Although the announcement didn’t mention which groups would no longer be funded, most media outlets covering the Chick-Fil-A Foundation’s press release on Monday did: “Chick-Fil-A to stop donating to some groups following LGBTQ protests,” read the USA Today headline. “Chick-Fil-A will no longer fund anti-LGBTQ organizations,” said ABCNews. “Chick-Fil-A to stop funding groups that oppose gay rights,” read the United Press International headline.
Those are very different headlines than the one the Chick-Fil-A Foundation gave to its own announcement: “Chick-Fil-A Foundation Announces 2020 Priorities to Address Education, Homelessness, Hunger.” Of course, it’s obvious why the headlines were so dramatically different. After all, one of the groups that will no longer be funded by Chick-Fil-A is the Salvation Army. They specialize in ministering to the homeless and the hungry. Clearly, there was more to the announcement than new priorities.
What’s not clear, however, is why the fast food chain made this decision now, after fully weathering the storm they faced over seven years ago, when then CEO Dan Cathy stated his views on traditional marriage. Today, seven years later, having not made any public statements on sex or marriage since, the only real “guilt” critics can point out is who they give money to. Still, their reputation among some is as a hateful, bigoted organization. In fact, a friend who teaches in a comparatively conservative business school on the west coast just told me of a student who called Chick-Fil-A “anti-woman.” I have no idea where that one came from.
In fact, Chick-Fil-A stopped giving to so-called “culture war” organizations a long time ago. Monday’s breathless headlines were referring to groups like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who are called anti-gay not because they advocate for historic and orthodox Christian views on sex and marriage, but because they merely hold them. And, at least when it comes to the Salvation Army, it depends on what you mean by “hold them.”
Of course, as a private company, Chick-Fil-A can support any organizations it wants. Not every person, much less every company, much less a chicken restaurant has to join a side in these culture wars. Although the left has been incredibly effective at weaponizing companies, from Gillette to Sprite, in order to advance ideological goals, I don’t begrudge any company, even if founded and owned by Christians, for trying to sit out some of these unwinnable battles. Especially, while they still can. Soon, I predict, not actively fighting for progressive causes will earn you all the labels and adjectives Chick-Fil-A is trying to shed.
Still, I find Chick-Fil-A’s decision sad on at least two levels. First, their growth to being the third largest fast food chain on the planet has clearly shown that you don’t have to cave to the pressure in order to survive and grow as a company. In fact, I’ll bet you a #4 meal with 4 chicken strips right now that this decision will be the one that hurts their bottom line. Millions of Americans rallied around the restaurant in 2012 when LGBT advocates called for a boycott, and again in more recent years when cities like San Antonio banned the restaurant from their airports. This decision not only will lose them the support they’ve had, it will embolden the bullies and make it hard for other companies not to likewise cave to the pressure.
Even more sad, however, is that without ever mentioning their names, the Chick-Fil-A Foundation’s decision will only reinforce the slander that the organizations they are no longer giving to are, in fact, anti-LGBT. It will only reinforce that all the good these organizations do is immediately made invalid, if they are Christian groups with historic and biblical Christian convictions. By refusing to offer any clarity on the reasoning behind their decision, Chick-Fil-A allowed the headlines to be re-written in a way that furthers the goals of the LGBT bullies, that ultimately there is only one acceptable position on these controversial issues: full-support and full affirmation.
I found it ironic that, also on Monday, pop superstar Ellie Goulding announced she would not pull out of a half-time performance during a Thanksgiving Day football game to officially launch the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle holiday campaign. Like Chick-Fil-A, she had faced pressure to dissociate from the Salvation Army. Unlike Chick-Fil-A, she decided not to do so.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: November 19, 2019
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Tom Pennington/Stringer