative commentators0

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, LGBT Rights, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    Rod Dreher is comparing anti-gay people deciding to be a little less anti-gay, to people being bullied???????????????

    I’ve been told on this here website that I have lousy hobbies. 😀 maybe the explanation for Rod Dreher’s comments is that his secret hobby is he works on a ranch, breaking stallions, castrating hogs and whatnot, and unfortunately he’s a terrible farrier, and he’s been kicked in the head numerous, numerous, numerous times.

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  2. Mister Bluster says:
  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, I don’t have all that hard time believing that it feels like bullying to some people. I think that’s sincere.

    I was bullied some, not a lot, but some, and I understand the impulse to resist it. At the same time, I understand that giving into that impulse at all times, in every way, is to let other people control you. If you do the opposite every time, that’s still a perfect correlation.

    So, if 10 million people bully you to do the right thing, it’s still the right thing to do.

    If you think giving to anti-LBGT charities is the right thing to do, then stand up and say so. If you don’t, then don’t let any sort of boycott or bullying change your mind about it.

  4. Teve says:

    Shaming people for being assholes is not bullying.

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  5. grumpy realist says:

    Rod Dreher aghast that businesses think about profits, even self-proclaimed Christian ones.

    The problem with the anti-SSM crowd is not only they want to adhere to a certain set of “moral behaviour”, but they want to insist that everyone else–including those who aren’t tradcons–also adhere to it as well.

    I think a bunch of vegans should start picketing all lectures given by Rod Dreher, loudly calling him “a sinner” and insisting that he never eat meat again. Maybe then he’d get the point.

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  6. Teve says:

    Maybe then he’d get the point.

    “Ron Howard to the voice over booth please. Ron Howard, you’re wanted in voice over.” 🙂

  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Teve: We disagree. I put public shaming in the same category as violence: While there are a few problems to which they are the right answer, that is a far smaller number than the number of problems to which they are generally applied.

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  8. FYI, I updated the post to include some additional conservative reaction to the news.

  9. JDM says:

    Just when I was starting to lose faith in Capitalism, it seems Capitalism is starting to lose faith in bigotry.

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  10. DrDaveT says:

    I thought Christians were supposed to revel in being persecuted for their beliefs. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Ungrateful wretches ought to be thanking the world for giving them such an awesome chance to prove their sanctity without having to endure any actual suffering.

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  11. Teve says:

    the salvation army should not be defunded, the salvation army executives should be arrested by jackbooted thugs and abusively transported to gitmo. If you are, say, a poor cashier working a long shift at a grocery store, and sharp noises bother you, and one of those religious nut bags sets up shop 5ft outside your door ringing that loud goddamn bell all day long, then being hunted for sport is too good for them.

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  12. wr says:

    If you don’t vocally hate the same people I hate, then I’m being oppressed.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Mike Huckabee writing about “being bullied by militant hate groups”…oh, that’s rich…meanwhile, these religious/conservative types need to realize that no matter how religious/conservative a company’s founder is, in the end, the $$$ ends up being the most important thing, as noted in Doug’s links…

    The LGBT lobby, and their progressive allies, will never, ever leave you alone.

    Sure they will, when you stop discriminating against them and/or helping organizations that discriminate against them…

    Chick-fil-A’s surrender today reveals the true order of this world, and who holds the power in it, and who are the pariahs.

    Oh the poor dear….do have pity for the downtrodden Christians! Why, it’s like the Roman Empire again! The horror…

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  14. Teve says:

    Chick-fil-A’s surrender today reveals the true order of this world, and who holds the power in it¹, and who are the pariahs².

    1 big corporations
    2 bigots

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  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    Chick-fil-A’s made this promise before and has broken it before. I don’t expect them to hold to it this time later.

    When they stop being one of the only major national corporations without a policy protecting LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination, then maybe I’ll start to believe they’re serious.

  16. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: if public pressure and boycotts are akin to bullying and violence, what does that make the Civil Right Movement?

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @An Interested Party:..Mike Huckabee writing about “being bullied by militant hate groups”…oh, that’s rich…

    Huckabee: All Americans Should Be Forced at Gunpoint to Listen to David Barton
    But the most outrageous statement by far came from Mike Huckabee, who expressed his admiration for Barton by saying that he “almost wished” that “all Americans would be forced — forced at gunpoint no less — to listen to every David Barton message.”

    Some commenters on these threads claimed this was some sort of a joke by Huckabee.
    With every shooting at a school or a Walmart or in someones home this just gets funnier and funnier.

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  18. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: to add to my point, here’s a quote by MLK:

    It is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Republicans don’t seem to notice but they lose every time with public-facing companies. Consumer oriented businesses have surveyed the landscape and seen the future, and that future is blue.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I put public shaming in the same category as violence: While there are a few problems to which they are the right answer, that is a far smaller number than the number of problems to which they are generally applied.

    The Left and its constituent elements are under verbal attack from Trump, the target of frequent threats of violence, threats of civil war from people who obsess over guns and attend Nuremberg rallies where they scream hatred. The Left is targeted for murder by Trumpist white supremacists. The political system has been corrupted, the president compromised, there’s an across the board collapse of integrity and morality on the Right and a hard swing toward fascism and the Left shaming Chik Fil A is a problem?

    I have a perfect right not to buy chicken from bigots. It’s my money and my choice and if that means some mall doesn’t want Chik Fil A renting space, boo hoo. When corporations choose to enter the political world they make themselves targets. Chik Fil A is the aggressor here, not the people who choose to cross the street to Popeye’s.

    I applaud this (ahem) sincere change of heart.

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  21. Mikey says:

    @Teve:

    Rod Dreher is comparing anti-gay people deciding to be a little less anti-gay, to people being bullied??????????????

    To those who have always benefited from privilege, equality feels like oppression.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    I just don’t believe them. They will stop donating to one set of anti-gay charities, and start giving to another.

    They are just going to stop wearing their hate on their sleeve, since suddenly America has fallen in love with another chicken sandwich. Popeye’s and their own anti-gay positions stand in the way of further expansion.

    I understand that we should be welcoming to people who change, but I would counter with two points:
    1. Corporations aren’t people.
    2. Change requires a consistent effort over time, and Chick-Fil-A hasn’t earned trust yet.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala: Morally correct and courageous because IOKIYAP?

  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I have no problem admitting…I’m a drinker. I like to drink. A not insignificant portion of my weekly budget goes to adult beverages.
    The package store down the road from me had a joke about Obama, borderline racist, and implying that his supporters are all stupid, printed out and sitting on their counter.
    I told them I would no longer be able to patronize their store, and I haven’t been back there in the 7-8 years since the 2012 election season.
    Why would anyone, in business, intentionally alienate 50% of their customer base?

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Trust isn’t the point, I don’t care what’s in their hearts, what matters is that when we cracked the whip they flinched. The company is irrelevant, what matters is that they are seen by all the Trumpaloons in Alabama to have bent the knee to us and they are impotent to resist our economic and cultural power.

    To use a rather odd analogy, it’s like the Billy Mitchell raid on Tokyo which had zero military significance but sent a shiver up the spines of the Japanese people, reminding them of our power and our reach. The Emperor Trump can’t stop the bombers coming. He’s too weak – and Cult45 is too weak – and that is a useful reminder to the enemy.

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  26. Teve says:

    I’m seeing a lot of christianists on Twitter saying “I can’t believe they bowed to a few SJWs!!!!!They are coward’s and I’ll nevar eat their again!!!” etc.

    They want to believe it’s just a few Hollywood SJW Barbara Streisand Libtards. But it’s not. It’s Western Civilization, leaving them behind. It’s like being a racist in 1999.

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  27. Teve says:

    The Volatile Mermaid
    @OhNoSheTwitnt
    ·
    3h
    The people who accuse liberals of being snowflakes are boycotting chicken sandwiches for not being anti-gay enough.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Did they bend the knee, or is it just a curtsy while they have their fingers crossed behind their back?

    I assume the latter.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I have no problem admitting…I’m a drinker. I like to drink. A not insignificant portion of my weekly budget goes to adult beverages.
    The package store down the road from me had a joke about Obama, borderline racist, and implying that his supporters are all stupid, printed out and sitting on their counter.

    I am really having trouble following the jump from drinking to the package store. Are you drunk?

  30. Tyrell says:

    If those airports’ management had asked the people their opinions, I think we know what it would have been.
    The Chick- Fil- A’s I have seen are overflowing and many have expanded their parking lots.
    They could build five more around here and it still would not be enough. Simple: fair prices for good food, friendly service, and lots of activities for families. They have partnered with the schools.
    Mr. Cathy has helped a lot of different organizations.
    One lady told me that their church youth group got Chick-Fil-A for a party and the manager even called to make sure that they had everything they needed. I don’t know of another fast food place that will go to that length.

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “I am really having trouble following the jump from drinking to the package store.”

    In many states, the store one buys alcohol at is called a package store.

  32. HelloWorld! says:

    I admit to not eating at Chic-Fil-A a few times because of this. I have to confess, I cheated a few times. I am so relieved that I no longer have to live in the shadows, and I can comfortably go into a Chic-Fil-A and get my nuggets now!

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:
    And yet they caved. Which makes the rest of your comment irrelevant.

    @Gustopher:
    Their sincerity is irrelevant. They are irrelevant. The game is not virtue, the game is power.

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  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Why would anyone, in business, intentionally alienate 50% of their customer base?”

    Ironically enough, that’s what conservatives are asking right now. Except in the case of Chick-fil-A it might be more than 50%.

    ETA: In reality, it isn’t the current customer base that matters, it’s a potential customer base in other places that is pushing the change, though.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    So far Rod Dreher has managed to write three separate blog posts on Chik-a-Fil and The Downfall of American Civilisation. I guess we know what he thinks about.

    I wonder if Rod has ever thought one of the reasons people are drifting away from identifying with “religious believers” is because the latter are coming off as being a bunch of silly twits? It’s a chicken sandwich, for gossakes. And Ron and his entourage are wailing and wringing their hands as if it’s the end of the world.

  36. Tyrell says:

    @JDM: The Salvation Army has done a lot of good around here, helping the hungry at Thanksgiving, Christmas help to families who would otherwise get nothing, their Thrift Shops, homeless shelters, and other activities. They have been recognized by local leaders for the good that they have done in the community. I can’t imagine anyone attacking or opposing their work. This is completely a lapse in good judgement. I will make sure to contribute to them when I am out shopping.
    I don’t have direct experience with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In looking at their website it seems to be a very positive, helpful organization – no hatred toward anyone. They present some inspiring people.
    It is just the continued attacks on Christian organizations by misguided groups with political and social agendas. Look at the attacks on the Boy Scouts of America. Who is next, the YMCA?
    Some nuts are even attacking Thanksgiving as being “racist”. Weird!