Chick-fil-A ‘inadvertently discredited’ Salvation Army, Christian orgs in defunding, Dan Cathy says

 A cab is reflected in the window of Chick-fil-A on Oct. 2, 2015, in New York City.
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 chairman and CEO Dan T. Cathy has admitted that the company “inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations” when it announced last November that it would no longer donate to certain Christian organizations, including the Salvation Army, which have been criticized as anti-LGBT for holding biblical views on sexuality.

Cathy’s admission comes in response to a petition signed by 116,000 people submitted by the American Family Association and American Family Radio President Tim Wildmon. The petition asked the company for clarification on the rationale behind the company’s decision to stop donating to the Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

Wildmon asked in the letter if Chick-fil-A would publicly state that it does not believe the Salvation Army and FCA are hate groups because of the ministries' beliefs about sexuality, marriage, and family. He also asked whether the company would state they will not hesitate to fund the ministries again, should the opportunity arise in the future.

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Much of the evangelical community raised concerns that the fast food chain’s philanthropic restructuring was caving to the LGBT lobby in pursuit of higher profits and abandoning its Corporate Purpose — “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.”

In his Dec. 5 letter to Wildmon, Cathy insisted Chick-fil-A is committed to being a faithful steward.

“As you have seen, recently we announced changes to our giving strategy at the Chick-fil-A Foundation,” Cathy wrote. “These changes were made to better focus on hunger, homelessness and education. We understand how some thought we were abandoning our long-standing support of faith-based organizations. We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations that have effectively served communities for years. Some also questioned if our commitment to our Corporate Purpose was waning. Let me state unequivocally: It is not.”

Chick-fil-A announced in a statement to The Christian Post last year that: “Beginning in 2020 the Chick-fil-A Foundation will introduce a more focused giving approach, donating to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of hunger, homelessness and education.”

The Salvation Army said they were “saddened” by Chick-fil-A’s announcement, especially since the organization is a leading provider of social services to the homeless, including the LGBT community.

"We're saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which The Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed," The Salvation Army said.

"We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population,” the group continued.

"When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor is at risk," they added.

Wildmon called Cathy’s latest response “a welcomed clarification.”

“It appears that Mr. Cathy understands how many evangelicals perceived the company's decision, as he stated that these Christian groups were ‘inadvertently discredited.’ The fact that Dan Cathy called these two Christian groups ‘outstanding organizations’ will mean a lot to evangelicals,” Wildmon wrote.

He noted, however, that he still has concerns about the company’s giving.

“I also mentioned in my initial letter that Chick-fil-A stated that the company would support Covenant House, a ministry to homeless youth, including homosexual young people.

"While it is admirable to help hurting youth in desperate circumstances –– including those who are LGBTQ –– Covenant House also openly promotes homosexuality as normal, natural, and healthy. This was evident in Covenant House's participation in the NYC gay pride parade and a number of other efforts that make it clear the ministry does not hold to a biblical view of human sexuality,” Wildmon said.

“As a result, AFA will continue to monitor Chick-fil-A's corporate giving, at least for the foreseeable future. We believe our supporters rely on us to do so.”

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