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."
blacks and gays = whinny victims. besides, it's all about free speech.
Delusional nonsense. No one's 1st Amendment rights have been violated.
really? I heard the mayor's of Boston, SF and NY try and hurt the company because they did not like what he said and thought. that's illeagal and unAmerica comrade
And all have since backtracked – because they were wrong. A handful of local idiot politicians does not consti-tute a violation of the 1st Amendment, no business permits have been denied, and obviously his business is NOT suffering. Try again.
your right they were wrong...funny how that never made the national news like the WRONG comments did though...they meant what they said and if they could they would follow through. It's crazy liberal governor’s of such big cities would not know better....progressives right? does that mean you love everyone and are open to all different ideas (as long as they do not dis-agree with them), then they want to shut you down and shut you up. the intent was there and you know it.
It's America. Dan Cathy can say or believe whatever he wants. It's his right and one that doesn't just apply to a select few, but all of us. It's sad when we have gotten to a place where someone can't have their own opinion without the rest of us freaking out about it. If you don't like what he said, why does he have to be destroyed because of it. If you don't like it, don't eat at Chick-fil-A.
Where's the beef? GALB groups?
Grow a pair. And kiss my grits moron.
The organizations FUNDED by Chick-File-A have sponsored boycotts against the following companies in the last ten years:
The Home Depot
So excuse me while I give a s#it that these yokels are upset about ONE single freaking company that gets singled out.
Southern Chirstians -AS USUAL- refining their hypocrisy to its highest quality.
what's your point?
My point? Are you stupid?
My point is that these so-called Christians have boycotted major companies for DECADES for things as little as giving gay couples health insurance coverage. The moment ONE company they adore gets singled out for his anti-gay FINANCING....they all start crying and calling out "religious discrimination". A bunch of BS that could only come from Southern yokels. PERIOD.
Good – thank you for clarifying that mighty7. That's good information to know and hold onto, but more importantly, find a good way to expose more.
This time Christians stood FOR a business and not AGAINST one, gotta love America.
Why must we still live with these childish values that gay people are somehow morally wrong? There is not a magic man in the sky and he certainly wouldn't hate on gays if he actually was righteous. Grow up people.
There is a God and He is self evident in all of His creation. His righteousness is all that matters, man's righteousness is like bloody menstrual rags to Him.
You know, I never heard Mr. Cathy utter the word hate in relation to the gay and lesbian community. He simply follows the bible that has been around for many years. You can be gay or lesbian, no problem here. But his are traditional views from a man who believes in god and the bible. The leadership of the gay community are the ones full of hate. Oh buy the way.....a record week for Chik fil a. Have a sandwich guys and gals.
The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.
Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.
It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.
Chic-fil-A donates to good Christian organizations. The liberals only call them hate organizations, because they believe and preach the Bible. The Bible is and always will be. First came the Word. God is the alpha and the omega. This contoversy is like dust in the wind; a blip on the radar, and will have its 15 mintues in the spot-light, but God has been worshiped forever and will be worshipped forever more
"God is Alpha and Omega"
Do you have ANY sense of self or self-responsibility?
Or you the type who rationalizes bad behavior by blaming the bible and god for your prejudices?
It's not "God's will"
It's yours. And if you CHOOSE to be racist and prejudicial, have the courage to say it is YOUR choice and NOT that you are enabled by your religion.
I'm not sure how to respond to what you said. Its nonsense to think that people who believe in God and the Bible will disregard it.
solex, you're intollerant of Christians and the Bible.
I guess this pledge is BS to some people?
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist;
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That is the REAL pledge. The "Under God" was added by the right wing bobos in 1952 and will be soon removed.
From the article: such as the Family Research Council, as anti-gay hate groups. Such a stupid statement. I wonder how many gay bashings memeber or the FRC we involved in, after all they are an anti-gay hate group. I guess I am a anit-gay hate person. CNN with it's gay promoting agenda.
I am in support of family values and chick-fil-a.sounds like they are doing wonderful things. winshape foundation. I am a christian and have my belief's i also have best friends who are gay. Get rid of the anger issues people life is too short. We need to have more love, compassion. put your energy doing something good. Start a gay foundation if you feel left out. Maybe you can help and feed some homeless people and won't be so prejudice and will use the money for all races & even people who aren't gay.
hope liberals have been enjoying the election day polling booth preview at their local chick-fil-a's
Is giving $ to a organization that sets out to disenfranchise or otherwise deny others due process considered 'charity'?
"I am a Christian and view this behavior as a serious sin."
Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.
Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.
There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.
Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.
Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?
Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).
That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.
We think its not natural, normal, or ok for one man to stick his thinggy in a nother mans rear end, and WE are the crazy ones???
Dude your one confused person. It's a sin and it is deviant behavior! Where did you draw this rant from?
i am sorry but you are not a christian.
It's no wonder that gays hate both Chik-fil-A and the Boy Scouts of America.
They're unable to get fresh, hot pork in either one...
Yes, because that's ALL there is to being gay....idiot....
.. that pretty much sums it up ... personally I don't care what these perverts do in their own privacy, but when they shove it in my face and demand that I support their cause, that is when I dig in my heels. And to all you chocolate pounders out there ... it has nothing to do with hate, I don't hate anybody, but I recognize disgust when I see it.
Hate the sin, not the sinner. That is what we have been called to do. To love one another in the Lord. Because all of us have sinned and are banned from the presence of God and the only way to salvation is Christ and He alone.
"Hate the sin, not the sinner."
I never said that Gandhi did, now try again.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Sure people can say whatever they want, they should do so loud and clearly so that everyone can know who the bigots are.
Kelly is a bigoted moron
I rather enjoy watching the media play both sides of this...feeding the fire of rampant stupidity, hate, and ignorance. No matter what your beliefs are it does not belong anywhere near your food.
Moments like this you need to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.
Hate begets hate.
People are going to have different values, love a little differently, look different...none of that is a reason to discriminate.
Be a better person, be a smarter person, and a kinder person and you'll find the world isn't such a terrible place..and if anything you're going to make it a place for your children.
The media is very much like a man who starts a fight in a bar, then slips out the back door.
If someone were telling you that you couldn't marry the person you love, would you still be quite so cordial?
Theodosius: Yes. I will always be cordial in approach to matters like these.
Arguing/Finger Pointing...what have you is an immature approach to situations such as these. Nothing will change without unionization of the majority. The focus can't be at the doors of some judgmental fast food chain..it has to be at the doors of the people.
This country was founded by our mothers and fathers who escaped oppression...Our amendments are guidelines to live by so that all men and woman can find happiness. We cannot be tethered to out-dated traditions, or hate filled religious beliefs. We are a growing society. Embrace change, or perish under the weight of it.
Catholic Engineer: Well said! I couldn't help but laugh!
Quit talking about African Americans, like you know us. This has nothing to do with our plight in this country. Marriage is one thing. Being a slave is another. By the way, most brothers and sisters dont agree with gay marriage. So quit dragging us in your examples.
The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right, putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.
"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."
Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.
The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.
"Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.
Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.
Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.
"We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.
You put your 2 cents in, but you not gonna get a dollar back. Maybe one cent. First of all, the NAACP is playing the political game. They want Obama back in office. If this endorsement helps his chances, then they do what they have to do. I know what Barack is doing, and I would do the same thing if I was him. Trust me, it doesnt mean he supports gay marriage.
Discrimination is discrimination. You of all people should know that.
"I know what Barack is doing, and I would do the same thing if I was him. Trust me, it doesnt mean he supports gay marriage."
Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.
The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
A federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.
Oh yeah. It sounds like you are cherry picking the laws with which you agree. I am quite sure that gay marriage was not in the back of peoples minds when the 14th ammendment was ratified.
Meanwhile, gays are executed in middle east countries. Do any of the protesters buy gas made from middle east oil imports? Of course they do. Those people are hypocrites. What is more important to gays, execution or someone's opinion on marriage? If you support buying gas from a middle east oil source then shut up and have a chicken sandwich.
Actually for U.S. citizens ~90% of our oil comes from North and South America. After the oil crisis in the 70's America has slowed down oil imports from the Middle East vastly. Most of our oil/gas comes from Canada.
The point being that gays should think themselves lucky they're not executed here; the Land of the Free? That you have to turn to a brutally oppressive religious regime to find your comparison doesn't raise a red flag?
If it were revealed that Cathy was opposed to inter-racial marriage, this would be a very different kind of circus. And YES, it is the same thing! Crack a history book people, and understand that in a couple of decades, you'll be in one yourselves.
Your point is invalid as we do not live in the middle east, we live in the same country as Chick-Fil-A opperates. The laws of those countries have no effect on our daily lives in the USA, Chick-Fil-A working to have discrimination against Gays written into law DOES. Sure, it's horrific for the native Gays in the Middle East, it just has no impact here. I feel for them as much as I do for those here, however we really can't make a difference there because ANY American there would be faced with possible death.
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.