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 fully believe that Chik-Fil-A has the right to donate to whomever they like. But, that being said, here's a dose of reality for you all. Gay marriage is advancing faster than any civil rights issue in history. In a very short time by civil rights standards, those who today are fighting against gay marriage will be doing what those who stood against school integration are doing now, lying about which side they were on.
That's not the issue, do the Democrats have the right to force churches to marry gays or face penalties from the government, and do businesses have to donate only to groups Democrats agree to. How does a belief in our 1st amdendment rights for all Americans equate to bigotry?
Doug, is the government trying to force churches to marry anyone they don't want to? Er, that is a no. Or force Chik-Fil-A to donate to someone they don't want to? Ooh, same answer. And you think that these obvious non-issues are the issue? Get a grip kid.
doug – repeating the same nonsense over and over doesn't make it true.
Poor Dougie has a vivid imagination. And a pretty serious paranoia issue. But, not much of an argument, since his is based on nothing but that vivid imagination.
Oh the PEW research forum says it's in the bag....aren't they a close buddy of NPR and other left wing organizations ? I don't think they do proper scientific method when pushing their agenda. I think the so called fear of the bully & hate accusation threat is wearing off. It's beginning to sound.....made up.
Really? Exactly how are their polls not scientifically valid? I'm afraid that you not liking the results isn't very persuasive.
Sure, call the Pew Research Center a left-leaning organization. They'll be just devastated.
It still doesn't invalidate their findings.
Find an alternative survey for me, and not one sponsored by "Focus on the Family".
Sitting back with popcorn and enjoying that hate from both sides throughout the thread!!
Yes Yes let the hate flow through you! (in my best emperor from return of the jedi voice)
Combining both narwhal and bacon in a name is the best thing I've seen on this thread so far.
They can donate THEIR profits to whomever they please.
Give me a break.
If you don't like it , don't eat their delicious chicken...
Why is this news.
The minority here at CNN but most Americans are fair minded good people who wish the best for their fellow Americans and want equal rights for all.
Most of us have always supported a civil union for gays that grants the same things like medical money etc with your significant other like marrige. Like me many have said let gays get married, and now a majority feel that way, a small majority.
We must realize that this has been re-defined by the Democrats and what supporting gay marriage now means is that the government has the right to penalize businesses for their beliefs when those beliefs do not include harming or hurting someone else, and yes if Obama gets another 4, Christian churches will be forced to marry gay couples or face being shut down or surpreme finanical penalties. There will be an exemption for Mosques and a few others.
Since this is not what any fair minded person would ever support since its a violation of freedom of religion, we must be against gay marriage even if we do support gays being able to marry each other. Forcing churches to marry them and what Democrats are now doing here by blocking Chick Fill A from opening in their districts because of the CEOs views and the charites he and his company support, Democrats are violating the first amendment and you are contrbuting to the elimination of freedom of speech and freedom of religion if you vote Democrat. Rahm influences this administration, Obama already showed his feeling and second term intentions when he made that comment "Christians cling to their guns and religion", and worse on Univision he said that Americans who don't support him are his enemies and they will be punished.
Another scare tactic.
Actually, can you show any evidence that a Chik-Fil-A has been forbidden to open anywhere at all because of their beliefs? Oops, that would be a "no". Nor can you show me any evidence at all that anyone is trying to pass a law forcing churches to marry someone they don't want to marry. Bear in mind, politicians whining and pandering isn't actually evidence of laws being passed.
You're dreaming up scenarios that don't and won't ever exist. You're a poster child for what is wrong with some Americans.
Why don't we go the other way and not provide ANY special benefits for marriage? Why should single people be treated any differently? This is exactly what's wrong with all of you...you're just backwards in your thinking. Both sides are squealing about equality, and yet you're BOTH discriminating against unmarried couples and individuals. The government should not have a social agenda, period. Oh, and I'm happily married, so I'm not promoting this selfishly.
now that is truly herectical.
No special tax benefits for families. What will come next single parents? Dogs and cats living together?
You are a nut.
Heartbreaking to see that well known Christian charities and the people that support them are now being denigrated and setup as 'hate groups' by the media and liberals.
Shows just how far we have fallen. This will give the liberals and big government the cover they need to harrass and destroy Christianity in the USA. All the while they support and say nothing about the Muslim Brotherhood etc...who WOULD stone to death gays if they were in power.
End times here we come.
" End times here we come " Delusional nonsense. Charlatans have been proclaiming the end of days for centuries. They were all wrong. So are you.
Christianity is destroying itself through perpetuating evil.
Scare tactics again.
Most Democrats would have no problem with the government coming along and rounding up you and your family, your rights along with your house and wealth just taken, you are a Conservative, they hate you and wish you the worst with no exceptions.
Obama is a good politician, he states on Univision that every American who is not Democrat are his enimies and they will be punished, he has to spew this hate, just about every Democrat in America feels that way.
I don't know how you compromise or work with someone who at the very least would like to see you harmed because of your political views or your religion. Just read and listen to Democrats from the top down, Obama to his bots posting here. You can take them at their word on their hate, the rest of their comments are lies or distortions.
good grief.................. do you really believe the junk you just typed? you need to wake up to the real world.
I agree with your statement 100%. Look forward to the second coming.
You are thoroughly brainwashed.
@C: poor wittle Christians being picked on. boo-hoo-hoo. You Evangelicals sure can dish it out but can't take it. Hypocrite.
This is now just bullying a private company.
Totally true... gotten to the point of ridiculous.
And what Cathy did was not bullying??? He used his views based on a 2000 year old book to speak out against people who are seeking equal rights...you see this as being right?
If single day record profits is bullying, please bully me in the same fashion.
Not to mention funneling millions to groups that actively try to put others into second class or even thrid class citizenry.
Cathy answered a question saying he supported something. His answer was honest and consistent with biblical principles. He didn't attack anyone or persecute them. He didn't criticize or slander or attempt to stop anyone. So,.. right, it wasn't bullying.
No one gives a sh it what you do in your country here being a pervert is not a right.Qu eers the folks who gave the world AIDS
A private company that's been bullying gay people.
lamb of nonsense
Its lamb of dog, not lamb of god.
pervert alert aka captain america aka atheism is not healthy aka dodney: Please explain when you chose to be hetero and how exactly a person being born gay directly affects your life or you simply jealous because no-one is stupid enough to tolerate your hate and bigotry and so your hands are your only option? Your opinion is hateful and WILL NOT stop these people from getting EQUAL rights...go to bed now little one before your Mommy aka Sister gets home
Well, Exodus and most of these organizations are basically run by self-hating gays, Mr. Cathy, so good try.
Has any body protested and been outraged about where George Soros sends his money?
The Liberal agenda is working so well for this country, 2 mommies, 2 daddies, hell no mommy or daddy at all- the war against the traditional family continues- and so does our descent into the godless, family-less, pennyless liberal cesspool.
Well said, elmer – all the problems you mention are the result of immoral behavior by str8 people. So you'll be leading the charge to make adultery and divorce illegal, right ?
why dont you gays go eat at j c penneys. they like gays, have a cotton sandwich made in china. choke it down with some ky jelly
This type of responce just instagates, this is a hateful comment not what a christian would think,.
Wow, you must be a very popular 8th grader.
Unfortunately, Eric, this is exactly how many self-identifying Christians think. Just read some of these threads – a cursory scan of any article relating to gay people will be sufficient.
A true christian would not say these things well no one is perfect. The problem is there is a very large number of people who identify as christian because the go to church once a week.. These people tend to give christianity a bad wrap.
I still dont understand how not agree with somebodies lifestyle is hate. I care deeply for people not what they do. I do not support any sin does that make me a hater of murders, adulters, liers? Just wondering What is hate there. There has not been 1 rational answer.
Im serious, if you can show me how that is hate ill listen.
Really. You see no hate in someone attempting to stop two people who love each other from marrying?
What sin??? Sin is a biblical definition and that buybull can't be used to create laws and thus has no place in society outside of the church or your home. When did you choose to be hetero? I understand you don't know what a dictionary is given that you have not left the fairy tale life behind but grow up, it is simply not your damn business to judge anyone!!
You are a total ass hole and a liar. There is no bigotry in Truth. Qu eers the folks that gave the world AIDS,
Still no rational answer just hate in my direction. I am trying to understand ho is it hate?
@pervert alert please stop. this is unacceptable.
Eric, if Christian's disagreement with others lifestyles stopped at that...simple disagreement...then I agree that there's nothing wrong with that. But the problem is that Christians don't stop there. They turn their opinions into actions by funding groups who work to affect laws, what is taught in schools, what the government supports, and who seek to convert people to their religion. THAT is where it becomes hate. When your beliefs are so overwhelming that you support ensuring that other people can't live according to THEIR beliefs, that's intolerance at best. And this is not murder, because there is no tort being committed. With murder, the act HARMS another person. With gay marriage, where is the harm to others? Explain that one.
you sound like your question is genuine.
Do you not see that it is hate to try to marginalize people by denying the same rights as other citizens?
People can be fired for being gay. Is that right? Is that OK?
Eric you are obviously an intelligent person. But how can you not see denying others equality as not being founded in hate?
The only outcry's I hear are being instigated by Cnn. The Gay and Liberals are intolerent hate mongers who believe there way is the only way. Even though About 1,000,000 people showed up in person or online showing support for Chic-fil-a's ceo freedom of religion and speech, compared to umm what about 14,000 gays showing up!
All those gays trying to keep straight people from marrying. They're so mean.
Bigotry based on belief in an imaginary friend is wrong.
Qu eers you must mean qu eers when you say gay, gay is a word qu eers stole to try to hide their dirty disgusting lifestyle. Qu eers the people that gave the world AIDS
It's not a numbers thing. It's an equality thing. Many more people in this country were against civil rights for Blacks than were for them also.
pervert alert: Mommy out at the bar again? The adults are talking you stupid little bigot...go harass the neighbors dog and be a good little boy now!!
You are nothing but a common bully and well known for your qu eer ways. No one is impressed by your kind or fooled by your bullsh it but other qu eers. Qu eers the folks who spread AIDS all over the world.
pervert alert: Wow, you're an ignorant loser!!! I'm not gay you idiot!! Your imaginary friend god dislikes people who judges, so it is your imaginary place called hell...you can burn there little one...your bigoted opinion is not required.
It's the Cathy's business, you don't like what they they say, then go eat somewhere else......Don't try to push your views on me....
And yet, people are still well within their rights to speak out against their views.
If people don't stand up against inequality then we sit and allow evil to flourish.
There is no equality with perversion.
We all know that pervert alert is an authority on what is right and wrong...the little one still believes in fairy tales, opinion is not trusted or cared for.
@pervertalert: your stupidity is boring at best. Take your meds, come down from the ledge and rest your body against the padded walls of your cell.
I think that the ultimate goal of all christians is to be with their god... so, let us get AK-47s in the hands of all secular people – you just can not rely on lions anymore – and help them get where they desire to go... they are, after all, the source of all hatred, prejudice, intolerance and strife on planet earth...
Atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.
What a post. You're an idiot.
What kind of idiotic statement is that, Troll? Show us how intelligent you REALLY are & dont post anything else. Remember, Silence is golden. Learn it, Live it.
@truth be told,
you say: Atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries
This is a moronic ass-ertion.
The combined WW2 and WW1 death toll (that is, people who were killed in a previous century) is 97 million. Even the inaccurately inflated number of 100 million 20th century totalitarian casulaties (that you fundies like to quote from some sermon that travels around) clearly falls short of the total number of people killed in all time.
This guys DOES know that Hitler was a believer, right?
no, he doesn't listen. He's been told that Hitler was a Roman Catholic who used religion to gain support for his regime, but it doesn't matter.
He posts the same exaggerated cr@p over and over again because he heard it in church during a sermon about the evils of atheism, so it must be true.
Truth be told, most Democrats admire Mao a man who killed over 30 million, White House Anita Dunn made the mistake of openly admiting to her admiration of Mao, she made that mistake because everyone she worked with in the Obama administration love Mao and clearly dream of doing to their opposition, Americans right of center and Christians, what Mao did to his opposition. Just read and listen to Democrats from Obama to his bots posting here, most only support gay marriage because they want to force Christian churches to marry gays, from starting the klan to the great society tactics of today, Democrats are only about hate and lies.
20th Century deaths by Communism: 87M
20th Century deaths by non-Communism 116M
According to this source:
...“shocking donations” to evangelical groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family." Really??? Right up there with Hitler and Mussolini, huh? Unbelievable! This is out of control. If I believe that marriage is defined as a relationship between a man and a woman, that means I hate gays and lesbians? I'm a hater? Sorry, it just ain't so! CF is one of the finest fast food restaurants in this country. Great, extremely polite service, good food and a contributor to many things that help kids and families. They do not discriminate against ANYONE in their service or hiring practices. They treat everyone, gay or straight, with the same level of respect. Why the selective outrage? Why not attack the Muslim or Jewish communities? The hypocrisy of those that openly express hate towards those who disagree with them is breath-taking!
I don't think anyone has any issues with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The others: Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Exodus International and the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund all have anti-gay or anti-gay marriage legislative agendas.
Get a clue dude. The ONLY reason they don't discriminate against gays in their hiring, firing and service is because it is illegal to do so. And–they are diligently working to change those laws via the groups they fund. You are so in denial and so naive.
Prayer changes things .
Gov. Perry has led the state of Texas in prayer to end the drought for several years.......its still not raining.
Odd...I keep praying that you'll post something different, and nothing changes.
Prayer changes tings .
Amazon is a hateful company that is trying to destroy traditional nuclear family. They should be run out of business, or at the very least never be aloud to sell children's books again for supporting people who peddle hate toward straight people... Sound ridicules? So do you haters of Chick-fil-A.
It is ridiculous.
Not so ridiculous. Evangelicals have roundly criticized Amazon, and have called for a boycott. Guess its ok when the Evangelicals do it. Hypocrite.
Gays demand that you accept their foul weirdness. As you can see....you have not won the culture war. People, when given an honest chance, stand up and say no to gay marriage. Nobody says you can't continue to act like a psychotic maniac...go right ahead. But no REAL marriage certificate for you. And thanks for making us stronger. See you in November.
Loki its going to happen eventually. The youth aren't as spiteful.
Naw, just brain washed.
Hilarious . . . God gave each man free-will to choose as they please with their own bodies. Let them be accountable to God, don't pretend to play God for them . . .
Pigs will sprout chicken wings and fly before qu eers are accepted as normal. Qu eers the folks who gave the world AIDS
More people support gay marriage then don't. And the number keeps going up. While people who consider themselves religious is going down. Its very comforting.
This minority continues to bully the majority by slandering and villifying those who don't agree with their gay agenda. Guess what? People aren't buying anymore- you've jumped the shark- everyone agrees that you should not be discriminated against, but you're taking it a bit too far- and you'll see more and more people speaking their opinions- because that's what happens when you try to squash free speech. God Bless Chik-fil-a
Comfort yourself with the fact that what you are saying is bull sh it. Real people know qu eers gave the world AIDS and wouldn't pi ss on a qu eer if it was on fire.
Tell me, does it make you feel good to be a useless troll online, does it get you off thinking that you're actually making people mad when almost everyone here just laughs at your stupidity?
I'm not religious at all...furthermore many people do not go along with gay marriage and they aren't religious either. Maybe we are born this way....and our inner being/DNA tells us that you are harmful on many levels. You focus way to much on the religious right to make your stand just because you don't want to face the real issue that stands in your way. Human Nature. Your behavior, especially when it is so viral, make it so easy to reject your way of life. Maybe just be a little more quiet about yourselves is the best course of action. Then..nobody would care so much.
why wait until November. The Pew Forum data from July 2012 shows that 48% of Americans favor gay marriage while 44% oppose it.
Get with the times.
pervert alert is just jealous...no one will go near him, so he must take his anger out on everyone. He's yet to explain how people being gay affects his life directly and what business it is of his to tell anyone who they can and can't love. Someone needs to order him a new doll...might keep him busy for a few days and off adult web sites!
Please provide a secular argument against gay marriage.
@Loki: wow–you must be a self-hating closet case dude. Get over yourself.
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.