Center Editor and Media Production Editor
Where does a Chick-Fil-A customer’s money go when they pay $5.95 for a Chick-Fil-A Nuggets combo? What organizations does it fund? What are the company’s beliefs and morals that the customer unknowingly funds with their money, and do they align with that person’s beliefs and morals?
It is no secret Chick-Fil-A actively confirms where they stand on their conservative beliefs. Controversy seems to be a consistent product of their actions and behavior, which mainly comes from the CEO whose public opinions continue to add fuel to the flame.
Since its opening in 1967, Chick-Fil-A has flourished despite — or possibly partially because of — its tendency to attract controversy. The chain was ranked as the number one fast-food restaurant in a 2019 study by MBLM. All of this would sound great if it weren’t for Chick-Fil-A’s clear and unabashed discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community.
In July 2012, Dan T. Cathy, the current CEO and son of Chick-Fil-A’s founder, discussed his thoughts on same-sex marriage, stating he believed in “the biblical definition on the family unit.” After receiving backlash on his comment, in a radio interview, Cathy said, “As it relates to society in general, 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 do as to what constitutes marriage.'”
While the CEO’s personal homophobic beliefs may not have been enough to tip the scales of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies against the company, Chick-Fil-A’s pointed donations to organizations working directly against the community were.
Most notoriously Chick-Fil-A donated to Exodus International, an organization dedicated to conversion therapy for gay Christians, which has since shut down,. The restaurant chain also donated to the Marriage and Family Foundation, a group whose website proudly boasts one of its goals as “opposing making sexual behavior a protected class.” The group works against efforts in Virginia “to add sexual orientation/gender identity to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws,” claiming that there is no evidence of said gender and sexuality-based discrimination. Another of the anti-LGBTQ+ groups Chick-Fil-A has donated to is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which holds homophobic beliefs and requires student leaders to sign a “sexual purity statement.” The statement asks that the student confirm that they are against sexual immorality, homosexuality, and sex outside of marriage. If the student “does not conform to the FCA Sexual Purity Statement… it means that [they] will need to step down from [their] leadership position.”
Dan T. Cathy chooses to spread his beliefs against marriage equality, profit off of the controversy that increased publicity, and donate to organizations that work to make life harder for members of the LGBTQ+ community. When restaurant patrons overlook his prejudice and allow him to profit from it, they fund a man who has used Chick-Fil-A’s power to act on his homophobic beliefs, to bring homophobes to the restaurant, and to reap the rewards.
The LGBTQ+ community is not the only group facing discrimination from Chick-Fil-A. The list of the restaurants’ apparent prejudices also include sexisim and Islamophobia. Examples can be found in two lawsuits against the company: those of Aziz Latif in 2002 and Brenda Honeycutt in 2011. Honeycutt claims that she experienced gender discrimination when she was fired from her position as restaurant manager. According to documents provided by GLADD, “During [Honeycutt’s] employment, [her manager] routinely made comments to [Honeycutt] suggesting that as a mother she should stay home with her children. On or about June 27, 2011, [Honeycutt’s manager] told Barbara Honeycutt that she was being terminated so she could be a stay home mother.” Latif, who is Muslim, worked as a Houston restaurant manager. He claims he was fired after not participating in a group prayer session at a company training program.
There is a clear pattern of Chick-Fil-A’s discriminatory behavior throughout the past that still appears to be a problem in the present. It is not enough for Chick-Fil-A to steer clear of discrimination; they must actively stand against it and continuously encourage acceptance and celebration of all human beings. Until they do this, it is not ethical for people to eat at Chick-Fil-A, especially for those who claim they do not agree with what the company stands for. People often forget how much power we have as consumers, so it is not a valid reason to claim that where we choose to spend our money “won’t make a difference.”
There are a variety of alternative restaurants with chicken nuggets that are just as tasty as Chick-Fil-A’s, but without the side of homophobia. CultureMap Houston lists a multitude of fast-food restaurants including Cliff’s, Calliope’s Po-Boy, The Waffle Bus, W Grill, Popeyes, Whataburger, and Smashburger. One can find the perfect alternative to Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries, chicken sandwiches, and chicken nuggets among these restaurants. Some alternatives like San Francisco’s food chain, The Organic Coup, and the local Super Duper Burger in Los Gatos can be found right in the Bay Area. It takes less than a minute to Google alternative, reasonably priced fast-food restaurants in your area.
Ultimately, the goal is not to cancel Chick-Fil-A, but to show consumers that they should care about a company’s morals. Everyone benefits when the person or company being called out listens and grows from their mistakes. People should not stand idly by and hope Chick-Fil-A will change; the customers have to be the change.
(Sources: Business Insider, Forbes, Chick-Fil-A Foundation, CultureMap, Lifestyle, My San Antonio, FootWear News, The Chicken Wire, Salvation Army Austin, Pink News, Advocate, Outsports)