- - Sunday, November 24, 2019

Chick-fil-A has long been an oasis for families seeking escape from an ever-colder, cynical world.

It’s not just the delicious chicken sandwiches. It’s the background Christian music, the incredibly friendly staff and, yes, knowing you can support a company that’s held firm in the face of relentless pressure from the left.

The bullying began in 2011, when an LGBTQ group called for a boycott of the chicken chain because it had sponsored a marriage seminar conducted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an affiliate of Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

In 2012, company President Dan Cathy stated in an interview that he believed marriage was created by God as the union of one man and one woman. “Guilty as charged,” he said half-jokingly.

LGBTQ groups went ballistic. They held a nationwide boycott, which fizzled in the face of a far larger “buycott” that created block-long lines on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith showed his own pro-gay stripes at the time by gratuitously slamming it as the “National Day of Intolerance.” He belongs on MSNBC, not Fox, but I digress.

Despite massive support, Chick-fil-A caved a bit, quietly defunding any group that the LGBTQ bullies deemed as cultural opponents, such as Family Research Council. But Chick-fil-A kept funding Christian charities like the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Georgia, which was founded with aid from Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy.

In 2018, the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated $115,000 to the Salvation Army and $1.65 million to the FCA, according to an IRS tax form reported at Bisnow.com.

The Salvation Army, the FCA and the Anderson Youth Home stand by the biblical definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Hence, the LGBTQ rage mob has deemed them “haters.”

When Chick-fil-A recently announced that some of its charitable agreements were expiring and that they were restructuring their giving, all hell broke loose. Chick-fil-A Foundation would henceforth give more to local charities that assist with “education, homelessness and hunger,” the company said. They cited Junior Achievement and the Covenant House as representative recipients, with no mention of the Salvation Army, FCA or the Anderson Home.

This was seen widely as a surrender to the LGBTQ rage mob. An American Family Association petition to Chick-fil-A quickly drew nearly 100,000 signatures. The text says in part: “it looks like you are abandoning Christian values and agreeing with homosexual activists who say believing the Bible makes you a hater. Please clarify that you still hold to biblical teachings regarding human sexuality, marriage, and family, and reinstate these Christian ministries.”

The company says it was merely restructuring its philanthropic giving around three needs — “education, homelessness and hunger.” They say they will give to “faith-based and non-faith-based” groups in the future, for example, Junior Achievement and Covenant House. The first group teaches kids the principles of business success and lacks no corporate support. Covenant House offers shelter and programs for homeless, runaway and trafficked youth.

OK, but the Salvation Army has been doing this effectively for decades. Here’s the difference. Covenant House has earned the stamp of approval from True Colors United, a pro-gay group that celebrates Pride Month and other pro-LGBTQ events and demands “affirmation,” not just tolerance.

The Salvation Army, which discriminates against none and welcomes homeless “LGBTQ youth,” maintains its biblical, denominational belief in marriage as God created it.

Ironically, the Salvation Army has bent over backwards to accommodate LGBTQ activists, even extending marital benefits to same-sex couples. But they’ve not genuflected fully to the gay Baals, so they must be punished as a “hate group.”

In any event, appeasement never works. LGBTQ pressure groups have already made more demands. They want Chick-fil-A to recite Mao-like recantations of their beliefs and denounce Focus on the Family and other Christian groups that once enjoyed Chick-fil-A funding.

Make no mistake. This is not about these charities or even Chick-fil-A. It’s about intimidating everyone who won’t surrender to the LGBTQ mob’s increasingly aggressive bullying.

Several liberal mayors have moved to bar Chick-fil-A from opening in their cities. Numerous campuses, spouting “inclusion,” have banned Chick-fil-A. The company recently had to close down a new store in Reading, England, in the face of the LGBTQ mobs there. This is the criminalization of Christianity before our very eyes.

Amid all this, Chick-fil-A has doubled its revenue and is now the third-largest fast-food chain in America. With annual sales exceeding $11 billion, the company is proof that you can stand by your values and prosper in the face of mob pressure. Until you don’t.

Franklin Graham, perhaps the most prominent evangelical leader in America, and no “evangellyfish,” said he talked with Chick-fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy personally and was assured that the company was not giving in to the LGBTQ mob.

Those of us who have loved Chick-fil-A over the years sincerely hope this is the case, and that it’s not just damage control after an ill-conceived capitulation.

If you cut deals with the left, don’t be surprised when they come back within minutes, munching a chicken sandwich and saying, “What have you done for me lately?”

• Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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