Did Chick-fil-A back down–or not?

Reports are circulating that Chick-fil-A has abandoned its practice of supporting groups that oppose gay-marriage.  But the company is denying any change of policy.

The first story:

Chick-fil-A stopped funding traditional-marriage groups in an effort to open a new Chicago restaurant, but the company initially kept quiet about the decision, prompting gay rights groups to speculate that the company feared a backlash from conservative customers.

The Christian-rooted fast food restaurant agreed to stop funding groups such as Focus on the Family that oppose same-sex marriage in a meeting with the Chicago politician who had been blocking the company’s move there. Chick-fil-A wrote a letter to Alderman Joe Moreno affirming this, according to his spokesman, Matt Bailey, but the company initially wouldn’t allow his office to release the letter to the public. Three weeks later they relented.

“There was concern from them,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director for the Civil Rights Agenda, the Illinois lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender group that negotiated with both Chick-fil-A and the alderman to stop funding for so-called anti-gay groups. “They really didn’t want to announce it, really, but, of course, the alderman needed to clarify why he was changing his stance on them opening a restaurant within his ward.”

Chick-fil-A did not returns requests for comment, and has previously said it will not discuss the issue with the media.

Mr. Martinez said Chick-fil-A told the alderman they will no longer fund groups that support traditional marriage through their charity arm, the WinShape Foundation, and will instead use that money toward educational programs and food donations.

“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,” Chick-fil-A wrote in the letter.

The second story:

Following reports that Chick-fil-A had agreed to stop funding certain traditional family groups in order to get approval for a new Chicago restaurant, company President Dan Cathy said Friday the restaurant made no concessions and “we remain true to who we are.”

Cathy’s statement, posted on Mike Huckabee’s website, came one day after the company released its own statement saying that its corporate giving has “been mischaracterized” for many months and that it will continue to fund programs that “strengthen and enrich marriages.”

Said Cathy, “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.”

Focus on the Family President Jim Daly — whose organization supposedly had been de-funded by Chick-fil-A — also has spoken up for the company. And gay activist groups — who initially applauded Chick-fil-A’s supposed move — now are criticizing the restaurant once again.

HT:  Grace

UPDATE:  Tiffany Owens at  World Magazine does a good job of sorting this out (registration required).

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    From the latest reports today, it seems Mr. Cathy and his executives aren’t on the same page. Mr. Cathy is saying one thing in public to the media, and his executives are saying another in private (and in writing) to the Chicago alderman. We’ll just have to wait and see how this internal conflict at Chick-fil-A shakes out.

  • Tom Hering

    From the latest reports today, it seems Mr. Cathy and his executives aren’t on the same page. Mr. Cathy is saying one thing in public to the media, and his executives are saying another in private (and in writing) to the Chicago alderman. We’ll just have to wait and see how this internal conflict at Chick-fil-A shakes out.

  • Kirk

    Does anyone else hate that their delicious delicious friend chicken needs to have a position on gay marriage?

  • Kirk

    Does anyone else hate that their delicious delicious friend chicken needs to have a position on gay marriage?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think this is much ado about nothing. There is no proof one way or the other in regards to Chick-fil-a’s giving. Besides using a 2011 Tax return to prove current giving? That has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.

    Personally, I find it very suspicious that the staffers can’t provide the supposed letter the Alderman received. I have a feeling a certain politician was caught in a lie as he tried to cover his backside with his constituents.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think this is much ado about nothing. There is no proof one way or the other in regards to Chick-fil-a’s giving. Besides using a 2011 Tax return to prove current giving? That has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.

    Personally, I find it very suspicious that the staffers can’t provide the supposed letter the Alderman received. I have a feeling a certain politician was caught in a lie as he tried to cover his backside with his constituents.

  • Tom Hering
  • Tom Hering
  • DonS

    Alderman Moreno does not appear to have provided a shred of evidence to back his claims, and the “evidence” he cites, tax returns, would not be dispositive of anything regarding the company’s charitable giving philosophy and also are not yet available to the public.

    Much ado about a private entity’s private decisions about how it chooses to use the money it has earned. But, that’s the nature of our busybody society today.

  • DonS

    Alderman Moreno does not appear to have provided a shred of evidence to back his claims, and the “evidence” he cites, tax returns, would not be dispositive of anything regarding the company’s charitable giving philosophy and also are not yet available to the public.

    Much ado about a private entity’s private decisions about how it chooses to use the money it has earned. But, that’s the nature of our busybody society today.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t feel like we yet know the whole truth here, and I’m not terribly sure I care. Chick-fil-A’s responses certainly leave plenty of room for their having dropped some of the more pointedly anti-gay-marriage from WinShape’s donation list (not that they ever gave a whole lot to such groups anyhow).

    Because, you know, it’s entirely possible to fund programs that “strengthen and enrich marriages” without funding political action on gay marriage. Not that you’d know it from the way most American Christians talk these days.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t feel like we yet know the whole truth here, and I’m not terribly sure I care. Chick-fil-A’s responses certainly leave plenty of room for their having dropped some of the more pointedly anti-gay-marriage from WinShape’s donation list (not that they ever gave a whole lot to such groups anyhow).

    Because, you know, it’s entirely possible to fund programs that “strengthen and enrich marriages” without funding political action on gay marriage. Not that you’d know it from the way most American Christians talk these days.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@5) this is:

    Much ado about a private entity’s private decisions about how it chooses to use the money it has earned. But, that’s the nature of our busybody society today.

    Oh please. If you think Chick-fil-A doesn’t use its charity donations as PR fodder, you’re just being naive.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@5) this is:

    Much ado about a private entity’s private decisions about how it chooses to use the money it has earned. But, that’s the nature of our busybody society today.

    Oh please. If you think Chick-fil-A doesn’t use its charity donations as PR fodder, you’re just being naive.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 7: There’s nothing remarkably self-serving about the link you provided, which is pretty standard corporate stuff. But regardless, that kind of thing does not justify, in a sane world, the kinds of reactions we are seeing from government officials, who have no business inquiring into the private charitable giving of businesses, especially for the purpose of denying them a permit for operation in an area they are otherwise entitled to operate in.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 7: There’s nothing remarkably self-serving about the link you provided, which is pretty standard corporate stuff. But regardless, that kind of thing does not justify, in a sane world, the kinds of reactions we are seeing from government officials, who have no business inquiring into the private charitable giving of businesses, especially for the purpose of denying them a permit for operation in an area they are otherwise entitled to operate in.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#7 After eating at many Chick-fil-a across the country, I am pretty sure they do use their charity donations as PR fodder seeing as they plastered them on the walls.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#7 After eating at many Chick-fil-a across the country, I am pretty sure they do use their charity donations as PR fodder seeing as they plastered them on the walls.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@8), agreed that this is none of the government’s business, but Chick-fil-A clearly thinks it’s good for their business to make their charity donations our business, as it were.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@8), agreed that this is none of the government’s business, but Chick-fil-A clearly thinks it’s good for their business to make their charity donations our business, as it were.

  • DonS

    tODD: Yes. So does every other consumer-oriented corporation, almost all of which have foundations. See Starbucks foundation page http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community/starbucks-foundation as just an example of a left-oriented corporation which seems to tout its giving a lot more than Chick-fil-A’s rather low-key page. The Disney Corporation is another such example, similar to Starbucks.

    My original comment was focused on a busybody society where our governmental leaders, like the good alderman, think they have the right to discriminate against businesses that support different causes than they believe in. They don’t, of course, as you and I agree. But, even to the larger point, the reason why these companies tout their giving is because they think we care. Why? Well, apparently because we do. Because we’re busybodies.

  • DonS

    tODD: Yes. So does every other consumer-oriented corporation, almost all of which have foundations. See Starbucks foundation page http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community/starbucks-foundation as just an example of a left-oriented corporation which seems to tout its giving a lot more than Chick-fil-A’s rather low-key page. The Disney Corporation is another such example, similar to Starbucks.

    My original comment was focused on a busybody society where our governmental leaders, like the good alderman, think they have the right to discriminate against businesses that support different causes than they believe in. They don’t, of course, as you and I agree. But, even to the larger point, the reason why these companies tout their giving is because they think we care. Why? Well, apparently because we do. Because we’re busybodies.

  • fjsteve

    Kirk,

    I don’t have any friends who are chickens–not that I’m opposed to it but, living where I do, I just don’t have much interaction with living chickens. However, if I did have friends who were chickens, I wouldn’t mind if they expressed their views on gay marriage. Heck, I’d be pretty impressed if they were able to express their views on just about anything.

  • fjsteve

    Kirk,

    I don’t have any friends who are chickens–not that I’m opposed to it but, living where I do, I just don’t have much interaction with living chickens. However, if I did have friends who were chickens, I wouldn’t mind if they expressed their views on gay marriage. Heck, I’d be pretty impressed if they were able to express their views on just about anything.

  • Grace

    Any organization, or individual has the RIGHT to make their donations, and support to anyone, or any organization public. In this way they state clearly where they stand.

    Chick-fil-A, made clear they did not support same sex marriage, that is their right.

    If they have changed their minds, due to pressure from the jeering crowds, it’s shameful, but not shocking.

  • Grace

    Any organization, or individual has the RIGHT to make their donations, and support to anyone, or any organization public. In this way they state clearly where they stand.

    Chick-fil-A, made clear they did not support same sex marriage, that is their right.

    If they have changed their minds, due to pressure from the jeering crowds, it’s shameful, but not shocking.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X