By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – The website for the WinShape Foundation, a group started by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy that’s financed almost entirely by Chick-fil-A profits, doesn’t look like a battlefield in the culture war.
The site features warm and fuzzy snapshots of winding country roads and rustic cabins along with links to a cornucopia of social welfare programs the foundation funds – from foster homes to kids’ camps to college scholarships – that would seem to be the furthest thing from controversial.
The foundation's “simple but profound goal” is also hard to take issue with: “Help ‘shape winners.’ ”
But gay rights groups are incensed about the chain’s financial support for what they say are anti-gay groups. WinShape-backed groups deny that accusation, while WinShape stresses its activities are almost entirely aimed at youth and families, as opposed to conservative advocacy.
Yet WinShape finds itself in the center of a storm over gay rights and religious liberties as Americans take sides in the controversy over Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recently reaffirmed opposition to same-sex marriage.
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"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit," Dan Cathy, Truett’s son, said in an interview last month. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
The comments sparked a tsunami of criticism from gay rights advocates and their allies, with a same-sex kiss day at Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide scheduled for Friday. (Supporters rallied around the chain Wednesday, with an event dubbed Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.)
But gay rights groups appear even more concerned about Chick-fil-A’s charitable giving, most of which is funneled through WinShape. The group received more than $8 million from Chick-fil-A in 2010, the most recent years for which tax records are available.
A fact sheet about Chick-fil-A recently issued by the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, aims its ire mostly at WinShape.
The fact sheet, titled “Chick-fil-A anti-gay: Company funnels millions to anti-equality groups,” says that the “popular fast food chain has donated millions to groups that demonize (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people on a daily basis.”
The document enumerates what it calls Chick-fil-A’s “shocking donations” to evangelical groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family.
Other gay rights groups have also zeroed in on WinShape’s donations.
A 2011 report from Equality Matters, an arm of the liberal group Media Matters Action Network, said the restaurant’s “charitable division has provided more than $1.1 million to organizations that deliver anti-LGBT messages and promote egregious practices like reparative therapy that seek to ‘free’ people of being gay.”
The WinShape-backed groups that gay rights advocates accuse of being anti-gay reject that label, insisting that they condemn homosexual acts, not gay people.
“Those Christian groups don’t see themselves as hateful organizations – it’s a completely different perspective,” said Rusty Leonard, a financial adviser who counsels Christians on charitable giving and who knows the Cathy family. “But as conservative Christians we believe that homosexual activity is sinful.”
Most WinShape-backed groups, such as Focus on the Family and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, are mostly apolitical and are mainstream within the evangelical world.
At the same time, the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center has classified some WinShape-backed organizations, such as the Family Research Council, as anti-gay hate groups.
WinShape spends the vast majority of its money on internal programs like its camps, which cost $5 million to run in 2010, and foster homes, which cost $3.2 million that year.
By comparison, the organization gave $1,000 to Family Research Council in 2010 and $1,000 to Exodus International, a group that for years promoted so-called conversion therapy for gays, though the group is now reassessing that stance.
“The WinShape Foundation and Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving is focused on supporting youth, family and educational programs,” said Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president for marketing, in a statement to CNN.com, responding to questions.
“WinShape provides camping programs for more than 13,000 girls and boys annually and 14 foster homes caring for more than 100 children,” the statement continued. "In addition, Chick-fil-A has awarded more than $30 million in Restaurant Team Member college scholarships to hourly employees.”
A public relations firm representing WinShape and Chick-fil-A declined interview requests Thursday.
WinShape’s own programs have a serious Christian tint. Its summer camp for kids “challenges campers to sharpen their character, deepen their Christian faith and relationships,” according to its website.
The foundation’s college scholarships, mostly for current and former Chick-fil-A employees, are to Berry College, a Christian liberal arts school in Georgia. The scholarships are bent on equipping “college students to impact the world for Jesus Christ by following him and living out his unique calling in their lives,” according to WinShape.
For evangelical Christians, such programs make Chick-fil-A a model corporate citizen.
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“On the conservative end of the Christian world, they are seen as being one of the most fabulous examples of Christianity lived out in appropriate ways,” Leonard said. “They support all kinds of wonderful things.”
But for now, the national focus is on outside groups that WinShape supports. The gay rights group GLAAD, for example, recently started a petition to get Dan Cathy to have dinner with a pair of gay parents and their children.
“If Cathy is going to spend millions trying to break apart loving families,” the petition says, “he should at least meet the people his money is hurting."
I guess the gay people aren't so gay today.
Sorry to hear you're sad, Scott.
Aren't both sides essentially doing the same thing? One side is saying "You must not support gay marriage" and the other side is saying "You must support it". Can't people have the right to choose simple things like that without it being newsworthy? I personally don't care one way or another, but it's pretty annoying for one side to say how dare you tell people how to think when in reality, they're trying to do the same thing...
But it's not just a matter of abstract opinions, at issue are the real lives of actual living people. We are arguing about things that really matter a lot to many many very real, very deserving people. And one side is arguing that these actual living people should be treated as second-class citizens for their whole lives. It matters a lot.
Rufus, can you please provide us all with a link toan example of Chic-Fil-A's treating gay individuals as second class citizens? Thanks
And when you do so, keep in mind that these people are protesting a business that as far as i've seen, has never turned away a gay customer, sent out any anti gay propoganda or refused to hire a gay person as an employee. The business itself has nothing to do with an anti gay establishment. Just like you have the right to choose what you do with your money, whether it's support the gay community or not, so does this gentleman.
Judith– Ignoring that evil exists in ALL of its many faces is even more of a problem for society–think simple 10 commandments here. The real problem in America is not prejudice, it is that we have convinced ourselves that evil only exists in the places we say it does. Somehow we have gotten to the place where we believe we can legislate truth and legislate the definition of evil–this is the real breakdown in society.
I think we all need to take our money out of the stock market and invest only in cash. I'm sure any investment we make is going to somehow have a tie to Chick-Fil-A (probably someone in the company we invest in knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon and I'm sure that someone at Chick-Fil-A knows someone who knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon) and because of this connection we are all investing in companies that are somehow associated to Chick-Fil-A and therefore we all support these horrible charities who do such horrible things as build stronger communities.
The Stock Market will crash eventually and all most people will see of their money is a bunch of worthless stock certificates. Oh, except for the ones who actually took that money paid to them for those worthless certificates and did something concrete with it.
The end is approaching. Our way of life is unsustainable. And it has nothing to do with religion, just greed.
The boycott will last forever, the support will soon die down and Chick-fil-hate will suffer greatly.
Now I ask you, will God judge me for loving, or you for hating?
You have the majority of the country supporting Chick-fil-a and their right to free speech, compare do a fringe minority trying to silence them. The desire for freedom will always win. The only hate in this issue is coming from minority fringe groups. And as usual, their efforts have totally backfired.
JJ you will be judged by whether or not you have accepted Gods only son , Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior.
You are dreaming. Whatever your take on the issue, most of us would agree the average American has the attention span of a gnat Chik Fil A is going to do just fine.
How about the flip side.. GLAAD sponsors only gay and lesbian causes and does not agree with a family unit of a man and a women. To each his own, I don't really care, but from a nonreligious person this looks stupid. It is a private company that seems to be helping a lot of needy children, so what if they are not pushing them to be gay. The company is Chick-fil-A, not Guy-fil-A, if you know what I mean.
Hey. Gay couples CAN have children. It's either adoption or IV test tube sema nation. So people say they can't procreate are just plain ignorant. A friend had a family and child, but after divorce he liked being with men better. Some say he was always gay, but didn't know it until time came.
Mainstream "Christianity" prefers its followers ignorant and gullible. If Chick-fil-A was serving turds on toast and proclaimed the same message, these brain dead followers would flock to wolf down its product just as readily.
This fight has nothing to do with Christianity, but manipulation and profit. If it didn't, every extra penny CFA made over their cost would be turned over to feed the hungry.
Giving qu eers kids is an open invitation for molestation. This world is going crazy? Qu eers prowl schoolyards looking for victims now states deliver the victims right to the perverts. Remember qu eers, the people who gave the world AIDS
The fight is about free speech. It's not about Christianity or gay rights. You have one person who exercised his right to free speech, and you have the extreme fringe left that hates the fact that he has that right. Thankfully, people who love freedom will always outnumber those who don't.
Not true, BS. If it were, the PATRIOT ACT would never have passed. Conservatives are more afraid and willing to give up their rights than liberals in the name of perceived safety. The Germans found that out in the 1930s and Americans are finding it out today.
Nothing like being brainwashed from infancy by mainstream "Christianity" whose goal isn't following Christ, but exerting power and influence over its followers so its leaders can live like kings and sin to their hearts content...only to be found out and then get their followers to "forgive" them so they can go right back to it. So sad.
Where do you see anything about brainwashing? The Bible has been around for a very long time and says what it says. You can either choose to follow it, or not. I don't see anything Mr. Cathy said as brainwashing.
Then you don't look very closely at what goes on behind the closed door with these wannabe religious leaders.
Ignorance is bliss...isn't it?
Religious leader? He's the CEO of a company that sells chicken sandwiches. His company donates money to organizations that are Christian based. The man's not the Pope, he's a businessman.
Oh, riiiiight. Businessman. Looks like he played the hate card just at the right time, then, making himself seem all pious and holy while raking in the bucks form all those losers who think he's taking a stand about something. It's a cash cow for him, plain and simple. Their stores closing all over and someone thinks up a novel way to get them back in the black...take a stand for Jesus! He eats fried chicken in heaven! LMAO!
I just don't understand the label "HATER" given to Cathy because he stated what he believes... Automatically people are "haters" because they don't support or agree to something? People who agree have that freedom to voice there beliefs, not given a label. And as far as what Cathy does with his money and where and how he dishes it out AGAIN, it's his right to do with his money as he pleases!!!! When those who disagree with someones rights and freedom of choice and freedom to spend money as they wish, be carful what your throwing a fit about... if someone told you that you have no right to disagree about a matter and no right to spend your money as you wish, THEN it just wouldn't be fair now would it???
Now Kelly, don't start bringing rational thought into this.
You're right. "Hater" is the wrong term. "Manipulator" is a much more accurate description.
Here, here!!! Logic wins again. No one better EVER tell me what I can do or not do with my money!!! It's mine, I worked for it I'll do whatever I dare well please. Can't this BS just go away?
Argle... then people who disagree are Manipulators as well... whatever name you wish to LABEL someone who has that FREEDOM you are just the same!
Kelly – if Mr. Cathy wishes to defend the sancti-ty of marriage,I 'm sure he will be funding ( with your volunteer help, right ? ) an initiative to make divorce and adultery illegal. Oh, he isn't ? Then guess what ? He ( and you ) are morally inconsistent hypocrites, and he is a coward aho chose an easy target.
And here's something to think about. Let's say, there is no God, and I have lived a life for myself, searching for what made me happy, whatever that might be, and there were no consequences, maybe I didn't hurt anyone, and I was a self proclaimed, "Good Person." Straight up, solid existence, good for you. Now let's pretend that there is a God, and you lived that same life, sorry about your luck when you stand before the judgement of that God. Now let's say that there is a God, and you lived a life of service, and love, seaking God's will throughout that life. Good for you again I say. But now let's say that there is no God, and you were wrong. Guess what? You still lived a life of service, and love, seaking truth through those principles, and at the same time, you brought many people from the darkest parts of the world. I'm not a big math guy, but this math seems simple to me.
Pascal's wager.. and wrong at that.
The problem is that what many Christians (or members of most any religion for that matter) see as a "good and honest" life is often actually quite oppressive and harmful to others. Your idea of "bringing others out of darkness" is self-centered self-serving to the core. Who are you to decree who is in "darkness?" Religion makes people think they know what's best for everyone. Your version of Pascal's wager demonstrates that quite well.
Which is why in this country, we have freedom to worship however we choose. Most Christians believe that only God can judge someone. Furthermore, most Christians believe themselves to be sinners. I am a Christian and I don't really care if others are or not. I will concede that there are some so-called Christian groups out there that try to push their agenda, but they are quickly dismissed. Just the same, there are radical forms of every group. I love animals and I have three dogs, but I despise PETA. I love the outdoors, but don't agree with the stand Sahara Club takes.
WHO CARES? They are a privately held organization that can do what is legally allowed. Don't like their position, don't buy their food. Don't like who they donate to, then donate money yourself to opposite groups. What a bunch of pompous, whiney , pseudo moralistic twits we have in this country.
Is that the zombie Jesus you're praying to? The one who came to Earth as his own son, in order to die (but not really) and then go back into the sky to join himself (this is the ultimate sacrifice????) so that people, if they telepathically say that zombie Jesus is their master, will be cleansed of the sin that was placed on them thousands of years ago when a lady made from a rib was convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple, and if they do that (even if they are the most horrible, evil people in the world) get to live forever in paradise, while people who don't accept zombie Jesus will burn forever? Is that the Jesus you pray to?
In case anyone wonders, this is a brain on pot.
If you're going to attempt to be clever, at least come up with some original material. That one's been beaten to death. Of course, then it was resurrected...
Dose of Reality...really Zombie Jesus...hahahaha....your proof they'll let anybody post on here. Get a life
One day we will all know the truth...
"One day we will all know the truth..."
Not necessarily. If the truth is that when we die, we die (as every speck of evidence seems to indicate), then your "one day" might be like this: Okay, here it comes, here come all the answers................................................ ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
How exactly is a CEO of a company giving his opinion on a question gay-bashing or hate speech? I don't recall Mr. Cathy stating anything about hating gays, not serving gays, or not hiring gays. Guess what, not everyone you run into is going to agree with the lifestyle one chooses. One doesn't become a bigot simply for having a point of view on something. Oh, and who cares where a private company chooses to donate their money to. It's their right! If gays want equal rights, then take it up with the Government, not a fast food restaurant.
A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.
The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:
(c) Economics; or
You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:
(c) NASA astronomer; or
I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
(a) A gifted psychologist
(b) A well respected geneticist
(c) A highly educated sociologist
(d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian
Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
(d) A Christian
The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
(a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or
(d) All of the above.
If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) A mafia boss
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.
What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
(a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
(b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
(c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
(d) All of the above.
The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
(a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
(b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
(c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or
(d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.
Once again ...ahahahahahahahaahahahahaha...sorry couldn't help laughing at you again
If your posting name is "A dose of reality", you are:
(d) An elitist, hyper-educated snob
(e) An egomaniac
(f) All of the above
When one statistically considers all the random coincidences that had to exactly happen in an almost impossible scenerio of order for there to be such a variety of life on one planet with all of its complexities–isn't it much easier to believe in one improbability of a superior life form who is in charge of all of this than the exponential alternative of it all just evolved? You might scoff at believers, but you have to "believe" in a whole lot more to believe there isn't a God.
I can tell you where it comes from, from your thick head. You got it wrong, thatbis not what religio ms says. Your ignorance is huge. Learn more about religion before you attempt to trash it. On the other had i guess you must know a lot about gays since you dont make any comment.
CNN just can't leave it alone - MUST stir the Liberal's pot of hate!
Zip it d-bag.
What if Chick-fil-a started donating to ANTI-CHRISTIAN groups?
Do you think the Christians would like that?
Do you think the media would even report it? Hardly.
To be honest, it wouldn't matter.
If you don't like it, don't eat there, just don't comdemn others as bigots because they like a chicken sandwich.
"Christian Groups"...what a laugh. I'll bet someone is making a ton of money off it all.
Of course Christians wouldn't like it. They just want to have it both ways.
Although others have said similar, I don't object at all to the Chik-Fil-A president making public his feelings about gay marriage. I even give him a few props for having the courage to speak publicly about it. I was puzzled over the public outrage related to his comments though. What I strongly object to, is Chik-Fil-A's funding of anti-gay hate groups. THAT'S what people should be outraged about and it has been going on for years. Why the outrage now? Funding these groups do exponentially more harm than mere words.
It's private money and WinShape can do with it what they want. Freedom of conscious, freedom of speech, freedom of association – these don't just apply to the politically correct. I'll go to Chick Fil A just to defy these hate filled bigots at Human Rights Watch and GLAAD who think they can jam their morality down my throat.
Poor abused Christians. When anyone criticizes or disagrees with them, they are being victimized. When they try to pass laws forcing their beliefs and practices on others, they ate simply spreading the word of God.
And those who don't support the funding of hate groups can choose to criticize and not to patronize Chic-Fil-A. You know: freedom of speech association and all of that good stuff. It works both ways dude.
all of our problems walk hand in hand – if you eat bad meat you get bad politics – and even the left is full of stupidity – right and left are as confused as thoughtless trees
@Gumby: First side to use the "hate" word loses. Sorry guy. Calling someone a "hater" just ain't cutting it anymore.
Thanks for posting
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.