Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pledged he would to “go to war” for Chick-fil-A in the wake of Notre Dame students' backlash to the Christian-owned fast-food restaurant being on campus.
“I want everyone in South Carolina and across America to know I have Chick-fil-A’s back,” Graham tweeted on Wednesday.
“I hope we don’t have to, but I will go to war for the principles Chick-fil-A stands for,” he added. “Great food. Great service. Great values. God bless Chick-fil-A!”
Lindsey's tweet was in response to some of the students’ public stance in opposition to Notre Dame University deciding to add a Chick-fil-A on its Indiana campus.
In a letter to the editor published July 1 by Notre Dame’s student newspaper, The Observer, titled "Keep Chick-fil-A away," Notre Dame junior Tilly Keeven-Glascock and senior Joey Jegier voiced disapproval over Chick-fil-A being on campus.
“Chick-fil-A is not the answer;” the students wrote. “There are better alternatives that would both enhance the array of on-campus dining options and support the well-being of an increasingly diverse student body.”
Chick-fil-A has faced backlash and calls for boycotts from LGBT groups for years after the company's CEO Dan T. Cathy said in a 2012 interview on "The Ken Coleman Show" that the company was "... very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
The students cited recycled claims that the chain has a “long history of antagonism toward the LGBTQ+ community,” including its history donating organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army, as part of the reasons the restaurant should not be allowed on campus.
In November 2019, however, Cathy announced that Chick-fil-A would no longer be giving to certain Christian organizations, including the Salvation Army, that activists had accused of being anti-LGBT for holding biblical views on sexuality.
The company said at the time it was shifting its focus to supporting education through Junior Achievement USA, homelessness through Covenant House International and hunger through Feeding America and local food banks.
The students also claimed Chick-fil-A depends too heavily on animal agriculture and raised concerns that Cathy had donated to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, an organization the students accused of being a "hate group" and of "stripping queer people of their rights."
The students also noted that The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT activist group, had given Chick-fil-A a score of 0 on its Corporate Equality Index for a purported "lack of protections and healthcare for queer employees."
The students also addressed a letter to Campus Dining that elaborated on the open letter to the editor.
This letter received nearly 200 signatures from Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff.
“We believe, as we wrote in The Observer, that there are a multitude of reasons to oppose Chick-fil-A: its anti-LGBTQ+ activism, reliance on animal agriculture, and lack of accommodations for students with special dietary needs, to name a few,” the letter stated.
“Bringing Chick-fil-A to campus would run contrary to Notre Dame’s commitment to inclusion and desire to create good in the world,” it continued. “So we ask that you remove Chick-fil-A from your considerations and instead consider other additions to our retail dining.”
Graham said it was “disappointing” to see Notre Dame students and faculty seeking to ban Chick-fil-A because they disagree with the values of its founders.
“What a dangerous precedent to set,” the Republican senator added in his Twitter thread.
The private Catholic university released a statement on Thursday in response to the backlash, explaining that it was moving forward with plans to open the Chick-fil-A despite the concerns expressed by students and faculty.
“Notre Dame has examined the concerns surrounding Chick-fil-A’s charitable giving, discussed them with company representatives, campus partners and students and believes that Chick-fil-A has responded to these issues in a satisfactory manner. …” Notre Dame said in the statement.
“Our students have overwhelmingly expressed a desire to have a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus, and we look forward to opening one early next year.”
Graham applauded the university’s response and even included his order recommendation.
“Well done to all the patriots at Notre Dame who stood up for Chick-fil-A and against Cancel Culture,” the South Carolina senator tweeted.
“Hope New York will follow your lead. PRO TIP: Always remember to order the #1 with a Coke Zero. Can’t go wrong!”
This is not the first time the popular fast-food chain has been under fire for its traditionally conservative stance and past donations to Christian or conservative groups.
Known for its chicken sandwiches and serving guests with "my pleasure," Chick-fil-A has been the top-ranked fast-food chain for the past seven years by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Chick-fil-A, the Christian-owned company “committed to Christian values,” is closed on Sundays, which is consistent with the biblical principle for a day of rest.
The Christian Post reached out to Chick-fil-A for comment but did not receive a response by press time.
Chick-fil-A first opened in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia, and the original diner was called The Dwarf Grill. Since opening, they have become known as the place where the "original chicken sandwich" was created. In 2006 the restaurant surpassed $2 billion in system-wide sales, according to its website.
Headquartered in Atlanta, the company now has over 2,600 locations nationwide.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org