Chick-fil-A is facing backlash after ending donations to controversial Christian charities - but critics are missing an important point

Chick-fil-AMike Stewart/Associated Press

Chick-fil-A is facing backlash for its decision to stop donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

"We made multiyear commitments to both organizations, and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018. Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education," a Chick-fil-A representative said in a statement to Business Insider on Monday.

Some people were quick to slam Chick-fil-A for the decision. Critics included former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who organized a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in 2012 after now-CEO Dan Cathy faced backlash for saying he did not support same-sex marriage.

 

The criticism fails to acknowledge that Chick-fil-A has done nothing to indicate it will abandon founder Truett Cathy's Christian values. Additionally, the company said on Monday it does not plan to stop donating to faith-based charities.

Previously, Chick-fil-A worked with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to fund youth camps. Looking at the company's 2019 donations list, it is clear that Chick-fil-A will continue to fund similar projects going forward.

Rodney Bullard, the head of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, told Business Insider earlier this year that the company worked with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes because the programs were "relevant and impactful in the community." 

"For us, that's a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that's being waged," Bullard said.

In other words, Chick-fil-A does not want to be a player in this culture war - whether it is embraced by the left or by the right. The company did not collaborate with Huckabee when he launched Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. It has not worked with any politicians that have argued the company is the victim of anti-Christian hate, such as in the case of the Texas Save Chick-fil-A bill

Further, Chick-fil-A is not ditching its Christian roots or, as Huckabee says, surrendering to anti-Christian hate groups. Bullard mentions Truett Cathy's legacy as the company's inspiration in a blog post published on Monday. Chick-fil-A will continue to close on Sundays, in keeping with Cathy's faith. And, Chick-fil-A specifically reserved the right to continue to donate to religious organizations on Monday. 

"[T]he Foundation will no longer make multiyear commitments and will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact," Chick-fil-A said in a press release on Monday. "These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities."

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