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01/30/2011

Chick-Fil-A head makes another statement; we truly hope this can be our last

by Jeremy Hooper

Chick-Fil-A has released yet another statement regarding their ongoing controversy concerning connections to anti-LGBT ideas and politics. So as the site at the forefront of it all, we have no choice to respond. So let's get started.

In red will be Dan Cathy's latest statement on Chick-Fil-A company developments. Our thoughts will be interspersed throughout:

DAN CATHY, PRESIDENT and COO of Chick-fil-A, Inc: PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Recently, there have been some misleading stories about Chick-fil-A in the media and on the Internet. As a result, I feel strongly about the need to clarify some things.

In recent weeks, we have been accused of being anti-gay. We have no agenda against anyone. At the heart and soul of our company, we are a family business that serves and values all people regardless of their beliefs or opinions. We seek to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect, and believe in the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself.

Okay, let's stop here and look at an email from Chick-Fil-A's WinShape Retreat center, a place where no amount of money will buy a gay neighbor an overnight stay:

Winshapeemail

[SOURCE]

So the business will gladly serve chicken sandwich to gays. But its supported endeavors will not accommodate gay families. Just so we're clear on that. Because it's not a minor detail.

Back to Mr. Cathy:

We also believe in the need for civility in dialogue with others who may have different beliefs. While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees.

Chick-fil-A has a long history of trying to encourage and strengthen marriages and families, both within our Chick-fil-A system and with our customers. My father and our Founder/CEO, Truett Cathy, is a role model for the Cathy family and all those who have joined Chick-fil-A. His personal and business values have always reflected a belief in the importance of marriage and family. We have seen these principles honored powerfully in Dad's marriage of more than 63 years to our mother Jeannette and those of his family, including my wife Rhonda and me in our 37 years of marriage.

At Chick-fil-A, we have a heart for helping marriages because we know marriage can be difficult at times. Through the years, we have supported our Chick-fil-A staff and franchised Operators in their marriage journey, and since the formation of our family foundation, the WinShape Foundation, we have helped others as well. Primarily through WinShape, we have supported summer camps for girls and boys, 14 foster homes, more than $26 million in college scholarships and the development and operation of the WinShape Marriage Retreat Center.

Other outreach programs: Chick-Fil-A hosts/supports a national marriage seminar at its WinShape Retreat, via its partner at the Marriage CoMission. A seminar with "protect marriage" speakers like Maggie Gallagher, Jennifer Roback Morse, Ted Baehr, David Blankenhorn, Alveda King, John Stemberger, etc. strategize ways to "protect marriage':


2009 Bios

You won't find anyone who's trying to protect gay people's unions at the seminar. For one, as we've already shown: Gay speakers wouldn't even be allowed to bring their partner/spouse to the retreat center, much less strengthen the couple's bond. But also because, as Marriage CoMission organizer Jeff Fray will now tell you: There's no gay marriage debate to even be had at these seminars:

So since there's no debate, speakers like anti-gay film guy Ted Baehr feel free to talk all about the gays' drive to turn both children and Hollywood against evangelicals:



(*Note: The documentary is actually "The Celluloid Closet," about gays in Hollywood.
These are the studio heads Ted claims were influenced by "perverse sex."
)

And the Cathy family's stamp is all over this annual summit:

(Focus on the Family prez Jim Daly)

Back to Mr. Cathy's statement:

Some recent coverage has incorrectly reported that we require potential franchisees to discuss their church involvement. In addition, we do not require this in our franchisee selection process nor do we require a pledge to follow Christian values for the college scholarships we provide.

Chick-fil-A's Corporate Purpose is "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." As a result, we will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family. This decision has been made, and we understand the importance of it. At the same time, we will continue to offer resources to strengthen marriages and families. To do anything different would be inconsistent with our purpose and belief in Biblical principles.

No, this political involvement claim is simply untrue. The annual marriage seminar is thoroughly tied to the political fight, even if couched under "strengthen/protect marriage" rhetoric.

A snip from the 2009 Marriage CoMission Summit's agenda:

Screen Shot 2011-01-30 At 11.13.50 Am

Maggie's marriage and public policy? There's a political agenda undeniably attached!

That's the problem with the opposition cause: They see "protecting marriage" as just a non-political part of life. Since they don't admit to involving themselves into a conversation about discrimination/nondiscrimination under the civil laws of our nation, they can say that they're simply offering "strength" rather than action. Until, of course, it comes to a marriage ban vote, at which point Maggie's public policy strategy becomes a referendum, these cultivated marriage connections become a bank account and/or networking source, and these personal family views turn into rights rollbacks for others.

Let's move on and wrap up:

In summary, we are a dedicated family business committed to three core areas: A 65-year history of operating the business according to Biblical principles.

A 65-year history of providing genuine hospitality for all people.

A 65-year history of serving families and communities without a political agenda.

Our commitment to these areas has never been more important in light of recent events. Speaking of commitment, I want to thank our restaurant Operators and their more than 60,000 team members for their commitment to customer service.

We appreciate, value and have enjoyed serving all of our customers for many years. We also appreciate this opportunity to clarify any confusion about our beliefs, and we thank everyone for supporting our restaurants and your love for the Chick-fil-A experiences. It has and will continue to be our pleasure to serve you.

Dan T. Cathy President and COO Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, Clarifies Recent News Coverage [PR NEwswire CNBC]

Well as we've said all throughout this conversation: The Cathy family has every right to support whatever they think needs supporting, just as pro-equality companies will proudly support their own causes. Just as consumers of any stripe must make their own decisions about what they choose to support.

But while standing for their personal values, Chick-Fil-A and the Cathy family really need to stop being so disingenuous about how and why and where they devote "marriage-strengthening" resources. About their undeniable advocacy for certain causes. About how they treat gay people who hope to utilize their outreach resources and retreat centers. About what those of us who've brought this stuff to light are really saying in our pushback. And mostly: About where they place the citizenship rights of a gay consumer once he or she leaves the drive-thru window.

***

*Oh, and on a related note: This site and its writer are pretty astounded that the New York Times did a two page story on the whole Chick-Fil-A brouhaha, yet didn't reach out to this site. The writer features a quote from Michael Geer, the PFI head whose announced Chick-Fil-A sponsorship started this whole thing. But not one quote from those of us who've been doing the major legwork on all this, showing why it goes sooooooo much further than the PFI sponsorship. That's unfortunate.

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