Chick-fil-A said Monday it would halt contributions made to certain charities and organizations – such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes – that have sparked a controversy among LGBT groups.
Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will focus its charities on three areas: education, homelessness and hunger.
“There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. “There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”
This means the Chick-fil-A Foundation will no longer donate to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, Bisnow reported. In a press release, Chick-fil-A said it was “introducing a more focused giving approach to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports.” Going forward, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support Junior Achievement, Covenant House International and local food banks. It will donate $9 million to those causes in 2020.
“The Foundation has made these changes to create more clarity and to better address three critical needs facing children across the communities we serve,” the press release said.
Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast-food chain in the United States in sales. Its official corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Its stores are closed on Sundays.
The gay rights group GLAAD said Chick-fil-A’s statement should be greeted with “cautious optimism” but that more work needs to be done, CNN reported.
“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,” Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, told CNN.
On social media, though, many Chick-fil-A supporters expressed disappointment the company was no longer supporting popular faith-based charities and organizations.
“In Aug 2012, I coordinated a national @ChickfilA Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wrote on Twitter. “Millions showed up. Today, @ChickfilA betrayed loyal customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathey. Sad.”
In Aug 2012, I coordinated a national @ChickfilA Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups. Millions showed up. Today, @ChickfilA betrayed loyal customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathey. Sad.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) November 18, 2019
Billy Hallowell, a Christian writer, called the move “weak and needless and senseless.”
“I definitely won't view them the same,” Hallowell wrote. “I knew what I was getting at Target and Starbucks. Now, I guess I know what I'm getting there too. Which is sad.”
Yup. It's so weak and needless and senseless. I definitely won't view them the same. I knew what I was getting at Target and Starbucks. Now, I guess I know what I'm getting there too. Which is sad.— Billy Hallowell (@BillyHallowell) November 18, 2019
Radio Host Steve Deace tweeted, “#ChickfilA is a top three restaurant chain. How much more money does it really need? So to catch Subway and to get into more airports it slanders the brethren? Being one of the greatest American success stories wasn't already enough? You cannot serve two masters.”
#ChickfilA is a top three restaurant chain. How much more money does it really need? So to catch Subway and to get into more airports it slanders the brethren? Being one of the greatest American success stories wasn't already enough? You cannot serve two masters.— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) November 18, 2019
On Facebook, customers spoke out by posting comments on Chick-fil-A’s home page under unrelated posts. Most of the reaction was negative. The most popular comment, with 160 likes, read: “Do you not realize that much of your success has been due to your strong convictions? Your decision to cave to a small percentage of the population will likely result in loss of business!!”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.