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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. becky

    @Dan Gilgoff – After reading this article and the – wow, shocker! – unending display of the same polar opposite views as are already all over the Internet, just wondered what your point was in writing this. It's completely useless information unless you are one of the ppl who want to boycott or support based on convictions of the owners. Clearly, you have a side, but I was trying to figure out if this is a hit list or a support list until I got to Wal-Mart. Tipped your hand there, Dan. You threw them in as "honorable mention" to be able to add them to your hit list. High five! Well, let me add my comment to your collection.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  2. Phil

    My favorite one is Trijicon. They print bible verses on rifle scopes our troops use to kill people with.

    Praise Jesus!

    August 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  3. Pam

    People of diverse faiths have always been welcome in America. These companies and others owned by Christians produce good products and provide employment. I find the back lash strange.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  4. ghittsum

    Did Hebrew National not mak ethe list because they are Jewish?

    August 1, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Diane

      I believe the point of the article was to mention well-known companies that aren't in the spotlight for being faith-based companies. Hebrew National...well, it's not too hard to figure that one out just based on the commercials and the food packaging. But Forever 21 and Hobby Lobby?? Whodathunkit??

      August 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Pete

    If the customers in your target market who have the money you want talk magical man in the sky, then you talk magical man in the sky to please them. That makes business sense.

    August 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  6. Taleah

    I find it hilaroious for all of you who say well at least I know not to do businesses with these companies anymore. If you would do your homework there are many more you have been doing business with. You over use the word bigot, racism when there is freedom of religion so what makes you any better of what you are accusing. Well actually your NOT any better, only full of hatred and disgust, so carry on with your I'm not doing this or that, we REALLY don't care and your not going to hurt any businesses anyway. HA~

    August 1, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Ken

      It's Christian persecution plain and simple.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • PM

      I trust what Jesus tells me, and that is what I will follow. If people want to make their own life rulles that is their choice. God does not force anybody to hear the truth. I will support chick-fil-A and will buy their products.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Scott

      Liberals require tolerance for all diverse peoples, unless they have an opinion that liberals disagree with.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • perennial2

      Notice that it is the so-called Christian religious throwing around the word "BIGOT" (almost always in caps, which is profoundly respectful and mature). And that's the least of their inflammatory knee-jerk rhetoric, emphasis on jerk. People have a right to financially support any business they want, just as people have a right not to. That is all the anti-CFA people are saying. Hate me and discriminate against me and my family, then you won't get my money in support of your agenda to make billions and keep doing that to innocent hardworking Americans and their families.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  7. GOD PARTICLE UK Dave

    TEST YOUR LACK OF FAITH !!!! 😦

    August 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  8. eurekadog

    Marriott – owned by the Mormon Church.
    Petroleum from Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries that HATE LGBT individuals
    Why did this article only mention American companies? Why did the author only mention companies that espouse Christian values? There are many companies that support the teachings of other religions.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Uhhhh...

      Marriot tis not owned by the Mormon Church...It was started by a man, Marriott, who is a Mormon.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • chamillion

      Lol! Yeah– I think that was a typo. The only major religion that I can think of that actually owns a business are Catholics via their hospitals. But even then... there is room for debate. I didn't know that Mariott was LDS though. Cool fact.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Dale

      Why? Because the whole orchestrated leftist attack is on CHRISTIANITY, not any of the other religions.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  9. Jennifer

    Thank you for the list of businesses I will NOT use now. I will encourage others to avoid them, since religious nutcases scare most people, nonBible-thumpers can see how they cause ridiculous problems for the rest of the world.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Taleah

      Its people like you that people are scared of, you really should take your meds!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Steve

      Anti-Christian Bigot!

      August 1, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Phil

      That's it. Thanks for showing your close-minded, bigotted ways. I for one am proud of growing up in a country where people are free to form their own opinions and express their opinions in a nondestructive manner. I have several gay family members, but I have no problem with people who's beliefs are different (as long as they are not discriminating against others) I also know several openly gay/lesbians that work for Chick-fil-A and have felt very comfortable there, at least until others started causing an uproar.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • PM

      If you are afraid of religious nutcases, you must have some fears about the possibility that the Bible scripture is the truth. In California there is a senate bill being introduced that would make it a law that children could have more than 2 legal parents.. Why, to support the gay and lesbian family units life style and confuse and pull at the child in an even unhealthier way.. So would you say this is natural when it takes one male sperm and one female egg to produce a fetus. I think not, I will trust in God, not society and popular opinion and no I do not hate those who make their choices. I simply have my own right to my opinion. When all of our last days arrive the truth will be known. It is a choice....

      August 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • k

      I think it's great that you get to express yourself via your purchasing power (to say nothing of this forum). But the owners of these companies are also free to express their beliefs. So let them have their opinion and you have yours ... and then can we all just go back to worrying about something important ... like getting the economy going, re-writing our tax code to make it fair, re-igniting the middle east peace process, etc. You know ... real problems.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • PMV

      really – you know several openly gay Chick-Fil-A employees? Give me a break.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  10. Welkin

    Most of us non-believers really are just apathetic to religious people. We really just don't care what you believe as long as you don't try to force it upon us. We celebrate Christmas and Easter as secular holidays and don't care if you want to celebrate your saviors birthday. We don't care if the community park has religious symbols of all faiths. What we don't want is when you push your faith on others and you want to pray your prayers before football games or think that everyone needs to listen to you when you need to pray about something. Honestly we look at you funny most of the time but we have no desire to change you. Please offer us the same courtesy.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Hoops

      I appreciate your sincerity and kindness Welkin. Regarding most Christians, we just want to offer the same good news that helped us in our time of need. It's what you do with it that makes the difference. We mean no offense and we should leave you to it once you've received it, and we can still be kind to you regardless of your decision. We care about you and we should show it more than we do. We are, after all, just human.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  11. GOD IS IMAGINARY

    Christards please see: god is imaginary dot com

    July 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Steve

      Another Anti-Christian Bigot

      August 1, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  12. Seth Hill

    I don't care if the leaders of these companies hold Christian values. Good for them.
    One exception: Service Master owns American Home Shield, a company which deliberately tries to cheat the customer every chance it gets. I and thousands of others know from personal experience. You don't believe me? At least 2 class-action lawsuits. So one company that proclaims "Christian values" performs exactly the opposite. But, as you know, The Devil can quote scripture to his advantage.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  13. BainDasKapital

    All of these companies are not equivalent. I've heard that Herman Miller has sponsored programs on NPR and other progressive causes. It just goes to show you that all (actually, most) folks who claim to be Christians aren't bad. Once upon a time Christians had a good reputation, before some of the crazy southern "end times" televangelicals and creationists seized the attention and control of the faux news media. But rational Christians are still out there- Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans, some Methodists, and of course the Unitarians who are very liberal. The same goes for Muslims as well- they are not all violent anti-woman radicals. I've personally known some really great people who happen to be Muslims. And by the way, there are WAY more than 1-3% Atheists/Agnostics in the U.S. Most of us are NOT protesting Christmas (which many of us celebrate) or doing other useless and obnoxious things. Don't assume that we are all the same as somebody you saw on TV once. I say this as an ex-Catholic humanist.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Rick

      Yes, Herman Miller has sponsored on NPR. In addition, we (I am an employee) have scored 100% on the Human Rights Campain's Corporate Equality Index for 5 years. (check it out at HRC.org). We have multiple inclusiveness teams (I led the LGBT team for years). Our teams have led book drives, school supply drives, AIDS walks, etc. Corporately, there are many ways to get involved.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  14. Ron

    What a stupid article!
    Chick fil a is not being outed for being "Christian" but for it's owners- Remember it is Privately owned- Contributing money to organizations that promote the denial of equal rights!

    Perhaps it is time for the so called Christians to quit bearing false witness and realize that it is not their faith that is being attacked but the use of their faith to justify Bigotry!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Marcello

      What would happen to human civilization if everyone were suddenly "gay"?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • CG

      Ron, you're completely right in your assessment of the situation! Chik-fil-a has the right to announce and support any cause they deem appropriate. However, using this right to demonstrate exclusion, is a TERRIBLE business decision. Most Christian-based ideas and principles are just "good sense" ways of life (i.e., love your neighbor, don't steal, etc.). I would support any person who chooses to run their private company under such philosophies. But, to put a large amount of company money to publicly push your social agenda is unacceptable. They may not have come out and explicitly said they discriminate when hiring and/or servicing customers, but their lack of belief in diversity has certainly pushed people to the side.

      These other companies listed in this article do not compare in the slightest. As I said before, running a company with sensical guidelines (that happen to fall into a Christian-based category) is innocent enough. As a Catholic, I understand the Church's view on this issue (even though I don't agree). But pushing this agenda with company money is taking it too far and will indirectly result in exclusion and discrimination.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • chamillion

      CG– How is Cathy excluding anyone by talking to already-religious groups of people about his belief? And no– the slippery slope argument that this is going to turn into something spectacularly bigoted is probably not going to happen. This issue will loose steam until the media finds something else to muster up funds.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Dale

      Ron, How is it bigotry when the whole leftist attack on this man and his company is because he DARES to state that his Bible teaches him that traditional marriage is between a man and a woman. Nothing too hard to comprehend with that one.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Emma

      Dale, The gentleman can believe whatever he wishes. It's enforcing that belief at the expense of others that is the problem. We ring the bells at Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, damning the consequences of our actions. Contributing to the hate is contributing to the problem. Live and let live is the answer.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  15. whysillyme

    Thanks for the list need more of these, it makes it easy for me to decide where to shop. I worked for a chain department store that has really good Christian values and enjoyed being with like minded people.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • mccgeno

      It's so nice to hear from someone who enjoys their minimum wage lifestyle.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • chamillion

      wow MC– when did being Christian supporter make you a minimum wage earner? You need to read the list again.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Hoops

      mc, it's not how much you make, but being content with what you have and living inside your means. Virtually ALL financial advisors, whether Christian or not, will agree to that.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • PM

      It sounds like mc is an unhappy soul. As if money is happiness and the almighty ruler of life...

      August 1, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  16. there will be zombies

    Hasn't Walmart became a threat to every one? Not just christian books.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  17. sue

    I pray for tomorrow (CHICK FIL A DAY) WILL HAVE CARS LINED UP FOR MILES.

    GOD BLESS

    July 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Duce

      Pray for your intellect instead...

      July 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • mccgeno

      i knew there had to be a good reason why I hate In & Out Burger, besides their crappy fries. Now I know a few other companies, owned by lunatics, that should be boycotted.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Jacky

      Pray to learn the true meaning of Christianity, to be a better person yourself, instead of judging others. These arent Christians, they are haters doing the work of the devil.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • TCM

      I'm praying that this will happen. I'm in Afghanistan presently and my wife is in Albany, GA and I know she'll fill me in on how busy it is because she's going to Chick-Fil-A tonight.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:14 am |
  18. esteban

    Its Incredible, the stupidity of leftest media. Hey, how about we close all of these awful companies that treat people good by what is it? yup!!!..employing people! lets close them down and and screw up the economy even more... lets punish these good companies (people) because their founders loved God. oh wait, I forgot you are trying to push God out.. keep it up and you will see where he takes our country but for those who believe. ...there shall not be any need or want at the table of the righteous. (psalm)..Its said that it is now bad to be of faith... "there will come a time when those who kill you, will think they do the work of God".. Jesus.. I am not afraid of the Future ..I am not afraid that there are those who hate me for your names sake Lord. Hey CNN do you respect the Love I have for people and my Lord?

    July 31, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • esteban

      Coming soon on , a list of Christians to persecute!!

      July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Jacky

      You confuse Christ like behavior with judgmental hate. Pull your heads out of your arrsses. You pollute, corrupt, and give Christianity a bad name. Let chikfila and their disgusting red neck menu go under.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Hoops

      Jacky, its not a personal judgement to agree with Scripture. Most of the arguments with Mr. Cathy and his business are actually with God's word and not with the man. But then there are those who see something different in the Bible besides what's really there. In the end, it's not about hate, it's about being in a respectful and obedient relationship to the God of the universe. People hate God and it trickles down from there.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  19. Willie

    Thanks CNN. now I know where not to spend my money.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • gotta love the anti-religious types

      LOL that is a pathetic mindset. I love atheists/agnostics/whatever they wanna call themselves because they will trash all the great things religion does for our communities and lives in an attempt to be "right" about the nonexistence of a supreme being. Unsuprisingly, vocal opposers of religion I have met are some of the nastiest, insecure, and least charitable people around.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • ricky

      Trust me, In-N-Out will do just fine without you

      July 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Dragon Slayer Lights Your Fire

      @gotta love the anti-religious types

      That's sunny because I feel the same way about religious freaks: nastiest, insecure, and least charitable people around if you don't follow their faith. Let's add: very judgmental, intolerant, and the biggest hypocrites!

      July 31, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Dragon Slayer Lights Your Fire

      should have been funny but you get the picture....

      July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • mccgeno

      You're not the only one.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Taleah

      It is as fair to say every Christian is alike and shares the same views as it is to say every non Christian is alike, quit judging by a few bad apples.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  20. Reality99

    Thanks for the free advertising. That helps the 97% of us who are normal recognize the companies that deserve support. These are all successful companies that are prospering by doing what is right.... not following the latest PC perversion.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • gotta love the anti-religious types

      don't you mean the 99%?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • mccgeno

      97%? You're truly insane. Thank "god" there aren't enough of you delusional sheep to put Mitt Romney in the White House.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Steve Kittel

      See I agree with him. Capitalism works best when those that work everyday are doing ANYTHING that's benevolent and good for society, for our country. People need to put the ideologies in the drawer and shut it. Since we will always be a capitalist country maybe we should embrace the system that has made us #1 for so long. Work and freedom need to make a comeback.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:40 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.