When the rest of the world lost its corporate marbles, conservatives liked to think that there was one place that would never let them down: Chick-fil-A. As far as they were concerned, the churchgoers’ chicken of choice had been solidly built on Truett Cathy’s strong family values. While other CEOs took their brands in wildly liberal directions, Christians took solace in the fact that at least one franchise could stand against the mob. Now, with the news that Chick-fil-A is catering to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) crowd, customers feel deeply betrayed. But the reality is, the chicken empire’s capitulation started years before this.
Those of us who’ve watched Chick-fil-A up close know the company’s moral compromise didn’t happen overnight. For groups like Family Research Council, the bloom was off the nugget as far back as November of 2019 when, after years of holding the line, Chick-fil-A decided to put as much distance between Christians and their brand as possible.
To most people in the public square, the U-turn was completely unexpected. Chick-fil-A had already endured years of LGBT abuse, surviving movements to ban them from airports, rest stops, and college campuses. Despite the attacks, the Cathys didn’t just weather the storm, they thrived in it — doubling sales since the moment liberals decided it was a “controversy” to give to religious charities with biblical views.
Then, well into their heroic pushback — for no apparent reason — Chick-fil-A abruptly caved to the leftist pressure. In a punch to the gut of their loyal base, management announced that they were ending donations to faith-based groups like the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes because their positions on marriage and sexuality were too “controversial.” The defection cut deep for families, millions of whom had driven out of their way to support Chick-fil-A — not because the chicken was good, but because their conviction was better. Before there was a Donald Trump or a Ron DeSantis or a Brian Kemp, the Cathys had proven: you could stand on principle and win.
“If Chick-fil-A thinks that caving to PC pressure will help them grow as a company, they might want to check with the folks over at the Boy Scouts to see how well that strategy works,” Matt Walsh warned at the time. Governor Mike Huckabee was equally blunt. “Chick-fil-A made a huge mistake thinking they can appease these people,” he told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, “because they can’t.”
Days later, another bombshell dropped. Not only had the company stopped giving to Christians, but it was also quietly funding radical abortion and LGBT activists in their place. News broke that the Chick-fil-A Foundation had funneled at least $230,000 to Covenant House, an organization that, among other things, hosts Drag Queen Story Hours. Conservatives were in disbelief — so much so that The Federalist felt the need to spell it out: “Yes, Chick-fil-A Really Is Funding a Group that Hosts Drag Queen Story Hours,” their headline read.
Turns out, that wasn’t the worst of it. Reporters dug into the business’s tax returns and found that the chicken chain had also gifted money to the extremists at Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — the same leftist bullies that inspired a gunman to storm the headquarters of FRC with the intent to murder as many staffers as possible and, in a final act of defiance, smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in our faces. The shooter, Floyd Corkins, told the FBI he’d picked FRC as a target from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. Ironically, his outrage was sparked by 2012’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day for the Cathys’ marriage stance, which our staff had publicly celebrated.
To us, the company’s departure from biblical truth was personal. The same family who insisted their corporate mission was “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us” had publicly disassociated from groups actually living up to that standard. It stung. Former employees, like FRC’s vice president for Communications, J.P. Duffy, were distraught. In a somber farewell to the chain in USA Today, Duffy wrote, “Chick-fil-A once inspired me to live out my values in the workplace. Those days are gone.”
Four years later, he says this latest treason is just par for the chain’s course. “Sadly,” Duffy told The Washington Stand, “I’ve come to expect this from Chick-fil-A, a corporation that has been moving Left for years. While they’ve kept their motto and their long-standing closed-on-Sundays policy, they’ve made a number of moves to appease the Left.” He cites the severing of ties with Christian charities and the partnerships with Covenant House and SPLC as proof that they aren’t the franchise Christians have come to know and love. “I’m not surprised that Chick-fil-A is promoting the left-wing DEI agenda espoused by SPLC and woke corporations. Chick-fil-A has drifted very far from its biblical roots.”
The fact that this fast-food favorite is now chasing the approval of the DEI crowd is just the fruit of their recent capitulation. The only surprise is that so many Christians have either ignored Chick-fil-A’s activism or lived in denial that it ever happened. Maybe they didn’t want to believe that the place where they felt at home, the place turned to for comfort in the cultural storm, betrayed them. It’s certainly a lot easier than the alternative, which is accepting and grieving the fact that this company — a brave holdout for so many years — has run away from the people and principles that made them who they are.
Now, with the chain going full-woke, even hiring a vice president of DEI to prove its allegiance to the Left, conservatives are finally forced to face facts. Chick-fil-A hasn’t been true to its values for years. And to many, including this writer, their sins are even more unforgivable than other brands on the consumer chopping block — because unlike Anthropologie, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Hershey, Jack Daniels, Kohl’s, Lego, Levi Strauss, Maybelline, Nike, North Face, Sports Illustrated, Starbucks, and Target, Chick-fil-A continues to exploit — and profit from — its Christian reputation.
A Christian reputation that, under grandson Andrew Cathy’s leadership, looks an awful lot like surrender.
Originally published at The Washington Stand.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer for The Washington Stand. In her role, she drafts commentary on topics such as life, consumer activism, media and entertainment, sexuality, education, religious freedom, and other issues that affect the institutions of marriage and family. Over the past 20 years at FRC, her op-eds have been featured in publications ranging from the Washington Times to The Christian Post. Suzanne is a graduate of Taylor University in Upland, Ind., with majors in both English Writing and Political Science.