Popular restaurant chain Chick-fil-A just opened its first two New York locations, with one near Stony Brook. The chain has been criticized in the past for donating to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. PHOTO CREDIT: M01229
Popular restaurant chain Chick-fil-A just opened its first two New York locations, with one near Stony Brook. The chain has been criticized in the past for donating to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. PHOTO CREDIT: M01229

Just three years ago, the fast food chain Chick-fil-A found itself at the center of a controversy that had some New Yorkers, especially students at NYU and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, up in arms. Today, Chick-fil-A is celebrating the opening of its first two stand-alone New York locations this past week: one in Manhattan and another located just ten minutes away from the Stony Brook campus on Route 347.

While many New Yorkers have managed to forgive and forget (or just forget) the controversy and have welcomed Chick-fil-A as yet another food option to incorporate into their unhealthy diets, I continue to stand against the fast food restaurant as I have for these past three years.

To summarize the aforementioned controversy, in 2011 an LGBT rights and watchdog group Equality Matters reported that Chick-fil-A, through its charity foundation the WinShape Foundation, donated over $1.1 million to anti-gay groups from 2003-2008. One year later, Equality Matters published a second report with WinShape’s public tax filings showing that Chick-fil-A donated over $1.9 million to these same anti-gay groups in 2010 alone. These groups have been identified as anti-gay in that they have argued against same-sex marriage, have discriminated against members of the LGBT community and have promoted the use of conversion therapy.

Shortly after these reports were published, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, the son of Chick-fil-A and WinShape founder S. Truett Cathy, defended his company by proclaiming that it has “no agenda against anyone,” despite his belief in “the biblical definition of marriage.” He echoed these same sentiments when he came out in opposition of same-sex marriage one year later.

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This, along with media coverage of the donations to anti-gay groups, set the stage for protests and petitions from college students and liberal politicians around the country demanding that Chick-fil-A restaurants be removed and banned in the future from college campuses and cities.

In response to the backlash, Chick-fil-A vowed, in a public statement on its website, to “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” In addition, it promised that the WinShape Foundation would take a closer look at whom it will be donating to in the future.

While these policy changes have mostly been implemented, the 2012 tax filings for the WinShape Foundation and the newly created Chick-fil-A Foundation show that donations to most of the anti-gay groups have ceased, but there are still questionable actions on behalf of Chick-fil-A. Those 2012 tax filings show that the Chick-fil-A Foundation is still contributing money to one of the anti-gay groups, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which received $25,390 in 2012.

In addition, shortly after these new policies were revealed to the public, the WinShape foundation mysteriously held a fundraiser for the Marriage and Family Foundation, another one of the anti-gay groups that Chick-fil-A previously donated to.

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With the opening of a Chick-fil-A so close to our campus (and to the house I commute to school from everyday), I can’t help but worry that the restaurant’s actions in the past twelve years will be overshadowed by our community’s hunger for fried chicken and waffle fries. While some have urged for the LGBT community to forgive Chick-fil-A not only because same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the United States but also because it has ceased donations to all but one of the anti-gay groups, I argue that donations to “all but one” is not good enough.

Why should we settle for Chick-fil-A contributing only $25,390 to an anti-gay group based on the fact that it’s dramatically less than several years ago?

If I’m ever going to give any of my money to Chick-fil-A, it’ll be after the company not only ceases to donate money to all anti-gay groups, but also donates an amount of money equal to or greater than the amount it donated before to pro-gay groups and social movements to make up for the damage they have caused toward members of the LGBT community.

The effects of discrimination from groups that Chick-fil-A has donated to are still felt, and will continue to be felt, as long as these groups are funded and thus continue to spread hate to LGBT individuals. The fight for equality does not stop at the legalization of same-sex marriage.

I realize that Chick-fil-A may never donate to pro-gay groups due to the company’s policy of staying out of a political agenda, and thus I will probably never dine there. I understand that everyone will have a different opinion on this topic, which for some may be dictated by their brains and for others by their stomachs.

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Either way, if you do choose to purchase food from Chick-fil-A, I urge you to think about what the money you are spending will be used for and who it might help or hurt in the long run.

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12 comments

  1. Every man is destined to die once …. so if the lettuce don’t get you, something else will.

  2. God does not change and neither does his word ….Jesus said “I am the same today,yesterday and forever.” I judge no sinner in terms of taking action against them having been sinful myself … Jesus will come to judge the righteous and the lawless and reward each according to their work. The Bible says this: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Homosexuality is no more sinful than adultery or fornication as stated in the Bible. Man did not declare it sinful … God did. And that’s why Jesus said this: “You have heard that in the beginning that He who created them, created them male and female and for this reason a man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.” You don’t get to rearrange the Bible or delete the parts you don’t like to fit your own world view and lifestyle. There is not one of us without sin and that’s why we pray constantly for forgiveness.

    Jesus did not come that we can sin more , but that we can have life and have it more abundantly through his forgiveness. He also said that he did not come to set aside the law, but to fulfill it. So don’t expect that Christians are going to ignore God’s word to fit modern society. Because the prophesy is being fulfilled that the closer we get to the 2nd coming of the Lord, the more sinful and wicked man will become.

    I bear no malice against adulterers than I do homosexuals because a man’s sin is his own to bear and there is forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. But I find it ironic that homosexuals who once begged for tolerance are now the intolerant one going after people who don’t agree with them. McDonalds are franchised but when I pulled up I don’t ask if the owner is a Christian or sinner …. I go to purchase food and I don’t Google them to find out what Charities they support. You can’t have your cake and eat it …. you can’t discriminate against people and complain when that’s done to you.

  3. For a while I was also boycotting Chick-Fil-A because they were donating to anti-gay groups and I didn’t want the money I spend there to be an endorsement of that. As far as I know, they have done much less (if any) donating to those sorts of groups, so I pretty much just forgave them and moved on. For me, it’s one thing if the leadership of Chick-Fil-A holds opinions that I strongly disagree with, it’s another to take the money I give to you to help fund the things that I strongly disagree with. So as long as they stopped doing that, I’m cool with a spicy chicken sandwich every now and then.

  4. I boycotted them until last week. A friend of mine really wanted to go there and I personally feel like three years is enough. I haven’t heard of anything besides the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (which is known for being anti-gay for those who are asking) and that also was three years ago. As far as I know, the company has new leadership so I don’t feel like I need to go out of my way to avoid them anymore. I also don’t go out of my way to eat there but for me personally, I’m over it and I feel they have shown they have learned from their mistakes. If my friend can forgive them for being racist years back, then I can forgive them for being anti-gay years back. I am by no way knocking your decision to continue to boycott them and I completely support your decision because it is yours to make.

  5. Regardless of their positions on social issues, I’m still staying away because of the awful food poisoning I got at a DC Chick-Fil-A back in 2007, which led to an overnight stint in the hospital.

  6. The POINT being so deliberately missed here is that while the company has ceased donations to NUMEROUS anti-gay organizations, they still have continued to donate to ONE with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes…which DOES promote a homophobic agenda. So as you had mentioned, you do not know very much about the tension between FoCA and the LGBT community…this is an organization that promotes the curing of the “sin” of homosexuality, which smartly removes such damning phrasing from their website, but has made it well known at their national conferences. (I’ll end it there, without getting into a probable essay on the support of reparative therapy, which has been denounced by the APA as HARMFUL and in no way HELPFUL.)

    Why should the LGBT community NOT be upset?

    To address your (whiny&reaching) concluding argument…

    Christian organizations are not the problem! Missions based on Biblical Scripture are not the problem! Organizations promoting a harmful narrative of hatred and ignorance towards the LGBT community, which happen to be (SOME, not ALL) religious organizations, are the problem. It’s not what the LGBT community wants from “all Christians.” It’s what humans want from other humans…respect. The freedom to live and let live. “Religious freedom” is so often used as a fundamental right to bolster a homophobic argument, but what about the freedom to love? As God-fearing/God-loving Christians, who presumably have a love of Jesus Christ as well, who brought one clear message to his followers (LOVE)…how is this ignored on the basis of finding it to be sinful? To say that the LGBT community has some desire to eliminate Christianity is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard. Consider this SHOCKING idea: there are Christian members of the LGBT community. There are those who have a love of God who are not heterosexual. CRAZY, I know. Other parts of biblical scripture have been reexamined and no longer hold relevance in the modern day, as society has moved beyond that. This is the twenty-first century, not 31 AD. The world is a different place, and Christians have accepted that when it comes to certain “sins” that are no longer viewed as such. Why is homosexuality different?

    Personally, I would say that the use of the bible and “sinning” is no more than a scapegoat for the true homophobia and hatred present in these people. There are plenty of Christians in this world who are dutifully religious and are not hateful, homophobic creatures. Maybe have a chat with them. In the mean time, Christians might stand to take a note from Jesus and the Old Testament (you know…the part of the bible that was created by Christians and for Christians) and preach love and acceptance of your neighbor. Just a thought.

  7. What criteria is used to determine whether or not a charitable organization is anti-gay?

  8. NO, Once again the religious right is claiming to be a victim of bias when they are the ones always persecuting any group that is brave enough to stand up for their rights.

  9. So, the fact that they still donate to the
    Fellowship of Christian Athletes even though they have ceased contributing to
    all other anti-gay charities is the primary reason? While I don’t know much about a
    controversy about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes vs. LGBT community, does this mean than any
    charity whose mission is based on the Biblical Scriptures is anti-gay? So then
    any Christian organization is anti-gay? Is that what this suggests? Does this
    mean that no companies should be able to contribute money to Christian
    organizations since, afterall, their missions are based on biblical scripture
    that denounces homosexuality…Even though a huge portion of the community is
    served by Christian charities? Why are we insisting that people ignore their
    religious beliefs in order to live in America today? One can treat the LGBT
    community with respect and equality even while believing the biblical lessons.
    What, exactly, is the end game here? Ultimately, what does the LGBT community want from Christians? To remove or ignore any scripture from the Bible
    relating to homosexuality? Or is it to eliminate Christianity altogether?

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