Unless you live under a rock, you have likely heard that the fast food chain Chick-fil-A has changed their charitable giving policies. Of course the outrage machine has gone into full swing, and many people seem to have lost their minds. I want to try to speak some sense into this mess and maybe calm down a person or two.
Let’s start with what Chick-fil-A has actually did and said since that seems to have gotten lost in all of this. The press would have you believe that the restaurant suddenly stopped donating to The Salvation Army and The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (Both are excellent organizations by the way). This is not the truth. There was a multiyear agreement between them and that agreement was fulfilled. In short, the restaurant honored it’s commitment. The narrative that is being told makes it appear as if this was a reaction to outside influences rather than an agreement that had run it’s course. Chick-fil-A has decided to change how they handle their charitable donations and what their focus will be. That does not strike me as strange and, in fact, sounds a lot like good stewardship of the resources that they have. Their donations will be evaluated on an annual basis without regard to the religious preference of the organizations that they support. The giving did not magically stop, the agreement had run it’s course.
Chick-fil-A has made the following statement which reads, in part: “Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger” Their focus then will be children, and three specific areas of concern. Their choice of support will be a deeper commitment to Junior Achievement USA (JA), a deeper commitment to Covenant House International, and donations to local food banks. I am not sure which part of that is so problematic. I have heard the argument that the Salvation Army provides those types of services as well, and that is indeed correct. The thing is that Chick-fil-A donated to the Salvation Army through the Angel Tree program (a good program) and camps for kids (another good program). Neither of those programs address youth homelessness, education, or long term hunger. The Salvation Army also is not focused specifically on children, the area where Chick-fil-A has said it wanted to focus. The organizations it has chosen to support are.
Is there any indication anywhere in this that Chick-fil-A has capitulated to any outside influence? No, there is not. What there is however is a lot of hype driven by a mainstream media that, on most other topics, conservatives would be decrying as questionable at best and fake news at worst. If you believe the hype and think that Chick-fil-A is capitulating to anyone, it’s time for some soul searching I think. Why is it that you believe the media in this, but not other things. Why is it that this sensationalist reporting is believable, but most other reporting isn’t? Why is it you are always on others to do the research on a story, but you did no research on this? If the headline were simply “Chick-fil-A to focus exclusively on children’s charities” there would likely be no major outcry, but because the headline is “Chick-fil-A Stops Giving to 2 Groups Criticized by LGBTQ Advocates” (New York Times) or “Chick-fil-A Revises Giving Policy After Anti-Gay Outcry” (WSJ), we all lose our minds? What is it in us that has made the LGBTQ lobby the monster under every bed, in every shadow, and behind every decision that is made? Why is it that when ever anything that says LGBTQ comes up, we do not investigate, find the facts, believe anything that is said even, in favor of some nebulous and conspiratorial “gay agenda”?
Let’s be honest about some things. The LGBTQ advocacy groups have become a powerful force in lobbying efforts and society in general. I am not blind to that. They have been successful, in the corporate world, in getting a CEO fired from Mozilla, for example. I am not blind to that either. They have a single issue agenda, and I am not blind to that. They have improperly slandered charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army, as being “anti LGBTQ” because of Christian moral stances. I am also not blind to that. They are not, however, the bogeyman. They are not the singular driving force behind every Christian social problem or every Christian failure, real, or perceived. That wold be us Christians who are screaming so loudly about it.
The actual facts are that Chick-fil-A profits soared after the boycott attempts by some. That would not seem to indicate the necessity of any sort of capitulation on a purely business level. The facts are that they still affirm the same values as they always have. The facts are that they are still giving to charities that seek to help vulnerable populations, but to be fair, more narrowly targeting their giving to focus on the population they seek to help the most. The facts are that the people driving the narrative are the same mainstream media that, under nearly any other circumstances, most of us would criticize for being a sensationalist hype machine. I will still eat at Chick-fil-A from time to time. The fact is that it is a pretty yummy chicken sandwich. If you like their food, you should too. If the only reason that you were eating there however is that they were a target of the LGBTQ advocacy groups, then that is exactly the same behavior that you decry in others. In a very real way, which I find odd and puzzling, Chick-fil-A has done a great deal to reveal to us a fundamental flaw in us. It is the reality that we are so ready to see Christians fail that we will believe hype we would normally discount, engage in wild assumptions of motives without evidence, and jump to conclusions without proof. The fact is that this is not a battle over the soul of a chicken sandwich, it is a battle over ours, and we would do well to reflect on why it is we seem to be losing.