Chick-fil-A, once under fire for donating to “anti-LGBT” Christian organizations, has now taken flack for funding seemingly pro-LGBT charities. In a truly shocking development, the fast-food chain even funded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which is notorious for slandering conservative and Christian organizations by calling them “hate groups” on par with the Ku Klux Klan. While conservative Christians have been defending Chick-fil-A from criticism, the fast-food chain donated to one of their worst enemies.
On Wednesday, a Christian non-profit Chick-fil-A once supported called for a boycott of the fast-food chain.
“It’s time for Christians to find a fast-food alternative to Chick-fil-A,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) said in a statement.
Yet a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman insisted that the SPLC donation did not represent the company as a whole, and due to the restructuring of Chick-fil-A’s philanthropic giving, it will not happen again.
“The donations in question were disclosed in the 2017 Chick-fil-A Foundation 990 that listed giving in that calendar year. Among the recipients that year were Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Salvation Army, Paul Anderson Youth Home and more than 300 other organizations. The SPLC donation was made by a volunteer member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Advisory Board,” the spokeswoman explained. “Each volunteer advisor, in 2017, was offered the opportunity to recommend a grant recipient. The grants were given to a range of organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Mission, the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, Georgia Historical Society and brain health research at Emory University.”
The LGBT outcry against Chick-fil-A began with news of another Form 990. In 2012, the LGBT group Equality Matters accused the fast-food chain of giving “nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups.” In 2010, the WinShape Foundation gave $1,000 to the Family Research Council. Liberal news outlets like HuffPost cited the SPLC’s accusation that FRC is a “hate group,” and many branded the fast-food chain “Chick-fil-hate.” The backlash mounted after CEO Dan Cathy defended marriage as between one man and one woman. LGBT activists called a boycott.
Christians across the country rallied to Chick-fil-A for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” led by former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), driving sales through the roof. Even so, the company apologized for its comments and the WinShape Foundation stopped funding most of the “anti-gay” organizations, including FRC. Liberal groups continued to slam Chick-fil-A for its donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, however. In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was forced to apologize after eating Chick-fil-A during June, the designated LGBT Pride Month.
After the original boycott, a deranged man named Floyd Corkins targeted FRC for a terrorist attack. He stormed the headquarters with a nine-millimeter handgun and a bag of Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches. Thanks to the bravery of security guard Leo Johnson, Corkins failed to carry out his planned massacre, but he did seriously wound Johnson. He later told the FBI he targeted FRC because of the SPLC’s “hate group” accusation. He also revealed his plan to smear the chicken sandwiches into the faces of FRC staff after he had killed them.
Corkins pled guilty to terrorism charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The SPLC did not remove FRC from its “hate group” list after the attack. In fact, earlier this year the SPLC cleaned house at the top following a devastating scandal. Employees complained about racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and a cynical hate-for-pay fundraising “scam.” The SPLC had also used its “hate group” accusations to silence political opponents, like FRC.
While Chick-fil-A faced airport bans earlier this year, the fast-food chain had risen to become the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the nation. Known for good food, excellent service, and closing on Sundays to honor the Sabbath, it is both a natural fit for Christians and a great alternative to McDonald’s. Yet LGBT activists shut down the first Chick-fil-A in Britain.
Earlier this month, the company announced it would no longer fund the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Chick-fil-A said it would restructure its philanthropic arm.
Despite the company’s insistence that it was not caving to LGBT activists, many Christians saw this restructuring as a betrayal. The company announced it would fund Covenant House International, an organization dedicated to helping homeless youth. As PJ Media’s Megan Fox has pointed out, local chapters of Covenant House (but not the international organization) have embraced LGBT pride, ostensibly in an attempt to welcome homeless teens who may identify as LGBT. A Chick-fil-A spokesman directed PJ Media to Covenant House’s Mission Statement:
We who recognize God’s providence and fidelity to His people are dedicated to living out His covenant among ourselves and those children we serve, with absolute respect and unconditional love.
That commitment calls us to serve suffering children of the street, and to protect and safeguard all children. Just as Christ in His humanity is the visible sign of God’s presence among His people, so our efforts together in the covenant community are a visible sign that effects the presence of God, working through the Holy Spirit among ourselves and our kids.
In her statement to PJ Media, the Chick-fil-A spokeswoman added, “Our founder, Truett Cathy, built his business on Biblical principles that still guide the business today. He famously said: ‘Probably the greatest gift that God has given any one of us is the power that we have to change people’s lives by what we do. The best-run company is the company that is forever thinking about others.’ It is in this spirit that all donations are made.”
The SPLC does some good work — especially in the Alabama prison system — but its most high-profile work involves demonizing conservatives and Christians.
Leaders like Perkins would likely encourage the foundation to nix donations to the SPLC, overruling one board member’s preferences.
“Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, it has donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America,” the FRC president declared. “Anyone who opposes the SPLC, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives, is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation. At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its ‘extremist’ list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).”
“Neither Dan Cathy nor anyone with Chick-fil-A inquired about the well-being of Mr. Johnson or any of the FRC team members, but they made a donation to the SPLC which was linked in federal court to this act of domestic terrorism,” Perkins added. “Chick-fil-A has seriously lost their way.”
In a separate statement to PJ Media, the FRC president emphasized the change from 2010 (when Chick-fil-A funded FRC) to 2017 (when the company bankrolled the SPLC).
“This certainly shows how rapid their descent has been. It makes no sense that the Christian community rallied to support Chick-fil-A, sending their sales through the roof, and Chick-fil-A responds by funding the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center, the group linked to the shooter who stormed our headquarters,” Perkins said.
Walker Wildmon, vice president of operations for the American Family Association (AFA), which the SPLC has also accused of being a “hate group,” similarly condemned Chick-fil-A’s contribution to the smear group.
“We are extremely disgusted to learn that Chick-fil-A has donated to the largely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center,” Wildmon said. “The SPLC is known for spewing hate and division. This is further evidence that Chick-fil-A has strayed from the values of its founder Truett Cathy toward groups and organizations that undermine the very values on which America was built. This news today leaves no doubt that Chick-fil-A has surrendered to the far-left groups that hate Christian values and has even begun to fund those groups.”
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.