Salvation Army says it is victim of 'misinformation' after Chick-fil-A ends funding partnership

(Photo: Chick-fil-A)

The Salvation Army has said it is "saddened" by the decision of Chick-fil-A to cancel funding for the organisation's social projects after coming under pressure from LGBT campaigners. 

Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow that it was restructuring its giving to focus on education, homelessness and hunger, and that the new plans no longer include donations to organisations like The Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, all of which have been accused of being anti-LGBT.

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Tassopoulos said.

"There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

In a statement, The Salvation Army claimed it was the victim of "misinformation" and urged people to "seek the truth".

"We're saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which The Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed," it said. 

"We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk.

"We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment and greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors." 

The Christian-owned Chick-fil-A has come under pressure over its stance on gay marriage.  The UK's first Chick-fil-A branch was forced to close when its landlords informed the chain just days after it opened that it would not be renewing its six-month pilot lease. 

The decision by the Oracle shopping centre in Reading was made after LGBT campaigners started protests demanding the restaurant's closure.  A spokesperson for the Oracle said that not renewing the lease was "the right thing to do".

A petition to keep the Reading branch open has been signed by over 40,000 people.  Chick-fil-A's second UK branch, at the Macdonalds' Aviemore Resort in Scotland, is still trading. 

Chick-fil-A denied that it was capitulating to LGBT campaigners and that it would continue to consider giving to Christian organisations. 

"Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger. No organisation will be excluded from future consideration – faith-based or non-faith based," the fast food chain told The Christian Post. 

Just last week, The Salvation Army was forced to deny it was anti-LGBT when British pop star Ellie Goulding threatened to pull out of the Dallas Cowboys' Thanksgiving half time show, the proceeds of which will be going to The Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. 

Goulding had said she would cancel her performance unless The Salvation Army made a donation to the LGBTQ community. 

"I have reached out to The Salvation Army and said that I would have no choice but to pull out unless they very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community," she said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"I am a committed philanthropist as you probably know, and my heart has always been in helping the homeless, but supporting an anti-LGBTQ charity is clearly not something I would ever intentionally do. Thank you for drawing my attention to this."

Later in the week, the National Commander of the Salvation Army, David Hudson, told Fox News that "misconceptions" had been addressed and that Goulding would be performing at the show as planned.

"We'd like to thank Ellie Goulding and her fans for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army's mission to serve all, without discrimination," he said in a statement.

"We applaud her for taking the time to learn about the services we provide to the LGBT community. Regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, we're committed to serving anyone in need."