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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. Lisa Jennings

    I am an Atheist so the "God" thing does little to rile me. I am a good person and I tolerate other peoples differences including religion. I do however have a problem with people who try to stand in the way of the rights of any person...ANY person. So simply mentioning these businesses are religious is great. I know something I did not know now. Not going to change my mind about the company unless they agree and support the view of Chic Fil A. Everybody is getting so upset and threatening to boycott these places/products but the article never even mentions their particular views on gays. I know a lot of religious people who are tolerant/supportive of gays or gays themselves. Not every religion considers gay to be a sin. If you are going to report such a story and get people upset at least include the views of said companies in their own words. And if you are reading this and get upset and draw conclusions as to how these companies view gays you are no better then those hypocritical religious freaks.

    July 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  2. Juanita

    Really? Christian businesses? Walmart is the epitome of how the devil would run a business if there was one; exploiting workers, selling goods that are made by slave labor. Religion is destroying this country. I will not shop at any business that promotes itself as a "religious" company. Glad I know I can avoid these.

    July 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • David

      Treating all of these companies the same is silly, Juanita. In-N-Out is very employee friendly. They pay a good wage and have benefits. They serve healthy products and have healthier alternatives. Pretending that every company is the same, simply based upon faith, is ridiculous.

      July 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  3. Stacy

    Less of a line to stand in now. Thank God. Go eat your chicken elsewhere 🙂

    July 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Tammy

      Seriouly judgemental this is...
      Being a Christian should not be about judging others.
      WWJD?
      What kind of example are they making if they discriminate against a specific group of people?
      Spread the truth not hate...

      July 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  4. Bishop Hairy Palms

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX_R-V5Cws&w=640&h=360]

    July 30, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  5. Bill

    So you won't buy a chicken sandwich because it's owner doesn't believe in gay marriage but you will buy gasoline which comes from the middle east where gays are executed just for being gay? That's just plain stupid.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • George

      Gasoline doesn't come from the middle east, oil does, but not that much in the US, which gets most of it's oil form other countries.....

      July 30, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • bignevermo

      actually george the US provides HALF of its own oil needs...also gas is a necessity and fast food is not! 🙂

      July 30, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  6. God is a man made delusion

    I don't care if the company is religious, I just think it's foolish to alienate potential customers by proclaiming your bigotry for all to hear.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • lover of freedom

      well said and great name

      July 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Bob the Janitor

      God respects your decision to reject Him and His son Jesus Christ...although you should understand that someday there will be Hell to pay.

      July 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  7. GeorgeBushSr

    christianity is the only religion that when they explain to you what they believe they have to act as if they are going to be directly recorded in the bible, i love god, but i dont read that book, and i dont smash everybody else who doesn't. guess i am a hypocrite.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Bob the Janitor

      If you love God and don't read the Bible, then in the end you will lose. The book of Revelation tells us that we will all be judged for our good deeds and our bad deeds. The problem is that no matter how much good you've done, it will never outweigh the bad. The only way into Heaven is through His son, Jesus Christ, who will speak up for you at the final judgment. If you don't know Jesus Christ, at that final judgment he will turn His back on you the way you turned yours on Him and you will be cast into the lake of fire.

      It really is that simple...

      July 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Tim

      Problem is, most religion is a tautology. Can't be disproved. Perhaps it provides comfort to true believers, and maybe it actually works if you believe it when you die: you feel good about it, knowing you are saved. But probably doesn't change anything substantial, since many don't believe God (if existing) would be anything but benevolent, so we are all saved whether we believe or not. I believe many religious philosophers even said as much.

      July 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  8. Justine

    This isn't about whether a company's CEO is Christian or whether a company's mission is based on Christian ethics. This is about to the extent in which they take it. I will no longer spend my money at chic-fil-a, not because they're Christian, but because the money I spend there indirectly is donated to a cause that I stand strongly against. The founds of Toms of Maine may very well be Christian, and good for him and his wife, but until his company stands against something I believe in (whether that be donating money to an organization I am not in support of, or being the sponsor for a movement or cause I don't support), I'm buying their toothpaste.

    July 30, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Texan

      How do you know if they are donating your money to causes you believe in or not?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Brian

      Tom's of Maine sold out to Coalgate.

      July 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  9. Mark

    Why do people hate God so much when all he does is love us? The old testament is not Christianity, the new testament is and Jesus is who we follow. Jesus is about love and forgiveness. He loves everybody not just Christians but everybody. I believe that everybody will get their chance when they die to see Jesus and be given a choice to go to him. He is not a bad guy lol he loves you and only wants the best for you. God sent Jesus to show the world that he loves us no matter what. We are his friends not his enemy even when we do bad things. It is that simple but the media shows the radical side of Christians, which is not the majority of christians. I love gay people and everyone. Jesus does also, don't let the media force feed you this garbage of radical so called Christians who hate cause Christ followers don't hate they love.

    July 29, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0w2kQf0bjI&w=640&h=360]

      July 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      gods love = pain and suffering
      epic fail

      unless your in to that kind of thing dude your gods

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO1mmzIAz3k&w=640&h=360]

      July 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • REason

      I dont hate God. Im an atheist. Id be insane to hate a figment of your imagination. Its the believers that have caused so much harm to people just for being who they are.

      PS – you sound a little wacko.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is not a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. While Christ may have been an actual person (this is disputed) there is no evidence to support his divinity.

      Obviously you feel the need to believe in a supernatural higher power, a need so great that you have constructed an elaborate fantasy what happens when people die, but in all honesty, there is no reason to believe that death results in anything but the cessation of life.

      Also, I don't hate your god. Nor do I hate Zeus, Thor, Osiris, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. There is no point in hating something that doesn't exist.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • LordEarlGray

      No one hates God. People just don't like religious nonsense running business and hating people such as those who are gay because they think they know what's right from their skewed views of the Bible. The truth is the modern Bible was put together hundreds of years after Jesus lived and died by priests who wanted to put in only those things THEY thought should be read by others according to the culture of the time. Other texts were banned because these priests (not God) thought they didn't fit in with their ideas of what Christians should be.

      July 30, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Kathy

      I am a atheist and do not hate "God" since I consider "God" to be your imaginary friend. I don't hate Winnie the Pooh either, he was Christopher Robin's imaginary friend, albeit a more tangible one than your "God."

      July 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • God is a man made delusion

      I don't hate your god anymore than I hate Tinkerbell or Unicorns. I disagree with what you and your friends do in the name of your god.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Tired of Silly1

      I don't hate god. You can't hate something that doesn't exist. As for jesus, I believe he was a snake oil salesman. Had some decent ideas, but the whole "son of god, virgin birth, resurrection from the dead" thing was a little over the top. The bible? A storybook. Again, some good ideas in there, but mostly nonsense. Stop worrying about what happens after you're dead. Nothing happens.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      i hate your God he is an narcissistic sociopathic tyrant

      Then again you know who i am♥

      if you don't Google it

      July 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • lover of freedom

      When you say god loves us, are you referring to cancer, AIDS, SIDS, babies getting run over by cars, priests molesting children, anyone molesting children, birds flying into a jet engine, the jet crashing after birds flew into its engine.....?

      July 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      yup their god is pinhead

      July 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  10. WDinDallas

    OK, so now gays, atheist and the liberal left will not be able to eat chiken. In-and-Out burger, a California icon, will have to be burned down and they are down to protesting as their only hobby. lmao.

    July 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • REason

      I am in California and never go to those places anyway. I DID go to the chicken place that started this article – I wont anymore. Easy enough.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, there are several restaurants, fast food and otherwise, that serve various chicken products without the unwanted side order of bigotry. I'm more than happy to spend my money at these other places.]

      July 30, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  11. Truth Today

    Christian in principle and worldly in practice. Low wages....lack of healthcare...lack of promotions for hard and competent workers....lack of policies that don't rob consumers....the point being it is popular to say you are a Christian business but more Christian to really practice Christianiy.

    July 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What's really funny is that the bible considers unethical business practice to be an abomination. It's as great a sin as being gay. Why is it that chrisitans don't make a big deal about that one?

      July 30, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • God is a man made delusion

      The bible also doesn't say gay people can't go to heaven but it's pretty clear on rich people not being allowed entry. I don't see any Christian organizations taking a stand against wealth.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  12. cavediver

    walmart... 4 or 5 of that family are in the top 10 richest in the word.... that company, along with Bill and Hilliary are major, if not the leading cause of the destruction of American manufacturing and the destruction of small retail businesses from coast to coast..... Yes, quite christian of you Walton familiy... thank you very much......

    July 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • cavediver

      *world even*

      July 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Randy

      Nobody is forced to shop at walmart. We no shop, they no exist. Simple as that.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Linda

      I like your post! It's very true & said in an excellently succint way. My husband used to work for Wal-Mart and I can say from personal experience that it is NOT the best place to work if you're expecting respect as a person–never mind the Christian blarney–Wal-Mart execs expect their worker bees to put Wal-Mart first and family dead last although you will find a person who is compassionate here and there within the organization.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  13. Richard

    Don't care if a business/company is Christian, Catholic, or even Satanic...all I care about is the product.

    July 29, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • REason

      How typically American of you.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  14. Jirris

    eeeehhh. Ok, so, I'm just gonna lay this right out here. I'm an atheist. Like, the completely awful kind that gets in fights. That being said, I really don't care if a company has a religious founding or whatever. Do they make quality products? Do they treat their workers fairly? Do they avoid using their influence and power as a means to push their religious side? If they stick to these things, I'm totally alright with them. In fact, I've known about in-and-out for years. I see their quiet and subtle evangelizing harmless (you have to look in weird spots on their wrappers to find the bible verses). What I do pay attention to is that the people who work at In-and-Out are actually treated pretty swell for a fast food job, and that makes me really happy. When I see them funneling money at political ends I'll toss them, but until then animal fries and a double double for me 🙂

    July 29, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • Gregory F.

      Jirris: I am also a rabid atheist, and I agree with your comment word for word. As soon as In-N-Out starts funneling money to conservative causes, I'll dump them. In the meantime they are good to their workers and their customers, and are just a well-run operation.

      WalMart, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. They are corporate predators, they treat their employees badly, and they suck off the public wealth by offering seminars to their employees on how to obtain government welfare. We are paying for their profits, and that is just disgusting. The Waltons are about the least charitable family in proportion to their wealth on Earth.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  15. Beth McMahon

    Excellent! I refuse to do business with any company with bigoted Christian ties. My money will never support your hate.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Steve Murphy

      Wonderfully Biggoted of you! You stereotype and hate a group of human beings because they don't agree with you. You're the biggot here. Hypocryte!!!!

      July 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mark

      It is so funny that people think all Christians are these gay hating people who hate everyone except Christians lol If you live by Jesus's teachings you love everyone no matter who they are. Even non-believers we love, that is basis of the new testament. People who follow Jesus don't hate but love. Jesus gave his own life for everybody not just christians because he loved us so much. that iis why God sent Jesus because he loved the world so much that he sent his only son John 3:16. That is why it is the most popular verse in the bible because God loves us, not just Christians but people everybody.

      July 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  16. Ryan

    This is great! I think it's great that these companies have morals and values. The difference between these companies and Chick-fil-A is that Chick-fil-A donated millions to supress one specific type of people. Would you be cheering them on if they donated millions to anti-black or anti-women orginizations? No. No one has said if these companies have done that - I doubt it - but they should go on a boycott list if they have. The problem isn't what was said, it's the donations. Cathy's comment was just a tipping point. Let's not forget what we're chatting about here.

    July 29, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Joseph

      So Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a hate organization? No one is being oppressed. No one is stopping gay people from living together. Some people don't want their tax money going to support the tax benefits they would receive if they got married.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • duckforcover

      Joseph- the point is that groups like the one you mention exclude people based on their religion. That's anti-American.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Harold

      Ryan;
      Mr Cathy's comments were not hate-filled or oppressive towards any group, he simply stated that he supports the biblical view of marriage, one woman + one man, which many of us who honor God agree with, myself included (check the biblical model for marriage out for yourself in Genesis 2:24 & Matthew 19:4-6). While we are called by the same God not to hate anyone (gays, or even our enemies), we are called to refrain from, and speak against, behavior that is contrary to God's biblical standard (commonly known as "sin")

      July 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Randy

      Duck, can I, as a Christian, go to a mosque? No. I'm excluded from going to a mosque. Is a muslim allowed to go to the First Baptist Church, or any other church? They certainly are. So who excludes who?

      July 30, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • MymanDarwin

      The problem here is everyone keeps saying "the biblical definition of marriage" like that means something. You are using a fiction mythology book to judge and supress the rights of individuals. Thus you are denying the legal benefits given to all married folks to one select group. Hence you are using religion to influence the government. And this is what is wrong.

      All over a fiction book.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Cindy

      Last I heard this is a free country. People can donate to whatever causes they support. Believe it or not there are people in this country who do't believe gay marriage is right! Why is it the gay community and their supports won't respect other's beliefs, but they want to shove their beliefs dowm EVERYONE'S throat? We are bigots and haters if we don't agree. This is a sad world we live in.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Moo

      @Joseph

      //Some people don't want their tax money going to support the tax benefits they would receive if they got married.//

      In other words, you don't want gay people to be equal with straight people under federal law. That makes you a bigot.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  17. Lagos

    Sweet, let's see Chicago and Philly kick all of these businesses and products out of their cities in the name of protecting people's "rights", then blame republicans for anemic economic recovery.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  18. deborah hafer

    I will be making these ten businesses a part of my life from here on in.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Mom of Three

      I'll be boycotting them. That's called "balance."

      July 29, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  19. deborah hafer

    Wow. These businesses are now going to be on my list to buy from.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Amen sister!

      July 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • breezy

      @deborah – enjoy the short time you have remaining on the wrong side of history..... the majority of american hate and bigotry will be dying off with the rest of the rotten baby boomer generation and we will be sure to send roses

      July 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • 19faye62

      I was thinking the same thing!

      July 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • REason

      thats cool – cause it doesnt take a genius to see that MORE ChicFila and In and Out and Walmart buying will mean you probably arent the healthiest of Americans. You will die out with your kind sooner than you even think.

      July 30, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Linda K

      This is a reply to Breezy – what makes you think that hate and bigotry will die off when us "rotten baby boomers" die off? As long as there are evangelical churches brainwashing people of all ages – cradle to grave, if you will, hatred and bigotry will be alive and well. It's passed down not only through churches but through families. Hopefully you younger people will help it diminish a great deal, but unfortunately it won't ever be eliminated. BTW, I am atheist – I don't trade at any of the above outlets, but if I did, I would stop.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Dave

      I'm glad for this list as well....so I can ensure to NOT shop there 🙂 They don't need my hard earned money...God will just magically provide for them.

      July 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  20. Stephen Parnell

    you timed me out you sorry mutherpfukas

    July 28, 2012 at 5:23 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.