Celebrated evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham revealed Thursday that Chick-fil-A’s CEO has assured him that the fast food chain has not “bowed down” to demands from LGBT activists following the news that it is ending donations to three groups that oppose gay marriage.
In a social media post, Graham wrote that he called CEO Dan Cathy to discuss the issue and said he came away thinking the controversy had been overblown, affirming that Chick-fil-A “has not changed who they are or what they believe.”
Graham wrote on Facebook:
Has Chick-fil-A caved? Some are saying they’ve rolled over, that they’ve conceded to the LGBTQ protests because they released a statement about their charitable giving. They announced that in 2020 they’re giving to fight hunger and homelessness and support education. What’s wrong with that?
I picked up the phone and called Dan Cathy. Dan was very clear that they have not bowed down to anyone’s demands, including the LGBTQ community. They will continue to support whoever they want to support. They haven’t changed who they are or what they believe. Chick-fil-A remains committed to Christian values. Dan Cathy assured me that this isn’t going to change. I hope all those who jumped to the wrong conclusion about them read this.
In my opinion, the gay movement wouldn’t ever be happy with Chick-fil-A unless they were open on Sunday, gave all of their charitable donations to LGBTQ organizations, and flew the rainbow flag over their stores! Their hatred for Chick-fil-A is rooted in founder Truett Cathy’s strong stand for biblical “traditional” values and his desire to honor God.
No fast food chain does a better job. I went through the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A yesterday morning, and I thought I might get dinner there—but a whole lot of other people had the same idea! A Chick-fil-A sandwich with waffle fries sounds really good right now!
Graham’s comments come after the Atlanta-based company said Monday that starting next year, it will focus its giving on three areas: hunger, homelessness, and education.
“This decision was made to create more clarity — and to better address three critical needs facing children across the communities Chick-fil-A serves,” the company said in a statement.
Chick-fil-A President Tim Tassopoulos said the company — which is closed on Sundays — will still consider donations to faith-based groups. The company wouldn’t say whether it will consider an organization’s position on gay rights before donating.
In the meantime, it doesn’t plan to continue its support of three groups that oppose gay marriage and have been the target of protesters’ ire.
In 2017 and 2018, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave $2.4 million to the Missouri-based Fellowship of Christian Athletes for sports camps for underserved youth and $165,000 to the Salvation Army to buy Christmas gifts for needy children. The foundation also gave $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Homes.
Chick-fil-A’s decision to no longer support the groups angered some conservatives, who say they stood by the restaurant in 2012 when CEO Dan Cathy said in several interviews that he didn’t support gay marriage. In more recent interviews, Cathy — who is the son of Chick-fil-A’s founder — has reiterated his personal beliefs but says he treats all customers with respect.
The Salvation Army issued a statement saying it was “saddened” by Chick-fil-A’s decision. It said the move was based on misinformation that, when perpetuated, puts at risk its ability “to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a tweet Monday that he coordinated a national appreciation day for the company in 2012. Now, Chick-fil-A is betraying supporters, he said.
“They surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups. Tragic,” Huckabee tweeted.
“Chick-fil-A has decided to allow themselves to be bullied, to allow their enemies — the people who hate them — to dictate where they give their money,” Huckabee said Tuesday on WVNN’s The Jeff Poor Show. “I’m going to be very clear — they have every right to give wherever they want. They don’t have to give at all. They can choose to give to the most liberal or the most conservative organizations. But I was very disappointed that not only did they eventually bow down to the bullies on this, but then they tried to cover themselves by talking about how they had just reevaluated their overall help for education, homelessness, and job help for kids. And I just think that is disingenuous.”
“The bottom line is they caved,” he added. “They surrendered. I wish they would just be honest about it and say, ‘Despite the fact that millions of people stood up for us when we were bullied before, and came to our defense because they protected our free speech rights and our First Amendment rights of association and religion, we’re going to bow down to the bullies anyway because we want to go into business in some areas where they might create problems for us.’ It’s just a sad day in America.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.