It has been nearly five years since Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy’s comment that the company was “guilty as charged” of opposing same-sex marriage brought the company’s long history of anti-LGBTQ activism to the nation’s attention.
It has been nearly five years since Cathy, facing national backlash, vowed to stay out of the debate and focus on chicken. At that time, the company launched a very small charm offensive, issuing a statement that the company will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.” (Chick-fil-A did not back this up with any LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination policy. )
But has anything changed? It sure doesn’t look that way. While the company’s non-profit arms scaled back support for some of the groups that actively push an anti-gay agenda, the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s most recent IRS filings show it gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBTQ organizations in 2015. Though its website’s FAQ claims the foundation “is focused on helping every child become all they were created to be,” its donations went to groups that do not believe this includes LGBTQ youth.
For example, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave more than $1 million in 2015 (nearly one-sixth of its total grants) to the the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The religious organization, which seeks to utilize athletes and coaches to spread Christian teachings, imparts a strongly anti-LGBTQ message. Staff and volunteers with the organization have been required to adhere to a strict “sexual purity” policy, prohibiting any “homosexual acts,” even for married couples. The group takes the view that, “The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”
The foundation also gave more than $200,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia-based “transformative organization” that operates a “Christian residential home for troubled youth.” Focusing on boys, their teachings include the idea that the “sexual, physical, and mental abuse of children, mostly in the alleged ‘safety’ of their own homes has produced all kinds of evil throughout the culture to include the explosion of homosexuality in the last century.” The myth that people are LGBTQ due to abuse is a claim frequently made by anti-LGBTQ organizations to promote harmful “ex-gay” therapy.
Additionally, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave at least $130,000 to the Salvation Army. The religious organization has a long history of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination, opposition to same-sex marriage equality, and supporting exemptions from non-discrimination ordinances. One page on its website, entitled “The Salvation Army and the LGBT Community,” boasts that the group adheres “to all relevant employment laws, providing domestic partner benefits accordingly.’ Given that only a minority of states explicitly bar anti-LGBTQ discrimination, that’s a low bar.
The Human Rights Campaign’s most recent scorecard rates Chick-fil-A a 0 on LGBTQ-inclusive policies (or lack thereof). With its continued foundation giving to those who preach anti-LGBTQ values — at least $1.4 million in 2015 alone — it does not appear that the group has yet lived up to its promise to focus on poultry.