- Chick-fil-A is facing backlash for its history of donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations as it expands into the UK.
- Viral posts on social media have condemned Chick-fil-A for the donations, specifically those given to the National Christian Foundation (NCF), a major Christian nonprofit.
- The NCF has donated to conservative religious organizations and charities, including some designated as hate groups with ties to people pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda and other countries.
- Chick-fil-A has not donated to the NCF since 2012, following backlash when CEO Dan Cathy spoke out against same-sex marriage.
- The WinShape Foundation, a nonprofit backed by the Cathy family that is mostly funded by donations from Chick-fil-A, no longer donates to the NCF. The NCF donated $65,120 to WinShape in 2017.
- Dan Cathy and his wife seem to continue to support the NCF, donating $5,750 to an affiliated nonprofit in 2017.
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Chick-fil-A is facing backlash in the aftermath of opening its first location in the UK, as the chain’s relationship to a major Christian charity is under scrutiny.
Last week, Chick-fil-A opened its first permanent location in the UK, in the town of Reading in Berkshire, England.
Now, the chain is facing backlash from potential customers.
A protest is being organized for this Saturday in Reading, with the goal of enlightening “potential patrons to the Chick-fil-A chain and their anti LGBT+ stance.” The Facebook invitation to the protest draws connections between Chick-fil-A and anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda, including the “Kill the Gays” bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality.
“The UK is a progressive country with no place for backward practising organisations that support charities including a charity that sent a preacher to Uganda to assist in the ‘kill the gays’ law,” the post reads.
The connection between Chick-fil-A and the “Kill the Gays” bill is less direct than some recent viral social media posts have portrayed. The apparent link is the National Christian Foundation (NCF), one of the largest Christian charities in the US.
NCF’s millions of dollars in charitable giving includes gifts to many Christian organizations, including some designated as hate groups due to their anti-LGBTQ sentiment and work. For example, in 2016, NCF donated $105,300 to the American Family Association’s radio network. The American Family Association has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center; the organization frequently speaks out against the so-called “homosexual agenda,” highlighting things such as a Walmart commercial that includes a same-sex couple.
NCF has worked with socially conservative, Christian organizations in Uganda. Some of these organizations have connections with people such as pastor Scott Lively, who Mother Jones reports helped push for anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda. NCF did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on this story.
Breaking down Chick-fil-A’s donations
Prior to 2012, Chick-fil-A made significant donations to right-wing groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ work through the WinShape Foundation. For example, in 2010, Chick-fil-A donated $247,500 to the NCF through WinShape.
Chick-fil-A stopped making donations to almost all controversial groups after facing backlash in 2012, when CEO Dan Cathy said he did not support same-sex marriage.
The most controversial donations made directly by Chick-fil-A and the Chick-fil-A Foundation in 2017 — the last year the foundation’s filings are available — were to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This money funds sports camps and a holiday gift-giving program with the Salvation Army.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be,” Rodney Bullard, the head of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, told Business Insider earlier this year.
“For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged,” Bullard continued. “This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves.”
Chick-fil-A declined to comment on this story. The company has emphasized in the past that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
After 2012, the Chick-fil-A Foundation became Chick-fil-A’s official philanthropic arm. Chick-fil-A also continues to donate to the WinShape Foundation, contributing more than $21 million in 2017.
WinShape no longer makes charitable donations, instead hosting camps, foster care, and marriage and team-building retreats. WinShape does not appear to have donated to the NCF — or to any other charities — in 2017. Instead, the NCF donated $65,120 to WinShape.
Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president Don Cathy have continued to donate to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, an affiliated nonprofit that operates hand-in-hand with the NCF, according to public records viewed by Business Insider. The Don and Cindy Cathy Foundation and the Dan and Rhonda Cathy Foundation both donated $5,750 to the NCCF in 2017, 2016, and 2015, according to 990 tax filings.