Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chick-fil-A Denies Agreeing to Stop Funding Pro-Family Groups

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Last week, a Chicago alderman declared that Chick-fil-A had agreed to cease funding pro-family and Christian organizations, leading some to believe that Chick-fil-A had kowtowed to public pressure. According to Chick Fil-A president Dan Cathy, however, indications that his company had come to that agreement are entirely false.

 “Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been,” he said in a statement posted on Mike Huckabee’s website on Friday.

Chick-fil-A became the subject of intense controversy this summer after its president told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged” for supporting the “biblical definition of marriage.” The controversy was exacerbated further when Cathy in a later radio interview said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

Following Cathy’s statements, in July, First Ward Alderman Proco Moreno made public his opposition to Chick-fil-A’s efforts to open up a franchise in Chicago because of the company’s stance on traditional marriage.

But last week, Moreno stated that the fast food restaurant made an agreement that its philanthropic foundation, the WinShape Foundation, would no longer support organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.

A letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Department of Real Estate led Moreno to believe that Chick-fil-A had in fact caved.

The letter read, ““The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”

Moreno, believing that the letter indicated that Chick-fil-A had adopted a policy change, announced that he would no longer attempt to stop the construction of a Chick-fil-A in his ward.

Media outlets jumped at the announcement, declaring the agreement to be a victory for the pro-gay rights movement.

But some began to doubt whether Chick-fil-A had in fact adopted a new policy after its president tweeted last week to celebrate a fundraiser by the WinShape Foundation to benefit the Marriage and Family Foundation, one of the organizations cited by gay rights groups as being opposed to same-sex marriage.

“Chick-fil-A can’t claim to be turning over a new leaf while simultaneously funneling thousands of dollars towards a group that does not acknowledge the dignity and respect of LGBT people,” said Fred Sainz, a spokesman for The Human Rights Campaign.

But MassResistance, a pro-family group, said that Chick-fil-A had not made any such agreement, and told Life Site News that a spokesperson for Chick Fil-A had stated that the restaurant would continue to fund the Family Research Council, Exodus International, Eagle Forum, and Focus on the Family.

And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who organized last month’s Chick fil-A Appreciation Day, asserts that Cathy had provided a statement to end any and all notions that the restaurant had betrayed its core values.

The statement on Huckabee’s website states:

There continues 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.

Likewise, in a blog post called "Chick-fil-A: Who We Are. A Response to Recent Controversy," the chain writes:

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.

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.

Moreno understood Chick-fil-A’s letter stating it would finance only “programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities,” rather than groups with “political agendas,” as one that implied a policy change.

But as noted by Life Site News, Chick-fil-A’s statement “may reflect the fact that Chick-fil-A does not consider marriage to be a ‘political’ issue.”

A similar assertion was made by Leadership Institute founder and conservative icon Morton Blackwell, who said at a Values Voter Summit earlier this month, “Abortion and monogamous marriage between one man and one woman were among the many settled legal and moral issues of American culture." He added, "But then the political Left began to bring into politics its hostility to traditional moral principles.”

Chick-fil-A’s re-assertion of its core values may prevent the company from being able to open up a restaurant in Chicago, however.

“I still need to introduce legislation to make the Chick-fil-A in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago a reality,” Moreno said. “I will wait to see what Mr. Cathy’s next PUBLIC statement is, and reflect on that statement before moving forward with appropriate legislation.” (Emphasis in original.)

Moreno has the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as a number of other public officials who have announced that Chick-fil-A would not be welcome in their communities.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune when Moreno first stated that he would stop Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in Chicago. “They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

Photos: Chick Fil-A president Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A headquarters in College Park, Georgia

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