Franklin Graham, Donald Trump’s favourite Christian evangelist, is praying for fast-food chain Chick-fil-A to keep funding anti-LGBT+ causes.
The chain, which has over 2,300 branches, has long been controversial for giving millions of dollars to anti-LGBT+ groups. It’s CEO Dan Cathy confirmed the chicken sandwich chain is against same-sex marriage equality.
But, after years of campaigning by LGBT+ activists, it seemed Chick-fil-A has appeared to be softening its stance. A new donation strategy released in November would have stopped further donations to groups against LGBT+ people.
It came after Chick-fil-A learned they will not be able to keep open their first store in England. The restaurant opened at the Oracle shopping center in Reading in October this year.
But after the chain’s anti-LGBT+ stance sparked protests, the Oracle said it wouldn’t continue the lease after an initial six month trial.
‘Corporate America has caved to the LGBTQ agenda’
Franklin Graham went on Facebook to say there was a lot of ‘concern and criticism’ that Chick-fil-A may stop ‘charitable giving’ to organisations against equality.
‘He added: For Christian schools, businesses, and organizations, there is always a danger of drifting to the left. It is my sincere hope that Chick-fil-A will not allow that to happen.
‘With the majority of corporate America caving to the LGBTQ agenda, Chick-fil-A has stood against the tide – with people of faith supporting them all the way.’
Now, Graham encouraged his followers to ‘pray for Dan Cathy, his brother bubba, and the family’ who own Chick-fil-A. They are descended from S Truett Cathy, the devout Southern Baptist, who founded the company.
Graham said: ‘It’s their company, they can do what they want. But my prayer is that God will lead and direct them, and that they will continue to honor their late father Truett Cathy’s strong stand for biblical values – all to the glory of God!’
Chick-fil-A and anti-LGBT+ giving
Chick-fil-A is believed to have donated over $5 million to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Among the beneficiaries are the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage and all LGBT+ rights and is officially designated a hate group.
The company has also funded Exodus International, a group that supports gay ‘conversion therapies’. Notably all respected psychological and psychiatric groups have concluded that these so called ‘gay cures’ do not work and can be harmful.
Then, in 2012, Dan Cathy said same-sex marriage would bring the wrath of God down on the US.
He said those who ‘have the audacity to define what marriage is about’ were ‘inviting God’s judgment on our nation’.
The comments and reported donations sparked widespread criticism which appeared to change the chain’s mind.
Chick-fil-A released a statement on 31 July 2012, saying ‘our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena’.
Subsequent flip-flop on anti-LGBT+ stance
However, since then, Chick-fil-A is reported to have continued to fund anti-LGBT+ groups.
As of April 2018, Chick-fil-A was reportedly donating to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That group not only opposes marriage equality but also insists its student volunteers don’t have gay sex.
But on 18 November this year, there was a new twist. Chick-fil-A President Tim Tassopoulos said the company would stop donating to both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Salvation Army. LGBT+ activists had complained about donations to both charities.
Some extremist and conservative Christians reacted with anger. They accused Chick-fil-A of betraying them and their values.
Franklin Graham and LGBT+ hate
Evangelist Graham’s support of anti-LGBT+ causes is nothing new.
As the son of American TV evangelist Billy Graham and a public speaker and author, his views against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other people were well known.
But he came to greater international prominence when President Donald Trump asked him to lead prayers at his inauguration in 2017.
Graham has spoken in favour of dangerous LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’ which he says is like converting to Christianity.
And, in 2012, after President Barack Obama backed same-sex marriage equality, Graham said Obama had ‘shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage’.
He has also voiced his opposition to gay, Christian mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
Graham said: ‘As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.’
Moreover, he has also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law which Graham falsely claims ‘protects children’.
Final outcome of Chick-fil-A on LGBT+ rights
In response to right-wing Christian backlash, Chick-fil-A has already wavered on its commitment to stop funding anti-LGBT+ causes.
With the company apparently flip-flopping on the issue, the argument looks set to continue.