Back in 2014, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy promised to keep his company out of cultural debates—particularly over same-sex marriage—following the backlash the chicken chain received in 2012 when his support marriage discrimination and the corporation’s financial support of anti-gay organizations were revealed. However, due to the actions of a Nashville, Tenn., franchise owner, the brand is back in the news—but this time for doing something good.
Well, good if you support the idea of queer and straight folks having a “dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality through the arts.” That’s the mission statement of Level Ground, a recent film festival and discussion series focused on the intersection of LGBTQ identity and faith. Chick-fil-A was listed as a festival sponsor, which predictably riled up religious conservatives. Right-wing publications alerted readers to the connection late last week, and a Change.org petition started by Steven Policastro currently has 672 supporters and climbing. The petition condemns the festival as promoting “an agenda which is contrary to Chick-fil-A’s corporate stance on Christian values regarding marriage and stewardship.”
Though a Chick-fil-A spokesperson clarified to Eater that the corporation was not involved in supporting Level Ground and that individual franchises “make decisions on local sponsorships,” the story is sure to upset anti-gay fans of the chain, who—following the example of Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day—seem to view eating chicken sandwiches and waffle fries as both a form of protest and a religious sacrament.