This week a story out of Northeastern University in Boston caught our eye. Here is the scoop: the wildly popular and addictive Chick-fil-A (CFA) wanted to open up a franchise at Northeastern. However, on February 27 Northeastern's student government voted 31 to 5 against having the Atlanta-based fast food chain open up on campus, specifically stating on Twitter that CFA has a "history of donating to anti-gay organizations."
As a result, according to Boston.com, Northeastern officials ended all talks with CFA and said, "Thanks, but no thanks." As the report states:
The Equality Matters website reported that the Atlanta-based company's charitable arm, WinShape, has donated millions to anti-gay causes in recent years.
"Based on the outcome of Monday night's senate resolution, Chick-fil-A will not be part of the group of vendors considered for the renovation of the student center," Northeastern said in a statement.
“We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all," college spokeswoman Renata Nyul said in another statement.
One of the charities that WinShape supports is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The FCA has a very detailed application process for individuals and groups interested in supporting them. Here is one of the statements that all applications must agree to:
FCA'S SEXUAL PURITY STATEMENT
God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternate lifestyle acceptable to God. While upholding God’s standard of holiness, FCA strongly affirms God’s love and redemptive power in the individual who chooses to follow Him. FCA’s desire is to encourage individuals to trust in Jesus and turn away from any impure lifestyle. Do you agree with FCA's Sexual Purity Policy? *
CFA responded with two statements to Boston.com, stating that this decision was "hasty." Here are what they sent to Boston.com:
Thank you, for contacting Chick-fil-A, Inc. and allowing us to provide you a response on the situation that is developing at Northeastern University.
First, I am providing the two attached statements, our response from our president Dan T. Cathy, and an interesting article, I believe, by a student at Bowling Green State University.
The campus article [link here] says it as clear as we potentially can…likewise, we feel the decision at Northeastern was too hasty, and we did not have an adequate opportunity to speak into the circumstances on the Northeastern campus with greater clarity and correction. Remember that the student governing body had overwhelmingly selected the Chick-fil-A brand as an addition to it campus restaurant offerings.
The most important thing we need to confirm is that we are not anti-anybody and Chick-fil-A have no agenda, policy or position against anyone as some reports continue to represent. Here’s the clarification and correction. Chick-fil-A has been scrutinized of late about our charitable giving, specifically through our WinShape Foundation, and whether or not we have some hidden political agenda. We don’t. Our agenda is simple: to graciously serve great food and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. This is the reason why we were initially invited to the campus.
We certainly feel detailed and fair information about our giving has not be shared by some. I want to assure you that the historical intent of our Foundation and corporate giving have been toward compassion, principally by serving youth and families (See detailed examples in the Corp Statement where, for example, we give millions of dollars every year to education.). As some have looked back at the public giving records of the WinShape Foundation, they have unfortunately misinterpreted this support as having a political agenda, largely referencing any religious or faith-based giving as “anti-gay.” For example, if you take the example of FCA, and ask us what was the purpose of the giving, it was to support inter-city mentors and chaplains for schools and colleges primarily here metro Atlanta. Those monies have been labeled as “anti-gay” because of the affiliation with a faith-based organization.
Chick-fil-A and WinShape have no political agenda. If some of our previous support is being viewed and reported as political or insensitive, that was not our intent. The historical roots of the WinShape Foundation is the philosophy of “Shaping Winners” for youth, family and educational programs.
I am sorry that we were not made aware of the immediate voting actions by the student governing body. We would have enjoyed an opportunity to share this clarifying information. Without a doubt, we feel the actions were hasty, and unfortunately based on one side of misinterpreted reports.
Donald A. Perry
Vice President of Corporate Public Relations
Media Statement — January 30, 2012
Dan T. Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, Inc.
At Chick-fil-A, we have a genuine commitment to hospitality for all of our guests. We are not “anti anybody” and have no agenda, policy or position against anyone as some continue to confuse with misleading reports. Instead, we have a 65-year history of providing hospitality for all people and, as a dedicated family business, serving and valuing everyone regardless of their beliefs or opinions.
Every morning when we open our restaurants across the country, we strive to treat each customer with honor, dignity and respect. At the cornerstone of this commitment is a belief in the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself. We will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family.
We believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. A major focus of our giving is investing in the future of our nation. With our family foundation, we have supported numerous summer camps for girls and boys, established 14 foster homes and have provided nearly $30 million in college scholarships across the nation. Our commitment to the youth of America will endure, as well as our commitment to helping marriages and families stay strong.
We want to thank everyone for supporting our restaurants and for your love of the Chick-fil-A brand. On behalf of our independent franchised Operators and their 60,000 team members, it has and will continue to be our pleasure to serve you.
We would encourage you and your contacts to explore the websites for both Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation to determine the purpose of our foundation and funding versus relying on reports or articles. Again, we have no political agenda, policy or position against anyone, especially the LGBT community.
As a private, family-owned company, Chick-fil-A has worked faithfully to be a good steward of the resources that our guests have entrusted us with. In a world with business leaders that do not always practice generosity and a genuine concern for their fellow man, the Cathy families have a long history and desire to give to others through their personal resources!