Saying you eat at Chick-fil-A is social suicide.
The chain is notoriously homophobic, and each dollar spent on a chicken sandwich slathered in Chick-fil-A sauce with waffle fries and chocolate milkshake is a vote for inequality.
I was reminded of this as I snapped a photo in the drive thru line and Amber said, “Ummmm… you sure you want to post that?” I nodded, and put my phone down to bury the evidence of getting a chicken sandwich; a standard road trip lunch break when traveling home to Virginia.
As I took my first bite with a slight tinge of shame, it hit me, I had no clue what anti-LGBTQ+ actions the chain actually took.
Sure, the chain is closed on Sundays and I’ve seen the headlines about protests and a few uncomfortable comments from the CEO, but how was Chick-fil-A actively discriminating against the LGTBQ+ community?
I dove in to, and guess what…. I’m happy to say we should all start eating Chick-fil-A again….
The founder of Chick-fil-A, Samuel Truett Cathy, opened his very first Atlanta-based brick and mortar store in 1967, and little did he know he was laying the foundations of a mega chicken empire. His goal was simple: serve high-quality, delicious food in a community-setting with friendly staff and a big ‘ole heaping side of Christian values. The little store sky-rocketed in popularity and boomed into being one of the top fast food chains in the United States. As the franchise blossomed, the core values stayed the same, and S. Cathy’s son, Dan Cathy, continued the legacy as he became CEO in 2013.
As the country made massive progress towards equality, both father and son maintained strict Christian values and denounced the LGBTQ+ community. Things really got spicy in 2012 when D. Cathy made a shockingly overt homophobic statement in a radio interview:
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Alright so words are one thing, but what about physical actions?
Each franchise is closed on Sunday, but, more importantly, it turns out the company has notoriously donated millions to foundations with anti-LGBTQ+ programs during the 2000s through the Winshape Foundation, a philanthropic organization that was created by S. Cathy. Such beneficiaries include the Marriage & Family Foundation ($1,188,380), Exodus International ($1,000), and the Family Research Council ($1,000)
As a result, Chick-fil-A is no stranger to protestors waving rainbow flags in front of stores and thousands of people actively boycotting the chain. Other resistance measures have been seen in San Antonio’s attempt to bar it from the airport, Rider University banning it from opening on their campus, and the Pittsburg Public School system opposing it as a sponsor for an annual marathon for kids.
Being labeled as a homophobic brand isn’t particularly great for PR. In response, the company claimed it would be making efforts to scale back charitable giving to organizations with such messages. However, in the past 5 years, reports show Chick-fil-A continued donating to foundations with such beliefs such as the Salvation Army, the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which received a whopping $1.65 million in 2018. (Click HERE to learn about why the FCA is controversial.)
(While these organizations have anti-LGBTQ+ components, such sentiments are an extension of traditional Christian values as oppose to being the main focus. I personally don’t agree with said values, but I feel it’s important to note this fact. Let’s save the discussion on “Christian values” for another post…)
In November 2019, the Chick-fil-A foundation announced a new charitable giving plan focused on promoting education, fighting homelessness, and ending hunger, and all contributions have been refocused towards these three main goals. As a result, they have ended donations to both the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and have even directed more fund towards the Covenant House, an organization with PRO-LGBTQ+ values.
As donations were pulled, The Salvation Army made a statement in retaliation. Always need to consider both sides folks!:
“We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.”
In 2019, Chick-Fil-A donated $ $6,404,452.84 to philanthropic organizations including $250,000 to the Atlanta Music Project to help students receive a music education, $1,000,000 to the City of Refuge Inc to fight homelessness in Atlanta, $100,000 to the National Cares Mentoring Movement Inc to promote economic mobility while alleviating poverty in minority communities, among 77 other foundations. See the full list HERE. Could they donate more? Of course. But so could most of us.
Mind you, it’s not uncommon for Christian organizations to share D. Cathy’s views on marriage, and I’ll be bold to guess that some of the organizations on this list follow suit. However, fighting LGBTQ+ rights is not the goal nor the focus of the donations.
The 2020 charitable giving plan continues supporting the same goals of promoting education, alleviating homelessness, and ending hunger with the added component of $5 million in grants to Black-led nonprofits through The True Inspiration Awards in response to the recent racial atrocities. The VP of corporate social responsibility stated:
“As a company, we are making a pledge to take action against racial injustice. The True Inspiration Awards have always been a platform to give back locally where our restaurants serve and by redirecting our grants to organizations supporting communities of color, we believe we can make an impact.”
That’s pretty cool if you ask me…
What does this all mean….
The people spoke, and the people were heard. We CAN make a difference.
While I’d put money on the fact that D. Cathy hasn’t changed his stance on marriage equality, the money spent on delicious waffle fries isn’t actively going against the LGBTQ+ community. It takes one step at a time.
Just as you give a dog a treat when he pees outside or a reward to a child for getting a good report card, give credit where credit is due and eat some damn chicken. Show your support for the direction the company is headed to provide encouragement to go further.
Celebrate that change happened!
Now let’s tackle more companies to make even more progress in the fight for equality.
Here are just SOME of the companies that actively donate to anti-marriage equality politicians and organizations (it’s important to note that some of these companies DO vocally support LGBTQ+ rights, but still donate to said politicians or organizations. Welcome to US politics…) :
- Bed Bath and Beyond
- Dollar General
- Big Lots
- UPS (Donated nearly $2.4 million to anti-gay politicians)
- Home Depot (donated over $1.8 million to anti-pay politicians)
- Taco Bell (Yum China Holdings)
- Domino’s Pizza
Wherever you decide to spend or not spend your dollars, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH FIRST.
Free speech and our nearly limitless access to information is a pretty amazing thing, and why wouldn’t you opt to spend 15 minutes surfing the web to form your own opinion?
I dove into Chick-fil-A expecting to uncover appalling facts and figures, and lo and behold, the opposite was true. I usually assert the opinion that the individual doesn’t matter, and we are all just drops in the ocean. Most say pessimist, but I say rationalist. However, I couldn’t be happier to report that this has proven me wrong.
Go out and protest, and boycott, and make a stand for what you believe in!
Who knows what change the people can spark next.