Fast food giant Chick-fil-A donated more than $1.8 million to anti-LGBTQ groups in 2017, according to a report from The Independent. Based on newly released tax filings, the restaurant chain’s donations to discriminatory groups actually increased slightly over the previous year, despite efforts to downplay the chain’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and previous stances it has taken. That shift in tone was largely in response to an ongoing boycott of the popular Georgia-based chain by LGBTQ groups, due to the corporation being run on its founder’s Christian beliefs.
Among the donations that were revealed in the tax filings were $1.6 million that was given to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which requires employees to refrain from “homosexual acts,” as well as a $6,000 donation to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which teaches its young charges that same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ-friendly, widely accepted practices are a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.” A third controversial recipient of Chick-fil-A largesse is the Salvation Army, an organization that has long opposed LGBTQ workplace protections, claiming instead to defer to “relevant employment laws” rather than explicitly opposing LGBTQ discrimination.
The objections to Chick-fil-A coming from the LGBTQ community first exploded into the public eye back in 2012 when company president Dan Cathy went on a talk show and opined about same-sex marriage.
“I think we are 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,'” he said in 2012, according to a report from Think Progress.
As the brouhaha erupted, Cathy was pressed about the company’s anti-gay stance.
“Well, guilty as charged,” he said.
A national boycott ensued, with a backlash that was in part orchestrated by former Fox News host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, leading a counter-protest “appreciation day” which resulted in long lines outside many Chick-fil-A locations.
In recent years, the company has sought to distance itself from such controversial scenes, stating repeatedly that it was winding down donations to anti-LGBTQ groups. But according to the report, those donations actually increased in 2017 over the previous year.
And while the company has gone on record saying it decided in 2017 that that would be the final year it would donate to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, it has continued to donate to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. In a statement, the company claims that those donations are about summer sports camps and children’s programs, and have nothing to do with the recipient groups’ anti-LGBTQ stances.
“[S]ince the Chick-fil-A Foundation was created in 2012, our giving has always focused on youth and education,” the company said. “We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda.”