We were sure it was some kind of prank or mistake when news broke yesterday that Chick-fil-A was promising to stop funding anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family.
But today, the fast-food chain claims its charitable work has been “mischaracterized” and that its been trying for months to extricate itself from politics.
A statement on its website reads:
For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized. And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving.
For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.
A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.
As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.
For better understanding of our corporate giving, please click here to download the PDF document titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“WinShape Ride for the Family bikers locked and loaded for 200 mile ride to Wilmington out of Charleston. pic.twitter.com/rqvP2CUa” Cathy tweeted on Tuesday, attaching a photo of motorcyclists on the charity race.
The Ride for the Family benefits the Marriage and Family Foundation, which has, among other things, actively worked against marriage equality since being founded by a member of the Cathy Family in 2007.
As the Advocate points out, Chick-fil-A appears to be exploiting a technicality: “Registration forms for the event ask that checks be sent, not to the WinShape Foundation that Chick-fil-A operates, but directly to the Marriage and Family Foundation at 5200 Buffington Road in Atlanta, GA.” Still, the Chick-fil-A and WinShape logos are all over the entry forms and the Buffington Road address is shared by Chick-fil-A’s headquarters.
It’s interesting to note that the Ride for the Family page on the WinShape Foundation wesbite has been taken down.
Advocacy groups are raising the stink-eye: “Chick-fil-A can’t claim to be turning over a new leaf while simultaneously funneling thousands of dollars towards a group that does not acknowledge the dignity and respect of LGBT people,” said HRC spokesman Fred Sainz.
Well. we can’t say we’re surprised—and it really doesn’t contradict the statement Chick-fil-A just released on it’s website:
To someone who thinks marriage equality is a “threat” to traditional unions, then fighting it how you “enrich marriages.”
To someone who thinks homosexuality can be “cured,” reparative therapy is how you “educate youth.”
And to someone who thinks gays and lesbians are promiscuous pedophiles, depriving us of the right to adopt children is how you “strengthen families.”
Of course it’s possible the Marriage and Family Foundation is now only providing counseling services and workshops to strengthen hetero unions. Assuming that’s the case (and that’s a pretty colossal pill to swallow) working with Alderman Moreno and The Civil Rights Agenda is a good start.
But we’re not naive enough to think Chick-fil-A did a turnabout because of some spiritual epiphany. It was business, pure and simple—mayors and councilmen were bristling at their brand of hate and putting up roadblocks to new franchises.
Presumably, Dan Cathy is still “guilty as charged” when it comes fighting marriage equality and supporting ex-gay therapy. We hope watchdog groups continue to keep a close eye on where Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation spend their money. We know we will.
Meanwhile, if the company ‘s announcements were an attempt to improve it’s image with progressives, it might’ve gone too far: Conservative commenters on the Chick-fil-A Facebook page are attacking the chain for having “caved” to pressure from pro-gay groups.
A post of the press release above has received 20,000 Likes and nearly 3,000 comments on both sides of the debate. But there’s definitely some nasty vitriol from diehard Christian chicken fans:
“Now that you are no longer supporting Focus on the Family I will not support you. Mr Cathy, you have stabbed me and my family in the back. We have supported your restaurant for years because it was family friendly. When you consider homosexuals are about 1% of the population, and us pro-family people are far greater numbers, you have chosen who you want to support. Very bad business decision. VERY BAD!”
“…I was shocked to hear that Chick-fil-A gave in and pulled their continued donations from Focus on The Family! Really? I feel you gave into the pressure of the world and for what, money? (meaning, now you may build stores in Chicago). God has already blessed this organization for it’s faithfulness, which is difficult to uphold in today’s world. Don’t you believe He would have brought you through this storm and rewarded you 1ten-fold? So what they didn’t want you to build in Chicago? Was it that important, so you sell out to the Devil’s wishes? …I don’t know that I will eat at your establishments any longer.”
“Your decision to cave on your biblical principles that has made your business such a success leaves me speechless! I will no longer be patronizing your business any longer! Homosexuality is wrong—period! Too bad you are too weak to see it!”
Okay, here’s what we think is going on: Dan Cathy is a loose cannon.
Chick-fil-A corporate is just trying to run a business and steer away from a controversy that could threaten its profit margin and ability to open new locations. But Cathy has gone Sarah Palin rogue on their asses, throwing money at whatever homophobic groups will take his checks.
We really pity their public relations department.