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. lilly

    Whole Food is the only company on this list that I would spend my money in. Nothing wrong with being spiritual and caring about people.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  2. GregOPauls

    Thanks cnn, now I know where I should spend my money. Why don't you put a list out of jewish, muslim and other religious owned companies. What a disgrace this article is to a country founded on religious freedom.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • lilly

      Yeah and we want all you religious zealots to stay the the hell out of our personal business and not try to create legislation that attempts to control us with your fairy tale ideals about morality etc.. We don't care what your crazy beliefs are as long as you keep it to yourself and stay out of our political system.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Tammy

    Everyone is allowed their opinion, except Christians. Very interesting and hypocritical. I'm sure this post will get slammed which just speaks to the truth of my statement all the more.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Get over yourself

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • jay

      When your opinions promote hate and infringe on the rights of others it should get bashed.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  4. Hypatia

    Thank you for the list. I knew about Failmart and some of the others, but now I know exactly where not to spend my $.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  5. Squeezebox

    The article leaves out all of the "businesses" owned by religious orders of the Roman Catholic Church such as the University of Dayton, Loyola University, Franciscan Healthcare, etc... Like it or not, the Church has been involved in establishing and running schools and hospitals for centuries in order to fill unmet needs.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  6. Ralph M

    Wal-Mart. What a joke. They only worship money. And hurt their employees doing it.
    Sorry CNN...Epic Fail.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Bo

      WalMart changed after it's founder, Sam Walton, died. I'd have to agree that WalMart is not operating on religious principals any longer.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  7. b4bigbang

    Anyone who says science has proven there's no free will is feeding you a load of baloney.
    Read the entire article on wikipedia and you'll see:


    July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Jim

      Wikipedia was written by humans so it is flawed.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:40 am |
  8. Name*Randy Smith

    I really enjoyed reading this blog and seeing the Christian faith and other beliefs company's are taking into marketplace

    July 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  9. AGuest9

    Good. A list of them to avoid – especially Walmart!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Ralph M

      A freakin' Men.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  10. Beanbag

    No one cares if a company is "religious" unless they start working directly against a portion of their customer base. How about a "10 companies that also hate gays" article and you'll be a lot closer to the mark.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • wilzard


      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Evangelical

    The opening sentence of the article begins,

    "As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-se.x marriage continues ... "

    Since when is it "controversial" to come down on the side of traditional morality? It should be controversial to advocate per.ver.sion, not traditional morality.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Beanbag

      Deciding to call your particular brand of wacky voodoo "traditional morality" is hilarious. I'm sure you couldn't be any more self righteous if you tried but then I looked at your posting handle. Let's make it quick shall we... according to you Hate = Traditional Morality.

      My judgment... your Traditional Morality sucks.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Since when is it "controversial" to come down on the side of traditional morality? It should be controversial to advocate per.ver.sion, not traditional morality."
      Because it is immoral to discriminate people solely based on your delusion. It is controversial because we live in the 21st century and not the 19th.

      While you are free to live your life according to your fairy tale, you are not free to expect anyone else to suffer the consequences of your choices. You are free not to enter into a same sex marriage if you don't feel that is the thing for you. You have no right to try to restrict anyone else from doing so.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • lilly

      Traditional morality...What a joke!.....PLEASE

      July 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • TC

      Why is love, commitment, marriage and family life a "perversion" ONLY if gay folks value it?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • JCR

      Evangelical, I'm not sure you understand the meaning of the word controversial?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  12. BOb the Prairie Dog

    NO ONE knows what happens when we die and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants you money.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • rocksmart

      Can I hear an AMEN!!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  13. Young Autistic Man

    I am not an idiot. Most people with mild autism would not be college students and score more than GPA of 3.70.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • jimmer

      Ok, so you're not an idiot.

      You're a retard.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • just sayin

      Back to Special Ed you go.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  14. Reality

    Some 21st century nitty-gritty (only for the new members of this blog)

    o "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    1. The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    2. "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    3. See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
    To wit:

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

    Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male.

    As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs. heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses with respect to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  15. Young Autistic Man

    As soon the man gave up his cigarette, he have a conversion with this woman. God send him a message cigarette weaken his communication with God. His communication with God did strengthened. Also, it is God who help me. I was struggling with autism and God help me. I point to object instead of speaking when I was young (not toddler nor infant). My parents were told by God that to not respond when I am not speaking. It left me no choice but to speak. This help me gain a conversation. I am no idiot. I happened to be a young man who outperformed most of the people with mild autism.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      You right one thing you r idiot.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  16. Ungodly Discipline

    I had a friend a few years ago that worked for Tyson and he said it was the most frightening e.xperience in his life.

    They force the employees to listen to evangelicals on their break times and at lunch and they make everyone take pop quizzes about bible p.a.s.sages.

    Part of his goals for earning a good review and perhaps a raise in his salary was to lead his department in prayer and heal the sick.

    The worst part was the ceremonial chicken dances. All employees are made to strip na.ked and rub each other down with chicken blood and dance by a bonfire while the e.xecutives form a drum circle and have a circle jerk.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Ahhhh those were the good old days....

      July 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  17. PAUL



    July 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Do you believe that?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  18. Unknown

    I have a question for atheists:

    Do you believe that love exists?

    You can't because you believe in "nothing".

    July 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      The useless troll Unknown is back.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • PAUL



      July 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Unknown

      Its a serious question.

      Calm down bro

      July 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Yea like the other multiple times you posted it, got answers, then ignored the answers? Go away troll.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Unknown – If you lack the ability to understand the flaw in your question, you have no chance of understanding the answer... You're clearly not smart enough to dictate other people's behavior...

      July 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • jimmer

      "I have a question for atheists:

      Do you believe that love exists?

      You can't because you believe in "nothing".

      Yes love exists.

      You're mom loves it when I spew in her face.

      Hence, love exists.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Tim

      What is love all you athiests? What is the point of it?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • jimmer

      "What is love all you athiests?"

      An emotional attachment between people.

      Did you really need someone to explain that to you?

      Are you a retard?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • lilly

      LOL you can't be serious with that stupid statement. Where do you nuts come from?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Turtleguy

      I'm wondering why you think you know what I believe. All atheism asserts is that an atheist does not believe in a deity, nothing else. I believe in chocolate, and sunburns, and cats, and pizza, among many other things. I also believe you are not particularly intelligent.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  19. Young Autistic Man

    A man I know was told by God to call a specific woman with the telephone. Repeatedly and repeatedly, he call and there was no answers. He called upon God and there was silence. Then he look down his pocket. The pocket have a pack of cigarettes. He tossed the packet of cigarettes into the trash can. He called telephone and there was an answer. The experience of this man was one of the huge reasons why I believed there is a personal god. Many who read this would not understand the symbolism behind the man's experience.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • sam

      Holy crap, that is amazing. I am convinced. First she wasn't home to answer the phone, then she was??? Jesus be praised.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • jimmer

      And many will not believe it because you can't fvcking type a coherent sentence.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  20. IslandAtheist

    I'm going to have a lot more fun in Walmart from now on. LOL

    July 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
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About this blog

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.