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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. Patrick Lewis

    I am fine with people using their religion as a way of structuring their business as long as they don't inflict their beliefs on others. If it's a business guideline, I could care less if it came out of the old testament or the latest MBA manual. As long as it's not shoved in my face either as an employee or as a customer, that's fine. The backlash about "religious" people isn't about their beliefs, but the brutality with which they attack beliefs or lack thereof.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Tom

      I agree with you and one other gentlemen on the blog. They need to stop, if i wanted christianity choved into my face I would go to church and have some guy scream at me for and hour. Also to the gentlemen further down on here he is right. They need to put up crosses or fish on the building like they do on their cars so that i know where not to go to shop.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Wow, this ones from the way back machine.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  3. Confused?

    Is Whole Food Christian? ....or Buddist?

    July 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • ME II

      "John Mackey, the organic food chain's co-founder and CEO, is a Buddhist who has worked to incorporate the eastern tradition's ideals into his company."
      Buddhist. What's confusing?

      The list is 10 "religious" companies... American Christian just as.sume, religious = christian, it seems.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Alan

      What is so confusing, can't you read?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • yaya

      yes you sure are. whole foods is neither buddhist nor christian because whole foods was not lucky enough to be born in human form with the ability to seek GOD and worship.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Mark

      Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion, so Whole Foods is the only company on this list that hasn't incurred my ATHEIST WRATH and intention of a boycott.

      These companies are really really stupid to be proud of this, atheism is the fastest growing "religion" in the country. In ten years they will be changing their tune. I hope some gay employee sues Chik A Fil and some of these others.) If they are discriminating with regard to employees they are breaking the law. I hope a Tyson employee sues the company for keeping chaplains on salary, when they could provide better wages or health care instead.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • RFBJR

      @Mark – Well, you are very tolerant of other peoples beliefs. You gonna picket them?

      July 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • HistoryGirl

      Mark has a brain. He is CLEARLY not a Happy Clappy.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  4. answer is cold

    I wished all christian business would put up a fish or cross so I can know where else to shop.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      "I wished all christian business would"

      You "wished" ... is that pronounced "wisht"? Are you a hick?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      HS says, "I wished..." too – this @answer is cold must be another one of her handles!

      July 19, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      oops, sorry @answer, I just noticed the "where else to shop" - so, good on ya'... but learn correct English, ok?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • ME II

      @I don't get it,
      I don't get it either, "wished" is valid. I don't think that's what they intended to say but it is correct, is it not?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      ME II,

      In the present tense, it is "I wish".

      (If you are saying that in the past you desired it, it is "I wished".)

      Remember, "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener..." they got it right (although you can't always look to ads for correct English!)

      July 19, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • VanHagar

      And perhaps you would prefer that the Jewish run companies put up a gold star too?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • ME II

      "I wished" is grammatically correct, though, right?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • John

      I think if you need to look for a Cross or a Fish sign to lead you to shop else where, than maybe else where is where you should go.
      We all have our own minds to make decisions. God is mine, no mater what, we all will be judged. Not by man.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      ME II
      ""I wished" is grammatically correct, though, right?"

      Yes, if you mean that at one time in the past (last year, yesterday, an hour ago) you wished it. If you are wishing it right now, it is "I wish".

      July 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Get Real

      John,
      "no mater [sic] what, we all will be judged."

      And your verified evidence for this is...?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • ME II

      @I Don't Get It,
      Obviously, now, which did "answer is cold", intend to state? are you certain?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      ME II,

      Do you really think that @answer's point is to tell us about something he/she wished for in the past?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • ME II

      Does it matter what I think they meant?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      I Don't Get It,

      It is a misuse of the verb.

      I have had people stand right in front of me and say, "I wished I had a chocolate sundae right now." They are often the same ones who say, "birfday" and "libery" and stuff like that...

      July 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @I don't get it.

      "Yesterday I wished Jesus would return." Is grammatically correct, no? (For the record it is also inaccurate.)
      soooo....
      "I wished Jesus would return." is similarly correct, no?

      July 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      But, back on topic. As truth in advertising and a little witnessing to boot, what's wrong with the idea of the iconology on the shingle?

      Lot's of plumbers and electricians do this in the yellow pages. It's very helpful. I don't want my lights working or drains flowing to be miraculous.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • appapo

      I'm sure that if I write that I every business owned by an LGBT person put a rainbow at entrance so I would go somewhere else (wich I wouldn't) you would say I'm a hate monger, wouldn't you?

      Marking home and businesses doors was a common nazzi practice. Left extremists are as dangerous as those from the right!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • ME II

      @I Don't Get It,
      "I have had people stand right in front of me and say, 'I wished I had a chocolate sundae right now.'"
      Although I have not run across this particular abuse, I can understand your angst.

      Peace...

      July 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      ME II,

      Thanks. I do apologize for taking up so much space with one of my little pet peeves, but I hope that someone gets it.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Mark

      "I wished .........they would put up a fish" IS NOT grammatically correct. The verb tenses do not agree. Either "I wish they would" or "I wished they would have". Also, "I wish (now) they would have" would still be the more common usage.

      STILL, GIVE HER A BREAK!!!! She's probably been trapped in xstianity all her life, taught that evolution in a myth or opinion, and not had access to a good education.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV. You ask "what's wrong with the idea of the iconology on the shingle?" As long as its voluntary, nothing at all. If its mandated–I take you back to Nazi Germany. Kristallnacht anyone?

      July 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @VanHagar,

      Really, a Kristallnacht reference? Godwin's Law in action I suppose.

      I think the notion is the owners doing it, not the 'authorities' or a mob, and it is clearly sarcastic hyperbole, not a genuine suggestion. However my observation holds. Look at plumbers and electricians in the Yellow Pages. There pretty keen to testify!

      "Hey everyone, I have a fish in my Yellow Pages ad. Trust me, I won't rip you off like the other plumbers here, I'm a Christian!"

      Yeah right!

      July 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  5. answer is cold

    I don't eat Tyson's they are number one for all time most contaminated meat, steroids HG drugs .... sick stuff in that chicken! the 6 years old girls (and some boys) are developing boobs because of this crap.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • yaya

      a whole foods employee has complained that Whole Foods investments are handled with fidelity a company that supports/invests in GMO products and companies.

      WHOLE FOODS and all FOOD suppliers Should NOT support GMO

      July 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • pinostabaum

      why avoid GMO? all food is GMO. thats what evolution is all about. so why should you be more willing to eat an organism that has been modified by evolution toward survival, than to eat an organism that has been modified for robust growth, hardiness, etc?

      are you just afraid because you are afraid of science?

      July 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @yaya
      The banana as you know is a result of 800 years of genetic modification at the hands of humans.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Dan

    Christian values are in the people not the corportations. Also I have never been to a Chick- fil- A store but will now make it a point to eat there occasionally. Stay with your principles.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Christian values like letting someone else suffer for your crimes....values like that?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Cindy

      Yup and thier chicken is good too. I admire them for standing firm in their beliefs.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Art

    My opinion is not hate. I just believe in the Bible. If you don't that's your opinion and your right!

    July 19, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • sherry

      Art, those are my thoughts exactly.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • ME II

      There are many hateful thing in the Bible.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • truth_is

      so in your belief of the Bible, you don't eat shellfish, pork or get your hair or beard cut? Or do you choose to pick the most convenient parts of the Bible to follow? Just asking

      July 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • yaya

      you should believe in GOD and only use the bible as a manmade guide. As all things created by man...... it is subject to error.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  8. jc

    Walmart???? If they are so "christian" why do they treat their workers like $*it. Poor wages, little or no benefits, telling them how to apply for gov't benefits? They think a 25 cent raise a year is generous. They even pay their managers crap. I would like to see the Walton family survive on 18K per year (their starting wage)

    July 19, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • answer is cold

      because they are Christians.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • StLoui

      Sam Walton drove a beat up pickup truck. The company is not the same since he died.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  9. GB

    Where, exactly, is the hate? The man simply stated the belief and values of his family and his company. I get that many don't agree with it, which is fine, but someone saying something you don't agree with does not automatically mean they hate you. By all means, do what you have to do...boycott, don't boycott... but there's no benefit in calling anything you don't like the sound of hate speech. How will we know when something really is hate speech if everything is? And if what I'm hearing here and elsewhere is any indication, I guess every time someone opens their mouth to say something and someone disagrees, that's hate speech. Man, you gotta hate that.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Blog 123

      Well put!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  10. cworr

    I would go out of my way to support Christian businesses, even if it meant paying a little more. It is just so hard to figure out which ones actually are. This list is great, would like to see others. Too bad they can't just put a small cross in their windows or on their packaging to make them easier to identify. Most corporations seem to be ambivalent/atheist or even anti-Christian.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • qs

      I hope you enjoy supporting hatred and bigotry.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Beadles

      Many Christian businesses do put a *sign* on their window or packaging: the fish a/k/a an ichthus. Personally, I avoid any business with such an emblem because I've found that most people/businesses that have to advertise their faith rarely follow the Golden Rule.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • answer is cold

      I will avoid every one.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Cindy

      Not hatred and bigotry qs. Moral values and the right oif EVERYONE to have their own beliefs.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Susan

      I personally know at least 6 business owners who display a christian symbol prominently, only to get the business of bigots who would buy from them, instead of a business with better quality & better priced merchandise who recognize gay rights.They make money off the bigotry & ignorance of those high and mighty, "Bertha better than you" types. So christian symbols diaplayed at a buiness don't always signify what you think.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Heh, there was an article on these blogs a while back about a guy (in Texas I think?) who was giving discounts on automobile oil changes to folks who could recite a certain Bible passage for him!

      July 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  11. IdiocyAstoundsMe

    @TaxThechurches For crying out loud, what should walmart pay their unskilled labor??
    8-10-12 bucks an hour? To stock shelves or ring up sales? I suppose you think that burger flippers should be over paid too??

    Walmart and fast food jobs are entry level jobs. You are not supposed to be living on those salaries. Get an education and go work somewhere else.

    As for the education, if you so poor that you cannot get a student loan then you are poor enough for pell grants. Education is as fast and loose in this country as free birth control

    You are touting the foolish liberal idea that is used to keep the poor down on the plantation by keeping them victims who earn next to nothing.

    July 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • ISU Student

      @ IdiocyAstoundsMe
      I got to disagree with you on the pell grants. I go to a school that costs $18k a year. I come from a poor family, my estimated family contribution is less than $1k. What do I get in grants? Not nearly enough. I still have to take out at least $7k a SEMESTER in loans to pay for college. That's with me working part time and having a scholarship. College isn't cheap, especially for those who are poor and supporting themselves.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • WASP

      @idiot: you do astound me. how can you think that keeping "entry level postions" at below living wage is helping america? you want to know what drives the american economy? not the people at the top with an over abundance of cash flow, it's us working class folks. we go out and buy what we can, we keep this economy going, as long as the corprations don't pay living wages our economy will suffer. if all our income goes to paying bills, then how are we going to buy other products to drive this economy? simple it's not going to happen. companies need to take a hit to their wallets higher more people or increase the people working for them wages so they can contribute to increasing the purchase of other goods that drive this country forward. more buying equals more jobs because there will be a demand for workers to fill orders and ship products, no increase in living wages no buying thus slower economy.
      oh and my advice, too many people with college degrees doesn't mean they will get work, they will still be working at mcd's or as i have seen two accountants were working in a novelty store to make money because their degree was worthless as there wasn't enough work for that degree.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Beadles

      Wasp – don't try to argue with someone with a double-digit IQ.

      July 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • lola

      you lost me on the college section... college is NOT free for everyone, especially now. that killed your argument

      July 19, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • lola

      boy is that GOP veil of 'everyone in america is equal and everything is abundantly available to all and if you dont make it it's because you're too stupid" thinking is really clouding your sense of intelligence... maybe you should change your name to MyIdiocyAsoundsMe... i bet you thought Palin was a smart cookie too huh?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  12. 12perfectroses

    I read somewhere a while ago that DOLLAR TREE was a Christian company that is why we find so much Christian items like Bibles and coloring books. As well there are some great Christian clothing designers the Kingdom Dreams Collection is ....online and at the Lansing Mall .. http://www.kingdomdreams.net/

    July 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Kennethy Boonx

    Hiya! I just wish to give a huge thumbs up for the nice info you've right here on this post. I will be coming again to your weblog for more soon.

    July 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  14. Pet Peeve

    If you represent yourself as a Christian,and are truly christian in your heart you would not NEED to Spy on others at work..For God Sees everything..And If you keep things to yourself and do not Bring The issue up to your employee and simply let them continue on,then you to are sinning,Human Beings are Faliable,We are Suppose To Help one another,Not EVEN AS A BUSINESS OWNER,,should you ever try yo demean another person..Honesty that is the Best Business Policy...

    June 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Cindy

      They are not demaning anyone. They are standing up for what they believe. You people just can't or won't understand that.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Camping

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts. After all I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

    June 23, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  16. The devil is a liar and the father of them.

    If they were all Christian companies then they would have no issue boldly stated so... To say that they are and they do not show it in their works is false. Faith without works is DEAD.

    March 24, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • not christian

      nice, I like it. makes much sense.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  17. serwinpr

    Reblogged this on Authentic Christianity and commented:
    I had no idea that a lot of these companies were based on Christian values. It almost gives their customers a sense of trust with that company. Maybe knowing that it is based on Christian values will keep them at a higher moral standard than others that aren't.

    February 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Tax The Churches

      Really Walmart gives you a sense of Christian values. They treat their employees like crap. pay them non livable wage, no medical no benefits all so they can keep prices down on products produced in slave labor in counties that hate the united states. I no longer use any company that employs "christian values" as it pretty much says to me it worships the all mighty dollar and commercialism and treats its employees like crap. But why would they not considering the bible states slavery is ok so my guess thats a good old Christian value.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
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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.