Chick-fil-A says it has no plans to stop donating the company’s money to anti-LGBTQ organizations, arguing that funding discriminatory groups is part of a “higher calling.”
The fast food chain has been under fire from activists and lawmakers for donating millions of dollars to organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights.
Its refusal to cease the donations has led to Chick-fil-A restaurants being banned or removed from a number of spaces across the country, including a university in New Jersey and San Antonio International Airport.
But Rodney Bullard, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Chick-fil-A and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, told Business Insider that the company won’t be stopping the flow of money any time soon.
He argued that because the organizations the company donates to are helping young people, it doesn’t matter if they also discriminate against LGBTQ people.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be,” he said. “For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged. This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves.”
In March this year, it was revealed that Chick-fil-A had donated almost $2 million to 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.”
Chick-fil-A’s perceived anti-LGBTQ animus also stems from its CEO Dan Cathy and his views on homosexuality.
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 of the restaurant 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.”