Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Chick-fil-A’s announcement that it was dumping the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which have come under attack by gay activist groups, caught Christian fans of the fast food chain by surprise. It shouldn’t have if they had been paying attention to CFA’s corporate structure.
The donations were coming out of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. The Executive Director of the CFA Foundation is Rodney D. Bullard, a former White House fellow and Assistant US Attorney. Some may have mistaken him for a conservative because he was a fellow in the Bush Administration, but he was an Obama donor, and, more recently, had donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign while at Chick-fil-A.
Like many corporations, Chick-fil-A branded its charitable giving as a form of social responsibility. Bullard became its Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. Unlike charity, corporate social responsibility is a leftist endeavor to transform corporations into the political arms of radical causes. Like other formerly conservative corporations, Chick-fil-A had made the fundamental error of adopting the language and the infrastructure of its leftist peers. And that made what happened entirely inevitable.
In an interview with Business Insider earlier this year, Bullard emphasized that the Chick-fil-A Foundation had a “higher calling than any political or cultural war.” The foundation boss was preparing the way for the shakeup that was coming in the fall. Even while he claimed that the CFA Foundation had a higher calling than a political or cultural war, he was preparing to accommodate the Left’s cultural war.
Bullard would have been seen as a safe bet. The CFA Foundation and the Christian groups it supported were so entangled that Bullard serves on the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board and was on the National Board of Trustees of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But Bullard’s vision was not that of charity, but of corporate social responsibility. And the two things are fundamentally different.
Charity helps people. Corporate social responsibility is virtue signaling by capitalists to anti-capitalists. Unlike charity, corporate social responsibility isn’t about helping people, but ticking off ideological and identity politics boxes like diversity and the environment. If people accidentally get helped in the process of helping a corporation signal its membership in the politically correct creed, that can’t be helped.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation will go on funding leftist groups like Atlanta’s Westside Future Fund. The Westside Future Fund is a project of the Atlanta Committee for Progress together with former Mayor Kasim Reed. It will just opt out of funding Christian groups whose views offend anyone on the Left.
The $1.7 million that the Westside Future Fund shoveled in last year from the CFA Foundation vastly outpaces the mere $115,000 that the Salvation Army got for its Angel Tree program to provide gifts for poor children during the holidays. But even that low end six figure donation was too much and the gifts had to be snatched away from the kids by leftist pressure groups and identity politics protesters.
Sorry kids, our politics are more important than your presents.
A less publicized donation of $100,000 went to Sustainable Atlanta. That could have bought a lot of gifts. There was also a $10,000 donation to Saris to Suits whose mission is to “advance women’s empowerment, education, gender equality, and social justice.”
There’s money for social justice, but not for the Salvation Army.
There was $25,000 for UNICEF and $75,000 for the Andrew Young Foundation. That last one isn’t a surprise. Carter’s radical UN ambassador sits on the CFA Foundation’s advisory board. $20,000 went to the Latino Leaders Network, another $20,000 to the Harvard Debate Diversity Network, $45,000 to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and $5,000 was allotted to Friends of Refugees.
The latter boasts of resettling the sort of refugees who would demand that Chick-fil-A go Halal.
There’s money for Muslim refugees, but not for the Salvation Army.
And that’s the tip of the iceberg. “Diversity”, “equity”, and “social justice” are typical buzzwords associated with many of the organizations that the Chick-fil-A Foundation had been funding. And that’s typical of corporate social responsibility ventures which are all about pictures of smiling poor children cradling green plants accompanied by women in hijabs. There’s nothing unusual about that.
But most conservatives thought, without investigating, that Chick-fil-A was different. It wasn’t another corporate social behemoth. It didn’t answer to shareholders and stakeholders. It had a biblical vision. And, it was under fire for donating to Christian groups. But even when the CFA Foundation donated to Christian organizations, it was also pouring a lot of money into conventional social justice causes.
The controversy and arguments over the donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes conveniently distracted from where a lot of the money was going.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes had received a mere $25,000 last year. Far less than the funds that poured into Andrew Young’s non-profit empire. A fig leaf.
Now the fig leaf is gone and the reality is that the Chick-fil-A Foundation is just another corporate leftist charity that lavishes cash on organizations linked to local Democrats and assorted diversity causes.
Without the fig leaf, the Chick-fil-A Foundation is no different than the other corporate charities run by their own equivalents of Bullard, men and women who had spent enough time in government to get a useless job in the corporate world, and its abandonment of Christian conservatives was an inevitability.
And the question is what will the Christians who made Chick-fil-A boom do now?
They can either fight to hold Chick-fil-A accountable or shrug and accept another loss. Most of the country’s major brands are pipelines of cash that lead directly to leftist causes. Hardly any of the money that conservatives spend on products and services every day ends up going to conservative causes.
Major brands hammer the air with ad campaigns that directly attack the values and rights of ordinary Americans. And, most Americans, including conservatives, keep on buying from the same huge conglomerates like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Diageo (Johnny Walker), RBI (Burger King and Popeyes), General Mills, and from retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon, despite their leftist politics.
Chick-fil-A was supposed to be different. If there’s any company that conservatives can hold accountable, this is it. And if they can’t hold Chick-fil-A accountable, then what’s left?
Accountability doesn’t just begin with restoring donations to worthy charities like the Salvation Army, but a serious reevaluation of the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s leadership and its overall charitable priorities.
If Chick-fil-A wants to be in the business of corporate social responsibility, rather than charity, it will over time become increasingly hostile to the very customers who made it successful. Corporate social responsibility will take it down the same dark road of virtue signaling and political correctness.
Then, before you know it, there will be a Chick-fil-A ad campaign about toxic masculinity.
And then the legacy of its founder will be as thoroughly lost as the legacies of the founders of so many other great American companies whose modern incarnations slavishly serve anti-American causes.
That would be a tragedy. This is a test of whether that tragedy is truly inevitable.
It’s also a warning. If conservatives had paid closer attention to the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s leadership, Bullard’s $1,000 donation to Hillary Clinton in 2016 would have provided a warning of what was coming.
Organizations don’t trend rightward. They trend leftward. Any organization that isn’t closely watched will go the way of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. If this can happen at Chick-fil-A, it can happen anywhere.