Chick-fil-A has responded to news reports that it has stopped funding some pro-family groups as a concession to gain approval for a restaurant in Chicago, saying that it has made no concessions in its funding philosophy and, in the words of company president Dan Cathy, remains “true to who we are.”
News reports surfaced September 19 that the company had reached an agreement with Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who had vowed to block approval of a restaurant site for the company unless it agreed to stop funding “anti-gay” groups. “Chick-fil-A no longer will fund traditional-marriage groups” the Washington Times headlined its story, and USA Today reported that individuals who had supported Chick-fil-A during the recent attack against it by homosexual activists were now upset that the restaurant chain had “caved in” to gay marriage proponents.
But Cathy set the record straight on September 21, issuing a statement, posted on Mike Huckabee's website, saying: “There [continue] to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect. Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”
One of the main sources of the report appeared to be a press release from a Chicago-based pro-homosexual group, the Civil Rights Agenda, which stated that Alderman Moreno had “finalized his negotiations with Chick-fil-A,” and had confirmed that the company would “no longer give money to anti-gay organizations.” In July Moreno had said he would block construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in his First Ward because of Cathy's statement of support for traditional marriage. “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the First Ward,” Moreno said of Cathy's stand.
As the erroneous news spread that Chick-fil-A had eased up on its support for traditional marriage and pro-family groups such as Focus on the Family, individuals who had taken part in an early August Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day began posting messages on the company's Facebook page, expressing their disappointment. “I'm disgusted that your faith is so weak,” Baptist Press News quoted one person as posting. “You sure raked in the bucks on Chick-fil-A day, huh? So when do you start opening on Sunday? 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'”
On its own press release page Chick-fil-A addressed the latest controversy on September 20, saying that for “many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized. And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.”
Emphasizing its earlier insistence that Chick-fil-A was committed to be “responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us,” the company reiterated that its support “is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.”
The company also re-enforced its commitment to maintain a culture in which every person is treated “with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
At least one pro-homosexual group, the Human Rights Campaign, took exception to Chick-fil-A's continued commitment to programs that “enrich marriage,” saying: “What that language essentially means is that they will continue to support groups with rabidly anti-LGBT agendas, but they certainly would never want anyone to think that their support should be taken as an endorsement of any particular political agenda.”
While, according to the press release from the Civil Rights Agenda, Chick-fil-A said that its WinShape Foundation “is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping,” and had committed to not giving to “anti-gay” organizations, Dan Cathy's statement appeared to emphasize that the company had not altered its position on support for traditional pro-family groups.
In a statement John Daly, president of Focus on the Family, which has received funding from the Winshape Foundation, confirmed that the company and its owners would continue their commitment to pro-family groups and causes. “Dan and Bubba Cathy are my Christian brothers and good friends,” Daly said. “They and their company have long shared Focus on the Family’s commitment to helping build strong and thriving families — and they have in no way deviated from that deeply held and biblically inspired passion while working with the city of Chicago to open Chick-fil-A restaurants there.”
Photo of Chick-fil-A restaurant: AP Images