I saw this article from Focus on the Family yesterday, and it has chopped up quotes from a new statement ChickfilA apparently released yesterday (which I have not seen in full) in response to their alleged caving. I don’t think this article clears much up at all, but you can decide for yourself:
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.
“In my last meeting with company executives, I corroborated what they told me back in January: that donations to anti-gay groups, which most concerned the LGBT community, have ceased,” [Alderman] Moreno’s statement said. Since the news broke, Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page has been inundated with angry messages from people who say they are now-former supporters of the chain.
Moreno said he got verbal assurances from company executives, and he said the verbiage in the release and similar wording validated his claim, although gay rights were never specifically mentioned. He said Chick-fil-A executives also let him look at an internal accounting document from the foundation that showed no donations to groups that oppose gay marriage during this calendar year.
It’s unlikely that the majority of Chick-fil-A supporters who stood on line, some for hours, in the heat to buy food as part of “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” last month knew that the company had quietly stopped funding the anti-gay marriage cause some eight months earlier. Chick-fil-A did not release sales figures but said that the event was a “record” day for sales; one independent analyst estimated that the company could have seen a 50 percent increase in sales that day.
Moreno said he was satisfied that the references to political and social issues, along with the pledge to respect all sexual orientations in Chick-fil-A’s statements, reflected a commitment to stop funding anti-gay groups. He said the somewhat vague verbiage — same-sex marriage, for instance, is never specifically mentioned as an issue — was actually better in that it implied a more inclusive brand of tolerance on Chick-fil-A’s part.
He admitted, though, that relying on the company’s own assertions about its donation practices was a bit of a gamble. “I’m not naive,” he said, adding that the company could still “try to find a way around” keeping its word.
He didn’t have to wait long. On the same day that his press release was dated, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy Tweeted a photo of a WinShape fundraiser called Ride for the Family, which ends Friday. The event’s registration page instructed participants to make the $3,500 registration fee payable to the Marriage and Family Foundation, Inc., an organization founded by Dan Cathy’s brother. Its headquarters have the same mailing address as Chick-fil-A’s.