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."
@voice of reason thinks he has the awnser to every ones post this ball juggler needs to calm down. Im so tired of media i had to cancel all my cable cause all you see are fruit cakes running around tv now im good with that. Your not born gay and to say that you are is putting an excuse on your sad life. THe gay trend seems to have started around 2004 when our liberal president showed up thanks OOOOOO BAMA!!!! you made the gays think their cool
I'm sorry I wasn't available to remark on you post last night. Anyway...it's obvious you are under educated and uninformed or you wouldn't be stating such ridiculous things. You live a sorry, lost life.
i'm offended that someone is offended by someone who said what they believed.
Does this offend anyone?
Obviously you did not read the story, it is not what he said, it is about how he is using his money to fund hate organisations.
Is the anti-pornography movement a "hate organisation"
IReally had no idea gays were so intolerant and hate filled. These posts speak for themselves and are great examples of the childish inhumanity and plain stupidity on both sides of this argument. Neither side wants to be told what to... both want to do as the other does but not be called out on it and generally alienate anyone that disagrees. Keep it up... keep showing the world how intolerant and unforgiving BOTH sides of the argument are.
can I get a LIKE button??
I appreciate the freedom of this country, and private business and individuals should have freedom for their beliefs straight or gay. Just because i disagree with the gay life does not mean I hate them it just means I believe life is better lived straight but that is my personal belief. I have disagreements with my wife and kids but do not hate them.
So your wife can divorce you or have an affair without committing adultery and you resign your kids' rights to marriage, benefits, job protection and housing protection?
We're not talking about finishing everything on your dinner plate buck-o.
@Really You totally missed his point. And who uses the word buck-o anymore?
You totally miss my point. Chick-Fil-A doesn't just speak, they throw funding behind their judgmental beliefs. They finance groups that actively propagate hatred and intolerance. They're donating and investing money on behalf of their stockholders, stakeholders and customers all of whom are investors either in time, money or patronage. I believe in free speech, the free agency of all things and the idea that all things, with very few exceptions, are fair. Chick-Fil-A knew, or should have known, that they were taking a stand on a very controversial issue and would likely feel an equal and opposite response. They deserve to fall under the microscope of all stockholders, stakeholders and patron ridicule.
Having said that, this is not a case of "clean off your plate". Buck-o is a term from the 1960's I believe. An era of civil rights movement. That would be another point you missed.
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This whole thing is so dumb. Chick fil A doesn't support gay marriage. If you don't like it, don't spend your money there. They still have a right to free speech, just like anyone else.
I agree Jimminy
That is exactly the point of the uproar; stop people from buying greasy chicken from a company that spouts of its "Christian" values while trying to pull in the gays it so loathes. As a private company you can say what you want and profess whatever faith you have. As a private citizen I can take issue with this trumpeting of one's faith and not take my business there. For some reason I think that Mr. Cathy will think twice about doing this again.
anyone who thinks special interest groups should outweigh the common good (free speech, and apparently now charity) SHOULD be kicked out of a restaurant. good for you chick-fil-A.
"the common good?" Oh, please tell me what my common good is.
do you own stock or work there?
who cares what $icksuckers think??
Hey below me! I really don't think anything could possibly go below you.
You "christians" are a bunch of biggotts.
when did Jesus judged anybody because of the way they were. He loved everybody the same.
You "christians" should be ashamed of yourselves. What gives you the right to judge other people? Certainly not Jesus.
I feel sorry for you all....
Edgar, they do not think with their brain, they think with their emotions, proven to be fatal.
Jesus said to repent. He said to go and sin no more. He didn't just teach love and he didn't teach acceptance of sin.
Read the book of Romans and judge for yourself.
What gives you the right to judge all christians based on you're experiences? I'm a christian, but you don't know me. Please don't judge us all and stereotype us all. That is wrong.
Hey Bob! Would you be so kind as to prove to me that sin exists as well as this so called jesus character?
Christian or not, when does disagreeing with someones lifestyle (no matter what that is) equal hate? I know plenty of parents (gay and straight) who have kids that aren't living the way they think they should, but good grief it doesn't mean they hate them. It just means they disagree with the lifestyle. And I get there are "Christians" who are pretty hateful about the issue, but those idiots are just as bad as the GLBT that are screaming back hate just as loud as them.
Sin is merely a tool of fear used to keep those who already believe in line.
@ Edgar: if you actually read the Gospels, I think you'll be surprised at what you find.
Jesus did not "love everybody the same."
He tended to be most ticked off with religious conservatives (Pharisees).
He was incredibly gentle with those many labeled "sinners."
He defended those "sinners" – not for what they did, but frequently by pointing out the hypocrisy of their accusers.
He even called his own disciples evil at one point (Mt.7:11).
His theme: he came for broken people, not people who think they've got their act together.
Hey Lynn! I think you are missing the point dear. It is the christians that are attacking a lifestyle not the other way around.
But didn't he loved the sinners?
He understood that everybody is a sinner.
I thought his main command was "To love each other"
And he did not condemn anybody. The Old testament God did. And he was a very vindictive and cruel deity!
So if your bible is your "condemnation guide" please just don't call yourselves "christians".
@Voice of Reason
In all seriousness, truly...the man didn't say in any way he hates GLBT. He just doesn't agree with it. And truly, I get there are plenty of Christians out there that really and truly are spewing out hate filled filth and its utterly detestable. But, honestly, is it possible that he, along with others, just simply dont' agree with the lifestyle? I don't agree with it, but I have plenty of GLBT friends and I love them to pieces. We have great conversations on the topic, and we mutually respect each others beliefs and move on and enjoy life together. I don't think any less of them at all, and they don't of me either. And when it comes down to it, gay marriage WILL be legalized in the very near future. It's a fact whether anyone will admit to that or not. Do I have a problem with it? Well, honestly, I don't support it. However, it is their choice and right to vote that way and to get married. So let them. Again, I don't think any less of someone who is GLBT. They are incredible people, an incredible community, and can love better than most proclaimed "Christians"...and I consider myself a Christian. I'm not perfect. But I try to treat and love others with dignity and respect no matter their beliefs or lifestyle.
Ah but here's the thing. Mutual respect is not common when it comes to religion. In fact, most religions actively discourage the respect of other opinions.
Isn't that the truth. It's a fast disappearing character trait much like common sense. But mutual respect does exist in some of us out there, on both sides of this I believe.
I get that. Jesus also did not say that you and your "Christian" friends should go a judge others. Leave it to Jesus to do that. You may not like how he judges you and your biases either.
Hawaii, where do you get this bull? It is simply a lie, period.
1) Jesus claimed to be the OT God in the flesh (Jn.8:58 – it's why they tried to kill him).
2) Loving the sinner didn't stop him from saying "go & sin no more" (Jn.5 & 8) to them.
3) According to the Gospels we have condemned ourselves by what we've done (Jn.3:18). Jesus doesn't come to condemn because we "stand condemned already." He comes to save... a term which heavily implies our current condition left unchanged will mean our utter ruin.
Hawaii could you give us a book, a sermon, an example of your quote "most religions actively discourage the respect of other opinions."
"Well, honestly, I don't support it."
Lynn, it seems that you are a very tolerant individual, a loving person and fair. The thing that doesn't sit well with most of your post is the statement that you don't support it. Can you understand my perspective? You tell me all these nice warm and fuzzy ideas about your tolerance and how you have gay friends, etc BUT you kill your whole stance wit the one statement.
Would you care to explain?
I respect people, but I don't respect some beliefs. That's not to say I won't have a polite conversation though.
@Lynn @Steve great points made. Unfortunatly people like @Voice of reason who claim to be so open minded and accepting are quite the opposite. It seems like the only time they are accepting and open minded is when someone is agreeing with them. Here is the thing Mr. Cathy did not go shouting his mouth off about his beliefs, he was simply asked a question and he gave an honest answer! Oh and @Edgar shhhh!!!! You are full of HATE!!!!
Leviticus 25: 44
Gives leave to make slaves of "the heathen that are round about you".
What made them heathens Leo?
You know what just go to
@ hawaiiguest: you said "most religions actively discourage the respect of other opinions."
and so does a math teacher when a kids says: "2+2=5."
the substance of your objection only holds if the opinion you are defending is a worthy one.
i think you'd agree that Hitler's opinions on race needed to be discouraged.
but the debate here is: on what basis? whose standards?
let's not pretend as though "religion" is somehow suspect for being exclusive.
it's doing the very same thing you're doing – you just do it in non-religious terms.
We aren't judging others. We simply choose where we want to spend our and what organizations we want to support. Home Depot, among other companies, contributes lots of money to the Gay cause by supporting and sponsoring their events but you don't see or hear of Christians complaining about it or boycotting their stores or having "prayer-ins" in protest. The problem is that many in the Gay community want their lifestyle to be recognized as being normal. And they will not be happy until they FORCE everyone else to adopt their viewpoint. They want everyone to support their lifestyle and choices; well, turn about is fair play so they should support the Christian's right to support the organizations they, the Christians want to support. Otherwise, the Gay community is being two-faced in their actions.
hey Bob do you like am and cheese sandwiches,.. Baka hitsuji
Let me put it this way:
If this charity is "anti-gay", due to the fact that it chooses to put it's money and efforts behind Christian-based family values, then I guess the NAACP is "anti-white", since they choose to put their money and efforts behind advancing the status of blacks.
If NAACP was a racist organization like the KKK your would have a point. How much smarts does it take to realize fighting racism is not racist?
too bad. only minorities and gays get to have beliefs.
Oh, Ron, get a life. Grow up and don't get offended so easily.
i'm black-ish and yes NAACP is a racist organization they would not let me in because im only a 1/4black who is more associated with my Irish1/4
I hope Chik Fil A benefits immensely from all the publicity that this is causing. It would cost millions to duplicate this much free advertising. I am MUCH MORE LIKELY to eat there from now on (after the kissers leave, that is, since I would likely vomit). Stand up for what's right in this world. Free speech supports those on both sides of the aisle.
Would you throw up at the idea of a man putting his pee pee in another man?.Get over it..Not my cup a tea,but what are ya gonna do??Suck back and re-load !!!
Why is it that you religious believers are so blind to science? Gay is not a choice. What don't you understand about that?
You can be gay at home
You know what Heinrich? You didn't take the time to even consider answering my posted question, yet you found the time to post something that is purely nonsensical, just like the post above mine authored by you. Don't you have an opinion with some substance?
I'm religious, and I support gay marriage. But, I've also grown up in a completely different time than this man, He's in his 80's right? This is what he was raised to believe. I'm not saying I agree with him, but he's not going out of his way to hate gay people and tear their families apart. if anything, all this craziness has done is make this man richer. We all need to chill out and stop overreacting everytime someone makes a statement.
choke on it $icksucker
choke on it you $ocksucker
Because your so called "studies" are done by people who have already decided the outcome. All deviants use the "I'm born that way" argument.
I'm not going to chill out there Amanda, not for a moment. What's the point? If someone feels as if they have to tell the world that they are against gay marriage for some stupid religious belief then they are going to have to bear the reprisal. Free speech is not free, get it?
"Because your so called "studies" are done by people who have already decided the outcome. All deviants use the "I'm born that way" argument."
Hey Bob! Is that your final answer?
Of course, but its up to customers to vote with thir wallets, not for munipalities to punish them for free speech.
He was asked a question. He didn't call a radio station and ask to be put on the air just bcuz he woke up one morning wanting to bash on gay people. And you don't have to get all defensive with me, I'm not the enemy, and I'm not the president of chickfila. I was raised with the same belief system as he did, and it's hard to go against those beliefs, but I did. It's just an ignorant old man. He's not trying to hurt anyone.
This whole thing is so dumb. Chick fil A doesn't support gay marriage. If you don't like it, don't spend your money there. They still have a right to free speech, just like anyone else.
"It's just an ignorant old man. He's not trying to hurt anyone."
Oh, I see, that makes it alright then. Fail! A bigot is a bigot once they buy into religion.
Those intolerant of another view point are just as guilty. The hypocrisy is astounding.
I never said it was alright. And I was being polite to you, but u just won't have that. It's ok for you to attack Christians with YOUR free speech, right? It's ok for YOU to have different beliefs as others. I respect that you aren't religious, I would never judge or attack you for believing that, But the fact that you are saying these horrible things about people that believe in Jesus and religion makes you NO BETTER than that man,
Grow a brain there jimmy boy. This is about human rights, the right to live free and here you have a man, a company, speaking outwardly about their belief that it is wrong for gay people to get married. Yes, I am intolerant towards ignorance and the lack of critical thinking and the refusal to face the facts of science and understand that gay people do not have a choice, they are wired that way. What in the world is it that you just don't get about this?
Woah there Amanda! Settle down now, no need to get your panties all twisted-up. My point is what the man is stating is hurting a lot of people, people that do not have a choice, people that happen to have attraction toward the same se*x. They are wired that way. Don't you remember when you were in elementary school there was always a kid, a boy, that always acted like a girl? Do you think he chose to do that? I think not. These people are being put down and not given the same freedoms as everyone else because of some weird outdated belief. It's just plain wrong, don't you see it?
Where can I donate to WinShape. I hate gays too, well, no lady gays.
Why should anyone care what the Southern Poverty Lie Center thinks? It's just a cash-raising hustle run by a bunch of left-wing bigots.
Gay bashing should be a national sport.
Hey BIG JackinDayton! You're a real big tough guy, huh? What you are spouting is a hate crime, did you know that?
...actually, what he is spouting is 'free speech'.
I love Chick-fil-A. Gonna eat every single meal there from now on.
Gobble, gobble, gobble...they boys just LOVE y'all!
Enjoy your diabetes!
Let us all know how Type-2 Diabetes works for you.
Ok, Ok, I will put up a g*ay restaurant that serves their favorite menu: Hotdog sandwich with spread of E.COLI....
And you'll be wolfing them down, won't ya? Yeah, we all know you like the peen. Everyone's talking about you.
You're just . . . .disgusting . . .hot dogs should only be served with mustard.
Cnn blocked my comment.....
They do that because you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny -or- because you had something to say that made sense.
www dot owldolatrous dot com/?p=288 <- Great commentary on this lunacy.
MMMM"M, Just finished the last of the twelve chicken sandwiches I bought the other day.
Now where do I go to donate?
The bathroom sounds like a good place to start...or if you REALLY want to make a statement, use Chick-fell-Atio's counter.
Argle,...hahaha..another E.Coli lover..fre*ak d*irt go to Iran. Heard that no G*ays in that country...
there are a lot of gays in Iran,.. Iran respects their minorities,.. it is illegal to target them,..that why they are a republic
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.