Mary Margaret Olohan on November 27, 2019
Chick-fil-A came under fire Wednesday for a 2017 donation made to the Southern Poverty Law Center under the organization’s name, but Chick-Fil-A said the donation was made by a volunteer member.
The popular chicken sandwich chain sparked a backlash when it was revealed Nov. 18 it would no longer be donating to some charities Chick-fil-A formerly donated to, but instead would focus on education, homelessness, and hunger. Conservative groups expressed outrage at the decision, noting that Chick-fil-A would no longer donate to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — Christian charities that LGBTQ groups had criticized Chick-fil-A for supporting.
The organization announced Nov. 18 that the Chick-fil-A Foundation is instituting a “more focused giving approach to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports” by donating to education, homelessness, and hunger, according to a Chick-fil-A press release. As part of this initiative, the organization committed $9 million in 2020 to Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House International.
A Townhall.com opinion piece posted Wednesday outed the organization for what writer Ryan Bomberger called “cowardice and capitulation,” noting that Chick-fil-A donated $2,500 to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2017.
The SPLC is a publicly anti-Christian organization that keeps a “hate map” that tracks “hate groups” in the United States.
“Christian Identity is a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology that rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s,” the SPLC stated on its website. “‘Christian’ in name only, the movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.”
Chick-fil-A told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that the donations in question were disclosed in the 2017 Chick-fil-A Foundation 990 that lists giving in the 2017 calendar year. Donations during that year included the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Salvation Army, Paul Anderson Youth Home, and over 300 other organizations.
“The SPLC donation was made by a volunteer member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Advisory Board,” a Chick-fil-A spokesperson told the DCNF. The spokesperson did not specify who the volunteer was and has not yet responded to a request for comment on the matter.
“Each volunteer advisor, in 2017, was offered the opportunity to recommend a grant recipient,” the spokesperson said. “The grants were given to a range of organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Mission, the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, Georgia Historical Society and brain health research at Emory University.”
The spokesperson said Chick-fil-A’s founder Truett Cathy built the business on Biblical principles “that still guide the business today.”
“He famously said: ‘Probably the greatest gift that God has given any one of us is the power that we have to change people’s lives by what we do,’” the spokesperson said. “The best run company is the company that is forever thinking about others.’”
“It is in this spirit that all donations are made,” the spokesperson added.
In 2012, gunman Floyd Corkins started firing on members of the Family Research Council in their headquarters armed with a loaded semi-automatic pistol, 100 rounds of ammunition, and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, the Family Research Council said in a press release.
“I wanted to kill the people in the building and then smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face … to kill as many people as I could,” the gunman said, the FRC told the DCNF. Corkins later said he picked FRC using the SPLC’s “hate map” to identify the FRC as a target, as the SPLC lists the FRC as an “extremist group.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins criticized Chick-fil-A for its donation to the anti-Christian group in a statement.
“Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, it has donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America.”
“Anyone who opposes the SPLC, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives, is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation,” Perkins said.
Perkins said Chick-fil-A made no inquiry about the well-being of an FRC employee injured during Corkin’s attack, and instead “made a donation to the SPLC which was linked in federal court to this act of domestic terrorism.”
“Chick-fil-A has seriously lost their way,” Perkins said. “It’s time for Christians to find a fast food alternative to Chick-fil-A.”
The SPLC did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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