Metro Weekly

Chick-fil-A Targeted by Conservatives for Boycott

Once hailed for its CEO's views opposing same-sex marriage, restaurant chain now finds itself under attack for "betraying" its "Christian" values.

A Chick-fil-A restaurant – Photo: Chris Potter, via Flickr

Chick-fil-A, the chicken sandwich chain that social conservatives love due to its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage, has been raked over the coals on social media for a two-year-old announcement that the company had named an executive in charge of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Atlanta-based company, which operates more than 3,000 restaurants nationwide, named Erick McReynolds, an employee dating back to 2007, as its vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion in 2021, but social media users only recently became aware of it, prompting calls for a boycott of the company for going “woke,” reports the New York Post.

The calls come as several national corporations, including Bud Light, Target, and LEGO Group, find themselves on the receiving end of abuse for partnering with out LGBTQ influencers, embracing LGBTQ customers, or creating Pride-themed merchandise.

Social conservatives have become enraged, arguing that promoting or trumpeting LGBTQ visibility advances an “agenda” that is being thrust into people’s faces.

“This is bad. Very bad. I don’t want to have to boycott. Are we going to have to boycott?” Joey Mannarino, a conservative strategist, asked his followers on Twitter.

Although not typically associated with LGBTQ issues, DEI initiatives have been criticized by conservatives, who claim that they discriminate against people who are not members of marginalized groups based on race, gender, and other characteristics.

Just as with education, where any acknowledgment of race or racial disparities immediately draws criticism for being overly “woke,” companies that embrace DEI initiatives are viewed suspiciously by those who once supported them.

On its website, Chick-fil-A touts its efforts to promote workplace diversity.

“Chick-fil-A, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. We make employment decisions on a non-discriminatory basis and remain committed to maintaining work environments free from any form of harassment,” says McReynolds on the company website.

“Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well. Modeling care for others starts in the restaurant, and we are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and dignity everywhere we do business. These tenets are good business practice and crucial to fulfilling our Corporate Purpose.”

Wade Miller, an executive director for the conservative think tank Center for Renewing America, said on Twitter that he could no longer support Chick-fil-A as a customer. 

Everything good must come to an end. Here @ChickfilA is stating its commitment to systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination. I cannot support such a thing,” Miller tweeted. 

Several online conservative influencers have argued that excessive focus on “wokeness” has ruined a number of bedrock American institutions, and seeks to intimidate people into being “politically correct” rather than speaking their mind. Still others see overemphasizing diversity, as progressives allegedly do, as inherently divisive and counterproductive to society’s overall progress.

“DEI is literally wokeness. You can dress it up in nice language that appeals to your Christianity or sense [of] empathy but in practice it always boils down to the same [social justice] nonsense that is destroying every industry and institution,” tweeted Ian Miles Cheong, a right-wing pundit from Malaysia who frequently comments on U.S. politics, particularly culture-war issues. 

Former Trump adviser and attorney Jenna Ellis lamented Chick-fil-A’s embrace of DEI. “Why do companies care more about their DEI score than their customers and their own brand’s VALUES?? @ChickfilA needs to walk this back, ASAP,” she tweeted.


The Washington Stand, an editorial and political news website geared towards conservative Christians that is a project of the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, posted an op-ed titled “Chick-fil-A Has Been Woke for Years. You Just Didn’t Want to Believe It.”

In the editorial, author Suzanne Bowdey argues that the company had, for years, financially thrived in the face of boycotts from the political Left and LGBTQ advocates after CEO Dan Cathy spoke of his support for traditional marriage in 2012 — a move counter to the overall society’s shift toward embracing same-sex marriage.

But Bowdey claims that the company reversed course in 2019 when it capitulated to criticism of its charitable donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. These two organizations embrace Biblical views of human sexuality and marriage.

The company announced it would stop donating to the organizations, offending many social conservatives.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the company had donated to organizations with a more left-wing political affiliation, further alienating conservatives, who saw the company’s charitable giving practices as a betrayal of the conservative values it once celebrated.

“Chick-fil-A hasn’t been true to its values for years,” Bowdey said. “And to many, including this writer, their sins are even more unforgivable than other brands on the consumer chopping block — because unlike Anthropologie, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Hershey, Jack Daniels, Kohl’s, Lego, Levi Strauss, Maybelline, Nike, North Face, Sports Illustrated, Starbucks, and Target, Chick-fil-A continues to exploit — and profit from — its Christian reputation.”

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