The Chick-fil-A and Salvation Army Dilemma


Chick-fil-A became an overnight sensation for its family-pleasing menu and friendly staff. Christians also continue to appreciate their policy of closing on Sundays. According to a video, published by the fast-food chain,

“Closing on Sunday is a practice established by our founder Truett Cathy that we still hold true today. It’s not about being closed. It’s about how we use that time.”

This sentiment, like the respect paid to Sunday by Hobby Lobby, won the hearts and spirits of Christians throughout the country. Finally, there was a glimmer of hope from these businesses portraying Christian values. However, we must consider that there is often more to the story. For, example, should we really be upset by the recent news that Chick-fil-A stopped donating to the Salvation Army? Let us delve into the big picture.

Moral Conflict Enters In

For years, the fast-food chain grew exponentially. Yet, it did not take long before the secular world began its unrelenting attack. Apparently, support for marriage – natural man and woman marriage – presented a worthy reason for a boycott. Although the fast-food chain never discriminated against anyone, in both service and employment, it was not good enough for the haters. It became essential to call for an all-out war against them because of their choice of charitable works. Never mind that Chick-fil-A showed no animus toward those with a differing moral compass. Supporting traditional values became a focal point for an egregious dispute.

As the hatred, boycotts, and falsehoods escalated so did the fervent support for the Chick-fil-A brand. Mothers loaded up their minivans and fed their children. Church groups and conservatives used their catering services. Christian publications sang their praises. The loyalty garnered by standing up for morality found the chain enjoying considerable free publicity. In turn, Chick-fil-A grew to become the 3rd Largest US Restaurant Chain.

The Betrayal (or is it?)

Then the shocking news hit the hearts of the loyal battalion of Chick-fil-A fans. The franchise made the decision to change the face of their charitable contributions. News outlets began reporting that Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations. The shocked outrage from loyal fans became palatable.

The charitable organizations omitted for the next round of donations are the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Both organizations support a stance against active homosexuality and same-sex ‘marriage’. On Monday, the Chick-fil-A foundation revealed its 2018 donations. FCA received $1.65 million and The Salvation Army received $115,000.

Chick-fil-A’s New Philanthropic Model

On the surface, this news might appear to be more radical than it really is. Aside from the gloating headlines from secular sources, there are some important details to consider. First, is the fact that the Chick-fil-A Foundation is revamping its entire charity commitment schedule. Instead of a multi-year plan, the group will now reassess donations on an annual basis.

“Additionally, the Foundation will no longer make multiyear commitments and will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact. These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.”

Additionally, we might do well to remember that this is not the first time that the brand has backtracked from its giving model. According to Fox News Chick-fil-A stopped giving money to several conservative Christian groups in 2012 following backlash to CEO Dan Cathy’s comments opposing gay marriage. It seems that those in charge may have feet of clay after all.

On, the other hand, perhaps their new model of giving to local food banks on an annually assessed basis is worthwhile for its focus on subsidiarity. In giving to the needy locally, there is less chance of misappropriation of funds. While it may be disappointing to see donations going elsewhere, there is also the issue of a thorough vetting of beneficiaries of the past.

The Salvation Army Moral Dilemma

My preliminary reaction to the news of a change in funding was disappointing outrage. How could Chick-fil-A bite the very hand that feeds it? After all, conservative customers undoubtedly represent a significant part of their success.

Then I recalled that The Salvation Army is not without its own moral dilemmas. A few years ago, I wrote an article about several morally inappropriate positions held by The Salvation Army. To read the entire piece, go to Is The Salvation Army Ethical? How Do They Stand On Abortion? An overview is available below.

  • The Salvation Army notes that termination can occur when “carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother”…
  • Or diagnostic procedures identify a fetal abnormality causing only a “very brief post-natal period”.
  • Further, rape and incest also represent a “special case for the consideration of termination”.
Planned Parenthood Ties and Contraception

These exceptions portray a troubling contradiction to their professed stance on the “sanctity, unique dignity and respect” due to the “image of God” found in our unborn brethren. Their official statement further relays that…

  • “A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control…”

As noted in medical texts, many forms of birth control are abortifacients. Therefore, the statement above does not portray a pro-life stance. Further, Humanae Vitae clearly teaches that the use of any form of contraception or birth control goes against the teaching of the Church.

In a previous article published by Catholic Stand we find further indictment of The Salvation Army. Their ties to Planned Parenthood disqualify them as a suitable recipient of donations from Catholics.

  • Research by Life Decisions International has found this to be the case (ties to Planned Parenthood), and has placed The Salvation Army on their Dishonorable Mention list.
  • Further, American Life League has also found a troubling connection between the two.

Simply considering “all the good they do” is not enough to excuse or set aside this compromise of pro-life principles.

No Donations to The Salvation Army

Considering the anti-life stance of The Salvation Army, I have reevaluated my initial reaction to the news that Chick-fil-A no longer donates to their organization. In addition, The Salvation Army has other problematic views that affect Catholics. There is a compelling incompatibility in regards to faith.

  • The Salvation Army is a heretical organization/church. Founder, William Booth, completely rejected the Sacraments.
  • In the end Booth concluded that, not only were the Sacraments not vital – they were a mistake. Therefore, in his “Foundation Deed” he abolished the Sacraments completely. This is definitely not a good match for Catholic charity.
In Conclusion

Tim Tassopoulos, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A revealed in a statement that, “No organization will be excluded from future consideration — faith-based or non-faith-based”. The statement went on, “Through these initiatives, Chick-fil-A Inc. and the Foundation will provide approximately $32 million in total cash gifts in 2020”.

In the future, Chick-fil-A will work exclusively with organizations that focus on education, homelessness and hunger. Junior Achievement USA, Covenant House International are included in next year’s budget. The foundation is also donating $25,000 to local food banks.

Although it is certainly troubling when an organization or business appears to stray from the moral high ground, sometimes there is more to consider. There is no doubt that we live in a morally tumultuous era. The lines between secular and moral are ever more intertwined. The confusion caused by this creates a difficult task of discernment for the faithful. Yet, we cannot allow the weaknesses of others to affect our peace. Perhaps the choice made by Chick-fil-A was poorly discerned. Yet, the elimination of donations to The Salvation Army, in deference to a more local effort is an admirable option. Sometimes there is no easy answer.

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11 thoughts on “The Chick-fil-A and Salvation Army Dilemma”

  1. The Salvation Army helps out many of the impoverished and desperate. I will not feel at all friendly toward groups which cause this reduction in charitable giving unless they give equivalent amounts toward the hungry and dispossessed to replace those losses they have caused.

    1. I agree with you Larry. Because of the Salvation Army’s support of Planned Parenthood I’ve switched our contributions for them to Agape, a local group that helps the homeless and poor, Food for the Poor, and Cross Catholic.

  2. Yes and No.

    The difficulty here is that Chick-Fil-A had previously identified itself as a faithful Christian organization, as understood by conservative evangelical standards.

    Now of course we all know that “conservative evangelical standards” are not AS conservative, theologically and morally speaking, as Catholic standards. But better a half-reliable bulwark against societal corruption, than none at all.

    So complaining that the Salvation Army wasn’t ideal is missing the point. Sure, it was never ideal. But expecting a non-Catholic organization to donate heavily to the FSSP was always unrealistic! The fact that they got criticized by secularists and leftists and yet DIDN’T BUCKLE showed they were more on our side, than not.

    Then they buckled.


    It is as historian Robert Conquest has said, in his “three laws of politics”: Any organization that does not explicitly define itself as conservative will inevitably slide leftward until it becomes functionally leftist.

    That’s why, when we look for faithful Christianity in the public square, we look for those who Stand Fast. We seek out those who Hold On. We identify those who Don’t Drift, who Don’t Give In, who Keep The Faith. We were under the impression that Chick-Fil-A was one such, and reward such organizations with donations or patronage whenever we can.

    Chick-Fil-A’s decision is caving in, even if it’s only a bit. It means they’re acceding to the inevitable slide leftward. If they don’t reverse course and claw back the ground they’ve lost, they’ll become just another McDonalds. And it makes the lives of faithful Christians in a post-Christian world just a little bit lonelier.

    About 20% of their customer base used to say, “Oh, look, a Chick-Fil-A! There are other things I could buy, and I’ve already had CFA recently; but what the heck: I want to reward those guys! They make me feel like the American public square isn’t entirely pagan. They make me think that not EVERY company I buy from hates everything I stand for. I can feel good about those waffle fries in a way I can’t about any other product. So why skimp?”

    Now those 20% are going to say, “They used to be okay; but they’re on their way to capitulation. How can anyone have positive feelings towards the Neville Chamberlain of used-to-be-Christian businesses? Heck, I feel more like Panda Express today anyway.”

    They didn’t get entirely WOKE, so they won’t go entirely BROKE.

    But they brought scandal by setting a bad example: Excess affability, instead of bold witness. Unless they were to make an equally bold turn back in the other direction, I don’t suppose I’ll ever feel as warm towards a restaurant chain again.

    What a shame.

  3. I am hearing unsettling things about Covenant House which are not addressed here. But I think all of this misses the issue. Today it is the Salvation Army; tomorrow, assuredly, it will be the Knights of Columbus (we already have sitting U.S. senators who consider it an “extremist” group). The line must be held today, tomorrow is too late.

  4. The Salvation Army is anti-Catholic and pro-abortion. Yes, it helps those in need, but with strings attached, and many other church, local, and national organizations do a better job. I put my money where it will help people without simultaneously working against my Catholic faith and the unborn.

  5. Thank you Birgit, for this excellent analysis. Several years ago we diverted our contributions to the Salvation Army to a local group helping the homeless, Agape. It seems to me that the policies of Chic-Fil-A have not deviated from their Christian base, so what are the fussers complaining about?

    1. Bob:

      You ask “What are the fussers complaining about?”

      To understand that, first understand why so many Evangelical Protestants, and even so many Catholics, were reasonably happy about Chick-Fil-A’s success. We were grading Chick-Fil-A on a curve. Nobody expected them to be as faithful to Catholic morals and values as some hypothetical Catholic version of Chick-Fil-A would have been. It was never reasonable to expect them only to donate to the Courage ministry or the FSSP. But they donated to groups that offended anti-Christian leftist groups, and seemed like they were successfully resisting pressure to change, and thriving in spite of the pressure. That was always a good sign.

      But everyone knows the truth of what historian Robert Conquest described in one of his “three laws of politics”: That any organization that doesn’t explicitly define itself as conservative — as “standing athwart history yelling stop!” — inevitably slides into being a leftist organization. Chick-Fil-A doesn’t open on Sundays, and that little conservative-seeming flag of Christian faithfulness seemed to indicate that they would remain faithful, no matter the cost. to Christian orthodoxy as they understood it. (The fact that they didn’t understand it as well as Pope Leo XIII, say, was charitably overlooked; we Catholics were just happy that they were attempting faithfulness as they understood it.)

      As a result, Catholics and morally-faithful Protestants could go into the public square and say, “Hey, when I buy from most companies, I’m always stuck buying from a company that explicitly rejects much of what I stand for on the hot-button issues of the day. But Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby are among the very few companies that haven’t issued statements condemning my beliefs on Christian sexual morality. It makes me feel not so lonely in the public square, that such companies exist, and do well.”

      Then Chick-Fil-A caved.

      That means that, unless they reverse course and claw back the ground they’ve lost, they’re signalling they’re on their way to compromising with the culture. And faithful Christians are just that much lonelier, just a tad more devoid of allies in the marketplace. The whole society has shifted imperceptibly leftward, and with it, the Overton Window for what happens next.

      That’s why it isn’t a good thing.

      It’s a bit like having your neighbor be a Protestant minister who always previously seemed friendly to Catholics, despite being ecclesiologically mistaken in several ways…and then one day you find out he stopped visiting a Catholic-run business in town because the local KKK pressured him to stop helping Catholics.

      Since he’s a Protestant minister, he’s still better than, say, a Satanist. But he’s given in to the mob, and that makes you, as a Catholic, just a little bit lonelier than before. The KKK made your neighbor blink, and that’s one fewer neighbor you can count on, when they come to harass YOU.

      And that’s why the complaint about the Salvation Army having never been orthodox by Catholic standards is missing the point. The leftists made Chick-Fil-A blink. That emboldens them and puts fear into everyone whom they want to intimidate.

    2. R.C., I’m reading your comment, but I still don’t see that it responds to what I said. As I remarked, we no longer give to the Salvation Army because of their support of Planned Parenthood. So are we caving in to the LGBxyzwrtasfh…. factions because of that? And as far as diverting contributions from the “Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” again I can think of more worthy organizations to fund. Show me the names of organizations advocating sexual immorality or anti-Christian policies to which Chick-Fil-A donates, and I’ll take the criticisms against this business more seriously. It seems to me that the LGB… group have made a public relations coup in this affair, and that people have caved to their propaganda.

    3. Avoid the red kettle! Salvation Army is pro abort in some circumstances and not Catholic. Give to local Catholic charities.
      Blessings Birgit!!!

  6. Where does capitulation end? Coincidentally, when I was pondering this latest from chic fil A, I read yesterday’s reading from Maccabees where seven sons were tortured and murdered for obeying God’s law. Because Chic Fil A caved, they have created a monster which now knows their weak spot and will continue to devour them. For me, I’ve always believed that the Salvation Army is a worthwhile organization for the good they do in times of disaster. They are a good stewards of their finances. I have recently contributed to them and will continue to do so. I’ve committed to being a bell ringer this season.

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