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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
"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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
“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."
Religion: a disease with no cure...
There is a cure. It's called rational thought but that first requires a brain with a desire to learn
Without God there would be no brain or anything to learn. God bless
Love the Christian, hate the religion.
We love you 'just sayin'.
I am quite rational (I even have a doctorate in Psychology and an IQ of 131) and I believe in God. All the evidence I have seen leads me to believe that God exist,s and will answer if a person seeks Him out. What is irrational is believing that there is no purpose and we are random collections of atoms and still bothering to argue about anything considered moral.
morality is a human concept. It exists in all human societies, irrespective of religion. Therefore it is relevant. Clearly we're not 'random' collections of atoms. The rules of biochemistry define the structure.
LOL you really dont understand science or the universe. Everything is unplanned and random without a designer and morality is one of the results of those random combinations of atoms as they form the neurons in human brains. It is a meaningless concept.
" It is a meaningless concept."
A subject upon which Susie clearly has some authority.
LOL Susie. So you have credentials, that makes you rational?
Oy. 'my IQ is 131' LOL
you're very proud of that IQ of yours. You keep waving it around like a flag.
So, I'll bite, why does the existence of thought infer the divine? Surely you admit this is the essence of faith. It is your explanation and devolves into "God did it."
if God created thought, why did he/she/it design it to come up with so many different explanations of him. If the 'truth' is so self-evident to the sentient why are there so many religions?
The gay community is a violent radical group. We've seen the proof today.
You want violence? Read about the history of Christianity. You may also want to take a peek at Northern Ireland while you're at it.
GrowUp – Why when all I need to do is go down to the local Chick-Fil-A and see all the ahtred and violence any one person can handle and then some.
@california–yeah right. Take your meds and come down from the ledge.
Ugh. Tin hat troll. Not even a good troll, either. Time to stop feeding you.
Compared to non Christian (and particularly atheistic attempts at governing) Christianity is much more peaceful than the alternatives.
Susie, you are adorable. 131 IQ and can't remember any Christian violence.
More people have been murdered by atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries
When you have a basic social shift like we have had toward entertainment-centric society, it seems that the basic sense of context gets left behind. With limited precedent and a lack of principle-guided leadership, we turn from a tradition sense of importance to a promity-driven paradigm. This in turn is used by interest groups to drive the public focus and dialog. Here you have conservatives and liberals once again lining up to get the spotlight and push their agendas. No thank you.
promity isn't a word
I'm only picking on your post because I'm not sure of the purpose of your using inflated language. Put it in laymen's terms and maybe you might be heard. Instead, people are too focused on flipping through the dictionary, or in your case, the thesaurus, to find meanings to your words.
So many Christians, so few brains.
I SUPPORT CHICK-FIL-A ALL THE WAY!!
And how long have you been morbidly obese? Since birth?
Amen and Amen. God bless
ME TOO !!!!!!
OK here's one for you...Starbucks supports hate groups that are against Christians so what is the difference in CFA supports groups that support Christianity? DOUBLE STANDARD...IDIOTS!
Examples, please. Hysterical rhetoric not welcome.
Don't beleive everything you hear on Fox news, honey.
Christianity is full of idiots like you...and it's a hate group. So ok to donate against it.
Groups, corporations and people all have diverse aspects to their personalities, that is the way God created us. Opposing ho mo se xuality is not hate nor bigotry and should be an acceptable point of view. Ho mo se xuality is no better or worse than any other sin, and merits no special treatment, as with most sins it should have remained illegal. God bless
And, as I recall, the Evangelicals have roundly criticized Starbucks and called for a boycott of Starbucks. Your point is what again?
[ih-kwol-i-tee] Show IPA
noun, plural e·qual·i·ties.
the state or quality of being where everyone equally agrees with LGBT definition of marriage without exceptions allowed.
You said, "the state or quality of being where everyone equally agrees with LGBT definition of marriage without exceptions allowed."
Nobody is trying to deny you the right to marry the one you want (unless you are in the closet). Why would you deny it to anyone else?
Someone resents all those silly gays, huh? Typical.
@LinCA - the word "marriage" is already taken. find a new word. dont hijack someone else's platform.
Hindu, there is no platform. And there's no such thing as traditional marriage. It's meant many things over time.
Including in the bible. The biblical definition of marriage included concubines, slaves, multiple partners...but no one wants to hear that.
You said, "@LinCA – the word "marriage" is already taken. find a new word. dont hijack someone else's platform."
Marriage existed long before organized religion. Just because they use it for their unions doesn't make it theirs. If your hate and bigotry can't stand to share the term, you are free to coin a new term for your religious unions.
I think "Religious Union" isn't taken yet. You may want to use that. You will almost be guaranteed that nobody will dispute you, as no sane person would want to get caught dead in one.
The American Taliban slowly rising...
Yeah those gays and leftists need to stop being so darn judgmental.
My goodness!!!!! Will you people STOP with this!!!! Ok, ok, I support the NFL and I don't support baseball because I don't like it and it is not my style. Does that make me hateful? Oh, I also don't like burritos, does that make me hateful too?
Seriously people, get a LIFE!
Can you not read? Try this: donating money to groups that support legislation that denies rights to a group based on 'traditional values' is wrong. Trying to legislate against the rights of others is wrong, period. Donating money to groups that support the death penalty for gays in other countries is wrong.
It's not about a chicken sandwich, you dizzy dumbass.
so your issue is really with the charity?
Chik-fil-A is doing nothing illegal. If you don't like their policies, don't eat there. The reality of democracy and free speech is that it cuts both ways.
Grandstanding on Chik-fil-A makes the arguments in favor of marriage equality weaker.
It's THEIR money and they can't do and support whoever they want!!! Remember, we live in the USA where freedom of speech still rules? I am not religious, I don't agree or support the "gay lifestyle", I am a man and I like women and the though of two guys kissing is something I don't want to see, so does the fact I like women make me hateful? Give me a break!!
Here is an idea though!!! Go make MORE money than Chick-fil-A and donate MORE money to your causes!!!! Duh!!
Dude...no one said it was illegal. Seriously. And the kind of 'charity' speaks to their real core values: status quo.
They're purposely trying to block a group from having the same rights they have.
Once that happens, it's no longer a matter of someone just keeping it in their own backyard, saying what they want to say. It's no longer about 'gosh I just won't eat there'.
It's not about free speech and what's said or not said. It's about someone purposely taking action to keep the world the way they want it, and not allow it to grow or change.
@MeisEinstein – I wish you'd take the Einstein part out of your screen name. You're coming across as incredibly foolish.
Yes, they have free speech. But so does everyone else...and so people are going to use it to disagree with Cathy, and you, and whoever. Get used to it. You're welcome to disagree with the 'gay lifestyle'. Fine. You are not allowed to try and block the rights of others.
Stop yelling 'free speech' like you actually understand the root concept and how it's applied in this country.
" donating money to groups that support legislation that denies rights to a group based on 'traditional values' is wrong."
Of course it isn't, that's why they're "traditional values." You apparently prefer 'non-traditional values', so now you're getting all píssy and indignant that anyone (well, most everyone, it seems... ) disagrees with you.
sam's a funny guy.
@@@ Sam, they are "blocking" or whatever you want call it, they are just supporting what they believe in and they happen to believe in one man and one woman marriage!!!! Simply because they don't agree with your views of marriage makes them hateful! Hey, you don't agree with them???!!!! Fine!!! Stop eating at their restaurants, go make MORE money than they do, and support your own causes!!! SIMPLE people. Simple.
my point is – focus the protest on the tax-exempt donation taking hate engine – WinShape.
Any focus on Chik-fil-A just bounces back. It is protected speech.
BG....traditional values only means 'the majority decision for now'.
I am really concerned now because I support Target and I never shop @ Walmart anymore. I wonder, does that make me a hateful person?
>>my point is – focus the protest on the tax-exempt donation taking hate engine – WinShape.
Sure, but who's paying attention to anything but the visible figurehead? No one. So everything gets funneled to the lowest common denominator, as usual. I know that. Once people get riled up, the thinking often stops.
@Meis – now you're just unintelligible, and not conversing; all you know how to do is parrot. Done with you.
Gee, sam.. maybe if you said a prayer things will change. That's pretty much your only shot – God. Yeech. Yep. It's come down to that. I mean, after all, God's good enough for gays to sanction their marriages, why wouldn't God want to help legalize gay marriage? I'm sure even God can overcome his "one man one woman" prejudice.
@Sam, not sure if you noticed but Chick-fil-A had a record setting day on Wednesday which more than likely means 1. Most people agree and support them, and 2. the more the gay community does this, the more money Chick-fil-A make which means they will have even more MONEY to support their causes which is their business anyways, so I don't know about you but if I was in your community I would start to tone down. Just sayin....
So what is the LGBT acronym I keep hearing about? Is that a new sandwich at Chick-Fil-A? It must be Lettuce, Guacamole, Bacon, and Tomato. Sounds good I'll have to go pick one up.
Nap time Mikey. Come out of the sandbox
@"Company funnels millions to anti-equality groups"
Gotta love how these liberal hate mongers spin languge.
pro-family = anti-equality
pro-life = anti-choice
anti-life (abortion) = pro-choice
on and on it goes...
Gee. I wonder where this strategy originated. Hmmm...
Who uses the term "anti-life"????
How can you say pro family is what this is about? It is not equal if certain groups can't do something! Simple and I don't see how this affects u at all. Worry about the 2 billion spent this week and every week ( your tax money) this is a distraction, WAKE UP
More stupid bullshit rhetoric. Move along.
The first two definitions are pretty accurate. "Pro-family" is nothing of the kind. It is entirely a euphemistic smokescreen for hate.
"Pro-life" is a similar euphemism. It is entirely a smokescreen for anti-abortion.
Who is not in favor of life? It's ridiculous.
Can I have a side of whine with this chicken? Wow. People don't actually agree with the gay/lesibian lifestyle. Note to gays and lesbians: Do you really think that you are the only group of people that has to put up with stuff? You know what group had it REAL bad? The Indians. They are kinda wiped out and reduced to a shell of their greatness. Boo -freakin' Hoo. So Doogie Howser and Lance Bass don't feel comfortable at a restaurant. Go make a quilt.
A little sensitive aren't you? Bitter perhaps because of your Wal Mart lifestyle?
Hey, look, a typical douche who has no idea what the controversy is all about.
If you care so little, fuck off and let the big kids talk.
So says sam the hypocrite.
"Grrrrr.. f'k off you idiot kids !!"
"F'n kids, – get off my lawn !!"
"Hey !! I'm going to make you wipe all that egg of my car !!!."
I bet sam's a liberal activist middle school teacher – and we wonder why our kids are so f'd up lately.
Oh wow... Give it a rest already. It's a chicken sandwich for crying out loud. If they really bother you that much, eat somewhere else, but seriously–find something better to do with your time!
And you have found what to do with your time ?
It is ok not to patronize CFA based on the organizations that they give to, I don't patronize Home Depot.
Only a fool is tolerant of everything!
From the looks of all this the gay community want's to FORCE upon people how to think.
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, EVER!
midwest rail – Only to the gay radical violent.idiots
You said, "From the looks of all this the gay community want's to FORCE upon people how to think."
You're not too bright, are you?
Nobody is trying to tell you what to think. You are free to believe and think whatever you like, and be a complete and utter fucking moron. Have at it.
Just don't expect to go unchallenged if you display your ignorance for all to see.
LinCA – I'd say you're not to bright but that would a a complete understatement. You're not fooling anyone and you know it. Go dicate to your weak minded friends. Won't work on me.
You're just uselessly pounding your chest, California. No one gives a shit. You're too dumb to understand anyone else's viewpoint, and you don't give a rat's ass about social justice. We get it. Well played. Run along.
Think what you want but its not your choice what they can do! Worry about yourself
ps: 'wants' doesn't have a goddamn apostrophe in it. Speaking of weak minded...
Then do share, who is trying to force you to think anything? How are they doing that? Is your tinfoil hat not working?
I would encourage you to actually think, although I suspect it would be a futile effort. But you are not required to think anything you don't want to. You are not required to think at all (seems to be something you are already very good at).
Seriously California. Take your meds and rest your head against the padded walls.
I believe if people have the choice to support something, people have the right to appose something, that's freedom of speech, Americas great way.
It goes both way and the freedom of speech is not the freedom of repercussions from that speech (most of which are, likewise, merely the expression of the freedoms of speech of others).
THE GAY COMMUNITY SHOWING THEIR HATRED AND GETTING VIOLENT.
Evangelicals being cry babies because not everyone believes in their nonsense. Boo-hoo-hoo. Poor Christians–they don't get to shove their beliefs down your throats. Poor things. It's just not fair. There otta be a law. Boo-hoo-hoo.
next they will be labeling the American Cancer Society as a hate group because it discourages smoking. LOL
They truly are out of control. It is an abvious sign of the (end) times.
How many people die of cancer from smoking and how many people die of AIDS due to having male on male s ex? 20% of gay males end up with AIDS according to the CDC.
@Susie: before you spout off as though you know what you're talking about, do some research sweetie. The vast majority of people who are infected with and die of AIDS are heteros who are too dumb and/or religious (which really are the same thing) to use condoms. Sorry honey, but don't try to run with the big boys. Go bake some cookies and watch Dancing With The Stars.
Good grief! It is their money for cryin out loud! They can do anything with it they want! I think it's pretty neat they are supporting who ever/what ever they want and EXCLUDE who/what ever they want. Supposed to be that way. WHiners, why don't you go start a business, hire whoever/whatever you want and run it YOUR way. Contribute to who/what ever you want to. As long as they pay their taxes and employ people, you need to shut your pie holes and get on back with your life's, WHATEVER they are. If you are gay, I don't think they really care. $6.85 a plate please.......
Pretty easy for you to say, huh? You're not in a group that this chicken dick is trying to pass laws against, or discriminate against. If you were, you'd sing a different tune, hypocrite.
@just sayin; "Pretty easy for you to say, huh? You're not in a group that this chicken dick is trying to pass laws against, or discriminate against. If you were, you'd sing a different tune, hypocrite."
What law is he trying to pass?
Why did Christians used to believe that it was ok to BURN people at the stake for disagreeing with them? (Why did they originally believe that? Is it in the bible?)
Fire is symbolic for cleansing of the soul, therefore the Puritans felt that burning someone at the stake not only cleansed their soul, but also made it to where their sin couldn't be transmitted to others.
Now gays want to burn Christians for disagreeing with them. Time to group up, gays.
Not in the bible. That Jesus guy said NOT to judge and condem people. That whole stake burning thing? Most people couldn't read; hence their information didn't come from a bible. They were told what to do by a government called "The Church," which claimed it had ultimate authority over everything, including over the BIble.
Okay Harry Reid (James)...if you don't know... don't post!
Burned Stake? I thought it was a Chicken restaurant...
@andy, actually you're incorrect in the literacy of the Puritans. They actually made it law that children would learn to read so they could not only study the Bible, but more classic texts as well. The "Church" was very influenntial and did indeed lead them, but they were very much able to read on their own.
So many Christians, so few decent people.
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.