In one of the stranger stories of a religious discrimination charge resolution, Chick-fil-A (CfA) has been offered a chance to return to the San Antonio airport as a food vendor, but has declined.
In March of 2019 the San Antonio city council decided that the city’s airport should no longer feature CfA as a food vendor, due to the chicken sandwich chain’s history of charitable giving to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Florida boys’ home. On the basis of an all-too-familiar charge that CfA somehow “discriminates” against LGBT individuals because of those donations, the left-leaning city council forbade any future leases with the well-known Christian-owned business, whose corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
In the San Antonio situation, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton came to CfA’s defense by requesting the U.S. Department of Transportation investigate whether the city council was in violation of federal non-discrimination regulations when it dumped America’s favorite fast food chain because of its owners’ religious beliefs. That request prompted a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inquiry into the food fight at the airport.
As part of the official investigation, the FAA encouraged the parties to engage in their own informal resolution of the dispute. While we don’t know what transpired behind the scenes, we do know that CfA very publicly changed its charitable giving priorities in November 2019, in effect dropping the charities that gave rise to some of the San Antonio city council’s complaints.
Then in July 2020, the San Antonio city council offered CfA the opportunity to return to the airport as a vendor. CfA politely declined the offer, saying, “We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service. While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants.”
Was San Antonio admitting defeat by offering CfA a lease? The Texas Attorney General thinks so.
“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” the AG said in a statement. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Our great state deeply values the First Amendment, and I will defend those rights for all who live and work in Texas.”
The San Antonio city council vehemently disagrees that it has admitted any wrongdoing in the resolution of the dispute. A city attorney, Andrew Segovia, told a local news station there that the city’s offer had more to do with CfA’s change in its charitable giving. “They’re focusing on education and not so much on policies as they relate to the LGBTQ community,” he said.
So with the state claiming a victory for religious freedom and the city council claiming a victory for its LGBT agenda, and CfA just trying to sell chicken sandwiches, the situation has been resolved for now.
However, the larger issue of governments punishing faith-based businesses that don’t bow to the politically correct secular theology of the day continues. And businesses like CfA will remain targets.
Photo from Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com
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