By Hugo Greenhalgh
LONDON – U.S. fast-food chain Chick-fil-A said on Monday it had stopped funding two Christian organisations, including The Salvation Army, that have come under fire from LGBT+ campaigners.
The fast-food chain’s charitable arm, Chick-fil-A Foundation, donated millions of dollars over a period of years to The Salvation Army and to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which opposes same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A said on Monday it no longer funded these organisations and would instead focus its giving on “education, homelessness and hunger”.
“We made multi-year commitments to both organisations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The family-owned company said in statement that it would no longer make multi-year commitments and would focus on partnerships annually to “allow maximum impact”, which could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.
The spokeswoman declined to comment specifically on whether the protests had influenced the decision but added this was “made to create more clarity”.
In 2018, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave $1.65 million to the FCA and $115,000 to the Atlanta branch of The Salvation Army, according to its 2018 declaration of charitable donations to the U.S Internal Revenue Service.
The FCA did not respond to immediate requests for comment.
The U.S-based Salvation Army did not immediately respond but The Salvation Army in Britain said it had not received money from the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which has donated more than $52 million to charities to date.
The announcement came after Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A faced increasing fire from LGBT+ campaigners for funding some groups that opposed same-sex marriage.
The chain, which runs more than 2,500 restaurants in the United States, Canada and Britain, is set to close its first UK outlet in the southern England city of Reading once a short-term lease expires.
Chick-fil-A has denied the closure was due to protests but said it only had a six-month lease as part of a strategy to look at international expansion.
It also has a branch in Scotland.
Campaigners cautiously welcomed the change in funding.
“If they want to be trusted by our community, they have to show that our rights are not up for debate,” said LGBT+ rights campaigner Scott Cuthbertson at the Scotland-based Equality Network.
“There is always space for people to change their minds and respect LGBT+ equality … We don’t do anyone any justice by bearing anyone any grudges.”