We all feel a higher calling sometimes. Maybe it’s to be a teacher. Maybe it’s to leave your six-figure job and be a full-time drag queen. Or maybe, if you’re the CEO of Chick-fil-A, it’s a calling to donate to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
In an interview with Business Insider, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of corporate social responsibility and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Rodney Bullard said that the company felt a “higher calling” to donate its money to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
“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,” Bullard said.
“For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged,” he added. “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.”
After getting into hot water in 2012, Chick-fil-A said it would cease all donations to political groups organizing against LGBTQ+ rights. However, in March, tax filings showed that the company had donated $1.8 million to three groups that espoused anti-LGBTQ+ ideas.
The 2017 tax documents showed $1.6 million in donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Christian sports ministry that requires strict “sexual purity” and bars employees from any “homosexual acts.” It gave $6,000 to Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia-based Christian residential home that teaches those living there that being gay is wrong and that same-sex marriage is against Christian values. The company also donated $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has a history of referring LGBTQ+ people to conversion therapy.
Chick-fil-A ceased donating to Paul Anderson Youth Home prior to the news of its 2017 taxes being made public, Business Insider reports. Chick-fil-A has defended its donations to the other two organizations. Chick-fil-A’s donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes goes directly to its summer sports camp program, which allows youth from Atlanta to play sports they may not otherwise be exposed to, like golf and archery. Chick-fil-A said that kids who attend the camp do not need to sign the purity pledge.
“The intent is not to try to have kids conduct their lives according to the FCA code,” Carrie Kurlander, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of external communications, told Business Insider. “The intent is to expose them to all of the gateway to college exposure in sports as role models, all of that. So, we actually had a conversation two years ago about this very thing and said, ‘Alright, we’re probably going to get dinged. But the impact is real and authentic.’ And so, there was a judgment call.”
South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg recently said that he hopes to “broker a peace deal” between the LGBTQ+ community and Chick-fil-A, a comment that earned him some considerable backlash.