Christian radio personality Todd Starnes, reacting to Chick-fil-A's decision this week to change its philanthropic structure, says he's convinced that "a lot of people saw this as an act of cowardice."
While Chick-fil-A plans to focus on education, homelessness, and hunger, the new initiative will not include donations – at least for now – to organizations such as The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). LGBTQ activists and organizations have argued these ministries are anti-LGBTQ. It was for that reason that a majority of San Antonio City Council members pulled a contract with Chick-fil-A to put a location in the San Antonio Airport. Chick-fil-A had donated money to The Salvation Army and FCA. Similar issues erupted in other U.S. cities, and protestors showed up at Chick-fil-A locations in Canada and the UK.
Still, criticism of Chick-fil-A goes back to 2012 when then-Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, publicly expressed support for traditional, biblical marriage. LGBTQ activists and organizations called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, whereas former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) urged consumers to eat at Chick-fil-A.
"Since 2012, Chick-fil-A really has become the symbol of this cancel culture war – this idea that you are not allowed to have a belief system that runs contrary to the LGBTQ agenda," Starnes said Wednesday on his radio program. "Millions of people have rallied around Chick-fil-A and they have been supporting and defending this company for years."
Starnes isn't alone in his concern. "It's their money, and they can give it where they want to give it – but I just don't understand this targeting of The Salvation Army," Georgia-based radio personality Martha Zoller told Starnes.
Zoller went on to say that she kicks off her Christmas season every year by ringing a bell for The Salvation Army. Zoller plans to do so again this year. "I love it," she said. "It starts Christmas for me."
"I wrote a couple of short columns on the website [one addressing the decision and one addressing a book signing ban] and about 20 minutes later my phone is ringing and it's a high-level executive at Chick-fil-A and he wanted to talk off-the-record," he added. "I was really disappointed with the lack of candor in that conversation – and I know this is going to sound weird, but I don't think they understand why people are so upset."
One organization displeased with Chick-fil-A's decision is American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Mississippi-based ministry has a petition "urging the company to return to its founding principles of standing beside and supporting those ministries that hold firm to God's view of marriage as between one man and one woman."
In a November 18, 2019 tweet, former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) said Chick-fil-A betrayed loyal customers for money. "I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathy," Huckabee tweeted.
Chick-fil-A's decision to no longer financially support the two Christian organizations to appease LGBTQ activists is apparently not enough for some of them. Cultural issues writer Laurie Higgins surmises it isn't possible to appease the LGBTQ crowd so easily.
"You can't give an inch – and there's no reason to give an inch … for what? In the service of what? Why would we capitulate in even small ways? They will not stop here," Higgins argues. "They smell the blood in the water and they're going to go for it."
The president of the Ruth Institute offers a similar warning. "Sexual revolutionaries are relentless in crushing dissent," says Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. "No deviation will be permitted, however principled. How long will it be before Chick-fil-A is delivering sandwiches to gay pride parades?"
In fact, the Washington Examiner reports that Drew Anderson of the pro-LGBT organization GLAAD is demanding Chick-fil-A help ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and "unequivocally" condemn its alleged anti-LGBTQ reputation.