Chick-fil-A has Caved, and Here’s Why that Matters
As you’ve probably heard by now, Chick-fil-A recently announced that they would no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). And, like me, you’re probably asking yourself: what was Chick-fil-A thinking?
The change marks a radical shift in priorities for Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation. In 2018 alone, the foundation donated $1.65 million to the FCA, and $115,000 to The Salvation Army. The reason they gave for axing the funding – that they wanted to focus their giving instead on the issues of “education, homelessness, and hunger” – is feeble, to say the least, given that those are precisely the issues that The Salvation Army focuses on.
Clearly, this excuse was a cover for a much more problematic motivation. Both The Salvation Army and FCA oppose same-sex “marriage” and have been targeted for this by the same LGBT activists who have been hounding Chick-fil-A ever since its CEO, Dan Cathy, publicly defended the Biblical definition of marriage in 2012.
Likely feeling the heat from its Christian support base, Chick-fil-A has since attempted to claim that stopping the funding had nothing to do with LGBT issues. But these protests are unconvincing. After all, Chick-fil-A Foundation’s Rodney Bullard made it clear from the get-go that the change was politically motivated. “We don’t want our intent and our work to be encumbered by someone else’s politics or cultural war,” he said.
The chain’s president, Tim Tassopoulos, also made it clear that the move was motivated by a desire to move into “new markets” and a need to be “clear about our message” in light of the “articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A” out there. Which “articles and newscasts”? Presumably, the many by the pro-LGBT mainstream media absurdly accusing Chick-fil-A of peddling “hate.”
Chick-fil-A’s Success Is because of Christian Values
In the 2012 interview in which Cathy defended true marriage, he gave thanks for the way God has blessed his company. “[A]s an organization we can operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said. “[We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”
Indeed, He has.
In the wake of that interview, LGBT activists launched a boycott, which, it is fair to say, failed. Despite the dogged efforts of leftists to smear the company in the past decade, Chick-fil-A has nearly tripled its sales. In fact, as Business Insider reported earlier this year, Chick-fil-A is “taking over American fast-food,” having morphed into the third largest fast food chain in the country. “And,” the report continued, “experts say it shows no sign of stopping.”
There’s no doubt that a huge reason for Chick-fil-A’s explosive growth is the enthusiastic support it has received from the Christian community. The backlash that the chain received after Cathy’s remarks in 2012 motivated Christians to organize a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” Christians flocked to the restaurant, smashing its single-day record sales. And they haven’t stopped flocking ever since.
A chicken sandwich fast food joint might seem like an odd thing to get passionate about. But there are genuinely good reasons for why Bible-believing Christians have rallied around Chick-fil-A. It’s not just that the joint is owned by Bible-believing Christians. It’s that they have consistently put their money where their mouth is.
Chick-fil-A refuses to open its doors on Sunday, to keep holy the Lord’s day. The chain has also distinguished itself for going way above-and-beyond in its customer service, motivated by an explicitly Biblical commitment to a spirit of Christ-like service. The chain and its employees are known for stepping up to the plate and offering volunteer service and free food in the wake of disasters. And, of course, there’s the fact that the chain has used some of their enormous profits to support worthy charities.
Caving Won’t Pay
Chick-fil-A has suffered nothing because of its commitment to Biblical values.
Oh, to be sure, there have been the occasional protests by leftists, not to mention the indignity of being regularly labeled “anti-LGBT” or “hateful” by the media. But, so what? If anything, the creepy protests have merely highlighted the pettiness and bigotry of the so-called “compassionate” and “welcoming” left, not to mention rallied the fast food chain’s loyal support base to spend even more of their cash at the restaurant.
The fact that Chick-fil-A’s new restaurants in Toronto and London have been subject to protests might seem to legitimate executives’ concerns about the need to ditch the Christian message in order to successfully expand outside of the U.S. But here’s the thing: the Toronto restaurant is doing just fine. The protests have died down, and even still there are often lines going out its doors. And even if it turns out they have to move their London restaurant because of opposition, as it seems they will do, so what? The chain’s willingness to take the heat and stick by their guns is precisely what keeps millions of U.S. Christians coming back again and again.
There are two important things that I’m not sure the executives at Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation fully understand. The first is that there is literally nothing they can do, short of enthusiastically endorsing gay “marriage,” transgenderism, and the whole gamut of progressive values, proactively donating huge sums of money to extremist LGBT groups, and making repeated groveling apologies for their past sins, that will ever placate the LGBT mob. If they hope to reduce the heat of the opposition with this little “concession,” they’re sorely mistaken. Indeed, LGBT activists have already made it very clear to Chick-fil-A that the changing in funding priorities is too little, too late. For this reason alone, the change was a mistake.
The second thing I think Chick-fil-A fails to grasp is the extent to which their success is thanks to the “message” that they now believe they need to “clarify” in order to be able to expand into new markets. The whole reason that Christians are more than happy to open their wallets at their restaurants is that Chick-fil-A’s success made Christians feel good about themselves, about their ability to push back against progressive extremism, and about the possibilities still open to faithful Christians in the public square.
We live in a time when huge corporations have no problem using their financial and cultural clout to blackmail entire states into acceding to the progressive agenda. The HR departments at many of these introduced “equity” programs that cow their employees into subservience to disturbingly specific and radical social and political positions. And these same corporations openly use their billions of dollars in profits to bankroll some of the most extreme anti-life and anti-family organizations on the planet, such as Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
As long as Chick-fil-A stuck to their guns, and continued to succeed, Christians could feel that they had at least one huge, powerful ally in the marketplace. It made them feel that there was still something standing between them and the cabal of leftist corporations, celebrities and media who are becoming increasingly ruthless in their demands for total acquiescence to the progressive ideology.
Chick-fil-A Needs to Reaffirm Christian Roots
Speaking of the SPLC, I – and many other Christians – were shocked to discover that Chick-fil-A itself is among those who have donated to this extremist group. In the wake of Chick-fil-A’s recent announcement, Christian supporters were dismayed to unearth evidence that the chain has been quietly moving away from its Christian roots for some time. Among that evidence was a $2500 donation the restaurant’s foundation made in 2017 to the SPLC.
This may be a far cry from the $1 million that Apple donated to the group in the same year. But in order to understand how shocking this donation is, it’s worth remembering a horrific incident from 2012. In that year, a man named Floyd Corkins walked into the headquarters of the Family Research Council (FRC), a highly-respected Christian think tank, with a loaded gun and a pile of ammo, with the intent to shoot and killing as many FRC employees as possible. Corkins was thwarted in his plans thanks only to the courage of FRC’s security guard, who was shot while stopping Corkins.
Corkins was explicitly inspired by the SPLC’s labeling of the FRC as a “hate group.” But here’s the twist: in Corkins’ bag he was carrying a number of Chick-fil-A sandwiches. He intended to rub these sandwiches in the faces of his victims. Christians have every reason to be outraged that Chick-fil-A would send so much as a dollar to this extremist group, which labels completely mainstream Christian groups who simply hold to the Biblical definition of marriage as “hate groups.”
Here’s my fear. My fear is that the original faith-based company has grown to the point where it is now a bunch of MBA grads who have replaced the core group, and who are more focused on corporate profits and growth than they are on their core identity. I hope not, but right now it seems the writing is on the wall.
My challenge to Chick-fil-A is: don’t do it. Don’t cave to the progressive mob. It’s not worth it. We need you standing with us. Ordinary Christians and people of good will are grateful for all the many ways Chick-fil-A has charted a different course from other large corporations. We have been inspired to see the ways commerce and Christian charity have been joined together, and the way that Chick-fil-A has integrated Biblical values into its DNA.
Rather than becoming like every other huge corporation, it’s time for Chick-fil-A to reaffirm its Christian roots. Christians need some assurance that their loyalty has not been misplaced, but that Chick-fil-A will continue to stand strong as an authentically Christian presence in the marketplace.