Chick-fil-A found itself back in the news cycle recently as a New Jersey university recently shut down the possibility of the fast food chicken chain making its way to campus. Now the franchise — which has donated millions of dollars over the years to anti-LGBTQ groups and to oppose same-sex marriage — has the nerve to says claims the brand is anti-gay are just “misperceptions.”
We call bullshit.
When Rider University in New Jersey polled its students about which restaurant they’d like to see on their school’s campus, students came back with Chick-fil-A. The franchise is known for its conservative Christian ethics, as its “corporate purpose” reads thus: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” The university promptly said “no way.”
According to the university, Chick-fil-A was removed as an on-campus option because it’s “widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community,” and the school says it wants to remain faithful to its “values of inclusion.”
But Chick-fil-A has since responded to the school’s decision by issuing this statement, sent by the company’s attorney, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Rider University’s survey was recently brought to our attention, and while we respect the University’s decision, this news story represents a good opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our brand. Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda. More than 120,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand.
Let’s be clear: No one is saying Chick-fil-A now or has ever literally turned LGBTQ people away from being served inside its brick-and-mortar locations. And no one is suggesting Chick-fil-A has a formal policy of discriminating against any groups who enter its restaurants.
But let’s also not allow Chick-fil-A to pull the wool over our eyes. The chicken chain has done more than enough to deserve the label of “anti-gay.” Let’s take a look, shall we?
In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said his company opposes same-sex marriage. He told a Baptist magazine, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. … We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Cathy later laughed on Twitter about how his interview “lit up the gay community” in a tweet he later deleted. He then espoused the same anti-gay views on the radio, calling marriage equality activists “prideful” and “arrogant.”
That same year, Chick-fil-A said it had “ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights” — a lie.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation’s 2015 IRS filings showed $1 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that strictly prohibits students from engaging in “homosexual acts.” Chick-fil-A also donated $200,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia group that believes homosexuality is caused by “sexual, physical and mental abuse of children.” And it gave $130,000 to the Salvation Army, an international charity that has long opposed same-sex marriage, allegedly practiced anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination and supports religious exemptions from laws forbidding anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Though Chick-fil-A executives promised to stop supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, its now-deceased founder S. Truett Cathy continued to support anti-LGBTQ groups and later stated the company had actually never agreed to end its funding of anti-gay causes at all.
So with all this knowledge, ask yourself, is it merely “misperceptions” that lead one to conclude Chick-fil-A has it out for the LGBTQ community? Do you buy the idea that Chick-fil-A has no “political or social agenda”?
If you are part of the LGBTQ community — or an ally of the community — it’s important to put your money where your mouth is. Know the social and political leanings of the businesses you support, and make sure they align with your own personal beliefs. That knowledge is what’s important, and we can’t let companies and corporations pull the wool over our eyes and tell us they’re friends of LGBTQ people when that couldn’t be further from the truth.