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. Theresa

    The religion doesn't bother me, its the bigotry. They can pray all they want and I will still purchase their products. However when they openly admit to bigoted beliefs I stop giving my money to them.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      If you want to see bigotry and hate speech just look at what the left is trying to do the CFA. Not that the truth matters to you.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  2. PPJr

    I'm still not clear on the point. Suppose I'm pastafarian. Does that mean I no longer can use Tom's of Main toothpaste?

    Thanks, PPJr.
    (Flaying Spaghetti Monster loves ya!)

    July 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  3. ohthatchar

    PLEASE try to remember the difference between religious views and BIGOTRY.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  4. bp

    Thank you for compiling a list of companies to boycott.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  5. DP

    Don't forget GE. Whooooooooole different religion, though.

    July 28, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  6. TAK

    Thank you for this list CNN. Now I know what places to avoid. Here's another, and it's really scary. Go to Hodgdon.com and read their mission statement about bringing credit to their lord JC. They are a gunpowder manufacturer. Fundamentalists making explosives! If they were any other religion Homeland Security would have shut them down by now.

    July 28, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  7. Atlanta Allen

    I don't care who marries whom, but I also believe the Cathy's are free to have their opinion. They are unlikely to have a negative response to the kiss in or whatever peaceful protest occurs because they are genuinely kind people. We have mutual friends and their work in the Atlanta area is an example of Christian kindness. Try the same protest in a halal butcher shop and see if you come out with all your fingers intact. Why doesn't CNN take a poll of those proprietors and see what percent not only oppose gay marriage, but want to kill anyone who is gay.

    July 28, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Chris

      They are free to their opinions (and should be) and they can aso be vocal about their opinions. Others are free to disagree and be vocal about it.
      I just find it difficult to belive they do not hate gays but just oppose their rights to marry. If a gay dies, his long-term partner has no rights.
      What if a company CEO said something like: I love women but believe they should not be allowed to attend college like men do. Or: I love men but I believe they should not be allowed custody of their children upon divorce, ever. Or: I love blacks but believe they should not have the right to vote like white people.
      Would you not have a problem with any of those statements? Would you still be willing to support them by doing business with them?

      July 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  8. Aaron

    I'm not religious but I don't think there is anything wrong with any company that fosters religious beliefs as long as they don't go over board and try to force their bigotry beliefs on other people.
    Isn't Olive Garden another one of those companies?

    July 28, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  9. Sam Yaza

    8. In-N-Out Burger.

    no sh!t walk in there and ask them to crucify you

    oh and this is the one place i could never boycott

    July 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  10. damo12345

    Thanks CNN. Not buying any more Tyson.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  11. Jack

    Good evening folks. Everyone is invited to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    July 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  12. Caiha

    There's a difference between the owner being religious, and the business being religious. Bear that in mind. However, thanks for the list of businesses I will no longer do business with.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  13. CMD

    You forgot Domino's pizza, whose owner and founder is a devout Catholic.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  14. Kou

    I know, with all my heart, that a flying, pink and purple leapord print unicorn who flies on rainbows created by the love and adoration of his millions of followers, exists.

    Oh, wait, that doesn't make any since; I've never even seen a regular unicorn before.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Kou

      Typo, should be sense.

      July 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  15. Mere Mortals

    The comments posted here are really hilarious. Such feisty individuals with logical lamentations about how prayer does not work or how God does not exist. It is evident that if you are not a believer, your mind could never even begin to understand what Christians are talking about. It all starts with faith. Some people choose to believe and others do not. If you do not believe, then so be it. Don't criticize the ones who do.

    Those of us who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God believe that the only individual in control of life's destiny is God. Prayer does not sway it and no where in the Bible does God say that he will do what you ask him to do. People die, people get ill and it is unfortunate but it happens. Believing in God or having faith has nothing to do with our ability to prolong our lives here on Earth. The whole point of the Bible is meant to be a guideline for living here on Earth so that we can prepare for eternal life in heaven. Before the rest of you mortals scoff at that idea, we're not asking you to believe what we do. It's just describing what we believe is factual for us. Now all of you who do not believe the same thing, well then you are free to live your life the way you want.

    Kudos for the companies who are founded on their vision and beliefs. Why should we be ashamed of what we believe in? You should not be ashamed of what you believe in. Why can't we accept what America was founded on – freedom to make choices, freedom to express ourselves? Acceptance that we are all DIFFERENT.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Greg

      Let those who have ears hear!

      Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3

      Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

      "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44

      Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

      Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:42-47

      July 28, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  16. I blow minds for a living

    "Walmart...has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer."

    I was not aware that the Christian servant leadership model is to ask your employees to work unpaid overtime, offer poor health insurance, discriminate against women in pay and promotions and source their products from foreign companies that use child labor and pay poverty wages.

    Selling Christian books does not merit an honorable mention. The motive is profit.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Sporkee

      Or the fact that the company is known to take out life insurance policies on it's employees with out telling the persons family. Then collecting when that employee dies.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  17. shiney

    In 2004, my pastor's wife found a knot on the side of her neck. Her & her husband (our pastor) went to the doctor to see about it. After many tests the doctors were just sure she had cancer and would need to have the tumor removed & probably have treatments, etc as a result. Well, they went back to have the tumor removed & guess what – the tumor was gone. I don't know how athiests would explain that one at is wasn't due to science – God healed her.

    In 2006, my 17 yrs old sister went into pnuemonia which then went into ARDS. Not knowing what was wrong my mother took her to the ER on a Wednesday to which she was amitted to the hospital – she spent the night in ICU & crashed 2x during the night. By the next morning, they were lifelining her to another hospital 2 hrs away. I can still remember the drive to the hospital. The next few days were critical... she improved very little on Friday and then the in the wee hrs of Saturday morning the doctors came out and told us she had taken a turn for the worst and weren't sure she would make it. In addition to my family, our church, & countless other churchs were praying for my sister, for strength for her as well as our family, and for her possibly healing... by Sunday, she was stable, off the ventilator, and sitting up and talking to us. By Monday, they moved her out of ICU & by Wednesday she was home again with us. If that ain't God answering prayers, I don't know what it is...

    July 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Bob the Cat

      Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it.

      July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • gorgegirl

      To Shiney: First of all, the "knot" on the side of the head of your pastor's wife was more than likely a cyst – not a tumor. A cyst may contain air, fluids, or semi-solid material. Once formed, a cyst could go away on its own or may have to be removed through surgery. I had one on the side of my wrist and a friend offered to "hit it with a book" but I was afraid it would break my wrist. This was no "miracle" through prayer but I bet your pastor gets more money making you believe otherwise.
      Same thing for your 17 year old sister. While in the hospital, she was being given heavy doses of an antibiotic. That wonderful drug obviously worked it's miracle and she recuperated. That wasn't prayer. IT was the antibiotic.

      July 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • G

      one day a 5 yr old girl had a tumor. she prayed to god. she did not get treatment. she died. god did not help her. god let a little girl die. clearly god doesnt exist

      July 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • damo12345

      Thank you, G.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Chris

      I had a knot in my right breast. It was diagnosed as a benign cyst and was gone within 2 weeks. And I didn't even have to pray!

      July 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm |

    Someone wrote on here ahteists have no reason to live,no goals.Like you believers in fairy tales are better than us.We are realists.We do not believe in the magic jewish man in the sky.Our goal is to live & let live in a happy world. If you sheeple with low IQ's don't like it then you better pray about it.It will make you feel secure knowing you are special & going to be with god.Us realists are going to enjoy our time on this planet & not waste it on fairy tales.Seriously, grow up.Think like an adult not a brainwashed 6 year old.There is no magic man in the sky.

    July 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • RK

      LOL, your a tool.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Winie

      Freedom to worship applies to all, whether believers in gods, God or nothing. I don't care what a person's beliefs are, until my rights are infringed–rights of expression, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are simply too many variables in the human species to realistically think that all of us can be expected to follow the same set of rules or beliefs. Really now, what is worse: a God-fearing pedophile or a non-believer who spends all his free time and resources helping indigent citizens? I

      July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Tim

      "Sheeple" and "low I.Q.?" That's the best you can do, your highness?

      July 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Riley Fuzzel

      You sound as arrogant as those you deride. Don't be insulting, it does more harm than good.

      July 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  19. Gwen

    Well, not many of them can talk the talk and walk the walk.

    July 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Godot17

      To the contrary. Religion is not healthy for children and other things, both living and nonliving. And only science can change things

      July 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Guest

      For prayer to change things, one has to accept the idea of a God who makes decisions based on the level of spam he receives. Instead of deciding for Himself and in accordance with whatever plan He has whether a child with cancer lives or dies, for instance, He bases His decision on how many people want that child to live. Under that model, the life of a popular member of a congregation is worth more than the life of a homeless person in His eyes. I don't believe in that kind of God.

      July 27, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!|

      July 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
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