Theopolisme [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

November 18, 2019; Washington Post

Yesterday, the Chick-fil-A Foundation released a statement that it would in effect end its giving to anti-LGBTQ groups. In fact, it confirmed to the Washington Post that it had already, in 2018, ceased making its usual multi-year grants to Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. (Whether that cessation was in response to being caught out in 2017 continuing to donate to such groups even after public pronouncements that they had stopped is left as an exercise for the reader.)

According to CNN, the FCA states opposition to same-sex marriage on its website, and writes in its employee application that “neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.” According to Snopes, the Salvation Army also opposes same-sex marriage and has said in the past that the Bible forbids same-sex sexual activity and that gay Christians should be celibate.

Chick-fil-A has been boycotted since 2012 for its connections to anti-LGBTQ groups and its giving patterns, so this could be a big pivot. Its statement informs us it will now make grants exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness, and hunger. However, it also says “the Foundation will no longer make multiyear commitments and will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact. These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.”

CEO Dan Cathy sparked the boycotts through his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage. In a radio interview, he declared, “We’re 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 that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.” While the company backed off that position in ensuing years, its giving patterns continued to concern advocates—some of whom are still in “show me” mode.

“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,” said Drew Anderson, director of campaigns and rapid response for GLAAD. “Chick-fil-A investors, employees, and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty.”—Ruth McCambridge