A Chick-fil-A executive is defending the fast food chain’s continued donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations.
“There’s a calling to help people, and I think at times that has been confused with a calling, somehow, to exclude,” Rodney Bullard, head of the Christian-owned restaurant’s charitable arm, tells Business Insider. “And that’s not the case. The focus, the phrase ’every child’—we’re very intentional about that. We do have programs and we look for programs that are inclusive as well to help every child.”
“For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged,” Bullard says. “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.”
“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.”
One of Chick-fil-A’s beneficiaries, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has been criticized for its “purity pledge,” a signed vow to avoid “heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act.” The organization’s statement of faith also defines marriage as “exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”
“At the end of the day, the impact—that’s really what’s important for us,” Bullard concludes. “We don’t want our intent and our work to be encumbered by someone else’s politics or cultural war. If something gets in the way of our mission, that is something that we are mindful of and cognizant of.”
Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy famously spoke out against marriage equality in 2012 and admitted that he backed anti-marriage equality initiatives.
According to the company’s tax filings, Chick-fil-A gave $1.8 million in 2017 to three groups with anti-LGBTQ records, contradicting previous claims from execs that they would decrease problematic donations.
A number of airports and universities in recent years have fought to ban the eatery due to the company’s anti-LGBTQ donations and values. Responding to San Antonio banning the chain from its airport, conservative Christian group Texas Values declared a “Save Chick-fil-A Day” last month in support of two anti-LGBTQ bills.
Chick-fil-A is set to become the third-largest fast food chain in the U.S., behind only Starbucks and McDonald’s.