Chick-fil-A faces rightwing backlash after cutting ties to Christian groups

Oliver Milman
Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Leading US conservatives have turned on the fast-food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A after the company decided to cut its ties to two Christian groups that have long opposed same-sex marriage.

To compound rightwingers’ fury, it has also emerged via tax filings that Chick-fil-A donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights advocacy organization, in 2017. The SPLC has a lengthy record of supporting LGBTQ+ and abortion rights.

Chick-fil-A, previously best known for its chicken sandwiches, was embraced by conservatives due to its foundation’s funding of the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which oppose same-sex marriage.

This adoration has now turned sour, however.

The restaurant has “badly lost its way”, tweeted the Republican senator Ted Cruz, a prominent religious conservative. “Millions of Christians have been proud of ChickFilA’s courageous stands for religious liberty. To fund those who hate your customers is just sad.”

Related: Chick-fil-A pulls funding for Christian groups criticised for LGBT stance

The former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, another devout Republican, accused Chick-fil-A of having “surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups”.

Having been boycotted by protesters who accused it of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, Chick-fil-A now faces the prospect of being shunned by some of its most enthusiastic former backers.

“It’s time for Christians to find a fast-food alternative to Chick-fil-A,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council organization. “Not only has Chick-fil-A abandoned donations to Christian groups including the Salvation Army, it has donated to one of the most extreme anti-Christian groups in America.”

A spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A said the company had fulfilled its obligations to the two Christian organizations and would now focus its donations to “education, homelessness and hunger”.