The country’s former favorite chicken sandwich giant Chick-fil-A announced a major change to its charitable arm of business on Monday. Come 2020, the fast food chain will no longer donate to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, two organizations that have historically opposed LGBTQ rights including same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A says it will now focus its charitable efforts in three areas: education, homelessness, and hunger. But when asked more specifically, it did not go so far as to say that it will no longer donate to organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights.
"No organization will be excluded from future consideration–faith-based or non-faith-based," Chick-fil-A President and COO Tim Tassopoulos said in a statement to VICE.
Like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army (which now hosts a pro-LGBTQ page on its website), Chick-fil-A has faced accusations of homophobia from LGBTQ advocates because of both its charitable donations and public comments made by the fast food chain’s executives. In 2012, the current CEO (then-COO) of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, triggered a massive controversy when he condemned same-sex marriage on a radio talk show.
"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” he said. “I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
Cathy’s comments followed a report that named the Cathy family and the Winshape Foundation—a charity started by the founder of Chick-Fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, and funded by the chain—as major donors to organizations that practice conversion therapy. The report and Cathy’s comments, which didn’t stop there, inspired boycotts against Chick-fil-A and counter-boycotts by those who supported Cathy’s message.
Two years later, Cathy said that he regretted associating Chick-fil-A with anti-LGBTQ positions.
Despite attempts to move away from politics, the company has been unable to shake its homophobic reputation. Just last month, Chick-fil-A was forced to close its very first location in the U.K. after only eight days following protests and pressure from groups promoting LGBTQ rights.
When asked if the decision to cut funding from the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes had to do with recent protests against Chick-fil-A in the U.K., the company chose not to comment.