Yes, it seems even a chicken sandwich can become political. And rightfully so! As after years of ridicule and criticism, Chick-fil-A says it will stop donating to anti-LGBTQ causes.
This Monday, the Christian-based fast food chain announced this major change in company policy and charitable actions. The company released this info through ha press release that states Chick-fil-A will “deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger” instead of the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“We made multiyear commitments to both organizations, and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018. Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education,” a Chick-Fil-A representative said in a statement to Business Insider.
The company has also pledged to give $9 million to those charitable initiatives by giving to the education nonprofit Junior Achievement USA and the homeless-youth organization Covenant House International.
Again, this news comes after years of the restaurant chain donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2018 specifically, the Chick-fil-A foundation donated $1.65 million to the FCA and $115,000 to The Salvation Army. Both companies have been criticized by LGBTQ people and advocates for their stance on homosexuality.
As the FCA writers in its employee application, “neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.” The fellowship also holds the stance that “marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army has previously said that the Bible forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex, that gay Christians should embrace celibacy, and that scripture does not support same-sex marriages, according to Snopes.
That said, the Salvation Army shared with Out Magazine that the company has put in a conscious effort to evolve from its anti-LGBTQ past. It now denies accusations of being anti-LGBTQ and says it is open to serving LGBTQ people.
“We’re saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which the Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed,” the Salvation Army said in a statement.
In its response to the Chick-fil-A announcement, the Salvation Army also expressed belief that its the largest provider of poverty relief to LGTBQ people.
“We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.”
That said, the Salvation Army announced that stance without providing statistics or numbers. As such, it ironically attempted to spread misinformation itself in order to curry favor and sympathy. In fact, one could argue that the Salvation Army’s stance is harmful and enforces LGBTQ poverty.
“Marriage provides legal and economic security for many heterosexual couples. These benefits include access to partner health insurance, tax subsidies, Social Security benefits, and other economic safety nets. A 2009 Williams Institute report, “Tax Implications for Same-Sex Couples,” finds that same-sex couples often pay more in taxes than heterosexual couples because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. The report shows that the economic impact of marriage discrimination is significant: Same-sex couples are not able to file federal joint tax returns, cannot transfer property tax to their partners freely, and are not eligible for Social Security survival benefits. Ending marriage discrimination by expanding equal access to the legal status of marriage would increase LGBT families’ economic stability and help reduce poverty in the LGBT community.”
Social Media’s Response
Yet despite this, there are many arguing over the Chick-fil-A announcement on social media. Several call this another classic case of cancel culture.
Chick Fil A will shift their dollar$ to other Christian organizations. This is no big deal other than silencing the LGBT community.
— William Price ✝️ (@wsppe) November 18, 2019
#ChickFilA is being less homophobic.
I think I can use this now!! pic.twitter.com/PyM6wHVo3I
— Arten (@JustArten_) November 18, 2019
I might not be Christian myself but i was raised as such. Salvation Army LITERALLY let trans women freeze to death. That's 100% not something God would've asked them to do.
— goofy from mcdonalds (@francisnoir_) November 18, 2019
Seriously, don’t get me started on this whole #ChickFilA #salvationarmy discussion. I left that church for a reason. Their views on women and LGBTQ+ were primary among them. They don’t love people. They love themselves. And money. Self-righteousness is at its prime there.
— Alisha Sackett | Fantasy Author (@solskyn) November 18, 2019
Wait wouldn’t that make you guys the one triggered by the sandwich?
— Jared Gramstrup (@jwgramstrup) November 18, 2019
So Why’s Chick-fil-A Doing It?
But was this a dumb or smart move by Chick-fil-A? Certainly, there have been calls to boycott the company for years due to its donations. One school even rejected food from the restaurant as an act of solidarity to LGBTQ people. But it’s the recent and multiple attacks on the company that could have finally been the last straw.
Back in March, San Antonio’s City Council voted against allowing a Chick-fil-A in their local airport.
In a statement after the vote, Councilman Robert Treviño said that the council “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion.”
“San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” added the councilman. “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”
Then in April, two other airports announced similar plans to reject the fast food chain.
Buffalo’s Democratic Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan then said:
“A publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant. We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discriminatory policies, and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as a part of this project in the very near future.”
Then in October, the first Chick-fil-A venue in the UK closed its doors just 8 days after opening. That time, the shopping center’s landlord announced the restaurant would not be welcome to extend its lease because of its anti-LGBTQ stance. And in Boston, where Chick-fil-A is planning to open its first venue in the area, Mayor Thomas Menino has already pledged to fight against the company thanks to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s prior anti-gay marriage stance.
While Chick-fil-A has maintained its number three spot at the U.S.’s largest fast food chains, behind McDonald’s and Starbucks, this year has seen consistent pushback to the company’s growth with significant financial blows based on these anti-LGBTQ donations and rhetoric. With all of this in mind, the company may have decided to address and change the policy in hopes of changing public opinion. Otherwise, this could have continued to snowball into a bigger issue.
For the time being, this is a win for LGBTQ people. Charities that have expressed anti-LGBTQ viewers are being spotlighted for those opinions, they have lost out on money, and we can now eat Chick-fil-A chicken with less guilt. That said, this is still just a start.
Chick-fil-A recognizes the power of LGBTQ advocacy and LGBTQ wallets. We directly hit them where it hurts, their money, and incited this change. But now, we need to keep watch of the food chain to make sure it doesn’t go back to supporting anti-LGBTQ initiatives when everyone has cooled down. In addition, we must acknowledge that the company has announced its willingness to forgo two, and only two, of its charitable partnerships. More can be done here.
As for the Salvation Army and the FCA, we must be vigilant and pointing out their anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric. While the Salvation Army has expressed changes, we have yet to see them besides the organization’s statements. Plus, we cannot allow it to give a brazen statement such as “we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population” without data and statistics to back those words up. By continuing to put pressure onto these companies, we can instill a place, both socially and financially, for LGBTQ people of the present and future.
So yes, even a chicken sandwich can get political. And rightfully so!