Photo: Tdorante10, via Wikimedia.
If you’re still regularly eating at Chick-fil-A — or recently returned, thinking it was okay to do so — here’s some food for thought: the fast-food chain continues to donate millions to anti-LGBTQ groups.
Yes, the chicken sandwich purveyor, long decried by LGBTQ activists for suspect corporate donations and CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage, is still helping fund organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights.
According to Think Progress, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the fast-food chain’s charitable arm, donated more than $1.8 million to three anti-LGBTQ groups in 2017.
The largest sum, $1.6 million, went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its members to adhere to a “sexual purity” policy that outlaws “homosexual acts.”
$150,000 was given to the Salvation Army, which has long been at odds with LGBTQ rights, including saying they don’t discriminate against hiring LGBTQ people while also fighting against laws that would prevent them from discriminating against LGBTQ people.
A third donation of $6,000 was given to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a “Christian residential home for troubled young men,” but which reportedly teaches that being gay is wrong and same-sex marriage is against “Jesus Christ and his values.”
On its website, Chick-fil-A claims that its donation to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was “used to fund sports camps and school programs for inner-city youth in various locations,” and that “[children] who participate in the sports camps and school programming are not required to be members of FCA or sign any FCA pledge.”
The Salvation Army donation reportedly “funded several programs, including camps for kids and the Angel Tree program in Atlanta,” the latter of which provides clothing and other items to families in need.
The Paul Anderson donation supported “a bike ride fundraiser, operational support, an annual Christmas dinner theatre for local children as well as technology capital campaign,” according to the company, which also notes that “[as] of June 2017, the Chick-fil-A Foundation no longer supports this organization.”
In a statement to Think Progress, Chick-fil-A said it had no intention of ceasing donations to either the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Salvation Army.
“[S]ince the Chick-fil-A Foundation was created in 2012, our giving has always focused on youth and education,” the statement said. “We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda. There are 140,000 people — black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian — who represent Chick-fil-A. We are the sum of many experiences, but what we all have in common is a commitment to providing great food, genuine hospitality, and a welcoming environment to all of our guests.”
However, that wasn’t enough to satisfy the city of San Antonio, which voted on Thursday to deny Chick-fil-A a planned location in San Antonio International Airport, NBC affiliate WOAI reports.
Councilman Roberto Treviño specifically highlighted the company’s 2017 donations — and the anti-LGBTQ bias of the organizations that received Chick-fil-A funds — as reason why the proposed seven-year deal should be revoked.
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion,” Treviño said in a statement. “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.”
Chick-fil-A told WOAI that the decision was “disappointing.”
“We would have liked to have had a dialogue with the city council before this decision was made,” the company said in a statement. “We agree with Councilmember Treviño that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A. We plan to reach out to the city council to gain a better understanding of this decision.”
Chick-fil-A has repeatedly come under fire for its perceived anti-LGBTQ stance, in part due to CEO Dan Cathy’s views on Christianity and homosexuality and corporate donations to anti-LGBTQ groups.
Cathy caused controversy in 2012 when he publicly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, telling the Baptist Press, “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.”
That was further compounded when it was revealed that in 2009 Chick-fil-A donated almost $2 million to anti-LGBTQ groups, including the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, the National Christian Foundation, the Eagle Forum and the Family Research Council.
In 2016, boycotts were called for when the company announced plans to open its first location in New York City, with Councilmember Danny Dromm calling the company “anti-LGBT” and accusing Chick-fil-A of imparting “a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love.”
And last year, New Jersey’s Rider University barred Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant on campus, with president Gregory G. Dell’Omo and vice president Leanna Fenneberg making clear that it was due to the company’s anti-LGBTQ history.
“Although it was included in previous surveys, Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community,” Dell’Omo and Fenneberg wrote in a letter to students.