Chick-fil-A said on Monday that it had stopped its charitable donations to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and that it would be changing its giving practices from “multi-year commitments” to annual partnerships.
The fast-food restaurant known for its chicken sandwiches and being closed on Sundays has come under attack from LGBT activists for its donations to the two organizations, which both support the traditional understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman.
In March, the San Antonio city council voted to exclude the business from its international airport.
The opposition effort was led by Councilman Roberto Treviño, who accused the company of having “a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
“Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” said Treviño.
Chick-fil-A responded at the time with a statement saying, “The Foundation’s giving helps with economic mobility of young people by focusing on homelessness and poverty, education, and community revitalization, and is done with no political or social agenda. The narrative that our giving was done to support a political or non-inclusive agenda is inaccurate and misleading.”
Chick-fil-A says it stopped giving donations to the Salvation Army and the FCA at the end of 2018, prior to the hullabaloo this year but still after initial criticisms on their charitable giving.
“We made multi-year commitments to both organizations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a representative of Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A tax document released by the organization shows that in 2018, they donated $115,000 to The Salvation Army for the purpose of “strengthening communities in Atlanta by sponsoring [the] annual Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas gifts for children in need.”
The company says that the donation helped 11,000 children.
The FCA received two large donations from Chick-fil-A for a total of $1.65 million for the purpose of “supporting education and youth leadership development by providing underserved youth with week-long summer sports camps on HBCU campuses.”
In another document listing its charitable contributions during 2019, Chick-fil-A does not include the Salvation Army or the FCA.
According to Reuters, Chick-fil-A said that it would “no longer make multi-year commitments and would focus on partnerships annually to ‘allow maximum impact,’ which could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.”
After the fast-food chain came under fire in San Antonio, the Texas state legislature passed what was popularly known as the “Save Chick-fil-A bill.”
The House version of the bill was authored by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Forth Worth), who calls it the “First Amendment Defense Act.”
The bill, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, prohibits the government from punishing individuals based on their religious affiliations or donations.
State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), who authored the Senate version, said “The bill says that whoever you are – rich, poor, liberal, conservative…your government can’t punish you for giving to a group like the Salvation Army.”
Krause told The Texan that it’s disheartening that Chick-fil-A has been pushed by activists into ending its donations to the Christian organizations.
He said that calling a business “anti-LGBT” simply because it donates to a Christian organization sets a dangerous precedent.
In September, after the law went into effect, a group of San Antonians sued the city over the continued exclusion of Chick-fil-A from the airport.
It is unclear if the change in the business’s donation practices will influence the positions of the San Antonio city council members.
The Texan reached out to a representative of Councilman Treviño for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values, a conservative advocacy group that supported the Chick-fil-A bill, was doubtful that the company’s announcement would change the minds of activists that had been opposed to the business.
“Chick-fil-A’s stated purpose is to “glorify God” and they are closed on Sunday, which is why some LGBT advocates will always hate them, regardless of what charities they support,” said Saenz. “Thankfully laws like Texas’ Save Chick-fil-A religious freedom law make it clear the government cannot punish any business or individual for their donation, affiliation, or membership in a religious organization, including churches and charities.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.