Opinion: A new day at Chick-Fil-A

In a surprise turn of events the Chick-Fil-A Foundation has gone against their past history and pulled donations from several anti-LGBT+ groups. In a world where everything is politicized, Karen Jesch analyzes what this change means, if it means anything at all.

Chick-Fil-A has had a history of supporting anti-Lgbt+ organizations, and their sudden change has left many people skeptical of their motives.

On Monday, Chick-Fil-A released their new list of organizations that they will be donating to in the new year — a much shorter list than it has been in the past. The Chick-Fil-A Foundation reported that last year they donated $1.65 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and $115,000 to the Salvation Army, two organizations with histories of controversy regarding LGBT+ issues. While Chick-Fil-A’s donations did not fund actively anti-LGBT+ programs, with the money instead going towards summer sports camp and holiday gifts for underprivilaged children, the organizations’ histories have raised controversy in the LGBT+ community.

The FCA, for example, states that “marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman” on their website, and their employee application calls any homosexual act an unacceptable alternate lifestyle. The Salvation Army has also cited scripture condemning same-sex marriage in the past.

Despite both organizations doing more in modern times to stop allegations of anti-LGBT+ rights, such as the Salvation Army acknowledging discrimination against the LGBT+ community, especially youth, and strongly refuting accusations of being anti-LGBT+, many people who are a part of the community find it difficult to ignore both organizations’ pasts.

As a result, many LGBT+ activists have advocated against eating at Chick-Fil-A in order to not fund organizations with such a history.

Thus, it’s easy to think that the recent news that Chick-Fil-A will no longer be funding the FCA and the Salvation Army came as a result from pressure put on by activists. This is certainly what news outlets are reporting, from CNN seeming to support the decision to National Review calling the move “shameful” and that it abandons their values and betrays customers. Additionally, others such as The Takeout are saying the move is a desperate grab for more news attention following Popeyes recent popularity.

However, the story goes beyond just LGBT+ issues. As the Snopes page about the controversy points out, several dozen other groups with no ties to the LGBT+ community are also not receiving further funding. Additionally, the chain explained that they are simply trying to focus their efforts in an attempt to “deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger” and that “no organization will be excluded from future consideration — faith-based or non-faith-based.”

Personally, I think the whole thing is being approached wrong — from all sides. I don’t think it’s conducive to social justice to pretend that this move was done out of either a moral conscious or activism pressure, nor do I think it’s wise to claim that it’s a publicity grab. It’s hard to tell whether Chick-Fil-A’s motives are really exactly what they say or if there are external motivators at play, but I don’t think speculation is good for anybody.

I’m also skeptical about all the talk about food and politics. People are saying that restaurants and other businesses should keep out of politics — but isn’t everything political now? If Chick-Fil-A were to keep funding organizations with a history and reputation for homophobia, that would be a political statement; stopping, as they did, is treated as such as well. What are businesses supposed to do? Inaction is a form of action at this point, and whether or not Chick-Fil-A is funding these organizations, is going to upset one group or another. Getting upset and claiming that businesses such as Chick-Fil-A are being unnecessarily political is forgetting that they were being political in the first place.

For me, I’m thankful for the change. I am glad to see that regardless of intent, money is going to other places. A difference is still being made, so it’s not as though more people are suffering as a direct action, it just means a little redistribution. And while I admit that yes, the FCA and the Salvation Army seem to be a lot different than they were in the past, it’s nice to know that I can drink my lemonade and eat my chicken nuggets in good conscience. 

PC: Chick-Fil-A has had a history of supporting anti-Lgbt+ organizations, and their sudden change has left many people skeptical of their motives.

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