Chick-fil-A: Giving to anti-LGBTQ groups a ‘higher calling’

Chick-fil-A defended its continued donations to anti-LGBTQ groups, saying that the money goes towards specific programs to help underprivileged children.

Business Insider had an extensive interview with Rodney Bullard, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of corporate social responsibility, at its Atlanta headquarters in May. Bullard is also the executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, through which the fast food giant makes all its charitable donations.

Bullard said that the foundation works with more than 300 partners, with an emphasis on lower-income and underserved youth, according to Business Insider.

"For us, that's a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that's being waged," he continued. "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."

Tax filings released in March showed that Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to anti-LGBTQ organizations in 2017. Some $6,000 of that went to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, an anti-LGBTQ youth home in Vidalia, Ga. The company told Think Progress that it stopped giving to that group in June 2017.

But Bullard defended the company’s giving to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The company gave $150,000 to the Salvation Army and $1.7 million to FCA in 2017.

The FCA donations go to summer sports camps that introduce inner-city Atlanta youth to new sports. The children are not required to sign FCA’s “purity pledge,” which prohibits gay sex, according to Carrie Kurlander, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of external communications.

"The intent is not to try to have kids conduct their lives according to the FCA code. The intent is to expose them to all of the gateway to college exposure in sports as role models, all of that," Carrie Kurlander, Chick-fil-A's vice president of external communications, said to Business Insider. "So, we actually had a conversation two years ago about this very thing and said, 'Alright, we're probably going to get dinged. But the impact is real and authentic.' And so, there was a judgment call."

Chick-fil-A’s donations to the Salvation Army go towards summer sports camps for kids and to provide Atlanta kids with toys during the holiday season, according to Bullard

"At the end of the day, the impact — that's really what's important for us," Bullard said. "We don't want our intent and our work to be encumbered by someone else's politics or cultural war. If something gets in the way of our mission, that is something that we are mindful of and cognizant of."

The Salvation Army has a history of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination among other incidents. The organization now claims that it helps LGBTQ people find shelters, get job training, and address substance abuse issues, food insecurity and teenage suicide, according to its website.

Airports in San Antonio and Buffalo nixed plans to add Chick-fil-A to their restaurant offerings in early 2019 due to the company’s anti-LGBTQ giving.

Chick-fil-A first came under fire in 2011 when IRS filings showed their charitable foundation pumped millions into anti-LGBTQ groups. Company CEO Dan Cathy’s vocal opposition to gay marriage followed.