Chick-fil-A Says It Will Cease Donations to Anti-LGBTQ Organizations
The fried chicken chain made a similar claim in 2012.
For the past several years, Chick-fil-A and controversy have gone together like chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. In 2012, CEO Dan Cathy expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage and since then, the Atlanta-based chain has been criticized and protested for continuing to make financial donations to organizations that share Cathy's views about marriage, or that have actively discriminated against the LGTBQ community, including LGBTQ youth.
On Monday, though, Chick-fil-A announced that it would no longer be making donations to two of those charities, The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. A spokesperson for the chain told CNBC that Chick-fil-A had made "multi-year commitments to both organizations" and that it had since "fulfilled its obligations."
In March, ThinkProgress reported that in 2017 the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave more than $1.8 million to three organizations with a history of LGBTQ discrimination. That year, it donated $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and $150,000 to the Salvation Army.
The FCA, the site noted, had a "sexual purity" policy for employees, and prohibited "any homosexual acts." And although the Salvation Army has since changed its own policies, it previously opposed legal protection for members of the LGBTQ community. (Chick-fil-A has not donated to the Paul Anderson Youth Home—which considered same-sex marriage to be "rage against Jesus and His values"—since 2017).
"Beginning in 2020 the Chick-fil-A Foundation will introduce a more focused giving approach, donating to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of hunger, homelessness and education," a Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Food & Wine. "The intent of charitable giving from the Chick-fil-A Foundation is to nourish the potential in every child."
Some of the organizations it has chosen to support in 2020 include the education-focused nonprofit Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International, which provides food, shelter, and support services to homeless and runaway youth. The latter describes itself as a "safe space" for LGBTQ youth. "We are not a niche shelter that welcomes only youth of one gender or one orientation, one race or one class," the organization writes on its website. "All are welcome here and all are received with absolute respect and unconditional love."
Chick-fil-A has also pledged donations of $25,000 to local food banks in the communities where it is opening new restaurants.
"Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger," Tim Tassopoulos, Chick-fil-A's president and COO, said on Monday. "No organization will be excluded from future consideration—faith-based or non-faith-based."
Despite the newly announced policy, LGBTQ activists say that the chain could still go further. "If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response, said.
In September, LGBTQ activists protested during the grand opening of a Chick-fil-A in Toronto—the Atlanta-based chain's first international location—and the demonstrations continued when Chick-fil-A opened its first location in Reading, England. (The Oracle shopping center swiftly announced that it would not be renewing the restaurant's lease after the six-month pilot program, but a Chick-fil-A spokesperson told VICE that it never planned to stay in Reading beyond the dates on its lease document).
Chick-fil-A declined to comment when Food & Wine asked whether the protests had any impact on its charitable donations, or whether an organization's stance on LGBTQ rights would disqualify them from receiving financial donations in the future. For now, we'll just have to wait and see where the chain and its foundation's money goes in 2021.