In response to media reports that Chick-fil-A has agreed to stop making charitable donations to groups like Focus on the Family, the company today released a statement to set the record straight.
Contrary to reports first made by the gay-activist group The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) on Tuesday and later picked up by mainstream media outlets, Chick-fil-A and its charitable-giving arm, the WinShape Foundation, did not agree to stop making donations to groups that support the biblical definition of marriage in exchange for being allowed to open a franchise in Chicago.
“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” executives said in today’s statement. “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.
“A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage 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.
“As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.”
According to a TCRA press release issued Tuesday, “In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.”
That was the stipulation gay activists, led by Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, made earlier this summer, after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said in interviews that he and his family are “guilty as charged” of holding biblical views on marriage. Moreno vowed to block the construction of the franchise unless the company changed its beliefs and stopped supporting “hate groups.” Moreno relented to the construction this week, spinning Chick-fil-A’s statement as a victory for his side — despite the fact that it was made before he denied the permit.
Moreover, many news agencies reported that Chick-fil-A had specifically agreed not to give money to Focus on the Family or the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM said Wednesday it has never received money from the foundation. Focus on the Family has.
Some people were quick to criticize the 66-year-old chicken chain for “caving” to political pressure. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly said that’s not what happened.
“Dan and Bubba Cathy are my Christian brothers and good friends. 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,” Daly said.
“I feel bad the Cathys are having once again to endure media accounts mischaracterizing their values and charitable efforts — and, unfortunately, I know how they feel. Focus on the Family has for 35 years been dedicated to saving and strengthening marriages, helping couples raise happy, resilient kids and encouraging and empowering men and women to advocate for God’s truth with Christ’s heart. And still, in stories like some of those about Chick-fil-A’s efforts to expand in Chicago, we are described as being ‘hateful’ toward certain groups of people.
“How is an organization that helps save one marriage every six minutes and helps parents navigate through a crisis involving their children every 90 seconds deemed ‘anti’ anything but ‘anti-family breakdown’?” he concluded. “That’s a question we would hope the media begins to ask with more regularity of those who disagree with us and with Chick-fil-A for bringing our Christian values to bear on the work we do in the public square.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Chick-fil-A’s statement of corporate identity and values.