FAA investigating airports for religious discrimination over Chick-fil-a bans

Drink and sandwich containers are seen on a customer's table during the grand opening of a Chick-fil-A freestanding franchise restaurant in Midtown, New York October 3, 2015. |

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether two airports are committing religious discrimination in their attempts to ban Chick-fil-A.

In a Friday statement to The Hill, the FAA noted it had received complaints that Chick-fil-A was banned over the religious views of its owners and was looking into whether this was a violation of federal law.

"The FAA notes that federal requirements prohibit airport operators from excluding persons on the basis of religious creed from participating in airport activities that receive or benefit from FAA grant funding," the statement read in part.

The two airports are San Antonio International and Buffalo Niagara International.

San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia confirmed to San Antonio Express News that his office had received the FAA's notice and would review it to "determine our course of action."

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which oversees the Buffalo Niagara Airport, would not confirm receipt of the notice, in a statement to The Buffalo News, but said the decision to exclude Chick-fil-A came from Delaware North, a food service management company, not NFTA.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A said the company has played no role in the investigation.

"We are a restaurant company focused on food and hospitality for all, and we have no social or political stance. We welcome and embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity,” the statement said.

The Texas legislature passed legislation, dubbed the "Save Chick-fil-A bill," to protect Chick-fil-A and others that donate to religious causes from religious discrimination. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would sign it into law. 

The San Antonio City Council voted on March 21 to exclude Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio airport due to the Christian beliefs of the company's owners.

The move came a day after an article was posted on the liberal news site Think Progress claiming that the company is anti-LGBT due to donations from its charity arm, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, to Christian charity groups that believe marriage is between a man and a woman. The donations in question went to the Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, all of which hold a Christian view of sex and marriage.

In reaction to the article, the company issued a statement the next day clarifying that its charitable work is not aimed at discrimination against LGBT individuals.

"To suggest that our efforts in supporting these organizations was focused on suppressing a group of people is misleading and inaccurate," stated the company at the time.

"It is well-known that our founder, S. Truett Cathy, used biblical principles to guide our business in its formative stages, and that we still uphold those same principles today."

Chick-fil-A has occasionally been in the center of LGBT debates since 2012, when the company president at the time, Dan Cathy, noted his support for traditional marriage in an answer to an interview question.

The company has not been alleged to mistreat its LGBT customers or employees, and generally tries to avoid the culture war image sometimes thrust upon it.

Napp Nazworth, Ph.D., is political analyst and politics editor for The Christian Post. Contact:, @NappNazworth (Twitter)

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