Chick-fil-A 'have not bowed down to anyone's demands', says Franklin Graham

(Photo: Chick-fil-A)

Evangelist Franklin Graham says he has been assured by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy that the fast food chain "remains committed to Christian values".

The Christian-owned fried chicken outlet has faced a backlash within the evangelical community over changes to its corporate giving that includes ending a longstanding funding partnership with The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Both charities adhere to a traditional understanding of marriage and have been accused of being anti-LGBT by liberal activists. 

Graham, head of Samaritan's Purse and son of the late Billy Graham, said in a Facebook post that he called Cathy in the wake of reports this week suggesting that Chick-fil-A changed its giving strategy because of pressure from LGBT campaigners. 

He says Cathy was "very clear that they have not bowed down to anyone's demands, including the LGBTQ community".

"They will continue to support whoever they want to support," Graham said.

"They haven't changed who they are or what they believe. Chick-fil-A remains committed to Christian values. Dan Cathy assured me that this isn't going to change.

"I hope all those who jumped to the wrong conclusion about them read this."

The evangelical community challenged Chick-fil-A after its president and COO Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow that it was restructuring its giving to focus on education, homelessness and hunger, and that it wanted to bring clarity to its "message".

"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."

The Salvation Army, though, expressed disappointment over Chick-fil-A's decision to end the funding partnership. 

In a statement earlier this week, it claimed to have been a victim of "misinformation". 

"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 restructuring of Chick-fil-A's giving comes weeks after its first UK branch was forced to close following protests by LGBT activists. 

Management at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading said it would not be renewing the outlet's six-month pilot lease.  Reading Pride has vowed to continue holding protests outside the restaurant until it leaves the shopping centre.