Chick-fil-A is “very much supportive of the family,” according to Dan Cathy, president of the popular fast food chain. That is, “the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said.
And that doesn’t include Adam and Steve, suggests Cathy, whose father S. Truett Cathy founded the Atlanta-based company.
In a new interview with Baptist Press, Cathy puts on the record what critics say his company’s actions have indicated for years. “Well, guilty as charged,” he said in the interview when asked about Chick-fil-A’s backing of families led by a man and a woman.
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” Cathy said.
The chain, according to the report, has 1,608 restaurants, sales of more than $4 billion and employees who are trained “to focus on values rooted in the Bible.” Chick-fil-A's across the country shut down on Sundays.
“We don’t claim to be a Christian business," Cathy said. "But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles.”
Last year, protesters accused Chick-fil-A of supporting an anti-gay agenda with donations, which the company has steadily denied. The company could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
A report from LGBT advocacy group Equality Matters concluded that Chick-fil-A donated more than $3 million between 2003 and 2009 to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. In 2010 alone, the company gave nearly $2 million to such causes, according to the report.
In Los Feliz, similar donations from the new owner of a beloved local health food store also stirred controversy this fall. After Peter Lassen bought the neighborhood Nature Mart, many shoppers began to picket and boycott the business.
Blogger Howie Klein summed up the reaction in a post, accusing Lassen, a Mormon, of donating tens of thousands of dollars toward “the anti-gay jihad.”
The post, however, also quotes Lassen’s niece defending the business: "We have a lot a gay and lesbian customers. We have nothing against them. To us, it is a moral issue, not a civil issue.”
But companies that embrace gay pride aren’t immune to debate. When Kraft posted a photo of an Oreo cookie with rainbow-hued filling last month, its profile on the social media site erupted in comments – not all of them flattering. J.C. Penney encountered similar resistance when it drafted lesbian Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman.
As for Chick-fil-A, Cathy said the company’s leaders “intend to stay the course.”
"We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles," he said.