Chick-fil-A Defends Donation to Southern Poverty Law Center

November 28, 2019 Updated: November 28, 2019

Chick-fil-A defended making donations to leftist groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), after a tax filing showed the company’s foundation gave money to the controversial organization as well as several pro-abortion groups.

A spokesperson for the fast-food chain told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the donation to the SPLC “was made by a volunteer member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Advisory Board.”

“Each volunteer adviser, in 2017, was offered the opportunity to recommend a grant recipient,” the spokesperson said. “The grants were given to a range of organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Mission, the Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, Georgia Historical Society, and brain health research at Emory University.”

Chick-fil-A has faced harsh criticism from conservatives after announcing recently it wasn’t going to donate to several groups deemed to be Christian-based, including the Salvation Army, in 2020. The foundation said its giving would focus on just a few groups, as opposed to the dozens it provided money for in 2019 (pdf).

In response, the Salvation Army said in a statement: “We’re saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education, and homelessness organizations—areas in which the Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed. We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population.”

It added: “When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or any other factor, is at risk. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.”

Like the council, Chick-fil-A has promoted traditional Christian values, such as marriage being limited to a man and a woman.

But a 2017 tax filing showed Chick-fil-A donated to the SPLC, which still lists the council as a “hate group.” It also gave money to Covenant House, a homeless shelter that is pro-LGBTQ; YWCA, a pro-abortion group that partners with Planned Parenthood; the Pace Center for Girls, another pro-abortion group; and the New Leaders Council, which says it promotes “a more progressive political and cultural landscape.”

The Christian principles that company founder Truett Cathy built the business on “still guide the business today,” the spokesperson said.

“He famously said: ‘Probably the greatest gift that God has given any one of us is the power that we have to change people’s lives by what we do,’” the spokesperson said. “’The best-run company is the company that is forever thinking about others.’ It is in this spirit that all donations are made.”

The spokesperson didn’t comment on the other donations.

Chick-fil-A founder and Chairman S. Truett Cathy listens during the keynote address delivered by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Liberty University’s 39th Annual Commencement in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 12, 2012. (Jim Watson/AFP/GettyImages)

In a statement, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins criticized the donation to the SPLC.

“Tax reports have now exposed Chick-fil-A for funding the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization linked in federal court to domestic terrorism after their smear campaign of Christian organizations resulted in a shooting in which the gunman planned to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in the faces of his victims,” Perkins said.

Floyd Lee Corkins attacked the Family Research Council in 2012, he said, because the SPLC listed it as an “anti-gay group.” Corkins wanted to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Perkins said: “Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, it has donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America. Anyone who opposes the SPLC, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives, is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation.

“At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its ‘extremist’ list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).”

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