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Chick-fil-A says it won't be donating to anti-LGTBQ groups any longer. Now, everyone is either skeptical or mad

Chick-fil-A has announced it will not donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations next year.
Chick-fil-A has announced it will not donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations next year.

When Toronto’s first Chick-fil-A opened in September, its ongoing support of anti-LGBTQ groups elicited a crowd of protestors chanting — “Shame, shame, shame” — and holding “Cluck-off” placards. Far from an isolated occurrence, every new location that has opened in recent years was met with protests, criticism and negative press. But now, seeking to change the brand narrative, the fast-food company has announced a significant change to its approach to philanthropy.

In an interview with Bisnow , Chick-fil-A president and COO Tim Tassopoulos said that the chain — which donated to more than 300 nonprofits this year — will shift to supporting three primary causes: education, homelessness and hunger. “This provides more focus and more clarity,” Tassopoulos said. “As we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are. There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”

Under the leadership of CEO Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to charitable organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, both of which have been previously criticized for their anti-LGBTQ stance. In a 2012 interview with the Baptist Press , Cathy expressed that he and the chain are “guilty as charged” for contributing to charities that promote “the biblical definition of a family unit.”

Reactions to the change of tack have been coloured with skepticism and incredulity. “Chick-fil-A investors, employees and customers can greet today’s announcement with cautious optimism, but should remember that similar press statements were previously proven to be empty,” Drew Anderson, the director of campaigns at GLAAD, said in a statement.

Not only has the company reportedly reneged on promises to cut ties with such groups in the past, but Tassopoulos, in a separate statement to The New York Times , left the door open to donations to faith-based groups, saying, “No organization will be excluded from future consideration — faith based or non-faith based.”

Meanwhile, staunch supporters, who “stood by Chick-fil-A when no one else would,” are expressing their dissatisfaction with the decision. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who said he arranged a national appreciation day for Chick-fil-A in 2012, tweeted that the chain is being disloyal to its defenders: “They surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups. Tragic.”

The company’s anti-LGBTQ views have not been hindering its bottom line, however. In 2013, right after Cathy’s remarks sparked outrage, Chick-fil-A earned more than $5 billion in sales. That number has swelled to $10.5 billion this year, Bisnow reports, making it the third-largest fast-food restaurant chain in the U.S. (after McDonald’s and Starbucks).

The Atlanta-based restaurant company is set to open a second location in Toronto at Yorkdale Mall, CTV News reports, but the opening date has yet to be announced.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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