Dan Cathy, president of the fast food chain Chick-fil-A, alleged to be actively supporting anti-gay groups, has come out to admit he supports the "biblical definition of the family unit." He said in an interview that his company is "guilty as charged."
In the interview with Baptist Press, he spoke for the first time about his franchise's widely alleged support of anti-gay Christian organizations.
When asked about persistent allegations that his company supports organizations promoting anti-gay agenda, Cathy responded: "Well, guilty as charged."
Cathy had no apologies about his stance in support of "the traditional family," saying: "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that... we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
The Huffington Post reports that a critic David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement, said: "Apparently, in the Cathy family’s mind, gay people don’t have families, no one divorces, and everyone must be Christian."
The Baptist Press reports the Atlanta-based business currently has 1,608 locations and boasts sales of more than $4billion last year. According to Cathy, Chic-fil-A workers are trained to "focus on values."
But he said: "We don’t claim to be a Christian business. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are. But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles."
Good As You Blogger Jeremy Hooper, reports that Cathy, during an appearance on "The Ken Coleman Show," said:
"I think we are 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' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
Cathy's remarks have sparked a response from the LGBT community and its supporters. According to Hooper: "Regardless of where you stand, the placement of LGBT people within our societal picture and within our body of laws is the conversation at hand. That is not the same thing as 'support for the traditional family,' no matter how aggressively the self-appointed values movement attempts to (mis)name reality!"
There have been reports about Chick-fil-A's contributions to anti-gay groups. According to The Huffiington Post, Equality Matters published a report on an analysis of the Atlanta-based company's charitable work. According to the report, the company donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2010 alone. The Daily Mail reports the company came under fire following disclosure that it donated more than $3 million between 2003 and 2009 to anti-gay Christian organizations.
Anti-gay groups that have reportedly received donations from Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation include Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International and Family Research Council.
The Daily Mail reports the chain also faced criticism when it sponsored a relationship seminar in Pennsylvania that banned same-sex couples from attending.
LGBT advocates have protested Chick-fil-A's documented support for anti-gay groups. Boston Globe reports that when students at the Northeastern University expressed concerns about the company's donation to anti-gay organizations, school officials decided to abandon plans for campus-based franchise of the fast food chain.
Cathy, apparently fearful of the potential impact of his anti-gay stance, had attempted to downplay it or even flatly deny it. In a 2011 interview with The Atlantic Journal-Constitution (AJC), he said that claims that his company was donating to anti-gay groups was "folklore." He said: "We're not anti-anybody. Our mission is to create raving fans." Cathy claimed that his business "opted not to get involved in the political debate. It's never been our agenda."
According to AJC, Hooper, who has reported extensively on Chick-fil-A's relationship with religious anti-gay groups, applauded his latest statements, saying, "At least he's being honest now."
The Los Angeles Times reports that companies that support LGBT groups have also come under fire in the past. Kraft provoked a controversy last month when it posted a photo of an Oreo cookie with rainbow-hued filling.
Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 by Cathy's father, S. Truett Cathy.