One of the nation’s largest gay advocacy organizations is greeting Chick-Fil-A’s divestment from Christian charities like the Salvation Army with tepid praise and further demands, including an “unequivocal” denunciation of the brand’s history and values.
GLAAD (whose name is an acronym for its former title, “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation”) demanded “safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees” and an apparent denunciation of the Christian ministry Focus on the Family, responding to Chick-Fil-A’s decision to stop donating to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program for needy children and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which serves historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs).
The full statement from Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response, names more steps the fast-food chain must take to prove its genuine repentance:
If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families.
Chick-Fil-A investors, employees, and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty.
In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-Fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents.
The Salvation Army expressed dismay Monday afternoon, calling LGBT advocates’ allegations “ill-informed” about the organization’s actual stance:
“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 organization said in a statement Monday afternoon.
The Salvation Army said that it serves more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the queer community. The group said that it believes it is “the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population.”
“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. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment.”
The move also sparked backlash from conservatives, who characterized the decision as a “cave” rather than a prudent olive branch. Christian satire site The Babylon Bee mocked the company’s management with a tongue-in-cheek post titled “Chick-Fil-A Trades Adoring Christian Fans For Outraged Mob That Won’t Be Appeased Until Their Every Demand Is Met.”
“Chick-fil-A has sacrificed its Christian fans in favor of an outraged mob that will stop at nothing to destroy them,” the parody article reads. “[CEO Dan] Cathy said the Christian fans have been great, but it’s boring just having loyal fans who support you through thick and thin, and he’d much rather have fans who stage die-ins and cancel you when you don’t cave in.”
The reference to “die-ins” recalls recent protests against the company as it opens international locations. A grand opening in Toronto, Canada, was met by activists who lay down in front of the store’s entrance — possibly in sincere belief of an online hoax claiming Chick-fil-A backed a Ugandan bill that would punish homosexual sex acts with execution.
Last month, Chick-fil-A unsuccessfully tried to open its first location in the United Kingdom. After a pressure campaign from left-wing activists and lawmakers, in a campaign dubbed “Get the Cluck Out,” the Reading, England, shopping center that hosted this Chick-fil-A store announced it would not renew its six-month lease with the chain.