A major American fast food chain run by a devout Christian family has been branded as homophobic for agreeing to provide sandwiches for a pro-marriage seminar.
Opponents have called for people to boycott outlets of Chick-Fil-A, which has more than 1,500 outlets in the US, and launched an online petition against the popular chain.
But despite the backlash the fried chicken chain’s president has insisted that Chick-Fil-A, whose corporate purpose is to “glorify God”, will stand by its “biblical principles”.
The chain, whose sales run into the billions, is well known for its Christian ethos. Its stores close on Sundays, and prospective employees are asked about their marital status and civic and church involvement.
But Chick-Fil-A came under fire after it emerged that one of its outlets was set to provide sandwiches and brownies for a seminar run by the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI).
In response Dan Cathy, president of the fried chicken chain, said: “Chick-Fil-A’s 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 in contact with Chick-Fil-A.'”
Mr Cathy insisted that the company would “continue to offer resources to strengthen marriages and families”.
He added: “To do anything different would be inconsistent with our purpose and belief in Biblical principles”.
And Michael Geer, president of the PFI, said: “People should applaud institutions that want to strengthen marriage”.
Chick-Fil-A currently runs 1,530 restaurants in 39 states, and a spokesman for the company has revealed that their sales figures for 2010 are likely to be over $3.5 billion.
Earlier this year it emerged that young children had been exploited and used to rant foul-mouthed abuse in an anti-Christian hate video produced by gay marriage campaigners in America.
The controversial video features adults and children, some of whom appear to be primary school age, who repeatedly use the f-word to abuse those who believe in traditional marriage.
The video, which attacks the church, includes one young girl with her hair in pigtails shaking her fist at the camera and shouting “I will f*** you up”.
The video was produced by media campaigner Luke Montgomery, who has raised more than $200,000 for groups lobbying for gay marriage.
But the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that champions traditional marriage, says children have been exploited.
NOM President Brian Brown urged people to “pray for the children on this video mouthing the hate- and obscenity-filled scripts adults gave them to say – hatred against their friends, neighbours and fellow citizens who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife.”