HomeEconomic IssuesAfter Prayin’ on it, Chik-fil-A CEO Regrets Being a Homophobic Bigoted A-Hole

After Prayin’ on it, Chik-fil-A CEO Regrets Being a Homophobic Bigoted A-Hole

Back when AATTP was a mere hatchling of a blog, the airwaves were abuzz with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s public decision to take his (“Christian”) company into the political arena by joining the fight against gay marriage. Before going any further, let us take a moment to remember what Cathy said on the Ken Coleman show, in June of 2012:

“I think we are 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’. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Almost immediately, Cathy began pouring bucket-loads of cash into anti-gay organizations, including $1.1 million sent to the Family Research Organization, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Cathy even created a whole separate group called the Chick-fil-A Foundation, to quietly funnel private money to these groups.

Of course, protests by LBGT groups followed, as did petitions on college campuses banning Chick-fil-A from the property; Pasadena, California is one such recent example. Whole cities, like Boston, forbade Chick-fil-A from opening new franchises. Regardless, the Right got to momentarily revel in the fact that, in its moment in the public eye, Chick-fil-A’s profits soared to an all-time high. All publicity, it seemed, was good publicity; a few months after Cathy’s statements, his company’s earnings seemed to be on an unstoppable march up to the peaks of success. But a funny thing happened on the way up the mountain.

A few months after the statement, earnings reports from the privately owned Chick-fil-A (which is under no obligation to report its earnings) just sort of…stopped. Go ahead…Google “Chick-fil-a earnings history.” Everything goes strangely silent later in the 2012 financial year. Hmmm. Fascinating.

More fascinating yet was that immediately after all went quiet on the Western Front, Chick-fil-A ceased most of its donations to anti-gay hate groups. As of 2014, they were down to one: a $25,000 donation to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Strange how the Right didn’t advertise this latest little shift in policy. Dan Cathy, on the other hand, is now advertising it in spades.

On March 14th, as he watched numerous beer sponsors (including Sam Adams, Heineken and Guinness) pulling sponsorship dollars from St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York and Boston , Cathy sang an entirely different tune. Very contritely, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his company’s new tune was a matter of “personal growth” on his part:

“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make. And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

Ah…ye olde celebrity/politician “I’ve been to rehab and I’m all better now” defense. Gotcha. Later parts of the same interview give a slightly more, shall we say, “thorough” explanation of what happened during Cathy’s road-to-Damascus epiphany.

“Probably the elements that were stressful for me most is from our internal staff and from operators and how this may be affecting them. The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues.

Consumers want to do business with brands that they can interface with, that they can relate with. And it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”


“I really shouldn’t have opened my big mouth to pander to homophobes on the far right. Customers hate us, employees hate us…Hell, whole CITIES hate us. The only people who don’t have moved on to whining on Facebook about the Obama-thing meme-of-the-week, and 99% of them couldn’t afford a chicken sandwich to begin with. Crap.”

Even more to the point, those who can afford chicken sandwiches have been heading to other fast-food chains like McDonald’s, which offer better chicken and lower-calorie menus. Of course, McDonalds isn’t free of its fair share hate, but at least that hate is universal. It’s not constrained to fairly spendy demographics like college students and members of the LBGT community.

Yes, homosexuals have money, too. And, as a rule, they’re not spending it on new shoes for the kids. Turns out the Free Market works (in some cases), after all.

Selling hate is like selling bundled derivatives of bad mortgages: Always a short-term gain, long-term loss proposition. Some in the middle might profit for a little while, but it just doesn’t work as a long-term business strategy. Hate is a fast-burning sugar…good for a quick rush, but lacking in the long-term sustainable value of protein.

Even if that protein comes from large servings of crow.

h/t: Daily Kos


About Richard Rowe

Richard Rowe
Richard Rowe is a full-time freelance writer who has written over 3 million words in the last four years alone -- mostly on automotive and technical subjects. He's also a seventh-generation native Floridian, and was born and raised in the Ocala National Forest. A conservative soul turned Bull-Moose Progressive, he believes that "When change becomes necessary, the once impractical ideology of progress becomes practical, and maintenance of the status quo becomes the impractical ideology." And also, that "Rustoleum Black Enamel is a primary color."
  • Skater Boy

    Actually, it isn’t just him having an opinion; he’s used millions of the profits from the company to fund LGBT-hate groups like the Family Research Center. Have you considered all of the gay children who commit suicide because of bullying, which is perpetuated by the propaganda these organizations spread? When people are dying and being persecuted because of these beliefs, it isn’t just an inconsequential “difference of opinion”.

  • http://gravatar.com/swagnolialynne swagnolia.lynne

    I don’t get it. The man gave everyone exactly what they wanted, why are we still mad? His company no longer donates to anti-gay organizations and he’s apologized and rescinded his negative comments. I suppose I can see that it’s possible he’s not entirely sincere, but how is anyone going to judge that fairly without giving him the benefit of the doubt? To my mind, the protests did exactly what they were supposed to, and all of this negativity isn’t doing anything but promoting people to be sore winners about the whole thing.

    • http://facebook.com/evilliberalagenda John Prager

      Well, i guess his “change of heart” (read: wallet) just makes everything OK then!

      • Shane

        Well we better continue assuming the worse. That makes everybody better in the end doesn’t it? It must be so encouraging to change your mind when you’re only going to be mocked further for it.

      • Liz

        With all do respect, it may not make everything OK, but don’t you think it makes it at least somewhat better? People do need to be given at least some credit when they take a step in the right direction towards progressiveness and tolerance. Not treated with cynicism and further shunned. I would welcome him to our side as long as he makes a sincere effort to move forward. This whole ‘damned if you do-damned if you don’t’ attitude and not allowing people to change their minds doesn’t help reach anybody. I would even welcome Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh with open arms if they announced they had a change of heart and became leftists. I would view it with some skepticism at first, sure, but as long as they left all their hateful rhetoric and vitriol at the door and never went back to it, I’d be more than happy to see them come around. And while I’m sure Dan Cathy is AT LEAST partially motivated by money in this one, in the end really, who cares? He’s publicly taken back his initial statement, and he’s not hurting the lbgt community anymore. Isn’t that what’s really important? I’m glad the homophobic far right lost a contributor! Good for Dan Cathy! The least we can do is quietly give him the benefit of the doubt until and unless he slips up, and as long as he continues on his new path towards tolerance we should encourage him. Otherwise we just make ourselves look like a bunch of hateful snarling propagandists like the tea party. It’s not poking fun at them and pointing out their horrifically flawed morals that lower ourselves to their level; it’s the unwillingness to give people with the desire to change a second chance.

    • Amie

      He has lied and said they werent doing anti-gay donations before, only to be caught doing it again. He needs more than words this time around.

  • Tim

    I still find it hard to believe that people really need a book or a religion to tell them what to think. If it isn’t obvious that hatred, discrimination and denial of rights are wrong regardless of what some book or group tells you then you need to spend some time reassessing your belief system. I’d like to believe that Mr. Cathy has looked at his beliefs and gained some insight, and in fact I would be willing to reserve my skepticism for any decision until he has had a chance to prove that he has. If he is just hiding his true beliefs and being only publicly tolerant to make more money, that is pretty sad. But if he really has changed, well, we all deserve a second chance to be better. Actually, in a way I’m hoping that he has truly changed, because I like their sandwiches but I haven’t bought one since 2012, because I can’t stand the thought of my money being used in such a terrible way.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jsbiff Jeff Schmidt

    Can anyone point me to to any sources on FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) being an anti-gay hate group? Now, I realize, even as I ask that, that as a conservative Christian organization, they almost surely believe homosexuality is sin. But, I do find there is some distinction between a Christian group that happens to think homosexuality is a sin, and a group that actively engages in anti-gay propaganda or lobbying for laws to restrict gay rights. Is FCA in the former group, or the latter?

    • https://www.facebook.com/jsbiff Jeff Schmidt

      I see now that the link with the text, “As of 2014″, goes to an article with slightly more info. Looks like FCA falls into that latter group I mentioned – groups who don’t focus on anti-LGBT activism, but who share the evangelical Christian position of homosexuality being sin.

      • http://gravatar.com/fedos fedos

        “who share the evangelical Christian position of homosexuality”

        So… anti-gay hate group. Thanks.

    • http://facebook.com/evilliberalagenda John Prager

      Both are hate groups, in my opinion.

  • DNA

    Fortunately for us, these jerks value money more than their principles.

  • https://www.facebook.com/candace.marley68 Candace Marley

    Chik-fil-A would not the be the first company to make a killing in sales over something they said/did/offered/promoted. But each one that has seen that kind of boon only see’s it happen in a temporary basis…until the newness wears offs.

  • Jim Beam

    “Even more to the point, those who can afford chicken sandwiches have been heading to other fast-food chains like McDonald’s, which offer better chicken and lower-calorie menus.” I am an LGBT ally but I can’t imagine anyone saying McDonald’s chicken mctumors are better than Chick-fil-a.

  • Andrew Long

    Yet another right wing nut telling us he is not telling us his opinion. Give me a break.

  • James

    While they stood their ground on their beliefs, it was ironic that the majority of the companies that sold to Chick-Fil-A are supporters of gay marriage and equal rights for LGBT families. n the end, the good news is that the bible-thumping, far-right zealots that “supported” the company’s decisions will probably be dead with southern fried, clogged arteries.

  • Greg Morgan

    May I suggest a correction to your title for this article? Mr. Cathy does not regret BEING a Homophobic Bigoted A-Hole. He just regrets having publicized the fact.

  • Richard Rowe

    @ Paul Fredine: You know, I don’t think this is a matter of religious convictions disintegrating. I think this was just bad marketing strategy from Day One. This whole thing never has been about ideology, any more than Rand Paul is about ideology. It’s about money, and always has been. Cathy saw how strong the conservative movement was in 2012, and thought he saw an opportunity to seize a huge and growing market. But he bet his business on a dying horse, The same could be said for a lot of Tea Party politicians and noted conservatives (including the Kochs) who are quickly finding themselves on a nationwide Blacklist. I think it’s fair to assume that Cathy’s endeavors were another one of those cases of a conservative invoking Almighty God to chase the Almighty Dollar.

    • Ronald Nolette

      Well here is where I disagree with you . Cathy is a very committed Christian and has done many wonderful things that never saw the light of day in the media. During blizzards- he opened his restaurants to people to stay and fed people free as long as they were stuck. When weather permitted , he sent employees out with bags of food to give away to stranded motorists. The fact he closes on Sundays ( a really big day for restauranteurs) is prime proof that the Almighty Dollar is not his primary goal.

      I do totally agree with your last paragraph of your lead article. Peddling hate is a very bad idea. I am a Bible believing Christian. While God hates sin and makes no bones about it and tells us to hate it also- our commission from Christ is to preach the good news of the gospel (that Jesus died and rose again to pay for sin). Yes people should speak out against sin and injustice- but it should always be withihn the context of Gods love for the lost in hopes to get them saved. Unfortunately there are many many organizations who in the name of Christ who spend more time preaching hate and that does great harm to the gospel message.

  • Richard Rowe

    @ Kurt B: All righty then, Kurt. I’ll give you that. Chick-fil-A had a line around the street right after he said that. But let me ask this: How’s that line looking now? I’d be willing to bet they could re-tile half the store during the lunch rush, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. And it’s exactly that kind of short-term thinking talked about in the article. Of COURSE sales soared in July of 2012. Everybody knows that. But even then, a lot of us were taking bets on how long it would be before the publicity wore off, and Chick-fil-A’s profits dropped lower than they were before that brief spike. It’s simply bad business to think that you can profit over the long term by alienating potential customers. The appeal to hate is short-lived, because emotion eventually fades. At the end of the day, you’re just left with fewer customers than you had before. That’s it.

    By the way, I think it’s adorable how you guys quote the percentages of gays in this country. There ought to be a law about that. “The Conservative Logic Law of Inverse Homosexual Population: As support for gay equality goes up, the gay population percentage goes down.” It’s amazing; back in the 90s when Clinton passed DOMA, it was accepted that LBGTs made up 25% to a third of the population. When the equality movement gained traction four or five years ago, that dropped to 20%. Now that the majority of the country supports it, and it’s legal in dozens of states, the gay population has reportedly dropped to 2%. That’s just one stunning damned statistical phenomena.

    If your’re wondering, I’ve read the 2012 Gallup study you think you’re quoting…which says 3.4% declaring themselves as homosexual, by the way. The 2% figure applies to seniors over 65 who declare themselves homosexual. But what you conveniently fail to mention is that A) 4.4% of the people refused to answer, and B) it didn’t ask about bisexuals, or people who engaged in gay sex regularly but considered themselves “straight.” Those two facts alone make your pet survey almost completely useless.

    More to the point, I’d remind you of a study conducted in 1990 that found that while only 20% of people on average CALLED themselves LBGT, 87% of women and 76% of men reported current same-sex attractions, and an average of 47% reported at least one consensual homosexual encounter.

    And you know what? I think that’s what you people are really afraid of. You’re not worried at all about how many people call themselves gay, because you bunch of closet cases know as well as anyone that you don’t have to CALL yourself gay or bisexual to BE gay or bisexual. The vast majority of LBGTs don’t…because it takes actual balls to come out. Which most people don’t have. And just as many don’t simply because they don’t like to place on themselves the labels created by people who hate them. I know, I’m one of them.

    Admit what you’re really scared of: That there are far more people out there who WOULD be out, if only they had the courage to do it. And they never will, as long as you people keep terrorizing them into believing they’re alone and hated by everyone. If you’re going to talk shit, then at least have the courage to call yourself out, too: A coward, a liar, and a willing tool of the very people who oppress you.

  • Richard Rowe

    @ John: LOL…all right. I’ll concede your point, if you’ll concede that McD’s grilled chicken sandwiches are at least a match for any of Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken. Frankenchicken or not, I think we can all agree on that one.

  • John

    Good article… BUT, McDonald’s has “better” chicken? Sorry to get off topic, but that shit is Frankenbird like every other fast food chain. That’s one point you got DEAD WRONG!

  • paul fredine

    isn’t it funny how religious convictions can so suddenly disintegrate when your stand affects the bottom line and profit becomes a tad more important than god. i actually had a slightly higher opinion of him when he was a blatant bigot. now he’s just a hypocrite claiming to have ‘seen the light’. i don’t care how contrite he tries to be…still no chick-fil-a for me.

  • Edward Hawkins

    I have watched the evolution of attitudes concerning the LGBT community for many years and I am happy to see that the climate has decidedly become more tolerant. Even though I am not a member of said community, I am glad that their issues are coming to the forefront and that they will eventually receive equal treatment under our illustrious democracy!

  • Kurt B

    Well, if Chick-fil-A was hated by everyone, you couldn’t tell it at the one near us. The lines were out the door and around the corner during the brew-ha-ha over ‘gay marriage’. As for St. Patrick’s Day parades; the news showed packed streets and full participation in every city. Parade sponsors didn’t allow pro-life groups to participate so why did the 2% think they were special?

    • Richard Rowe

      @ Kurt B: “Full participation” and packed streets don’t make parade organizers money. Sponsors do. People can spend as much as they want on funny hats and food from the vendors on the street, but it’s the sponsorship dollars that actually fund the parade. Laugh now if you like…I can promise you that after the hit the organizers took to their bottom lines this year, next year’s parades are going to end up a wee bit lacking. But, then again, that’s another one of those “long-term loss” things you seem to have trouble with.

      • Amy

        Personally, whether its prayer and self-reflection or bottom line profit decline which brought him to this decision, I’m glad he arrived at it and stopped donating to hate groups. Isn’t that what we all stopped patronizing his restaurants for; to send the message that we won’t participate in his donations to hate? We’ve won the battle…now it’s time to continue to watch where his donations of our;the customers’ money, end up and decide whether we’ve won the war with this restaurant giant.

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