In the aftermath of Chick-fil-A’s decision to restructure its charitable giving model, decidedly uncharitable takes streamed in from the breadth and depth of the internet, accusing the fast food giant of abandoning Christian principles, insofar as a fried chicken place can have such principles in the first place.
On his Tuesday edition of The Briefing, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler accused Chick-fil-A of setting an ill precedent. “Now, an organization, even a company like Chick-fil-A, can no longer make contributions to historic Christian ministries because that runs afoul of the absolutism of the cultural left–and in particular of the LGBT movement,” he said. “The moral revolution takes very few prisoners. It just eliminates the opposition.”
Conservative commenter Rod Dreher agreed, saying Chick-fil-A was guilty of “nothing but gutless surrender.”
All of this is made a bit incoherent by the fact that Chick-fil-A hasn’t actually abandoned Christian charities at all. Now that multi-year charitable giving contracts to places like Salvation Army and the FCA have expired, Chick-fil-A has announced new organizations that will be on the receiving end of its massive charitable giving arm. In addition to local food shelters in communities with Chick-fil-A franchises, the company will donate millions of dollars to Covenant House — a Catholic charity believed to be the largest privately funded agency in the Americas.
Covenant House’s mission statement reads, in part: “We who recognize God’s providence and fidelity to His people are dedicated to living out His covenant among ourselves and those children we serve, with absolute respect and unconditional love.”
Covenant House was started in the 1960s by a Franciscan priest named Bruce Ritter as a place to shelter homeless children. It weathered a tragic scandal in the ’90s, when Ritter was forced to step down over allegations of sexual abuse, but survived under the new leadership of Sister Mary Rose McGeady, whose ambitious reforms helped make Covenant House a respected name among American charities.
“Just as Christ in His humanity is the visible sign of God’s presence among His people, so our efforts together in the covenant community are a visible sign that effects the presence of God, working through the Holy Spirit among ourselves and our kids,” the mission statement continues.
It’s possible that Chick-fil-A’s decision to restructure its charitable giving to new, more local charities was motivated at least in part by public pressure from progressive groups unhappy about the LGBTQ policies of places like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But the charge that Chick-fil-A has abandoned Christian charities altogether is simply untrue.