9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
July 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-sex marriage continues - Mike Huckabee is pushing for a Chick-fil-A day, while the Jim Henson Co. is cutting ties to the chain - we’re republishing our list of 10 other religious companies.

Our initial list was provoked by an earlier Chick-fil-A/same-sex marriage controversy. Is our list missing any names? Tweet us at @CNNBelief to let us know.

Here are 10 well-known companies that don't make religious products - we're not talking kosher foods manufacturer Manischewitz here - but that nonetheless take their religious sides seriously (listed in no particular order).

1. Forever 21. The young women’s clothing company may be best known for its skimpier and saucier offerings, but it also exudes subtle piety. The words John 3:16 – a citation of a biblical verse popular among evangelical Christians - appears at the bottom of its stores' shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a "demonstration of the owners' faith."

2. Tom’s of Maine. After launching the natural home products company in 1970 with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell nearly left it to pursue full-time Christian ministry. While receiving a master's at Harvard Divinity School, however, a professor advised him to just treat his business as ministry. “He began bringing in different spiritual leaders to talk to the board about how they could use spiritual principles to run the company,” says the Tyson Center's Neal. Beyond environmentalism, the company seeks to "create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."

3. Tyson Foods, Inc. The world's largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices. Other corporations contract out such services, but it’s rare for a company to keep chaplains on the payroll.

"The chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care and ministry to team members and their families," according to Tyson's website, "regardless of their religious or spiritual affiliation or beliefs."

Tyson recently gave money to launch the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas, one of the first academic centers of its kind.

4. Hobby Lobby. The privately held chain of more than 450 arts and crafts stories isn't shy about its Christian orientation. "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles," reads the company's mission statement. "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured."

The company supports a slate of Christian interests, from Oral Roberts University to the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, and is known for taking out overtly religious newspaper ads around the holidays.

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5. ServiceMaster. Never heard of this corporation? Perhaps some of the residential services companies it owns, like Terminix and American Home Shield, will ring a bell.

The company was founded in 1929 by Marion E. Wade, who "had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did," according to ServiceMaster's website. "Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image - worthy of dignity and respect."

The company, formerly public but recently taken over by a private equity firm, still consciously tries to "do the right thing in the way that employees treat customers," says Theodore Malloch, who leads Yale University's Spiritual Capital Initiative. "It's a theological statement about servant leadership - think of the picture of Christ washing the feet of his disciples."

6. Herman Miller. The Michigan-based furniture manufacturer's founders were steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition. "It retains a lot of that in practices that revolve around a notion of respecting the dignity of the human person and a strong environmental ethic that grew out of the religious responsibility," says Yale's Malloch. Indeed, Herman Miller - perhaps most famous for its Aeron chair - prides itself on environmental philanthropy and on regularly appearing on Fortune's annual list of best companies to work for.

7. Interstate Batteries. The car battery giant has a "self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk" in internal training and communication, says Lake Lambert III, author of Spirituality, Inc. Former company president Norm Miller moved to the role of chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences. Miller talks to those "interested in how he found the truth of Christianity," the company's website says, "and how he learned to effectively apply biblical principles to create a more successful business." Interstate employs its own chaplain.

8. In-N-Out Burger. Chick-fil-A is hardly the only fast-food outfit to make its founders' religious leanings part of its recipe. Western U.S. burger chain In-N-Out has printed citations of Bible passages on cups, wrappers and other pieces of packaging since at least the late 1980s. For instance, "John 3:16" appears on the bottom of soft drink cups, a reference to the Bible passage, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Read more on In-N-Out's religious side at Eatocracy, CNN's food blog.

9. Walmart. Treat this one as an honorable mention. Lambert says the Walton family, which founded the company and still own a major stake in it, has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer. And the company's Arkansas roots helped sensitize it to the shopping habits of churchgoers. It helps explain why Walmart long carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. "You don’t find those kinds of things in J.C. Penney," Lambert says. But Walmart has been so successful with such material that it's now become a business threat to Christian booksellers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey is a Buddhist. Whole Foods Global Public Relations Director Kate Lowery says that Mackey has never been a Buddhist. “John does not fit into any traditional religious category,” she said in an e-mail message.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Missionaries

soundoff (2,481 Responses)
  1. Eddie

    I'm and atheist but don't have any problem with "faithy" businesses Any of them that support hate groups as Chick-fil-a did should be boycotted.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  2. M.Masters

    While I may not agree with certain beliefs held by others, I accept thier rights to them. It shouldn't matter who they donated food to, it was a DONATION. Not going to stop me from eating a delicious Chick-fil-A sandwich. You know whats really sad? I've worked in a bakery that couldn't donate the food we had left at the end of the day because charities fought over why it went to X and not Y. So instead of some people benefiting, no one did. Pathetic.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  3. dogs rule

    Southern Baptists are the worst racial bigots in the world!

    February 8, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  4. Liger Woodz

    If they were religions other than Christian people here would boycott them.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  5. dogs rule

    And folks call the Jewish people GREEDY! Religion has no place in business or government.
    If I found bible quotes on a burger wrapper , I'd toss it back. Very invasive practices here...almost like brainwashing.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  6. JD

    These 7 get added to the list of businesses I will never patronize again. Thank you for the valuable information.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • dogs rule

      Ditto for me, JD. You ROCK!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • John

      Me too, very informative article. They really don't need any of my money to support christian based terrorism!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  7. John

    Well, except for Walmart, I already don't go to any of these places. Cool.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  8. ZCmom

    There is also a wonderful company called, Premier Designs Jewelry, that has been around for 25 years now. It was founded on biblical principals and is a wonderful Home Based Business for many stay at home moms and ladies all across america. Chances are you or someone you know owns some Premier jewelry! I am a proud jewelry Lady for over 5 years and Thank God everyday that I get to stay home with my kids because of it and a loving husband who supports me.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  9. bush limbush

    so...all those believers who read that john 3:16 everlasting life thing...not a single one of them has lived forever.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  10. Rearden71

    Sweet. 7 companies to add to my list of companies I'll no longer patronize.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  11. James Allen

    What has happened to the US? It use to be a country based on freedom and now mainstream news outlets like CNN have God-blogs. IT'S SHOULD BE NO ONES BUSINESS WHICH COMPANIES ARE RELIGIOUS. All of this religious focus in a modern society will lead to a very unhealthy consequences – have we outgrow all this nonsense??

    February 8, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • C Wood

      Actually I very much want to know what companies are religious. I don't want my dollars used to support crap. I would also like churches to stop getting tax breaks. If the people truly believe in GOD then why do we need to give them a break on taxes because they gave money to a church?

      February 8, 2011 at 8:36 am |


    February 8, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  13. Colin

    Next there will be a story of 7 businesses that believe in fairies.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  14. zk

    too bad Tyson doesn't treat its chickens with a shred of humanity.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • charles

      chickens are not human

      February 8, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  15. Veggo

    Tyson? You would think they would treat the chickens better then.....

    February 8, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  16. cant beat honest

    Walmart!!! Really! with its history of racial overtones. Sure they have as much of a christian image as the klu kluxies.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • justaperson

      Christians are racist too...since when did any morals stop them from doing anything and everything they want?

      February 8, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Steve

      Being religious or "faithy" does not mean you are not racist. It seems the most "faithy" people are the most close minded and racist. I was raised Catholic and learned to treat everyone equally and always forgive, unless they are jewish, gay, etc...

      February 8, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Carmen

      I guess Wal-Mart forgot about the whole do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Most self proclaim "Christians" really have no idea what it is to be a Christian.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  17. Blackened

    I find it interesting that this article in this section promotes more fighting that anything else I have seen on CNN.com. For those of you with religious beliefs, I have only one question... did you determine your religious faith on your own, through your own research and discovery or was it something you have been told since birth and therefore accept as truth?

    I worked for a "Christian value" company called James One. Yeah... Look that up on Rip off report and see how great they are. Ripping people off who barely had any money to begin with to line the owners pockets. When they tried making me a "Warrior of God" (Evengelist) I decided I had had enough. It is one thing to want to hold a set of values, it is an entirely different thing to force them on someone else. I think it is quite funny to hear "Christians" complaining about being discriminated again when history repeatedly shows their religion as being the most discriminatory of all.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • sf13

      You will know a true Christian when you meet one. Do not be deceived into thinking a man(or woman) is perfect because he(she) says they are "religeous". Do not be mislead by false prophets.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • John

      What you've pointed out is quite true of "christian based" businesses. I just saw my fiance' lost a botload of money to a christian based investment outfit. The Timothy Fund, I didn't believe it when I saw it, an IRA lost over 30% of it's principle. You believe it, IRA's aren't supposed to lose money!!! I convinced her to get this and all monies out of any christian based businesses. I guess the christians are OK with fleecing their flock.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Blackened

      sf13 – "You will know a true Christian when you meet one. Do not be deceived into thinking a man(or woman) is perfect because he(she) says they are "religeous"."

      Yeah... Thanks but no thanks. In my experience those who so proudly boast their religion are the one's who should be trusted the least. If you believe in god that is fine, but remember that it is your belief. Not mine. Now typically someone chimes in here and starts telling me how wrong I am and how my eternal soul is damned and if I would just go to their church, Well... then "everything would be revealed and the power of the LORD (I love how you guys always go all caps with the word lord. Cracks me up.) would just shine through" because they just cant stand the idea that someone else may have a different view point and that there is even the slightest possibility that what was drilled into their head since birth might be wrong.

      Quite honestly, if I was going to your church it would be with a bulldozer because I think it is far more valuable to ALL of society to put a cancer treatment center or a place of education in it's place. You may think that sounds harsh, but your religion has repeatedly shunned those that are not of the same mindset with a "believe what I believe of suffer the consequences" take on things. Myself included.

      "Do not be mislead by false prophets."

      Victims. Arent we all?

      February 10, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  18. FundyTime

    You forgot about Domino's pizza, one of the most famous examples - but maybe Catholicism doesn't count as "faithy" to you clowns.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  19. Faithy

    "Faithy"? An irresponsible term to describe a person or company based on religious values. Too bad there is no cure for a feeble mind. CNN is 3rd rate news source.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • JD

      Then why do you read it?

      February 8, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • jim

      Rejoice! If there WERE a cure for the feeble mind there would be no religions!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Joel

      I agree. It's disrespectful and biased – what's wrong with referring to these organizations as "faith-based" or simply "religious"? The link I followed to get here was "7 Faithy Companies Besides Chic-Fil-A". I guess I should start calling CNN a "Newsy" site.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  20. WWRRD

    I posted a very positve comment onth article and they censored it. I don't get it.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • ps141

      Has anyone noticed that the loudest voices are always those with the most disdain for Christians, most of which have never actually read the Bible... I have, several times. I'm happy to see a few Christians with the backbone of the founding fathers speaking quietly amongst all the yelling I'm reading in these comments.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Really? To me it seems like they all just seem to quote scripture and hurl lies and logical fallacies.

      Oh, and insults. Insults are their favorite.

      February 9, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
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