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New Chick-fil-A donation policy draws skepticism from left, anger from right

The decision by Chick-fil-A earlier this week to discontinue any donation to organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army is being met with skepticism by liberal groups and anger from some longtime fans.

The gay rights group GLAAD said Chick-fil-A’s statement should be greeted with “cautious optimism” but that more work needs to be done, CNN reported.

Chick-fil-A said that they have committed to donating $9 million in 2020 to Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International, as well as $25,000 to local food banks at every new Chick-fil-A opening, as part of their new philanthropic initiative.

READ: Chick-fil-A Statement on future donations

“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,” said Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response.

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had a different perspective.

READ: Chick-fil-A Facebook page draw ire of customers over new donation policy

“In Aug 2012, I coordinated a national @ChickfilA Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups,” Huckabee write on Twitter. “Millions showed up. Today, @ChickfilA betrayed loyal customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathey. Sad.”

Many Chick-fil-A supporters on social media expressed disappointment that the company no longer is supporting popular faith-based charities and organizations.

On Facebook, customers spoke out by posting comments on Chick-fil-A’s home page under unrelated posts. Most of the reaction was negative. The most popular comment, with 160 likes, reads, “Do you not realize that much of your success has been due to your strong convictions? Your decision to cave to a small percentage of the population will likely result in loss of business!!”

The organization itself denies any such accusations of caving and insists that faith-based charities aren’t being excluded from donations.

As Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow, the company had initiated multi-year charitable giving contracts with the FCA and Salvation Army a number of years ago. Those contracts expired this year, meaning Chick-fil-A was not contractually obligated to donate money to either organization for the first time in years.

Chick-fil-A used this opportunity to restructure their charitable giving model, instead focusing on local nonprofits in individual communities, moving away from multi-year commitments. Starting next year, Chick-fil-A intends to donate $9 million dollars to Junior Achievement USA, which supports local education and Covenant House International, to combat homelessness. In addition, Chick-fil-A will donate $25,000 to a local food bank every time it opens a new location.

“This provides more focus and more clarity,” Tassopoulos said. “We think [education, hunger and homelessness] are critical issues in communities where we do business in the U.S.”

Tassopoulos said charitable grants will be reviewed annually, and both faith-based and non-faith-based organizations will be considered for such giving. “It’s just the right thing to do,” Tassopoulos said. “To be clear, caring, and supportive and do it in the community.”

Evangelist Franklin Graham revealed today that he personally called Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy to seek assurances after the restaurant chain announced it would be ceasing charitable donations to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“Dan was very clear that they have not bowed down to anyone’s demands, including the LGBTQ community,” Franklin wrote. “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.”

It’s definitely possible that Chick-fil-a chose to shift its donations in part because of pressure from LGBT groups and their allies, but money is still flowing to causes and, potentially, being channeled even more effectively at the local level. As long as that’s the case, cries of betrayal seem a bit unfounded and premature.

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast-food chain in the United States in sales. Its official corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Its stores are closed on Sundays.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice