Head of the Chick-fil-A Foundation Rodney Bullard has defended its anti-gay donations, saying the organisation has a “higher calling.”
The chicken chain is facing backlash for its donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the Paul Anderson Youth Home and The Salvation Army in 2017–organisations that have historically opposed marriage equality.
In an interview with Business Insider published on Wednesday (May 15), Bullard claimed the foundation’s activities are helping children.
He said: “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.
“For us, that’s a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged. 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 has run summer sports camps for children with the FCA for years, an organisation which asks its leaders to sign a “purity pledge”, vowing to avoid “heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act.”
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It emphasises that kids who attend the camp are not forced to sign the “purity pledge,” and insists that continuing to work with the fellowship is best for the children it aims to help. It donated $1.6 million to the FCA in 2017.
“The intent is not to try to have kids conduct their lives according to the FCA code. The intent is to expose them to all of the gateway to college exposure in sports as role models, all of that,” Carrie Kurlander, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of external communications, told Business Insider.
She added: “We actually had a conversation two years ago about this very thing and said, ‘Alright, we’re probably going to get dinged. But the impact is real and authentic.’ And so, there was a judgment call.”
Bullard agreed, downplaying the issue of the “purity pledge.”
“No child was thinking anything about a purity clause or anything other than sports exposure in college,” he said.
Chick-fil-A donated to anti-gay charities in 2017
The Chick-fil-A Foundation also donated $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home for troubled young people that teaches that same-sex marriage is “rage against Jesus Christ and His values,” and gave $150,000 to the Salvation Army which has negative history with the LGBT+ community.
According to Business Insider, Chick-fil-A stopped donations to the Paul Anderson Youth Home after claiming it was unaware of its teachings, but continues to defend its support of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.
“Regardless of where you may find yourself on any particular issue, this is our collective problem and that we all can be a part of the solution. … We all should join together and be a part of the solution,” Bullard said.
Some communities are finding their own solutions to Chick-fil-A’s support of anti-gay organisations. A LGBT+ rights advocate proposed putting up pride flags in San Jose airport when a branch opened there “as a counter-signal to the discrimination supported by Chick-fil-A.” The idea was approved by San Jose councillors.