Huckabee: Taking a Stand for Chick-fil-A Was ‘One of the Big Regrets of My Life’
As CEOs everywhere try to navigate this wave of consumer outrage, you can’t blame them for wondering: is weighing into polarizing issues really worth it? For a good number of them, the answer is different in 2023 than before. “Why hit the beehive with a stick?” the founder of Parsons Xtreme Golf told The Wall Street Journal. And yet, while some of the wokest brands pump the brakes on their activism, one of the biggest surprises is who hasn’t — Chick-fil-A.
To people like former Governor Mike Huckabee, watching the once-beloved chicken chain walk down the world’s path has been a painful exercise. “They’ve bought into the lie,” he told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Monday’s “Washington Watch.” “I don’t know any other way to say it. I can’t be polite about it, because there’s no way to say, ‘Oh, they’re just trying to stay out of harm’s way.’ No, they have injected themselves into the diversity, equity, and inclusion model,” he shook his head. “They’ve hired someone to be their vice president of DEI. And when a company does that, what they basically are saying is — ‘We want to be able to sit at the cool kids’ table. … We don’t want to be over there by ourselves anymore. We don’t want people to make fun of us or point their fingers at us.’”
Huckabee, who was behind 2012’s wildly successful Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to thank the Cathy family for their public stand on marriage, can’t believe how soon after that the company started to cave. “I don’t know who it is they listen to, but it’s tragic,” he said. After withstanding years of the Left’s vitriol, out of the blue, “Chick-fil-A started moving closer and closer to the very people that showed them nothing but hate.” And frankly, Huckabee pointed out, “I don’t know what they’ve achieved from it.”
Worse, the governor explained, it came at a time of unprecedented national support. “They were being shut out of cities like New York and Boston and Chicago — told they couldn’t come there.” And after Americans flooded their stores, turning out by the millions to embrace the Cathys’ courage, many of those local governments backed off. “But Chick-fil-A’s response, rather than to say, ‘Thank you, Christian community, for standing with us and not abandoning us when we were getting pummeled’ was to say, ‘Well, we’re going to move on now.’ And next thing you know, Chick-fil-A abandoned their longstanding relationship with the Salvation Army [and other Christian ministries], and they started linking up with an organization called Covenant House, which is a pro-Pride, pro-LGBTQ, organization in New York. … And it just made no sense.”
After taking it on the chin for supporting a group that hosted Drag Queen Story Hours and donating to the extremists at Southern Poverty Law Center, the company decided to go “full-bore woke.” “It’s really disturbing,” Huckabee admitted before saying, “I’ll be honest. One of the big regrets of my life was taking such a public stand for them in 2012, helping to turn the tide that was really about to go against them in a very significant way.”
Perkins, who revealed that the Cathys never reached out to FRC after the shooting that resulted from the organization’s participation in that Appreciation Day, wanted people to know: “This is not Truett Cathy’s Chick-fil-A. … You knew him. I knew him. We knew what he stood for — and that’s what the company stood for.”
Not anymore, Huckabee said. If grandson Andrew Cathy wants to abandon everything his family believed, everything that set their business apart, then there will be consequences. Once-loyal customers aren’t going to go out of their way for a brand that betrayed them, the governor pointed out. “I don’t feel any sense of, ‘Well, I ought to go support Chick-fil-A, because they’re standing with the things I care about’ … because they aren’t standing for the things that matter [anymore].” Quite frankly,” he said, “my attitude about Chick-fil-A is that they’re just another company selling chicken. They’re not open on Sunday. That’s the only distinguishing thing. But not being open on a particular day doesn’t erase what you really stand for. … And it’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t look like Chick-fil-A is going to reverse course. They’re going all in on this left-wing and really unbiblical worldview.”
“It makes it much easier to go to Popeye’s,” Huckabee half-joked. “[But] look, if a business doesn’t want to cater to Christians, that’s fine. I’m not buying their politics or their faith — I’m buying their product. But if you’re going to take a stand and say that you’re different, and you’re unique, and you don’t mind being associated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but then your actions and your affiliations show that you really kind of are ashamed of the gospel,” it’s a different story.
That said, the governor pointed out, “I am encouraged. It looks like for the first time in a number of years [that] people are waking up and they’ve just had it.” The idea that this is just about rainbow flags or “loving who I want to love” is out the window, he insists. “That’s no longer what this is about. This is about forcing people to accept a lifestyle that includes the most irrational things — like mutilation of children’s bodies and permanently and irreparably doing damage to them [and] believing that six-, seven-, eight-year-olds have a right of consent on their bodies when we don’t even let them get a tattoo until they’re 18.”
“So this [pushback] is encouraging,” Huckabee agreed, “and we’re seeing it across the scope. And I think what’s happened with Target is just a great example.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.