Monday Chick-Fil-A (CFA), as a company, decided to stop funding “anti-gay” organizations like the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They did this because of pressure put on them by some municipalities and venues refusing to allow them to expand their business because of their anti-LGBTQ policies.
At first, I noticed a couple of gay friends expressing prescient “yeah, right” or “cautious optimism.” And then I noticed a flood of religious right and ex-gay conversion therapy leaders expending many, and I mean *many* words on feeling betrayed. They said things like CFA was being cowardly, and that CFA was throwing out their “principled customers” at the same time they were throwing out their principles. Some even made the insulting reference that CFA was now acting “chicken” (proverbially) to alleged LGBT+ bullying. Which is itself kind of a schoolyard bullying thing to say.
The last time something like this happened in 2012, religious right pundit Mike Huckabee organized a CFA appreciation day. It was a huge success as all of us (yes, me at that time) flooded the already too crowded CFA’s in every corner of the country. CFA went against their word the first time on these issues as a result and quietly continued their anti-gay ways.
Like clockwork, systemic bigotry punished Chick-Fil-A again. These seven years later, Huckabee didn’t even have to organize anything for the CFA to flop their flip. The religious right shamed and publicly excoriated them (something they are good at) to the point that it only took them three days to backtrack and say that no organization would be excluded from corporate donations. This is just further proof that if a private corporation believes in systemic bigotry and stigma against LGBT+ people at its heart, but still wants our money, it will seek to play the double-speak card.
CFA says that they have to be clear about who they are, ok, fine. I will be clear, too. I will continue to miss your waffle fries but not that greasy chicken. However, because they haven’t been clear on anything other than supporting anti-LGBT+ equality while still wanting our money, CFA will continue to be double-minded which makes them doubly dangerous. First, no matter what they say, as a for-profit corporation, CFA will continue to support those groups who work against equality and seek to disenfranchise LGBT+ people. That is a given and will not change until the leadership at the very top changes. The real story here though is that the Cathys, the billionaire family who owns CFA will fund anti-gay efforts as private citizens through back channels with politicians and public policy groups. That is the real heart behind all that is happening with CFA. Second, their greed-driven flip-flops only successfully whip up hatred against LGBT+ people by those who hold the same stigmatizing beliefs.
Nutshell: It’s one thing to perpetuate cultural systemic bigotry, it’s another to add corporate greed to the mix.
When I went to the White House to watch President Bush make a “marriage declaration” in support of the anti-gay marriage Federal Marriage amendment, I sat with Dr. Dobson, Billionaire Bubba Cathy (one of the brothers that own Chic-Fil-A), and Alan Chambers. Meaning, while CFA wants to have their cake and eat it too as a corporates sponsor of anti-gay hate, the family who owns CFA will probably always be invited to Tony Perkins’ (Family Research Council) private pow-wows. The Cathys personally give and support much more hateful efforts than the Salvation Army.
If this is clearly who CFA and its owners are, we live in a great country where they can do whatever they want with their money and influence. But, so can we. In my view, until CFA openly repents (changes their state of mind and heart) against the systemic bigotry within their ranks starting at the very top, they don’t deserve LGBT+ money or access to venues and areas their anti-gay policies would be breaking the law.
Keep in mind that while the actors in this sad play are different, the anti-LGBT+ toxic theology and religious stigma empowering all of this is the same. This is another example of why religious stigma must end.