The head of Chick-fil-A’s tax-exempt foundation addressed the growing backlash against its continued giving to anti-LGBTQ organizations on Wednesday, telling Business Insider that it does not intend to change its ways. He dismissed concerns about the Chick-fil-A Foundation giving millions to organizations that discriminate as an unimportant “political or cultural war that’s being waged.”
ThinkProgress reported in March that the Chick-fil-A Foundation distributed $1.8 million in 2017 to non-profits with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination — contrary to repeated promises that it was winding down its giving to groups that discriminate. This included more than $1.6 million in contributions to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious group that works to spread an anti-LGBTQ message to college athletes, requiring a strict “sexual purity” policy for its employees that bars any “homosexual acts.”
In the weeks since the report, the company has faced a backlash. At least two airports have canceled plans to include a Chick-fil-A location in their vending agreements, and higher education students and faculty have pushed to remove Chick-fil-A from their campuses. The city council in San Jose, California, voted 11 to 0 last month to hang rainbow flags and blue-and-white transgender rights flags near the company’s location in the San Jose International Airport.
But Rodney Bullard, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of corporate social responsibility and the executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, isn’t backing down. In an interview with Business Insider, he suggested that because the donations were aimed at helping children, it does not matter whether the recipients are practicing or promoting discrimination.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be,” he told the outlet.
“For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged. This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves,” he continued.
There are, of course, thousands of charitable organizations that work to serve children and do not practice discrimination. Chick-fil-A’s foundation has contributed to many of them. But this interview is the latest indication that — contrary to the company’s earlier claims — it does not intend to vet its recipients.
Beyond its repeated foundation donations to anti-LGBTQ non-profits, Chick-fil-A has one of the most anti-LGBTQ records of any national company.
The company’s CEO, Dan Cathy, warned in 2012 that America is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” When asked about Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay positions, he responded, “Well, guilty as charged.” Chick-fil-A is one of the only large American companies that still refuses to include explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in its employment non-discrimination policy, and has long received a zero score from the Human Rights Campaign in its annual buyers guide.