Chick-fil-A to New York: 'no political agenda'

by Diana Chandler, posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 (one year ago)

NEW YORK (BP) -- Homosexual New York councilman Danny Dromm has urged the boycott of a Chick-fil-A scheduled to open in his Queens council district this fall, releasing an official press statement accusing the chain of supporting groups opposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lifestyles.

Chick-fil-A's 5,000-square-foot, three-story restaurant at West 37th Street and 6th Avenue in New York is the chain’s largest in the country.
Chick-fil-A photo
At an unrelated press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio counseled citizens not to frequent the chain that already has two successful restaurants in Manhattan, citing the chain ownership's support of biblically based marriage, but stopped short of calling for a boycott.

"It is a country in which people have a right to open a business," the Queens Chronical quoted de Blasio. "What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong. I'm certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn't urge any other New Yorker to patronize them, but they do have a legal right."

Chick-fil-A already has two locations in New York. The newest opened April 2 at 46th Street and 6th Avenue, and its largest in the country, a free-standing, three-story 5,000-square-foot venue at 1000 6th Ave, opened Oct. 3, 2015.

Chick-fil-A president and CEO Dan Cathy has received disapproval from the LGBT community because of his public comments against same-sex marriage, but Chick-fil-A told Baptist Press good business is the company's only focus.

"Our sole focus is on serving great food with fast and remarkable service," Carrie Kurlander, Chick-fil-A vice president for public relations said in an email. "New Yorkers have turned out in record numbers since we entered the market last year, and we are thrilled by the strong response. Everyone is welcome, and Chick-fil-A has no political agenda."

In calling for a boycott, Dromm referenced Chick-fil-A's continued support of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

"This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love," Dromm said in the press release. "It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations."

Dromm announced plans to ask Queens Center Mall to rescind a permit for Chick-fil-A to operate in the mall's food court, where work has already begun for the restaurant to open.

"I hope that the Queens Center mall will reconsider giving a company so deeply involved in anti-gay discrimination a lease on their property," Dromm said. "Believers in equality should boycott these purveyors of hate."

Chick-fil-A's support of the FCA is "specifically to provide free summer sports camps for hundreds of young students in urban environments throughout the nation," the Queens Chronical quoted Chick-fil-A spokesperson Desiree Fulton in a May 5 report.

"Our intent is not to support groups with political agendas," Fulton said. "The Chick-fil-A Foundation gives 100 percent of its dollars to programs supporting youth, education and the local communities in which our restaurants operate."

Chick-fil-A has 80,000 employees of all different backgrounds and beliefs, Fulton said, and works to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

The Atlanta-based chain opened 88 new U.S. locations in 2015, creating more than 7,400 new jobs, and has announced plans to open several restaurants in Manhattan and the surrounding New York boroughs through 2017.

System-wide sales exceeded $6 billion in 2015, the company's website said, marking 48 consecutive years of sales growth. Chick-fil-A ranked first for customer satisfaction in the Limited Service Restaurants industry, based on the 2015 American Customer Satisfaction Index and received the highest ever ACSI score in the industry.

The Harris Poll recognized the company in 2015 as America's "Top Chicken Restaurant Brand," Chick-fil-A said, and 24/7 Wall Street listed the company as the only restaurant brand in the Top 10 "Best Companies to Work For."

On May 9, the New York Post said Chick-fil-A is on track to become the fourth top-grossing fast-food chain in the U.S. by 2020, according to the Nomura Group.

Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, has said he is committed to biblical values in business, and that God "has blessed us."

"We don't claim to be a Christian business," Cathy said in 2012. "But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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