Chick-fil-A has cleared up rumors that it has revised its charitable donation policy to exclude "anti-gay" groups. The fast-food chain's president told Fox News host Mike Huckabee that it has not made any "concessions" and remains committed to strengthening families.
"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," Cathy told Huckabee. "That is incorrect. Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been."
On Wednesday, Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno – along with a gay rights group known as The Civil Rights Agenda – publicly declared victory that he had gotten Chick-fil-A to change its corporate giving policy. Moreno then announced he would "allow" the chain to build a restaurant in Chicago after a period of negotiations. The Chicago alderman had earlier threatened to block the chain from coming to his ward in protest of Cathy's "homophobic" comments.
Cathy had stated in separate interviews this year that he supports the "biblical definition of the family unit" and that America is "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."
Moreno said the restaurant recently agreed to include in an internal memo a statement of respect for all sexual orientations and a vow not to engage in political or social debates.
He cited a letter that he received, signed by the company's senior director of real estate. It contained the following statement:
"The WinShape Foundation 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 interpreted that to mean that the company will not donate money to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
In reality, the sentence contained in the letter revealed nothing new since the company made the same statement in July after gay rights organizations got inflamed over the comments made by Cathy. Chick-fil-A has stated before that it plans "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the political arena" and that it strives to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
Chick-fil-A released its internal memo on Thursday to the public to clear up misconceptions.
"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," the company stated.
"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."
Chick-fil-A outlined three key areas of giving: creating educational opportunities for youth, food donations for those in need or those who are serving such as disaster relief workers or the military, and developing youth and family/marriage enrichment programs and supporting communities.
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, issued the following statement in response to the controversy.
"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," said Daly in a written statement to The Christian Post.
"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?' 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."
Moreno's office later told World News Daily that the company's giving was never really the issue. Some of the organizations mentioned as "anti-gay" included the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.
An effort to reach Moreno's office late Friday was unsuccessful. The Civil Rights Agenda never responded to The Christian Post's request for an interview.