November 27, 2019

Chick-fil-A, Commencement, and Convictions

“We see no conflict between Biblical principles and good business practices,” S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, once said during an interview.

I seem to recall his son, Dan T. Cathy, the CEO and President of Chick-fil-A, repeating a similar phrase to my graduating class at Regent University in 2011. Cathy’s commencement speech spoke of moral courage, uncompromising principles, and operating consistently with Christian convictions. Eager to impact the world for the Gospel, I took Mr. Cathy’s words of conviction and character to heart. Has he done the same?

In a November 18 press release, the Chick-fil-A Foundation announced it is adjusting financial support by giving to a smaller number of organizations who work exclusively in the areas of hunger, homelessness, and education. In 2020, Chick-fil-A will donate 9 million to Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International and $25,000 to local food banks for every new restaurant opened.

As you’ve probably heard, the more focused giving approach will not include the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), at least not in 2020. These are two faith-based organizations publicly criticized by LGBTQ activists for upholding traditional Christian sexual ethics. Chick-fil-A financially supported both the Salvation Army and FCA in 2017 and 2018. After being hounded by activists and media outlets for donating to these organizations, Chick-fil-A responded in 2019, stating, “The narrative that our giving was done to support a political or non-inclusive agenda is inaccurate and misleading.”

Now it appears, however, that the fast-food chain is caving to pressure, by restructuring its approach and redirecting its funding away from controversy.

“That’s the trouble with adults, as well as young people,” Truett Cathy said in 2014. “You try to be a people-pleaser to everybody, and you just can’t do it. You have to stick to your convictions. What’s right and what’s wrong. And we try to do that.”

The Cathy family has acted admirably in their convictions in the face of past protests. For this reason, I initially hesitated to join the growing chorus of criticisms directed at Chick-fil-A. Several Christian leaders have responded to the giving change with outrage likely rooted in feelings of betrayal. But I didn’t want to believe the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A leadership would cave to LGBTQ pressures. Surely not Dan Cathy, who encouraged my fellow Regent graduates and me to live out our Christian convictions in our personal and professional lives. Couldn’t be. There must be something missing in the news reports. So I waited. And waited.

At this point, no clarification, no reassurances, and re-commitments to Christian principles have come from the Cathy family, or Chick-fil-A headquarters.

What does this say about the corporation’s priorities? Sadly, it sends the message that Chick-fil-A’s leadership would rather avoid controversy than continue S. Truett Cathy’s legacy of moral courage in business. The company’s decision is also a slap in the face of the Christians who’ve rallied to support the fast-food chain amid the pressure and protests.

I’ve read the debates waging across the internet on the issue. I’ve seen the photographs of Covenant House International’s New York pride parade banner and pro-LGBTQ slogans. And if you haven’t read the Salvation Army’s statement in response to the Chick-fil-A decision, then I encourage you to do so.

If the company was concerned with operating under Christian principles, while also narrowing their focus on homelessness, then their charitable giving would continue to go to the Salvation Army and not Covenant House. It’s that simple, in my opinion.

We know, of course, the Left’s appetite for LGBTQ affirmation will not be satisfied with a slight compromise. There is no middle ground for those re-envisioning sexual ethics.  It will take either a full-throttle abandonment of doctrine, or doctrinal distortions to quench their thirsts. As has been the case with other organizations and individuals, Chick-fil-A’s leadership will eventually have to choose where it stands on the issue.

What will Chick-fil-A’s leadership value more – those Biblical principles that S. Truett Cathy knew led to ethical business practices, or the applause of men? I pray the Cathy family heeds their own advice.

*Update. While no official statement has been released at this time, Franklin Graham recounts a phone conversation he had with Dan Cathy about the issue. According to Graham, Cathy reassured him the company has not caved and remains committed to Christian values. But this second-hand phone conversation and generic, unofficial reassurance is certainly not the moral courage we would expect.

29 Responses to Chick-fil-A, Commencement, and Convictions

  1. This is one of the all-time stupid business moves. They betrayed their principles and those of their biggest fans. This is worse than “New Coke.” I will never look at them the same way again.

    And the LGBTQX lobby will not only never be satisfied, but they will still hate Chick-Fil-A. Before the LGBTQX people knew that Chick-Fil-A agreed with Jesus that their behaviors were sinful. Now they know that AND they know that Chick-Fil-A is cowardly.

    Look, the men of Sodom groped for the door to pursue their homosexual desires even AFTER God blinded them*. Do you really think the Leftists, including the “Christian” Leftists, are going to give up so easily?

    *Genesis 19:11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

    • Mike says:

      “they will still hate Chick-Fil-A”

      ^^^THIS^^^ Others who have been criticized by the left have learned this hard lesson, soon Chick-fil-A will, too.

      Sadly, C-f-A has chosen to live in the short term. I truly believe that in a few years – 15, 20, 30? even the secular culture will realize what a mistake this part of the “sexual revolution” has been.

      It will not make anyone happy, satisfied, or fulfilled – and there will be a lot of damaged, broken people in need of healing. I pray that the church will be there to help them find hope, healing and redemption – TRUE fulfillment.

  2. Eat less chiken says:

    Another case of ‘get woke go broke’. I’ll never eat at one again, and sadly the people they are trying to appease will never forgive them or accept them.

    But we who feel betrayed need to remember that we are not perfect either, and we all practice the ‘hypocritic oath’ too. Maybe the best response is to pray that the new bosses realize their error and change their ways.

  3. Jim says:

    This was nothing more than a minor skirmish for the homosexual activist cause. As noted by Chelsea, it’s irrelevant that Chick caved. The holy grail for this cause is to so soften the cultural soil of opinion, that when going after bible preaching pulpits for hate speech it will appear reasonable to the average pagan citizen.

  4. Joe D says:

    I’m not on board with the outraged Christians on this one, for the simple reason that philanthropies like CFA Foundation routinely “re-theme” their giving every few years.

    It is entirely up to them whom they donate to, and for how long. Many big givers to one particular group want to encourage other people to pick up the slack. Then they move on to other groups they also want to help, not just with their own funds but also by encouraging others to help as well.

    Something few have noticed from CFA’s announcement is they also said they would re-assess their giving EACH year, instead of in the three-year cycles they have been doing. This means they plan to be more hands-on, setting signpost goals for the organizations they support, and holding them to account. It’s a good motivator.

    So, rather than see this as a betrayal of Christian principles, I choose to see their moves as a focus shift and a pledge to be more actively engaged with their grantees. Isn’t it possible, for example, that they are now giving to Covenant House in order to have some influence over that group’s work and policies? Think about it.

  5. Steve says:

    I was at the second day opening of the Toronto location and activists had to be told to move back by police. They were screaming maniacally. It is absolutely true that this decision by Chick-fil-a will not satisfy activists any more than a child’s tantrum working to get what they want ultimately satisfies the kid. This is sad.

  6. PD says:

    The more I read about Covenant House, the more I realize the shift to support them instead of the Salvation Army isn’t just a random switch from one faith-based charity to another.

    Back in the 80s, devout Sam Walton set a tone for his company: not just low prices, but family-friendly merchandise. I remember reading about how Wal-Mart wouldn’t sell CDs with explicit lyrics and record companies would create special “Wal-Mart editions” of disks because it if. (I think I still have a couple of them in my collection.) But in the 90s, the next generation didn’t have his depth of conviction, and the new leadership steered the company away from such counter-cultural stances.

    Is it happening again? Conservatives tend to focus on politics, but, as the saying goes, politics is downstream from culture. How can we focus on the culture to keep these kinds of things from happening? Maybe there are lessons we can learn from the Salvation Army…

  7. Lee D. Cary says:

    Chickens engage the culture war. Eat more beef.

  8. Dan W says:

    I ate at Chick-fil-A yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They work hard at treating you special, with great food and a great staff. The Cathy’s are a wonderful Christian family that have done A LOT of good over the years especially for orphans and foster children. They have been good stewards of the many blessings God has bestowed on them. I choose to thank them and pray for them. I hope my brothers and sisters in Christ would do the same for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Joe M says:

    The CEO said “It’s just the right thing to do.” That line, in and of itself, is a cave. It is a business, so of course they can do whatever they want. But the whole thing is a disappointment, and being handled in a way that suggests the company is fearful of backlash.

  10. David Mullin says:

    In the three weeks before CFA caved we ate 20 meals there. Since then none. There is much more to this story than was first reported that reflects the company has made a hard left and abandoned Christian principles.

  11. Thomas Fris says:

    Even worse than all this is that Chick-fil-A has been caught giving money to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of the most evil anti-Christian hate groups in the world.

    Read it and weep:

  12. Dan Cathy can keep his Judas Chicken says:

    The defunding of The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes was very disappointing. My personal disappointment has little to do with LGBTQ but with the decision to defund two overtly Christian organizations in favor of two overtly secular ones (Covenant House and Junior Achievement) which focus on the same charitable needs.

    Of course most secular corporations have long since given in to “progressive” causes and it’s difficult to avoid supporting entities with which you disagree. CFA’s decision is worse than these other secular corporations’ because this is a conscious decision to go secular for financial reasons….one less organization synonymous with traditional Christian virtues in the public arena makes it easier for a secular humanist society to further restrict religious liberty….Whether CFA was infiltrated by atheist materialists or by atheist “materialistic” types the conclusion is the same: CFA sold out a large portion of its customers for thirty pieces….It will not affect CFA but they’ll never get another dime from me until they reverse the decision.

  13. MikeS says:

    This sends a clear message: LGBxyz agitation and pressure works. As one of the previous commentators Jim mentioned, this is just brush-clearing action. The real target eventually will be the bible-preaching churches themselves. I wonder when that will start happening… 10 years? Sooner?

    • Jim says:

      I’m thinking less- we’ll hear about it and it will go to the courts – for those of you who who can’t get past the President’s personal communication style, you better realize the judicial picks of Democrats will not bode well for the future of the American Bible preaching pastors and congregations.

    • Joan Sibbald says:

      I read where the UK High Court in ruling against a doctor who said he could not call a male patient a woman nor a female patient a man said, “Biblical teachings are incompatible with humanity.”

    • Unfortunately, it is already started in the churches. Just look at what the United Methodist Church is going through right now at this very point in time and the Episcopalian churches Presbyterian Mennonites excetera excetera have all gone through it. Basically they have split their churches. The splits are over more than just the lgbtq issue but, that is what brought it to a head.

  14. David says:

    “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” Matt. 6:2

    It is better to keep charitable contributions private.

    • John Smith says:

      Under US tax law and corporate reporting requirements keeping it quiet is almost impossible. That is how it came to light that CFA gave money to the Southern Poverty Law Center, not exactly a leading light for support of Christianity.

  15. John Smith says:

    I’ve never been one to patronize or boycott a business because of political stands, perceived slights, courageous stands, etc. Quality, price, service, (occasionally I even ask if I need to buy the product), cause of the day, etc. Its too much and too often the information on which the “call to arms” is based is wrong, partial or simply non-existent. Face it both the right and left can get in a tizzy for little apparent reason. We’ve occasionally eaten at CFA; we will again.

    I suspect there are many reasons for the change: inability to operate or open stores due to “woke” action is the most visible. I would guess they have difficulty recruiting talent at the mid to upper levels of management. Want to guess at some the legal bills they have?

    The point is, what do they do now? Is this a pulling back from being the banner bearer in the business world or are we seeing a generational change to another woke corporation?

  16. Dav says:

    You are a fool to go with the ‘born-again’. Your whole life must be spent being submissive to them. This business is learning this lesson right now.

  17. David says:

    Maybe…and hopefully…The CF family and employees will make up for it by still giving to the original ministries.

  18. People entrenched in wickedness (case in point: the LGBTQ perverts) are seldom, if ever, interested in compromise. They instead intend complete dominion over society – as, it *should* be with Christians.

    Tragically, most contemporary Christians are more interested in compromise than they are dominion. In fact, pathetically, dominion for their King and His kingdom here on earth *as it is in heaven* is anathema to the bulk of today’s alleged Christians.

    No wonder the kingdom in this generation is in such sorry shape.It’s not that God’s failed us but that we’ve failed Him and His dominion commission over society per Matthew 6:10 & 33, Romans 12:21, 13:1-7, 1 Corinthians 6:1-6, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, etc.

    Much the same as with Esau, the kingdom has been sold for a mess of pottage and Christians haven’t even gotten the bowl back, unless you count confinement in the four walls of their stain-glass buildings as the bowl.

    For more regarding our mandate for dominion over government and society, see free online book “The Romans 13 Template for Biblical Dominion…” at

  19. Lizzie Warren says:

    CFA’s betrayal is a gut punch. They used Christianity to help build a loyal customer base. I suspect a God has a plan to deal with this situation.

    I, for one have moved the thousands I donated to Samaritan’s Purse to the Paul Anderson charity and Christian Appalachian Project.

    Franklin Graham lost my respect when he defended CFA without doing actual research. Instead he took the word of a man whose fortune is tied to selling more chicken.

    Neither CFA nor Samaritan’s Purse have my trust going forward.

  20. Mary says:

    Dan Cathy has chosen to serve the world and turn his back on Christ all in the pursuit of his new idol, a golden one. Apparently in 2017 Cathy was donating go homosexualist charities as well. Covenant House and these leftist charities they do not help suffering Americans, they fund homsexualist causes, they use the funds to force shelters to impose gender identity so any man claiming he feels like a woman to infiltrate spaces for domestic violence victims. I will NEVER spend a penny at Chick Fil A ever again unless Dan Cathy ends funding the antiChristian homosexualist hate groups, apologizes to God, and makes reparation to the Lord, fires his homosexualist executive Tim Tassopoulos, and funds Christian charities once again

  21. Henry Stokes says:

    So, What would Jesus do? Did he ask us to feed the poor or just feed his followers?

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