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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. JonathanL

    I am a staunch Atheist. Please don't rub your religion on me. This is so disgusting. I know the Bible inside out from years of church going and Bible study. I studied religion in college, and also Ancient History. Most of the Bible stories (both old and new Testament) are carry-ons from hand me down folk lore myths that originated in Greece, Persia or Babylon and other places. Some are mere repeats. These stories were written at a time of vast ignorance and barbarism. (as if today is any different? – but we do know more about the Universe). I grant there may be mysteries which are merely things we don't fully understand, but also having studiied science and math I can not believe in miracles any more than I believe in Mother Goose or Santa Clause. I am temtped for the sake of feeling good but I would rather feel good based on something real, something tangible not imaginary. Most reliigions were formed or legalized only with some kind of royal backing otherwise they became doomed cults. You have today the royaly backed historic leftovers. Pick a religion any religion. If you want to hand over your brain to a legalized god cult of some kind then religion is for you. Don't think, just be submissive, kneel and stand, recite your hymns and prayers and chants, and don't forget to give over your money, be a good soldier. Religion is not the source of enlightenment. It is the souirce of confusion and continued ignorance. Tx – Jon

    February 8, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Anglican

      Jon. Why are you so angry?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  2. geeeno

    let's not forget SMUCKER'S

    February 8, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  3. Vickie

    Regarding "faithy" companies – glad to see some companies stand for something in this country instead even if it is going to cause them grief. Amazing, people always want to be critical of something relating to God. If you don't believe in God. . .then YOU don't believe and you don't have to support them. You do not get to decide what the rest of the world gets to believe in. I'm sure they will not miss your money one bit. There are tons of others who will continue to buy their product who are not so self-righteous that they can pass judgment on the rest of the world. We are supposed to be able to chose but every day we are getting closer to having no choice.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      How is anyone restricting your choice?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  4. Rob

    Dave C – Oklahoma City bombing ring a bell - 19 kids under the age of 6 were killed that day by a right-wing Christian. This religious argument is nothing but a he said/she said thing, so it is useless to get into. No religion has a monopoly on nut jobs.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Rob, if you ACTUALLY had looked at his history, he was an atheist. He abandoned the faith of his parents.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  5. RW

    To ML
    It is too obvious you don't know your scriptures either. Judge not least you be judged likewise. In other words we will be held to the same standard we judge others. A very scary thought. I challenge anyone to give me a faith based group of people anywhere in the world and not have their hypocrites in their ranks. To us believers we know who we are, and to you God haters we know who you are, and yes we are praying for you. I know this will not make to print but I had to just say my mind.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      You cannot hate that which does not exist.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  6. ER

    Add these to the list of companies that I will never do business with again!

    February 8, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Please let us ALL know what company you work for, so we can ensure we don't support your employer for as long as they employ someone who dislikes the first amendment.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  7. brian

    Thanks for the article, now I know which companies to avoid for spreading their stone-age myths... religion is utter nonsense.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Yes! Because, the rational are by nature intolerant. Any OTHER wonderful and intellectual comments you'd like to make?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. Nunya

    @ Peter Wiggin
    You are correct about some employees not being Christian. So let's look at the company's behavior instead. If I recall properly, Tyson has had countless incidents of business practices that are very clearly extremely poor ethics. They are hypocrites of the highest order.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • IceT

      What did you expect? Even the religion industry suffers from the same oxymoron that is business ethics.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  9. harrisonhits2

    " It's been branded into the memory of anyone who's gone salivating to one of the fast-food chain's stores on a Sunday"

    No one salivates for that spew that Chik-fil-a sells, talk about disgusting food with very little actual value other than making you feel filled up.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  10. demogal

    I stopped shopping WalMart years ago, for other reasons. I always avoid Tyson because of the cruel and sickening manner in which they raise their chickens. Have you ever driven through rural Arkansas. I will boycott the others because of their attempting to impose religious beliefs on their employees and the public. I have a deep spiritual faith and continue to believe that a relationship with God is a personal thing.

    February 8, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  11. IceT

    Any of these companies would boot their CEO and drop their religious rhetoric if they faced bankruptcy because of it. It's not just in God they trust ... they bank on it!

    February 8, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  12. Religious sects

    Who care what these companies religious affiliations are so long as they don't discriminate against you for yours.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Dan

      If i need a job but can only work on Sundays i can't work at chick-fil-a...

      February 8, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Religious sects

      Good point Dan, however being closed by choice is not discrimination.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  13. Terry

    Is it a coincidence that all seven 'religious' companies in CNN's article are Christian? Why not such a list of Jewish-owned media companies? Or, Islam-influenced businesses? This is looking more and more like a vendetta, CNN. Shame on you.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Yes, Terry! You're ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! That NOTHING derogatory has been said ANYWHERE in the article is irrelevant. That only compliments were paid in the article is simply confusing your mental issues with silly things like facts.
      Here is a small hint: Sign up and take a remedial reading course.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • joe08

      yup, don't be surprised that they have an anti-christian bias. in fact I enjoy being persicuted.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  14. demogal

    I, too, intend to boycott these companies for attempting to impose their own religious beliefs not only on employees but the general public as well. I have a deep spiritual faith and continue to believe that a relationship with God is a personal thing. I don't know much about the others, but I have always avoided Tyson products because of the cruel and sickening manner in which they raise their chickens–at least this was true in the past; I haven't driven through Arkansas lately!

    February 8, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Taylor

      How are they forcing their beliefs on you? The only one that I think falls into that would be In and Out but being closed on Sundays and treating with respect isn't forcing religion on you. Walmart doesn't force food on me just cause its available.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Wzrd1

      I was looking for a worthwhile thing to boycott.
      I've found it!
      I'm boycotting boycotts.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Chris Carver

      Just wanted you to know that Tyson is not a "Christian" company. It is "faith friendly" company. Everyone is allowed to talk about their faith, belief, etc. The Muslim team members would want you to know that!

      February 8, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  15. aginghippy

    I like puppies.
    (Just wanted to see if ANYTHING I write will survive the "moderators".)

    February 8, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Steve F

      I love puppies, they taste like chicken!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Chic-Fil-Yeah Baby

      I love Puppies too. So does Chic-Fil-A! All you Chic-Fil-A haters are at your roots puppy haters. I just wish Chic-Fil-A was easier to type.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  16. Mike

    1. I like Chick-fil-A. Their food and service is far superior to any other fast food store in my area. The fact that they close on Sundays says a lot to me, because they are willing to put profits aside to allow their employees to go to Church if they wish (or simply spend time with family, or study – no one forces them to be Christian). From a business perspective, I think this is a brilliant move, as everyone wants what they can't have...so on Mondays the restaurant is packed.

    2. Just because a company is openly receptive to religion, does not mean that every single employee is of that particular faith, or of any faith at all. There are always bad apples in the bunch, and to write off an entire company or entire religion based on the stupidity of an individual is simply immature. Generally, people who take such a position already have a hateful or negative outlook, and are simply searching for validation.

    3. As for the article itself, it seems rather pointless. I can't help but wonder if articles such as this are an indirect way of stirring controversy. The hate-speech flowing in the comments would indicate as much. Then again, CNN can't be responsible for those idiots either.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • JPopNC

      Excellent reply Mike. I too appreciate the standards each of these companies maintain. Leave it to this message board to find something cruel to the statement from the ServiceMaster founder where he "viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image – worthy of dignity and respect.". If every boss in America had this mentality, we'd be the most productive nation in the world.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Dan

      1) i don't go there as often as i would if it was open on sundays.. thats lost revenue...
      2) there are plenty of people around the country that do not view Sunday as a holy day of any kind (actually in many parts of the world Friday is the holy day). if they cared about their employees they would give the people who want Sunday off the day off, and others Fridays, Saturday, etc..
      3) In times when we have high unemployment, chick fil a could employ 1/7 more people (who would love to work on sunday i am sure, rather than be unemployed). sounds like the Christian thing to do....

      February 8, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • live in alabama but not from here

      Just remember they still only pay minimum wage. Further do you know the difference between a babtist and a methodist,a methodist can read.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      "CNN can't be responsible for those idiots"

      And you wonder why people see christians as intolerant?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Wzrd1

      My daughter worked at chick-fil-a. We'll suffice it to say, due to the lack of handwashing that goes on there, there will be skiing and the winter olympics in hell before I go there for food! If I want to be poisoned, I'll drink draino. NOT get an oral-fecal infection from pimple head who doesn't understand the signs saying to wash his or her hands.
      For the other rocket scientist from Alabama, WHAT is a babtist? I only know of baptists. Hence, the illiteracy is displayed.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  17. Steve F

    Good, now I know some more companies to avoid on my Don't-Feed-the-Morons list!

    February 8, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • DCBuck

      Then shouldn't you be dead from starvation?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Let me guess, DCBuck, you're a christian. Wishing death upon people is not a family value.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Steve F

      hehe, I was wondering why I was getting so skinny!

      February 8, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • DCBuck

      Bill, I am, but it's called humor . . . clearly a foreign concept to you atheists . . . along with truth, compassion, continuity . . .

      February 8, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Steve F

      Look up "Why do people laugh at creationists?" on Youtube. You'll find that atheists have a wonderful sense of humor. If it weren't for people like you we wouldn't have nearly as much to laugh at!

      February 8, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  18. Peter Biondi

    Someone at CNN is really persecuting Chick-fil-a . This is low jornalism. I wish CNN had better standars. They can give food to whoever they want. This low paid jornalist that is encouraging this attack should be check by a ethics commission. This articles are not constructive and are going anywhere besides creating hate between people. The only person that has a problem is the person writting these attacks.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Judging from your poor grammar and spelling, it is no wonder that you have religious leanings. You are obviously uneducated, and should not be allowed to comment with adults.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • JimmyD

      Gotta love it when the bible crowd uses the word "persecuted". Yes, the poor $3 billion mega-chain is being "persecuted" by some writer on the internet.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Peter, were your post in English, it might be worthwhile.
      Unfortunately, you use words not in the English lexicon.
      The article mentions 7 companies, BESIDES chick-fil-a that are Christian rooted. I fail to see any attack, save your attack upon the author, if my transliteration of idiotese is correct.
      THAT said, there'll be skiing in hell before I go to chick-fil-a, as my daughter worked there for quite some time and acquainted us with the lack of handwashing practiced there.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  19. Karen Willand

    Don't forget about Little Debbie. I don't remember all of the details around it, but when they sponsored a NASCAR team there were certain restrictions of their sponsorship based on their religion.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  20. John L

    Muslim terrorists killed 3000 Americans on 9/11, etc, etc. Any articles coming up on Muslim companies? Anyone gonna' boycott them?

    February 8, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Douglas

      I'm just as likely to boycott Wal-Mart. There have been countless numbers killed in the name of Christianity, so the sanctimonious commentary about Islam reeks of hypocrisy.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Dave C

      how many people have Christians killed in the name of God?

      February 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Old Line State

      Anyone ever lynched in this country was done so in the name of the Christian God. Never forget, the KKK is to Christianity as Islamic fascists are to Islam.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • dan

      Stop putting GAS in your truck if you don't want to pay "Islamic" companies

      February 8, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Ford Prefect

      Christian terrorists killed thousands of Muslims in Lebanon. I'd say it's a wash. All religions have to go. If you want to worship a God, do it with your genorosity and compassion. Not you guns. Christians are no different than Muslims. Both believe they are the only way to "Heaven."

      February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Michael King

      The entire holocaust was committed in the name of Jesus. That's quite a bit more than 3000.

      Every religion has it's extremists.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • DCBuck

      You all are right. We should emulate those cuddly atheists like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao & Castro, because they didn't kill anyone, did they?

      BTW, while people have been killed in the name of religion, we have a way to go when compared to the butchers I've just listed. And, keep in mind that people of faith have still fed more hungry, clothed more needy, housed more homeless, educated more illiterate, and given hope to more hopeless than you atheists have, or ever will do.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Marie

      Dave C

      "how many people have Christians killed in the name of God?"

      I take it Dave C. never heard of the Inquisition, Witch trials, the Crusades, the holocaust, Russian pograms...there are more but I don't want to write a dissertation. And if you talk to people in Iraq and Afghanistan right now who have lost loved ones, they might give you a good argument on their belief that what we are doing now is murdering innocent muslims in the name of the Christian God. More than one US service commander has called our military action in those areas a Christian fight against Islam. Far more muslims have perished and otherwise had their lives destroyed under US bombs from US Christians than US citizens have perished under muslim bombs.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      "people of faith have still fed more hungry, clothed more needy, housed more homeless, educated more illiterate, and given hope to more hopeless than you atheists have, or ever will do."

      Self righteousness at it's finest.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • DCBuck

      No, just the truth, Bill. I have a feeling you aren't very comfortable with truth.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.