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‘Higher calling’: Chick-fil-A CEO’s gracious response to activists

Chick-fil-A is taking the high road when it comes to those critical of the beloved quick-service eatery and its CEO, Dan Cathy, who many years ago expressed his personal support of the biblical understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.


Rodney Bullard

During an interview with Business Insider, Rodney Bullard, head of Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation, said the Christian-owned company “has a much higher calling than any political or cultural war,” even revealing the restaurant’s charity arm would consider a potential partnership with an LGBTQ organization if the collaboration was “impactful” and “authentic.”

“There’s a calling to help people, and I think at times that has been confused with a calling, somehow, to exclude,” Bullard said. “And that’s not the case. The focus, the phrase ‘every child’ — we’re very intentional about that. We do have programs and we look for programs that are inclusive as well to help every child.”

Prior to joining Chick-fil-A in 2011, Bullard attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and served as a White House fellow under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

In addition to comments Cathy made to Baptist Press in 2012, Chick-fil-A has also come under fire for making donations to faith-based organizations like Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, both of which hold to biblical interpretations of marriage.

But none of that is slowing down Bullard, who was hired by the country’s favorite fast-food chain to expand its philanthropic efforts. To date, he said, the Chick-fil-A Foundation has more than 300 partnerships, many of which are focused on “economic mobility.”

“At the end of the day,” Bullard explained, “the calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be.”

He continued: “For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged. This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever-present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves.”

Bullard also noted he can’t spend time dwelling on mischaracterizations of Chick-fil-A’s charitable efforts in the media. His effort “can’t be about anything other than doing the work for these kids.”

“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “That’s why we’re all here, and I love that about Chick-fil-A. There really is a sincerity in our employee base, sincerity that comes from the top down, that it really is about the mission.”

Bullard’s comments come as students at a Christian college in San Antonio have tried (so far, unsuccessfully) to get Chick-fil-A booted from their school over the chain’s “anti-LGBT” donations. Similary, administrators with the San Antonio City Council are working to get the restaurant removed from a list of potential dining options for the local airport. And at another college in California, a faculty chair recently, and fairly oddly, compared the morality of hosting a Chick-fil-A on campus to selling pornography in the college bookstore.