In 2012, the fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A came under intense criticism from homosexual groups and their supporters after CEO Dan Cathy said he was “guilty as charged” for supporting traditional marriage.
Christians overwhelmingly gave their support, filling restaurants with new customers who turned out, not only for the food, but to make a statement.
That may all be about to change.
Chick-fil-A is now listed as a sponsor for Level Ground, a “faith-based LGBT film festival,” reports Christian News Network — a discovery that has sparked an online petition demanding the company clarify its “corporate stance regarding previously stated Christian values on marriage and stewardship.”
According to Level Ground’s website, the group “creates safe space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality through the arts.” The group’s film festival started as a student-run event in 2013. It has since expanded and hosted programming in six cities across the U.S., billing itself as “the world’s first film festival connecting lesbian, gay and transgender sexuality with faith and evangelical Christianity.”
Baptist Press reported participants in Level Ground’s most recent film festival, held Oct. 8-10 in Nashville, Tennessee, included former contemporary Christian artist Jennifer Knapp, who came out as a lesbian in 2005, and Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University English professor and research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Gracepointe Church, an evangelical church in Franklin, Tennessee, that came out in January in support of same-sex marriage was also a sponsor.
Prior tweeted her appreciation to Chick-fil-A for its support in Nashville.
This is not the first indication of a possible Chick-fil-A about-face. In June, a local restaurant donated 200 sandwiches and side dishes to the Iowa City Pride Fest’s picnic. The restaurant’s owner, Adam Donius, agreed to this arrangement, according to local reports, after being approached by event organizers.
“We offered him different ways he could contribute and be a part of our bridge, help us build community,” Iowa City Pride chairwoman Jewell Amos said. “He said he totally believes in building community. So he was like, ‘sure.'”
Likewise, Chick-fil-A franchisees in Southern California are participating in fundraisers for Level Ground.
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Chick-fil-A has been under pressure since 2012 when CEO Dan Cathy gave an interview to Baptist Press, saying, “We are very much supporting of the family — the Biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Later in a radio broadcast, Cathy expressed his concern about the growing call to legalize same-sex marriage.
“As it relates to society in general, I think we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'” he said. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.”
Christian News Network reached out to Chick-fil-A for comment and explanation from the corporation regarding the reported sponsorship of Level Ground, but received no response. Following the controversies of 2012, the company had announced its “intent … to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” the fast-food chain wrote in a separate news release. “Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.”
But now, some Christians see the Chick-fil-A brand re-entering the debate supporting an agenda to distort and infiltrate their faith.
How did America get from “Mayberry” to “gay marriage?” Here’s the explanation, in “A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.”
Geoffrey Grider, Christian blogger at NowTheEndBegins, criticized the Chick-fil-A association with Level Ground, saying the group has “one agenda, the promotion of the ‘Love Gospel,’ … a perverted brand of “christianity” that only focuses on the love of God, and leaves out everything having to do with sin and judgment. The Love Gospel states that because the Bible says that ‘God is love,’ then everything and everyone must be accepted. You have to accept same-sex marriage, transgender, cross-dressing, whatever …”
Grider continued: “Shame on you, Dan Cathy. Christian Americans stood by you and Chick-Fil-A every step of the way back in 2012 when you were persecuted for taking a stand for Jesus Christ. But we will not stand with you on this. No sir. One of my favorite places to get lunch is at one of your restaurants, but that can and will change. Your move.”