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."
They have great chicken. Thats what I go for. Chic fil a can do what ever they want with their money, it is THEIRS. Liberals have a hard time with the fact that they can not control OTHERS money. If you do not like chic fil a , don't go! But quit your whining like a bunch of sissys.
CNN attempts to control the issues that matter, this issue doesn't matter. Gays don't need to be recognized to live together, they should just marry themselves without the authority of the government and eventually the government will have to recognize. Government is a symbol of power, and loses authority when it is no longer recognized. Just bypass them and do your own ceremonies and recognize another authority which grants your rights.
Here is what Biblical marriage actually is. Cathy is full of sh1t.
Fantastic letter highlighting the delusional world that these "Faux Christians" like Dan Cathy live in. A world where they and men like them get to pick and choose which sins of the bible are more important than the others. Where they get to hand down judgement and punishment for these perceived sins.
All of God's word is righteous. Anyone who does not abide in his word is unrighteous and won't be allowed to dwell with him.
God's word is simple, people who reject his word is rejected by him.
Problem is that gays are such a small minority of the population, it really doesn't matter to businesses if they boycott or not. There are a whole lot more Christians and when they speak with their wallets- businesses listen.
Haha again more nonsense. Why don't you look up Anita Bryant and the boycott on Florida orange juice – then tell me what you think. The problem with your fantasy world is that you think only gays are fighting for equality. I'm not gay and I believe in marriage equality. Martin Luther King Jr said it best "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
That presupposes that there is some right to be a pervert. The ho mo se xual whining denigrates the struggles of legitimate causes everywhere.
The problem with gays is that they listen to the IJs (wrong people for anyone, never mind just the gays listening to their lies) pulling them away from Jesus.
Went to Chick-fil-A with my family on Saturday in Northridge, CA. 4pm and the place was PACKED. If Chick-fil-A is doing this great of business in California of all places close to a big university- then they have no worries what so ever. This controversy has been great business. I hope Dan Cathy donates all the profits to the so-called 'hate groups'. I love that only liberals are allowed to decide what is and is not a hate groups.
Wanted to go to the Chick-Fil-A on Northeastern's campus, but the students (the future leaders of America) blocked it from coming. Said they didn't want a company that discriminates against gays to come onto their campus.
Times will be a changing. Oh how the old will be panicking when the youth rise up...
Prop 8 passed in California. Many of those supporting Prop 8 (and standing on the street corners with signs) were young kids at the local Christian schools). I don't consider myself all that old (34), but I'm married with 2 kids and believe strongly in conservative Christian values. Even in liberal California, I'm surprised how many of my co-workers share my beliefs. The 'youth' of this country might not be as liberal as the hippies hope.
Then I'll presume you're one of the Christians who don't believe in science. All's one need to do is look at polling. Even in the general population we see for the first time ever a majority of Americans support gay marriage, albeit by a slim majority. However when you look at those numbers by age – you'll see it's the young that by large majorities overwhelmingly favor marriage equality. Again this is sort of how progress in America happens with the young (think women voting, Civil Rights etc).
Since we're practically the same age, you will also note that culturally we grew up in a time where gays had come out of the closet and accepted in the main stream – this changes people's opinions. It's hard to discriminate against something when you can put a friendly face to it.
to the PhDScientist. Do you really think that the kids at a secular university in a overwhelmingly liberal city/state like Boston, MA. is really a good indicator of what the rest of the nation is feeling ? I'm all for gay marriage, but it seems a little nonsensical to believe that the college kids at Northeastern are a true barometer for what the rest of the nation is feeling. For example, people south of the Mason Dixon line, may have a different viewpoint. And as far as polls are concerned. Never trust em, because more times than not, the people conducting these surveys/polls allow their own biases to bleed through and compromise the legitimacy of their findings. Just saying
Mikeman do you really think a few thousand people protesting buy eating at Chick-Fil-A in some bible belt cities and conservative counties is really a good indicator of what the rest of the nation is thinking. It seems that you don't want to believe the Gallup polling (who by the way have no bias and have been following American's opinions on these issues for decades). Perhaps you don't like the progression that always happens in America over time?
ThePhDScientist, your space ship is waiting to fly you to Mars. Take the rest of your atheists buddies with you and stay there.
I don't care what incenses gay rights groups and neither do most Americans. That is what news outlets don't seem to get.
I don't care what incenses right wing bible thumpers – neither do most Americans. That is what most news outlets don't seem to get.
I don't care what incenses right wing bible thumpers and neither do most Americans. That is what most news outlets don't seem to get.
Most Americans are believers and they do care, that is why Chick- Fil -A had a record day.
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Book of Mormon, Mosiah, Chapter 29)
Gay people are only hurting themselves, If I donate to GLAAD am I anti-hetero, anti-christian. If I give to pro-family I'm anti-gay. This fight set the gay cause back decades and you can't even see it.
Thank you for deciding for gay people which fights are worth fighting. Delusional hubris.
gay's should not fight against freedom of speech it hurts them too
NO ONE's 1st Amendment rights have been violated. Why do you insist on perpetuating a myth ?
@midwest then why are gay people upset over what he believe's in? huh HE CAN DONATE TO WHOMEVER HE WANTS AND YOU CAN SAY AND DONATE TO WHATEVER CAUSE YOU WANT. FREE SPEECH SEE HOW THAT WORKS
He made his donations and said what he wanted to say. His supporters have all been allowed to say what they wanted to say. That does not immunize them from criricism. There are NO 1st Amendment issues involved in an argument between private citizens. See how that works ?
I used to love me a Chick-Fil-A sandwich. But I also love my gay friends and wish for them to be treated equally, not as second class citizens by some Bible Thumpers. Therefore I can no longer eat at Chick-Fil-A as I don't want my money getting funneled to the hate groups like the Family Research Council who Chick-Fil-A supports.
Guess you need to stop buying gas also. That comes from countries that beat and kill gays.
Actually most of the gas we buy in the US comes from Canada – contrary to popular teabagger belief about the middle east. Hey guess what, gay marriage is legal in Canada! I'll buy Canadian gas and support equality not biblical discrimination ! ;-)
Who is treating people that are Gay as second class citizens? They are citizens, just like the rest of us, with equal protections.
Who? The people and organizations that Chick-FIl-A supports! Gay people do not have equal protections and that's the whole point of this fight. Since gays are not granted equal marriage protection under the law gay couples aren't afford the legal protection that it affords straight couples this includes, but is not limited to: spousal social security benefits, can't sponsor each other for citizenship, none of the tax advantages for inheriting an individual retirement account – this list goes on to an estimated 1000 rights denied gay couples that straight couples have. How is this "equal protection under the law?"
Corrupting Jesus' truth is your problem for not knowing it is a sin. What do you have then, sinners continuing to sin without knowing it's a sin. Good logic only to the IJs that believe in their man made madness.
BOY, TALK ABOUT A GREAT FREE ADVERTISING GIMMICK!!! WOW! chick a flet must be in a financial bind to come up with this well thought out advertising scheme.. AND IT IS WORKING!!!!
I wonder how many of these people screaming about religious liberty and being a good christian were the same people who try to stop the mosque from being built in tennessee?
Religious liberty is merely a guise for bigotry and hate. This has been true throughout American history. Had Dan Cathy been alive during slavery he would have used his Bible verses to justify the practice – as we know there are many places from Leviticus to Exodus where the Bible condones the practice of slavery. Further the Bible was used as justification for denying women the right to vote. Again there are many places where the Bible appears to tell women what there place in society is (subservient to her man).
One only need to study history to see the Bible is frequently used to impede progress and change. But one might also know progress always happens, despite the people clinging to their bible. Give this one another 10, 20 years and we'll begin to see the Chick-Fil-A supports in the same light as we saw the slave owners.
In the same light as slave Owners such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington?
Yes exactly – we look upon the great things they did for this country and balance it with the atrocities of slavery. We make excuses for them now – well that was acceptable in their time, but we're confident if those men were alive today they would never have supported such evil, reprehensible practices. Will we say the same about Dan Cathy Junior the 3rd?
29 And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation.
30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you. (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 14)
LDS Christardation is a form of retardedness.
Please help save these jobs
Anything you can do is welcomed.
Gay people exist because Adam and Eve were dis-obediant. Therefore once they ate from the tree of Knowledge of Good & Evi sin was brought into the world. There were no Gay ppl before then because GOD did not intend for them to be created. Christians dont hate gays but they disagree with the SIN of their lifestyle. What GLAAD is trying to do is make everyone think that being GAY is not a SIN and that it is ok which it is NOT. So I side with Chick- Fil-A because they are being attacked for their Christian Faith and beliefs.l
I sided with chik-fila because I like the chicken breakfast wraps and they make some awesome soup. And no made up political issue by a perpetually unhappy and protesting group is going to change that.
So Poltergeist, in the interest of moral consistency, I'm sure you'll be joining Mr. Cathy in his push to codify the immoral behavior of str8 people and make divorce and adultery illegal, right ?
Oh wait. He ISN'T doing that – he only wishes to codify the behavior of gay people, using civil legislation, ignoring the biggest threat to the "sanct-ity of marriage" out there – str8 relationships. Guess what ? That makes him a morally inconsistent hypocrite, and a coward who chose an easy target.
Some might say that makes him a christian...
More christard logic (or better – hard-of-thinking).
Prayer changes things .
Actually atheism is fabulous for children and all kinds of people. It frees the mind from make-believe stuff and allows a person to be more responsible for their actions; it allows people to become more educated about things of real importance in the world; instead of worthless time spent praying and thinking about make-believe things, atheists can meditate, be more productive and make real contributions to the world. It's a fact. It is written.
If you were a responsible person you would not be on a website defending qu eers. Qu eers the folks who gave the world AIDS
If this is how the gay rights movement plans to go forward, by trying to derail entire franchises over an errant comment than does not affect their rights in anyway, they can expect to have backwards momentum in years to come. If you don't like what some CEO said, vote with your wallet and pick smarter battles. Are we going to have to read about protest every time some public figure merely hurts your feelings?
Never mind the gay community may be hurting real people in the process. The politicians are trying to keep jobs out of their cities for political brownie points, the lost revenue will hurt working families before the CEO, not to mention the gay people who could be fired because Chik-Fila has to close stores in their community.
Calling the CEO's comment "errant" is not a proper characterization. He meant what he said and is trying to use The Babble to deny others their rights. That is wrong, not errant. The rest of your post amounts to "let's sacrifice our principles and continue to discriminate against a group because of money" – not a very principled approach.
It's going to be great watching all the whining when the US supreme court sides with the gays against religion.
And it's not gays that have put jobs at risk – it was the homophobic CEO, as it was he that should have kept his mouth shut. Yes, he has a right to his views, but everyone else has a right to react as they see fit (within the law, of course).
Dan Cathy went about it the wrong way. If, as a private citizen, he wanted to give to those groups, ok, fine. But when he uses company money and giving those dollars in the company's name to the groups who lobby for "biblical" laws, that's where the problem lies. If you are going to give, as a private person, go ahead. But why do you run the risk of alienating or tarnishing your company, your meal ticket, your very livelihood, by marrying your business to political views?
This is what happens when degenerate groups are given rights. Now they think they can roam around telling others how to live THEIR lives.
Ummm...because that's not what Christians do under the umbrella of freedom of religion...?
Good point RJ. And by degenerate groups, was nokat really confusing gay groups with say Eddie Long and his church? Or possibly this nokat had just been reading a crime blotter somewhere in the bible belt.
@chronickelly: Not true. Thanks for playing, we've got some lovely parting gifts for you.
"Abrahamics" like the Cathy family believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the gay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied h-omose-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore gays are gay because god made them that way.
See p. 27 for added details.
This post was so short I didn't realize it was Reality who wrote it.
Here is a question comrade. When you state "those who have studied ho'mose'xualtiy have determined"... You do realize that now days there are folks that have studied, the same, and come to a completely different conclusion. In the old days ... like the 70s :) ... there seemed to be this myth that if one study came to conclusion then all, in that same area of focus, would readily accept it as a sound outcome. Flash forward to today and we often have competing studies who come to different conclusions. How do we determine which study or finding, is right? Society is very very polarized now and if one side comes into a debate with the findings of a study that validates their views, then you gotta know that the other side will have in their hands another study.
I do not have a "dog in this fight" .. but it always intrigues me when one side holds up a study or a book or a website that validates their view ... and then expects that it should settle all debate on the issue.
In some ways it reminds me of arguments within the Faiths. Each side quoting this text or that and believing that their interpretation should clear up any conflicts and the issue be settled.
As noted from p. 27:
1. The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:
“ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice. "
2. "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8
3. See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?” (added: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/135419083.html)
@mark You do Have a dog in this argument everyone does. Are we going to protect free speech or take it away for a small group who could also lose thier free speech? If you gays lose your free speech you won't be able to talk about gay right's think about it. You are not seeing the big picture here.
Reality is a IJ. Don't believe his nonsense.
They brought us this motley crew as well as their sleeper cells in our government today:
Josef Stalin, (Joseph David Djugashvili) Djugashvili means "Jewison"
Adolph Hitler (Rothschild), Father: Alois Hiedler. Jewish Grandfather: Barron Salomon Mayer Rothschild
Winston Churchill (Jacobson), Jewish Mother: Jenny (Jacobson) Jerome
Franklin Roosevelt (Rosenvelt), 1st traceable Jewish ancestor: Claes Martenzan van Rosenvelt
Dwight David Jacob Eisenhower was Jewish, Born in Denison, Texas in 1890, his father was David Jacob "Eisenhower," although his mother was a Stover before marriage.
Mark, the best way to determine if a study is believable is to check to make sure it was reviewed and verified by reputable, neutral parties.
A lot of studies are quoted. Do you ever see commercials for weight loss pills that claim they are proven by scientific studies? You can bet that the majority of those studies were never properly scrutinized because they weren't properly conducted.
If you want to learn the truth, look at respected medical or science journals. Their reputations depend on the quality of what publish, so they are very fastidious.
Notice how all the atheist go around my posts knowing what I posted is true. No comments from any of those loser IJs.
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.