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."
"...at the beginning, the Creator 'made them male and female' and said 'For this reason man will leave his father and mother, and be united with his wife; and the two will become one flesh.'" (NIV)
AND IF THEY ARE ONE FLESH THAN THEY ARE A BIG PILE OF UGLY LOOKING FLESH.
Until you meet someone else, divorce, do it again and again. YOu have a 50% divorce rate. Why don't you protest divorce, instead of marriage psycho!
I breaks my heart that the divorce rate among believers and nonbelievers is the same. The answer is not to "throw the baby out with the bath water". The best course of action is to lift marriage back up to the level that God designed it to be not to devalue it any further.
So Greg – that means that you'll be working to codify, thru civil legislation, the immoral behavior of str8 people and make divorce and adultery illegal, right ?
Only God can change the heart of man, I am active in our political system and vote on key issues when they are presented.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?
And that answers the question how, exactly ? It was a fairly simple, straightforward question. Why the evasion ?
that means that you'll be working to codify, thru civil legislation, the immoral behavior of str8 people and make divorce and adultery illegal, right ?
I am active in our political system and vote on key issues when they are presented.
I am not a politician or a lobbyist but do seek to speak the truth when given the opportunity.
Good grief. Ask a simple question, get a deflection unrelated to said question.
THE LORD IS A SHEILD AND A BUCKLER. WHOM SHALL I FEAR?
So sad. YOu have no thoughts of your own. Just a 2,000 year old text to quote.
ESPECIALLY AS I UNDO THAT BUCKLE...
MANY MANY non-hate group christians will boycott them too. The sicko right will buy lots of chicken for a few months, but the boycotts will last forever. ------- America’s “Nones” — the nonreligious — are at an all-time high, now comprising nearly one in five Americans (19%), according to a new study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press. The 19% count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted by the Pew Research Center throughout 2011 and reported by USA Today.----Lose almost %20 of your business, great business model. DUH
have you ever eaten at a chick fil a?
This is all based in the Sow-th, so it is not a surprise it is happening. I stay away from the Sow-th as much as possible. It is a really creepy part of the United States, the religious and social structures haven't evolved since the slave-trade days. They certainly don't practice their "religion" based on Jesus' teachings.
BLESSED IS THE MAN THAT WALKETH NOT IN THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY...BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD AND IN HIS LAW DOES HE MEDITATE BOTH DAY AND NIGHT. PRAISE JESUS FOREVER MORE!!!!
Blessed is the man who is strong, can face reality on his own, and doesn't need an invented invisble sky daddy to survive.
OH TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!
I've got something you can taste.. and it's gooood.
YUM! HE REALLY, REALLY IS!
People stood quietly in line on Wednesday in the hot summer sun for hours to get a Chick-fil-a meal all across the country and it wasn't because they were starving. There were no long lines on Friday at Chick-fil-a in support of the other cause. Which side do you think most Americans support?
Post by Ken is an instance of the of the ad populum fallacy.
I was there both days, dude - looked like reality to me. The above article shows how much of the LGBT stance against Chick-Fil-A is based on fallacy. Looks like about 99% of the money Chick-Fil-A donates goes to organizations that are not actively involved in the movement that opposes the LGBT agenda. As in all political discussions, it's good to check the facts rather than just injesting the pablum.
I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP. MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD WHICH MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH!
AND I WILL SEE MY MAN ON TOP OF ME, LOOKING DOWN INTO MINE OWN EYES!
I will meet you in the park, unzip my fly, and you will be on your knees.
I am one who takes a Libertarian political position on issues like gay marriage...I don't like gov't legislating morality in people's personal life as long as their actions don't interfere with the freedom of others. That said, what I find most interesting is the messaging from the gay community claiming that Chick-Fil_A promotes "hate" or is a "hateful" company. Dan Cathy's statement in NO WAY expressed hate toward gay people. Cathy made his comment when he was asked about the issue after months of illegal protests taking place on their private property, which the media has failed to report. In no way did Cathy express hate in his comments.....just a position on a political/social issue that has directly affected the business because they, as a company, espouse Christian values and make donations to Christian groups who have taken a position against gay marriage. In fact, what we've seen is FAR more emotion and hate from the gay community in their actions and behavior and it does not bode well with those of us who would otherwise be sympathetic to their cause.
The statement, by Cathy, was completely non-emotional. He simply expressed a position on an issue. It is completely possible to disagree with a person's actions, life style or position on an issue without hating that person or a particular group they affiliate with and the leadership of a company has every right to hold what ever values they like. If you don't like the values of the company don't patron the business. Gov't officials however have not right interfering with the company's right to do business based on the personal beliefs of the company's officers.
They fund groups who actively campaign against gay marriage, a pretty hateful act. Also, the whole "Supporting Traditional Marriage" thing seems to be based on hate.
You're right about government officials though, some of those comments were grossly unnecessary and possibly unconst.itutional.
What is hateful about campaigning against gay marriage? There are a lot of people who support gay couples as long as you don't call it marriage. Why is that too much to ask?
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE. ANGELS BOW BEFORE HIM. HEAVEN AND EARTH ADORE HIM. WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!
I don't bow before your ass hole of a sky fairy, when he makes nasty demands like these in your book of nasty AKA the bible, NT and OT:
17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”
Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.
Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.
And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.
So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. I WILL FEAR NO EVIL. THY ROD AND THY STAFF ARE WITH ME. HALLELUJAH!!!!!
Seems your nasty god is really into punishment and hate, just looking at some of the choice bits in your book of nasty AKA the bible:
AND OH HOW I LOVE THY ROD OH SAVIOR!
I meant BRAVO to LET'S PRAY TO JESUS.
Where was your god on 9/11, Betty.
It's OK Betty. We already know that you can't think for yourself.
why is it that the gays are always pushing their abnormal life style in every one's face... enough already... we normal folks have to fight back already... BRAVO to Chick-fil-A for being closed on Sunday, the Lord's Day... Amen.
REally? Your normal? Would love to meet you. I've been on this earth for nearly 53 years and have yet to meet a normal person. You hetero-ness does not make you normal. You probably think there are invisible people in the sky watching you and talking to you.
Hail Satan, the TRUE LORD OF EARTHREALM.
HALLELUJAH! JESUS, THE CONQUERING LION OF JUDAH! PRAISE YOUR NAME FOR EVER!!!!!!!!!!
"Let's pray to Jesus" you're a freak. Stop with the praying. Even the bible tells us not to wear our beliefs on our sleeves. We don't care what you believe in. Go pray with your boyfriend like I pray with my boyfriend. It makes it more worthwhile and it's a more....personal ;) thing.
JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN. ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD. RED AND YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE. THEY ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT. JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD!!!!
Gay children too? I see all the racial stuff, just wondered if he felt the same about gay children.
Calling your sky fairy "loving" is more than a bit of a stretch, when according to the nasty Christian instruction manual AKA the bible, he makes nasty demands of you like these, NT and OT both:
Let it go people,this is america. Everyone has fallen into a politic trap set by politicians. Get smart this is how they keep power and continue to ruin our country. The media should be covering stories of the lies and decent of all our politicians, they are the problem.
VERY VERY TRUE !
My only disappointment is that prayer hasn't changed me from being gay to straight. I post on these boards endlessly so that God will take notice and make me straight!
WHAT A WONDERFUL SAVIOR YOU ARE, LORD!
You seem to have an odd definition of 'wonderful', given that the Christian book of nasty presents awful demands from your hateful, vindictive sky fairy like these:
What is very interesting is WinShape has absolutely nothing to do with any social or political agenda but, because it doesn't pay homage to 1q.u.e.e.r.s. it is automatically labeled a hate group.
Now if you want to see hate, just read all the comments here, posted by gay people and supporters of the gay agenda.
Is it wrong to hate haters, or to be intolerant of the intolerant?
I LOVE YOU JESUS. I WORSHIP AND ADORE YOU. JUST WANT TO TELL YOU. LORD I LOVE, YOU. MORE THAN ANYTHING!
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.