US

Billionaire Chick-fil-A owner is still funding anti-LGBT+ hate, despite promising to stop

Lily Wakefield June 4, 2021
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Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, son of the chain's founder Truett Cathy

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, son of the chain's founder Truett Cathy (Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Billionaire Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy is still funding anti-LGBT+ causes, despite promising to stop, as part of one of “the most sophisticated dark money operations” ever.

In a shocking report, Daily Beast revealed through tax filings and “accidental public disclosures” that the “dark money operation” centres around the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), which is the sixth largest charity in the US and is leading the fight against the Equality Act.

The Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity many areas of public life, passed in the US House of Representatives, but it is unclear whether it will ever make it through the Senate.

The NCF’s donors include Hobby Lobby, the foundation of former US education secretary Betsy DeVos, and, you guessed it, homophobic Chick-fil-A billionaire Dan Cathy.

Chick-fil-A has a long history of making donations to groups working to dismantle LGBT+ rights. While Cathy promised in 2019 to end donations to anti-LGBT+ causes, he quickly changed his mind. 

The NCF is a donor-advised fund, meaning donors can suggest where there money goes but the charity is not obliged to follow through, meaning those donors receive tax breaks.

But an anonymous analyst who looked at the tax filings told Daily Beast: “The whole point of the donor-advised fund structure is that the donor can’t make the decision – that they can only suggest. But they certainly sell it to donors as, ‘We do what you want with this money.'”

The “super-dark money element”, said the analyst, is that NCF has a huge network of “supporting” foundations, mostly headed by members of the charity’s own staff, in order to preserve the anonymity of rich and famous donors.

The money donated to the NCF then goes to other charitable organisations, some of which are at the forefront of the fight against passing the Equality Act.

In 2018, it gave a massive grant of $6,585,923 (£4,647,620) to the viciously anti-LGBT+ Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

ADF has been relentlessly campaigning against the Equality Act, making the bizarre claims that it would “harm efforts to find loving homes for kids in need” because religious adoption agencies would rather close that allow same-sex couples to adopt, and that it would “force” straight, cisgender people to celebrate Pride.

The NCF has also funded the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank which provides an “activism toolkit” for campaigning against the Equality Act, which it says “erases women”.

Steve Chapman, a spokesperson for the NCF, told the Daily Beast: “NCF does not develop or implement strategies about which charities or causes to support. All grants are initiated by the recommendations of our givers.”

Related topics: chick-fil-a, Equality Act, Homophobia

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