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Well known Christian fast-food organization Chick-fil-A has decided to halt funding to two organizations that critics call ‘anti-LGBT,’ and advocates call ‘pro-traditional family.’
For years now, Chick-fil-A, the Georgia-based chicken restaurant has faced backlash from LGBT groups for their hefty donations to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Recently, in Toronto, the opening of the city’s first Chick-fil-A was greeted with large groups of both LGBT and animal rights protestors, making for some viral moments as activists staged ‘die-ins,’ attempted to stop people from entering the restaurant, and yelled customers’ faces with megaphones.
Chick-fil-A told ABC News that they would instead be focusing on donations to groups that prevent homelessness, hunger, and education, starting next year.
“Beginning in 2020 the Chick-fil-A Foundation will introduce a more focused giving approach, donating to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of hunger, homelessness and education,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement Monday.
“We have also proactively disclosed our 2018 tax filing and a preview of 2019 gifts to date on chick-fil-afoundation.org,” the statement continued. “The intent of charitable giving from the Chick-fil-A Foundation is to nourish the potential in every child.”
COO of Chick-fil-A Tim Tassopoulos stated that “no organization will be excluded from future consideration, faith-based or non-faith-based.
Tim Tassopoulos, the president and COO of Chick-fil-A, added that “no organization will be excluded from future consideration, faith-based or non-faith-based.”
“Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger,” Tassopoulos added.
Chick-fil-A has long been known as a faithful staple in the fast-food industry, having been described as a restaurant that “sells chicken with a side of Christianity” by the Atlantic in 2014.
The restaurant was founded by the late S. Truett Cathy, who opened the first chicken-sandwich stand in an Atlanta mall in 1967. Cathy, a man of faith, made a conscious effort to incorporate Christianity into his business, even putting Bible quotes on the styrofoam sweet-tea cups, and ensuring that stores remained closed on Sabbath, keeping this rule intact long after many other businesses moved away from similar Blue law policies.
In 2012, Cathy was quoted saying that he believes in the “biblical definition of the marriage,” that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. This statement from Cathy, who was 86 at the time, prompted major national attention and controversy.
Cathy’s statement led to a domino effect of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, starting when a New York woman planned an LGBT kissing event at one of the restaurants. This then led to former U.S. presidential candidate and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee holding a “Chick-fil-A appreciation day.”
This is all exasperated by Cathy’s frequent funding to the Salvation Army, which LGBT groups have long accused of being anti-LGBT, thanks largely to comments made by one Australian Salvation Army leader who said that gays “should be put to death.”
To this controversy, the Salvation Army has responded, stating:
“It is important to note that the Army around the world immediately rejected those comments and made public statements against them. We stand by the rejection of those comments still. We sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community and to our clients, employees, donors and volunteers for the offence caused by this misrepresentation of the Army’s views.”
In addition, the Salvation Army also has also pointed out that they do not discriminate against anyone in need, regardless if they are LGBT.
“For more than 130 years, The Salvation Army has had the privilege of serving vulnerable people in over 400 communities across Canada. Last year, we helped over 1.8 million people. We assisted people from the LGBTQ community and will continue to do so. And we employ individuals from the LGBTQ community as well.”
The other group Chick-fil-A frequently donated to, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was subject to extreme backlash after comments regarding their support of the Bible’s definition of traditional marriage, stating:
“God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Reuters that “We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018.”
The spokesperson later refused to comment to Reuters on whether the protests influenced the decision to change donations.