Chick-fil-A’s Sordid Connections to LGBTQ, Muslim Animus

Posted: February 9, 2017 in Anti-queer, Call to Action, Fight Back, For your information, Our Stories, resistance, Saying it like it should be said.

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Chick-fil-A’s Sordid Connections to LGBTQ, Muslim Animus

9 February 2017
by Frank O’Gorman

Chick-fil-A markets it’s restaurants as places to enjoy good food, where customers are greeted by employees, lemonade is freshly squeezed, and fans line up the night before a new store opening to obtain free weekly meals for a year.

But behind the slick branding one finds the company has a sordid connection to LGBTQ and Muslim animus, not to mention being involved in an industry infamous for animal cruelty.

Chick-fil-a is a privately held company founded by S. Truett Cathy and now controlled by his sons, Dan and Donald. There is a distinct Christian fundamentalist flavor to their worldview – wealth as evidence of divine approbation, and the channeling of wealth to promote an ultra-conservative theocratic agenda. Truett Cathy has stated, “the Lord has never spoken to me, but I feel Chick-fil-A has been His gift.”(1)

Muslim & LGBTQ Animus

That sentiment may not have been shared by a Muslim franchise owner named Aziz Latif who attended a company training program in 2000. At one point, there was a group prayer to Jesus Christ which Latif naturally and rightfully refused to participate in. He was fired the following day! Latif sued Chick-fil-A and eventually settled out of court. (2)

This incident with blatant Christian supremacist motif may have prompted in part the current company policy that reads “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity, and respect – regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” (3)

Regarding sexual orientation, Chick-fil-A came under fire in 2011 when it was revealed that it had donated to groups opposed to marriage equality via its WinShape Foundation. One such grantee, the Family Research Council, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its animus towards Muslims and LGBTQ people. (4)

Anti-Muslim & Anti-LGBTQ Propaganda & Public Policy

The Family Research Council’s executive vice-president, retired Lt. William “Jerry” Boykin, has claimed that the United States is in a “spiritual battle” against Satan which it appears is what Islam represents to him. He also helped pen “Shariah: The Threat to America,”which is nothing other than a collection of anti-Islamic conspiracy theories. (5)

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Spreading false claims is also the strategy that the Family Research Council uses against LGBTQ people. FRC President Tony Perkins commenting on anti-bullying videos stated:

“They are aimed at persuading kids that although they’ll face struggles and perhaps bullying for ‘coming out’ as homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion), life will get better. …It’s disgusting. And it’s part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle.“ (6)

Religious Freedom” Christian Theocracy

As part of its mission “to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview,” the Family Research Council is also a major proponent of so-called “religious freedom” laws. This legislation would essentially permit individuals, organizations or companies to discriminate against anyone they have animus towards – especially but not limited to gay and lesbian married couples – under the guise of religious liberty. Proponents plan to re-introduce the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” in Congress in 2017 and President Trump has indicated on his website that he would sign it into law. (7)

Funding Christian Theocracy

This Christian supremacist and heterosexual/cis-gendered supremacist ideology of FRC is funded by its donors. Chick-fil-A’s WinShape foundation donated $1,000 in 2010 but that relatively small amount is misleading because it does not account for donations to FRC through intermediary foundations. Consider that the National Christian Foundation and its subsidiaries donated $2,387,000 to FRC in 2008. Guess who donates to the National Christian Foundation? Chick-fil-A’s WinShape foundation donated $247,500 in 2010. (8)

Herein lies the real issue. Chick-fil-A has a policy statement cited above that commits it to treating every person with dignity regardless of “creed [or] sexual orientation.” But these words are preceded by the words “in our restaurants.” Chick-fil-A, still reserves it’s prerogative to fund organizations like the Family Research Council whose leaders have defamed Islam and denigrated LGBTQ people. Note that Chick-fil-A chairman,president and CEO Dan Cathy has never repudiated WinShape foundation’s donations to FRC or the National Christian Foundation. He has never apologized to the LGBTQ community for disrespecting our human dignity. Based on these factors it is reasonable to assume the he will continue to support organizations like FRC either through direct company donations, donations through intermediary foundations like NCF or directly out of his vast personal wealth.

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Putting Our Money Where Our Morals Are

Just how wealthy is Dan Cathy? According to Forbes, he has a net worth of $3.7 billion as of February 2017. Chick-fil-A takes a 15 percent cut of each of the over 1,600 restaurant franchise’s sales plus 50 percent of the remaining profits. With average store sales of $3.9 million in 2015, that means that the 15 percent cut of sales amounted to $936 million. Thus his company was raking in nearly a billion dollars in fees from franchises even before splitting half their profits! (9)

As unimaginable, and quite frankly obscene, as this concentration of wealth is, all of it comes from ordinary working people patronizing Chick-fil-A restaurants. Choosing what (meat/vegetarian/vegan) and where to eat is a moral decision. Why would we consciously choose to support businesses like Chick-fil-A that ultimately funnel our money into advocacy organizations – and likely political candidates – whose policies violate our deepest moral values of respecting human dignity, religious diversity and animal welfare?

So as not to fund our own oppression: We need to put our money where our morals are.

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1. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0723/080.html

2. Ibid

3. http://www.courant.com/community/west-hartford/hc-west-hartford-chick-fil-a-protest-20170207-story.html

4. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/family-research-council

5. Ibid

6. Ibid

7. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/issues-of-importance-to-catholics

8. https://mic.com/articles/12219/all-the-anti-gay-companies-you-fund-when-you-spend-5-25-on-a-chick-fil-a-sandwich

http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/2012/03/11/invisible-children-funded-by-antigay-creationist-christian-right

9.  http://www.forbes.com/profile/dan-cathy/
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0723/080.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-chick-fil-a-is-so-successful-2016-10

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