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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. Hindu

    Shame on you, Mr Gilgoff, to use CNN.com Belief blog as your bully pulpit to spread your hate-Christian message. What is the point of your article? Private companies and their owners as private citizens have right to their beliefs and opinions. You are just being a bigot and a bully here spreading your obvious hatred & intolerance of Christian faith. Think you are cool? Nah! No way! I have no idea why CNN allows you to even write in this Belief blog. What is your belief? May we know? So we know what your agenda is and what to expect from you on this "Belief Blog".

    July 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      word hindu is based on Latin word hindrance, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity, are you sure about your post, hindu, negative by faith.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Hindu

      @hinduism source of hindufilthyracism– you are obviously ignorant and not deserving of a meaningful conversation. Still for your enlightenment, I am quoting Wikipedia for the origin of word Hindu (from sanskrit Sindhu).

      "The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, first mentioned in the Rig Veda,[4] was the historic local appellation for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.[5]"

      July 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      You have based your translation from hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, ignorant s, Word hindu did not exist in hindu pagan literature before arrival of Muslim's in subcontinent, Letter S always refers to the essence of a matter, not high or law, lets assume you are right for a moment, haw would you translate word hanuman, monkey god of hindu's, ignorant s.

      July 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Sanskrit is hinduism, corruption of language of truth Latin by addition of 10 letters and displacement of building blocks of Latin by pot head hindu sanatans, criminal goons of Egyptian origin to hind, fool humanity and make them their gentile, slave, cause of Mayhem among humanity.

      July 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  2. doug

    suzie Q...you call your self a Christian and you know nothing about how christ wanted you to behave...stop being so hateful...

    July 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  3. HiggsbosonIsReligion

    Walmart....I have my doubts...????

    God doesn't allow that much wealth unless your Solomon.

    July 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  4. Supporter

    Not only will I be there on Huckabee's day, I'll be there to take all the abuse for eating where I want during the immature Kiss-In.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  5. allenwoll

    As much as I deplore Organized Religions, the descriptions given in the article of the religious activities of the named companies do not much distress me and in fact some seem to be in a way admirable. . However, if any of them in any way indulge in discrimination in hiring and advancement, they need to be stopped in their tracks.

    I am glad that I no longer have any employees - I would get into trouble right away : NO TATOOS, PERIOD ! . My bad !

    July 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Why

      I suspect what you really deplore is organized groups of any sort. I can name some pretty dysfunctional organized atheist groups, and let's not even get started on governments. The problem is that anything organized is made up of fallible humans. Why don't people join and try to make a difference rather than sit on the outside and whine about them?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  6. Lol@libs

    "as the controversy continues...we're republishing our list of 10 other religious companies."

    Now we see what this so-called Belief Blog is about. A Christian company is being hated on...quick...get a list of more of them so the can all be hated on together.

    We see what you're doing there, CNN!

    July 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  7. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Religions, world's largest money making business, Word religion does not exist in divine language. figure it out, where it came from. hinduism, denial of truth absolute.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  8. allenwoll

    WalMart "Faithy" - Now THAT is indeed FUN-NY ! ! ! . About as much as a tarantula ! ! ! . Or piranha ! ! . Scorpians, anyone ?

    You are so far off on THAT one that it throws the others into doubt ! !

    July 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  9. Joshua Wertheim

    As much as I despise the President of Chick-Fil-A and would never eat there myself, I think it's ridiculous for any community to try to ban them from opening up new stores in any neighborhood they choose. That is part of the good and bad of the American way, because people can vote with their wallets when a business that offends them opens and just not eat there. If we start allowing or supporting a community that tries to do this, then where will it end? A Muslim prevented from doing business in Jewish areas? Black people prevented from starting businesses in white areas? Gays prevented from doing business near Chick-Fil-A's corporate headquarters? It's ridiculous and terrifying. Again, vote with your pocketbooks if you don't like them and if enough people agree with you, they will close their doors and move on

    July 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  10. Ellen Smithee

    Thanks for letting me know which corporations should not have my money. I'm sure they don't mind taking gay people's money for their products. They just don't want gay people to have equal rights. Both bigotry and corporate greed in practice. They'll not see another dollar of mine.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Lol@libs

      Make sure you discriminate 'gainst them Christians now, hear?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  11. Harvey

    I couldn't care less about a company's religious views. The can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, non believers, or worship Satan himself, If I have a use for or like their products, I will buy from them. What matters is the product, quality, and price

    July 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  12. TC

    Its good watching this all unfold becasue as long as businesses don't discriminate, as American people operating an American business it is their right to believe in biblical values. Any atheist or LGBT groups that continue to atack this are going to look like un American communists.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      There's nothing wrong with calling them out on bigotous views. Other individual citizens or private organizations can, and should, continue to speak out if they feel a moral imperative to do so.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Lol@libs

      How about a list of atheist owned companies? I want to boycott them.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  13. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    July 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • allenwoll

      Pardon ?

      July 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      No, don't read any of that junk attributable to the self-proclaimed apostle paul – it is rubbish. it is the cause of most of today's religious turmoil. Instead, start thinking on your own.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  14. Jorge natal

    I dont believe in "god" or like chik fill a, but damn, props that they didnt back down on the comments, what they said " guilty as charge" awesome! Tired of people that say something to later be reprimanded or apologized

    July 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • idli

      So .. Whats wrong .. doesn't he have the right to say that ..

      July 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  15. was blind, but now I see

    Anyone with an ounce of discernment can see exactly what is going on (in the big picture).

    For the rest of you, here it is:

    The end of the world is rapidly approaching. SIdes are being drawn for the final battle between darkness and light.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • queenintheatl

      The end of time was suppose to happen many years ago, How do you know when the end of time is coming. I am so tired of people saying that. Nobody knows except one person and you are not that person. We all have to answer to our sins and the Lord preached love not hate. You need to really read your bible again. Also the bible was man written it was not written by God himself. Nobody knows what his thoughts are on a lot of things. We will not know until we meet him one day. I am spirtual and do not consider myself a christian especially if being a christian is being small minded and not accepting people and loving everybody. All this hate will be judged by him and him alone. No one on this earth has the right to say what is right and what is wrong,

      July 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  16. Jeff

    At least these other companies are smart enough to make it subtle. The owner of Chick-Fil-A just turned off a huge percentage of the population.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • idli

      So .. Whats wrong .. doesn't he have the right to say that...

      July 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • allenwoll

      Cathy has the right to say what he will. . He even has the right to irritate or drive off customers, to his pleasure (short-lived).

      He does NOT have the right to discriminate in hiring, period ! ! ! . End of story !

      July 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Idalis

    Perfect. Now I know what companies to support. I like companies that have values/morals/ethics and stand for something

    July 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • George

      Not all of us Gays are disrespectful and rude. Me being Gay is not the issue, the issue that I strive to fight for is my equal rights as a U.S citizen. It's not right that I don't have all the same rights as you do just because I happen to be Gay.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Lol@libs

      George, what I want to point out is that you have exactly the same rights as every other male and female.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  18. Nclaw441

    Why does anyone care if someone is gay? Similarly, why does anyone care what another's view of gay marriage is? Live and let live, for both sides.

    July 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Idalis

      No one would care if they would STOP making such an issue about being gay. They vote for the President of the US based on this issue instead of real issues like the economy and are so rude and disrespectful that they don't deserve any support

      July 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Lol@libs

      What do you mean THEY? Christians would never have brought the issue up now, would they? No sir, it is being pushed in our faces daily, something the majority of us believe to be immoral. You put it up for a vote and immorality will lose, plain and simple. You make it go away and Christians won't talk about it either.

      July 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Duane Luchsinger

    You guys (CNN) take the cake. Talk about "faithy" businesses. You guys and the other main stream media are nothing more than "lapdogs" of the DNC.

    July 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • doug

      dude it's easy, just watch fox news...im sure they will make you feel good!

      July 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  20. Indrid Cold

    There is no god save me. My consciousness is the wellspring from which all reality springs forth. My mind animates you and your one-dimensional mind like a cheap mechanical display in the Macy's Christmas window.

    July 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Suzie Q

      No, what's going to be animating is watching you on that judgement day. Whew, God bless your soul on that day sweetie. Remember this on that day. Until then, have fun w/ the animation!!

      July 30, 2012 at 8:24 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.