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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. PAUL

    WELL I HOPE THINGS IMPROVE??

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVtL4r6rOnI&w=640&h=360]

    July 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  2. joeymom

    Interesting, but how many of these corporations are giving corporate fund to organizations that try to cut off citizen's rights fight against equality? Only one entry mentioned corporate giving, which is the issue with Chick Fil A.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • PAUL

      IS THIS FOR CLUCKIN GOOD!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPDirIhy5Zs&w=640&h=360]

      July 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  3. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Christianity is based on hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism, just another labeled for old bottle of hindu Judaism, filthy secularism.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Christian

      Have you ever read a single thing about either of those religions? Not that I need to ask because it shows you clearly HAVE NOT.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  4. Michael Holmes

    These are great companies. I think there are a few companies you missed. Here a few Christian billionaires: http://michaelgholmes.com/lessons-from-christ-centered-billionaires-they-dont-want-you-to-know/

    Century 21 is a Christian company as well

    July 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Michael Holmes

      Truth be told there are WAY more successful Christian companies out there, namely: http://www.christianpost.com/news/best-christian-workplaces-for-2012-announced-66534/

      Nine is just scratching the surface on "spiritual" companies

      July 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  5. HolierThanNone

    I thank CNN for writing this article, I am going to become a patron to these companies where/when ever possible. Even if the only thing I like to consume at chick-fil-a is the iced tea and I have to buy 5 gallons a week, that's what I'm going to do to show my support.

    July 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Christian

      I do as well. "Aldi's" is another grocery food franchise that is Christian and it truly is a blessing for our family because we save so much money on groceries. 'Fred's" is another Christian store that sells groceries, toys, clothes, and decorating items, etc.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  6. indogwetrust

    Walmart is one big family. A family that doesn't care about its members. Would you deny your family healthcare just to make a few more bucks? That's one messed up parent.

    July 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  7. New Gawker

    Walmart, one of the most evil companies in the world. Makes sense they're so religious. Tyson, destroys the environment, admitted to buying politicians to allow him to dump tons and tons of waste into the environment rather than properly disposing of hazardous materials. forever 21, selling clothes to make little girls and teens look like tramps.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • serveJBR

      and your point is? All the other non-religious companies are perfect? People are flawed, some more than others. Religion was not real high on Christ's impressed-with list. None of that has anything to do with who God is- we don't change God by being good or bad. So shop wherever you feel you should or need to. Business decisions are just that. Walmart can save a family a lot of money. So can Target, Aldi etc. And Walmart forces no one to work there. Go back to school like millions of the rest of us if you don't like your lot.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. 2cents

    The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right, putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.

    "The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

    Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

    The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

    "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

    Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

    Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.

    The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.

    "We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • BOB

      "We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community,"

      I thought "civil rights" were not supposed to be voted on. I guess it's only when the vote goes your way.

      July 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  9. merusso

    Christian principles of darkness always come before wisdom & truth.The jesus & satan are subjects of christian production, they're will go together to hell, so better to live them alone.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • serveJBR

      nice, thank you (what?)

      July 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. merusso

    Christian want conflict with purpose & then begging for help,please close your mouth ,stay away from people.Nobody will know who you are.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  11. John316

    What about all the "Kosher" and "Halal" food producers and promoters, aren't those reliogious companies?

    July 31, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Aaron

      It only matters which Christian affiliated companies are out there to bash....

      July 31, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Claire

      I believe they are considering those to be "religious products," and that's why they're not including them. Forever 21 doesn't make religious clothing and Hobby Lobby doesn't make religious crafts, but religion is still important to the company... that's the point the article is trying to make.

      "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."

      July 31, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Jim P.

      Naw, it's only *really* religious if it derives from a limited number of mainstream Protestant Christian sects. The other stuff is just misguided or making a buck off the believers of false gods.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  12. Hawkeye

    I agree with Hindu – thank you!

    July 31, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  13. Cindy

    P.S. Tyson Foods has been in trouble for the terrible conditions on their chicken farms. Oh, I forgot. The treatment of animals probably doesn't count in these religious conservatives' beliefs. Never mind.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Guest

      Liberals like you are more concerned about anmals than people. Wrong priorites, dear

      July 31, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • jaintn

      Cram it guest. If you're outraged by animal abuse it doesn't mean you don't care about people. It's not mutually exclusive. The fact that you DON'T care shows that you are a cold hearted creep and thump that bible all you want "dear," because for you it's merely a prop for your pomposity and nothing more.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Jason Shoots

      I think I saw something about Tyson and it's Islam ties. Or was that something, else? I have to go and look now?

      July 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • serveJBR

      perhaps you are correct about some "conservatives", the Bible does speak about treating animals well however, pretty clear stuff about wrong being wrong

      July 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Hmmm...Walmart's on the list? The Walmart that doesn't give its employees breaks and makes them work overtime without paying them for overtime? The Walmart that uses people in horrible conditions in the Third World to make their products? The Walmart that uses child labor in Third World countries to make their products? There is always a dark side to these religious conservatives. A person who does good and doesn't broadcast it is far more likely to go to Heaven than these people.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Durrhurr

      "The Walmart that uses child labor in Third World countries to make their products?"

      Walmart doesn't make products. They sell them. Get your facts straight before spewing.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • TmNPitt

      Actually Durhurr, Walmart owns and operates most of their primary far east suppliers. So,in fact, Cindy is correct and you are the ill-informed individual.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Aaron

      It's suddenly as if Wal-Mart only hired Christians! Obviously, every decision in one of the largest companies in the world – despite facing much scrutiny in its hiring practes – is made to hnor Jesus and mistreat the people. Sob story.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • jaintn

      Yep, that's the same Walmart. Like many Christians, they are Christians in name only and don't practice what they preach. For them the bible is a weapon they use to pump themselves up and put others down. Oh, and durrhurr, that's a perfect name for someone as dumb as you seem to be.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Do Your Research

      These so called sweat shops actually improve the quality of life for its workers by eight fold on average. While its not the most ideal situation you can be in – I'm sure you would take 8x your salery as well. Also, you are comapring they're lifestyle to the American lifestyle. Third world countries don't have labor laws and it benefits their families for young children to help work in order for their families to survive. Over all, it's helping these workers and it's a plus for companies to send these types of jobs over seas since 2 dollars an hour is like being paid 20 here.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  15. lanedj

    Seriously? How could you consider this hateful? I consider myself an evangelical Christian and support the stand that Chik-fil-A has taken (although I'm not so much a fan of their product) and I actually enjoyed this article. I mean, how many other articles on CNN do you see citing (and quoting) John 3:16 three times and, in my opinion, honoring founders/presidents/CEOs of successful companies... who happen to be Christian? I'm actually looking forward to sending more business there way... okay maybe not Forever 21 (I'm a 40 year-old-guy). Relax, take a deep breath, read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7).

    July 31, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • lanedj

      and of course, looking forward to learning to spell "their"

      July 31, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • LinCA

      @lanedj

      You said, "Seriously? How could you consider this hateful? I consider myself an evangelical Christian and support the stand that Chik-fil-A has taken (although I'm not so much a fan of their product) and I actually enjoyed this article."

      Seeing the support for Chick-fil-A, I am amazed, no flabbergasted, no at a complete and utter loss to understand, how anyone, and I mean anyone, can hold these beliefs. How can any sane person, and I mean anyone, believe that there is a rational reason to discriminate against a disliked minority based on their religion? Isn't is excruciatingly obvious that those views are wrong, no, more than wrong, immoral?

      We live in a society that provides freedom of religion. The US Constitution, as the absolute highest law of the land, guarantees that everyone can freely exercise their own religion, and worship as they see fit. Freely exercising your own chosen religion is only possible if everyone else keeps their religion out of your life. The US Constitution therefor guarantees that religion can never set secular policy.

      If religion can never set secular policy, the religious argument against same sex marriage only affects those that adhere to that particular religion. It doesn't ever apply to anyone that doesn't subscribe to that religion. So, if you think that your religion prohibits same sex marriage, you are free to not enter into one, but you are not free to prevent anyone else from entering into one.

      Claiming that there is a religious argument to prohibit secular same sex marriage, IS trying to force your religion on someone else. It is the textbook definition of bigotry.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • lanedj

      @LinCA, I was responding to @Hindu who stated that he thought the article was hateful to Christians and had asked that it be removed for that reason.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • LinCA

      @lanedj

      Did you not say, "I [consider myself an evangelical Christian and] support the stand that Chik-fil-A has taken"?
      You still support the bigotry, apparently.

      July 31, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • indogwetrust

      When people attempt to stop others from getting married that is hate. How would you like it if you weren't allowed to marry a woman of your choice.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  16. Your Panties in Texas

    Aw, GeezUs! Where and When will it all end?

    July 31, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  17. Hindu

    Gilgoff is writing as if the USA has adopted Atheism (or may he thinks anti-Christianism) as the state religion overnight. Gilgoff, you are grossly out of line here clearly due to your hatred of Christians that you can barely contain it anymore. You have right to not agree with Christian beliefs but why are you using CNN belief blog to openly express your hatred and provoking retaliation from citizens and the cities/mayors etc? Why this hateful agenda? CNN, please revoke this hateful and offending article immediately.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Joe

      Hindu, there is no state religion, not Christianity, not Hinduism, not Islam, none at all. "We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe -or not believe-, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief." – Ronald Reagan

      July 30, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  18. Joe

    Nobody cares if a company is religious. If they want to practice their own religion and run their own business without hurting anyone else or running afoul of anti-discrimination laws, nobody cares. Heck, In & Out has run a restaurant in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf for years without a single problem. The difference is when groups start using their money to force their faith on other people. Then people who oppose that will take their money elsewhere. That's the difference. A BIG difference.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • DEEZ

      People do care and they should. Think of a group you don't agree with and then think that your money is going to support their cause, then you'll understand. Equality or nothing. Hiding behind religion for inequality that's obviously wrong is just cowardice.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Hindu

      @DEEZ, then take your business elsewhere to a business that donates to groups you like. Simple!

      July 31, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  19. Hindu

    CNN, why don't your rename this blog as - Hate Christians Blog. Shame on you! Mr Gilgoff has crossed all lines of decency with this article. What is the point of this article? Please tell me. Is he not openly provoking and inviting Americans to retaliate against private businesses that happen to be owned by those professing Christian belief. This is so UN-american and this is so uncivilized! Please revoke this article immediately and discipline Mr Gilgoff.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  20. Hindu

    Gilgoff, you are clearly a mischievous bigot! As a Hindu, I stand by my Christian brothers in this blatant attack on their faith. This has crossed all lines. CNN, if you have any sense of fairness and tolerance left, pull this blog and fire Mr Gilgoff ASAP. You cannot have a person openly spreading hate against a faith group as your Belief blogger. Just read this this article. What is his point? This is uncivilized! Please do the right thing.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Jason Shoots

      Umm, I don't really think a Hindu and a Christian are spiritually related? One is light, the other is darkness and in his/her sins.

      July 31, 2012 at 12:16 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.