Famed chicken purveyor Chick-fil-A has long been criticized for the actions of its charitable arm, the Chick-fil-A Foundation. The company’s history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, most notably the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, sparked years of backlash from LGBTQ advocates.
But that all appears to be in the past now, as Chick-fil-A announced Monday that it is ceasing all donations to those organizations.
“There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are… there are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message,” Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow.
Tassopoulos’ announcement comes years after Chick-fil-A family man and prior CEO Dan Cathy tried to distance his company from the anti-gay positions he and the Chick-fil-A brand had embraced for generations. But despite promising to make changes, Chick-fil-A only doubled down on its support of anti-LGBTQ causes, one of which took direct aim at gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer athletes.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an anti-gay organization. The group’s nine-point “statement of faith” makes it very clear that gay people are to remain celibate, they are not allowed to marry, and they are not welcome.
This new decision is reported to be part of a restructuring of the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s donation strategy for 2020. A Chick-fil-A representative confirmed to Business Insider that the company will focus $9 million toward “the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education” while ending its “multi-year commitments” to the FCA and Salvation Army.
Part of that money will benefit Covenant House International, a youth homelessness non-profit that has renewed its focus on aiding at-risk LGBTQ youth in recent years.
The company will evaluate its charitable partners on an annual basis going forward, and it could still choose to donate funds to faith-based organizations in the future. But Tassopoulos confirmed to Bisnow that the company will not support companies with anti-LGBTQ attitudes.
The company’s decision, which reportedly had been in the works since summer 2018, comes after a rash of recent protests and backlash pushed a number of municipalities to end or deny contracts with the restaurant chain over its support of anti-LGBTQ groups. Those decisions famously led to the passage of Texas’s pro-restaurant but much derided “Chick-fil-A” bill.
The company’s sponsorship of the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has been a heavy point of contention for LGBTQ organizations as well.
Earlier this year, Chick-fil-A Foundation head Rodney Bullard defended the company’s donations to anti-LGBTQ groups as “a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged.” Those comments did little to quell the company’s critics, but Tassopouloss believes this change in strategy will help bridge the divide between the chicken restaurant giant and the LGBTQ communities its troubled history has maleffected.
“When there is a tension, we want to make sure we’re being clear… It’s just the right thing to do: to be clear, caring and supportive, and do it in the community,” Tassopoulos said.