Chick-fil-A Foundation donated to far-left SPLC in 2017, tax records show

Fast-food chain says SPLC donation was recommended by volunteer advisory board member

A cab is reflected in the window of Chick-fil-A on Oct. 2, 2015, in New York City. | Getty Images/Andrew Renneisen

Chick-fil-A’s charity arm donated in 2017 to the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has labeled many Christian conservative organizations as “hate” groups.

Following the immense conservative backlash to Chick-fil-A’s recent decision to end giving to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christian conservative activist and commentator Ryan Bomberger raised an alarm Wednesday about a past donation made by the Chick-fil-A Foundation. 

In an op-ed slamming the Chicken sandwich chain’s “cowardice … in the face of LGBT activism,” Bomberger linked to a copy of the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s 2017 IRS 990 PF form

An IRS 990 is a form that must be filed each year by organizations that are exempt from federal income taxes whose annual receipts are more than $25,000 a year. 

The form lists dozens of donations made by the Chick-fil-A Foundation to other charities and nonprofit organizations in 2017, which totaled $849,500 for the year.

The form shows that among the many groups that Chick-fil-A Foundation donated to in 2017, one of them was SPLC. According to the form, the donation to SPLC totaled $2,500. 

SPLC is a far-left legal group that aims to “fight hate” and teach tolerance. It gained prominence in the civil rights community by defending victims of attacks by white supremacist group Klu Klux Klan. 

Although it is glorified for its fight against white supremacist groups, the organization has labeled dozens of Christian conservative advocacy nonprofits as “hate” groups because of their views on issues like marriage and criticism of radical Islamic terror. SPLC’s “hate” group label has been used in mainstream media to discredit the work of Christian conservative advocacy groups.

A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A confirmed for The Christian Post on Monday that the donation in question was, in fact, one of over 300 donations disclosed in the foundation’s 2017 990 form. 

However, the spokesperson explained that the 2017 SPLC donation “was made by a volunteer member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Advisory Board.”

“Each volunteer advisor, in 2017, was offered the opportunity to recommend a grant recipient,” the spokesperson stated in an email. “The grants were given to a range of organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Mission, the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, Georgia Historical Society and brain health research at Emory University.”

The spokesperson stressed that all donations were made in the spirit of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. 

“Our founder, Truett Cathy, built his business on biblical principles that still guide the business today,” the spokesperson wrote. ”He famously said: ‘Probably the greatest gift that God has given any one of us is the power that we have to change people’s lives by what we do. The best-run company is the company that is forever thinking about others.’”

Already on edge because of Chick-fil-A Foundation’s decision to no longer give to the two organizations that have been criticized in the media for upholding traditional Christian teachings on marriage, conservatives further questioned Chick-fil-A after the revelation of the SPLC donation. 

One of them is Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council. SPLC had listed FRC as a hate group since 2010. 

“Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, but it has also donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America,” Perkins said in a statement.

“Anyone who opposes the SPLC, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives, is slandered and slapped with the 'extremist' label or even worse, their 'hate group' designation. At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its 'extremist' list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).”

It was in 2012 that a man who shot up FRC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. told the FBI that he was inspired to attack the building because of SPLC’s labeling of FRC as an anti-LGBT hate group.

"Seven years ago, a shooter entered our building with the intent to murder as many people as possible and smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their faces,” Perkins explained. “The gunman was enraged by the nationwide Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day held two weeks before and used the SPLC's 'hate map' to identify FRC as his target.”

“Despite being seriously wounded, the FRC building manager, Leo Johnson, heroically stopped the gunman,” Perkins continued. “Dan Cathy, nor anyone with Chick-fil-A inquired about the well-being of Mr. Johnson or any of the FRC team members, but they made a donation to the SPLC which was linked in federal court to this act of domestic terrorism.”

Perkins asserted that “Chick-fil-A has seriously lost their way” and called for Christians to find other places to eat besides Chick-fil-A. 

"It's time for Christians to find a fast-food alternative to Chick-fil-A," Perkins stressed. 

For years, Chick-fil-A was favored by Christian conservatives who saw it as a corporation that wasn’t afraid to uphold traditional Christian values. The fast-food chain was thrown into the culture wars in 2012 when its CEO Dan Cathy expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage

Since then, Chick-fil-A has faced much scrutiny from the left-wing activists and politicians who called for boycotts of the company because of Cathy’s beliefs on marriage. Attempts to expand the chain to airports and college campuses have also been met with liberal opposition. 

Chick-fil-A also faced criticism by some in the liberal media for donating to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

After it was revealed earlier this month that Chick-fil-A will no longer give to those charities as a result of a “philanthropic restructuring,” debate was had among Christian conservatives about whether or not the company had capitulated to the pressure of LGBT activists. 

While Perkins and others accused Chick-Fil-A of betrayal, prominent evangelist Franklin Graham assured supporters on social media last week that he was told by Cathy on a phone call that “Chick-fil-A remains committed to Christian values.” 

Christian conservative lawyer Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, accused Graham of doing a “huge disservice by not doing more investigation into Chick-fil-A’s betrayal and capitulation to the LGBT agenda.”

Staver took issue with Chick-Fil-A’s donations to a charity called the Covenant House, which he claims “proudly promotes LGBTQ on its website.”

In his op-ed, Bomberger took issue with other organizations that the Chick-fil-A Foundation has given to.

He questioned a $500,000 donation given to the YWCA of Metropolitan Atlanta in 2017. 

“Chick-fil-A funds the deeply political YWCA, a radically pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ organization that repeatedly partners with Planned Parenthood,” Bomberger wrote. 

Bomberger also questioned a $10,000 donation to the New Leaders Council in Washington, D.C. in 2018.

“Chick-fil-A also funds the DC-based New Leaders Council that identifies as a ‘hub of progressive millennial thought leadership’ which exists to ‘support one another along their individual path to a more progressive political and cultural landscape.’”

Bomberger also pointed out that the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated $50,000 to The Pace Center for Girls.
“The education and advocacy group featured radical pro-abortion feminist Gloria Steinem as their keynote speaker for their most recent girls’ Summit,” Bomberger noted. 

“Chick-fil-A also gives tens of thousands to Chris 180 ($27,500 in 2017, $25,000 in 2019), a pro-LGBT behavioral health and child welfare service agency,” Bomberger added. “The organization boasts of being awarded the ‘Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Families and Youth from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC).’”

Bomberger concluded by stating that many groups funded by Chick-fil-A over the years are “clearly political on the Left.” 

“Of course Chick-fil-A funds a lot of great initiatives, but they’re being publicly dishonest about their corporate evolution,” Bomberger argued. “And the millions of families who’ve supported them over the years, because of the fast-food chain’s principled stand, deserve to know the COWardice that the company has shown in the face of LGBT activism.”

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