For several years now, Chick-fil-A has been defined by the faith-based bigotry of its president. In 2012, then-COO Dan Cathy (whose father founded the restaurant chain) said in an interview that the company was “guilty as charged” when it came to opposing marriage equality, saying they supported “the biblical definition of the family unit.” From there, he doubled down on that position to the point where mayors were opposing new Chick-fil-A’s in their cities. The company’s non-profit WinShape Foundation even supported right-wing activist groups that opposed LGBTQ rights.
All those critics who said buying food from Chick-fil-A meant supporting those anti-LGBTQ groups had a point. That’s why, more recently, students at colleges and city officials have opposed new restaurants being built on campus or in airports.
But even as the company tried changing direction, their link to the Christian Right didn’t end. While Chick-fil-A doesn’t discriminate against LGBTQ customers or potential employees, the company’s foundation still supported organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, both of which hold similar anti-equality positions (even if that’s not their focus).
That’s about to change.
According to a press release from the organization, they’re changing up their charitable giving model in a way that will end all support to those Christian organizations. Instead, they’ll focus “exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.”
“We made multiyear commitments to both organizations [FCA and the Salvation Army], and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018. Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education,” the representative said in a statement to Business Insider.
Chick-fil-A said that for 2020 it has committed $9 million each to those three initiatives: education, homelessness, and hunger. The company said that it was expanding partnerships with the education nonprofit Junior Achievement USA and the homeless-youth organization Covenant House International and that it would dedicate $25,000 to a local food bank following each new Chick-fil-A opening.
It a sense, by serving the poor, they’re following Jesus instead of right-wing Christians. That’s a step in the right direction. But even LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD is taking a wait-and-see approach:
“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 a statement Monday.
That seems appropriate. The company doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. It hasn’t earned it. They’ve said before that they’re no longer supporting anti-LGBTQ bigotry, only to continue supporting groups with anti-LGBTQ positions. So don’t take the press release at face value. Consider it the first of many steps the company needs to take to rehabilitate its well-deserved image as a Christian company that uses its profits to hurt people.
Also consider that this company only chose to do the right thing after constant, unending pressure from the media and its critics. It’s not like they suddenly decided to be decent. The decision seems more rooted in capitalism than Christ.
If you still have doubts, there are plenty of other dining options. You may still want to wait for proof of Chick-fil-A’s decency before giving them your money again.
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