UPDATE: Please sign the petition against this turn of events.
The Pittsburgh Marathon has teamed up with Chick-fil-A, the new title partner of the Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon and the presenting partner of the award-winning Kids of STEEL program.
Last night we celebrated our expanded partnership w/ @ChickfilA Pittsburgh! The cow came dressed in running gear and kids enjoyed free giveaways! Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh will serve as the new title partner of the Kids Marathon, as well as the presenting partner of @KidsofSteelPGH. pic.twitter.com/VZ3UWh4JBF
— Pittsburgh Marathon (@PGHMarathon) October 3, 2018
Let’s start with the most obvious reason that partnership is both hurtful and harmful. Chick-fil-A is actively and aggressively anti-LGBTQ. After being called out on these ‘family values’, they pretended to stay out of issues like marriage equality as a corporation. But that was a sham.
In June 2018, Think Progress published a comprehensive review of how Chick-fil-A remains deeply invested in anti-LGBTQ efforts.
The form, which covers the year 2016, reveals that the Chick-fil-A Foundation — almost all of which is funded directly from corporate money — gave about $1.8 million to three non-profits known for discriminatory activities: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Paul Anderson Youth Home, and Salvation Army. This is actually a significant increase compared to its 2015 totals to the same groups.
TP lays out the receipts, the paperwork, the movement of money from the cash registers to the foundation and more in this article.
There’s more. The internal work culture of Chick-fil-A has not improved despite the promises made over five years ago.
Five years ago, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy vowed to stay out of the debate on LGBTQ rights and to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.” Yet the company has still not adopted an LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination policy, still receives a 0 on the Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality scorecard, and still gives generously to anti-LGBTQ causes.
The Pittsburgh Marathon is an important community asset that brings people from all over the world to our region. It reflects the commitment to health and strength and connection. And it has historically been supportive of the LGBTQ community.
You can’t create an event that is safe and affirming of us, especially our young people, if you take money from a company that works to eradicate our identities and our peace of mind. Children cannot run under the banner of a company that believes their sexual orientation and gender identity is something that can be cured or healed. Look at this:
More than $130,000 went to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia-based “Christian residential home for troubled youth.” They teach boys the dangerousmyth that “sexual, physical, and mental abuse of children, mostly in the alleged ‘safety’ of their own homes has produced all kinds of evil throughout the culture to include the explosion of homosexuality in the last century,” that “homosexual behavior and lifestyle” are lawlessness, and that same-sex marriage is “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”
Is this what Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Marathon stand for?
I also think it is highly inappropriate for any Christian organization or business to eagerly jump into anything to do with youth and children right now. The wrangling over the Grand Jury Report on Sexual Abuse of Children by nearly 100 priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese alone has just begun. Many, many of our neighbors and friends are coping with the fallout from the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about the sexual violence she experienced by a nominee for the Supreme Court.
This is a time for Christians who did not commit crimes or support criminals to remain in the background, not clamoring for validation that they aren’t listed in a grand jury report. It is a time for Christians to avoid even the hint of #NotAllPriests or #NotAllPastors or #NotAllChristians, as if their innocence is more of a priority than the lost innocence of thousands of survivors.
And then, of course, we have the warped views of human sexuality that I’ve cited above which play a significant role in perpetuating rape culture. We don’t need our Marathon to be a breeding ground for young people to absorb these horrible lessons about their own sexuality and their respect for others.
It is a tacky, tasteless promotional stunt that has very real repercussions and harm for kids who just want to run.
If you are already registered, call and raise hell. Is this something you signed up for? Do you think LGBTQ kids (and adults) should avoid the Marathon? Do you want your race fees back? I don’t know.
I do know that you can’t support LGBTQ people and patronize or support Chick-fil-A. There’s at least 1.8 million reasons why.