Chick-fil-A says its donations mischaracterized

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A Chick-fil-A protest earlier this summer.

An Illinois civil rights group said on Sept. 19 that it had confirmation from Chick-fil-A that the company’s foundation would no longer make donations to anti-gay causes – or any political efforts. But the company, in a statement on Sept. 20, said it is not really changing the way it operates.

The Civil Rights Agenda on Sept. 19 released a letter that Chicago Ald. Joe Moreno received from Chick-fil-A’s senior director of real estate. The letter said, “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’s summer was full of controversy as its chief officer boasted about the company’s support for high-profile anti-gay organizations and opposition to same-sex marriage.

Just as the Christian right has led boycotts against companies supporting gay marriage – best known is Starbucks – LGBT activists led a boycott against Chick-fil-A.

There also were calls to oust Chick-fil-A restaurants from college campuses and politicians, including Moreno, said new restaurants should not be allowed in their communities.

The Civil Rights Agenda said Chick-fil-A management sent franchisees and stakeholders a memo stating the company will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”

Also, the company’s “intent is not to engage in political or social debates," according to TCRA.

Anthony Martinez, of TCRA, said, “I think the most important part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased their donations to anti-gay groups in 2011 and going forward. With some of the groups that they were donating to being classified as hate groups, and others actively trying to halt the movement toward full civil rights for LGBT people, Chick-fil-A has taken a big step forward.”

Chick-fil-A, responding to media inquiries Sept. 19, released to NPR a statement similar to the position statement it released as the summer controversy heated up.

And, on Sept. 20, the company issued a statement that said it did want to stay out of political debates but also emphasized that the the restaurants want to be “responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us" and will continue to support causes that “strengthen families and enrich marriages.”

The company said its donations, for months, have been mischaracterized.

The statement said: "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."