Chick-fil-A cut off funding to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes after years of protests and bad press about the groups’ anti-LGBTQ ways. But a partnership with another anti-LGBTQ group continues.
The Atlanta-based restaurant chain confirmed the move on Monday, according to CNBC. It has donated millions to the Salvation Army and FCA over the years.
“We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding the company would focus its giving on “education, homelessness and hunger.”
The announcement comes after several U.S. cities refused to allow the restaurant to open locations in its airports earlier this year, citing the chain’s anti-LGBTQ funding. Pressure from LGBTQ activists forced a shopping center in England not to renew the lease of a Chick-fil-A just eight days after it opened in October. It was the first Chick-fil-A location in the United Kingdom, according to Bisnow.
A Chick-fil-A executive cited the bad press as a motivator for the funding changes on Monday, according to Bisnow.
“There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos said in an interview with Bisnow. “There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”
The Salvation Army has a history of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination among other incidents. FCA uses athletes and coaches to spread an anti-LGBTQ message, bars members from having gay sex and warns their youth away from same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A said as recently as March that it would continue funding the groups. The company gave $1 million to FCA and $150,000 to the Salvation Army in 2016. They gave the same amount to the Salvation Army in 2017, but increased its funding to FCA to $1.7 million, according to the latest available filings.
Focus on the Family ties continue
A GLAAD spokesperson responded to Monday’s news by pointing out Chick-fil-A’s continued ties to the virulently anti-LGBTQ group Focus on the Family. The fundamentalist Christian group runs marriage workshops out of WinShape Retreat, the restaurant chain’s foundation based in Rome, Ga., according to its website.
“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’s news should be greeted with “cautious optimism,” Anderson said.
“In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-Fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents,” Anderson said.
Chick-fil-A vowed to stop funding an anti-LGBTQ youth home in Vidalia, Ga., in March.
Chick-fil-A 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. The company later scaled back most of its funding to such groups, but a 2017 report showed that in 2015 the group donated more than $1.4 million to FCA, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.