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. Brian

    Stupid article. It seems like CNN is trying to make christian companie a bad thing. Who cares. Yeh what Chik Fil-A did was wrong and you should respect everyone equally, however, CNN and this article is a bigger joke.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Slicc

      What happened to Freedom of Speech in this country? Chick Fil A did nothing wrong. They have the right to believe what ever they want. They have never refused service or turned people away at the door because of personal beliefs. Being an Atheist I've been able to purchase sandwiches there at lunch any day I please (except Sunday). Even being closed on Sunday who cares, most places close early on Sunday anyway. Not once was I ever told to leave because I don't believe in magic, magical creatures/beings, or resurrection.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  2. CCD

    Posting this list is unbelievably intolerant and hateful of CNN

    August 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Slicc

      How is it intolerant and hateful to post this list? How intolerant and hateful is it to protest Chick Fil A over their beliefs even if they aren't your own? I'm atheist and could care less about any of these companies beliefs as long as they understand that everyone has the right to have their own opinion and beliefs.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Harry Cooper

      At a time when people are actively considering how the companies they buy from align with religious beliefs this news is neither intolerant nor hateful. Religion is part of the fiber of America and whether you like it or not we are a country of both religion and religious freedom. Americans of all beliefs should consider the role of religion in our society from time to time and the most powerfully important aspect of our nation is that however you believe, you have a right to be here and believe as you choose.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  3. me

    Look at all the scared, hate-filled Christian wanna be's... Jesus was a liberal and loves all... it's only the simple-minded humans who live in fear, hate and ignorance... you Christian sinners wouldn't know what to do with yourselves if you didn't have something, or someone, to hate... you are pathetic... it was your family before you who wanted to see blacks remain slaves an invoked their perverted views of the bible to justify their hate... and now you, their offspring, are here to repeat their stupid mistakes... ignorant losers are those who hate and mock someone different... Live and let live...

    August 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Provingyouwrong

      Try reading the quotes. He never said he hated anyone. Nothing he said was wrong or damning. Also – it's quite ignorant, incredibly ignorant, to think that Christians were the only ones with slaves. Basically, everything you said was stupid.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Ken

      Jesus a liberal? LOL Nice try pushing the gay agenda on Christ. We'll see how liberal He is on Judgement day.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • me2

      Democrats pushed for the continued section of slavery and it was the christian republican, Lincoln who set them free and it was the democrats who opposed the 14th amendment but it was a republican that forced it to be passed.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Price

      I'm afarid your statements are not accurate: It was, after all, William Wilberforce who sacrificed his health and fortune to make slavery illegal in England, and he was a very devout Christian. Not ALL Christians are intolerant, though, alas, some are; and I must say, the tone of your message leaves you open to the same charge, which is most unfortunate, since hate-filled remarks such as these are hardly likely to persuade people of your own insights, which may be valuable.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • me

      Yes, Jesus a Liberal... and Ken you are a frightened human being... let it go... I'm not pushing anything on anyone... Christ loves everyone... man was made in God's image so deal with it... and me2 you and I both know it was the conservatives who wanted slavery... Abe Lincoln would be sickened by what has happened to his party... he was a man who stood on principle and believed in good for the common man... way different than the party you are tied to... Price... I agree with you in that there are many good Christians... unfortunately, there are many who are very ignorant and use Christ/God as a convenient excuse to denounce what they don't accept...

      August 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • me

      Oh... forgot you Proving... I wasn't referring to what he said... on the surface, it's fine to have a point of view... whether I agree with it or not... but when you are A) in a position of influence and B) spending money to fight the opposing view... and it's to stop two people who love each other from wedding in the eyes of their Lord, then it is hate... if your ignorance allows you to think my comments are stupid... so be it... and one last point about slavery... whether it was Democrats or Republicans who supported, or fought against slavery... many justified slavery because of their perverted interpretation of the bible... most people can't tell a simple story from one person to the next... but so many foolish Christians think they know exactly what the bible is saying w/o any doubt... forget the fact that it's been translated and passed for 1000s of years... yup you must be right that God is against two people loving each other... He must have made a mistake with those folks huh? Ignorance is bliss too, huh!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  4. rATL

    Well if heaven is filled with the likes of some of y'all I'd rather not go. But I would guess most of those who think they'll be seeing St. Peter at the Pearly Gates will be sorely disappointed especially if they actually live the same way they post. Many of you have missed the point of christian living.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Ancient Texan

    If people of faith are tired of be verbally assaulted and hammered 24/7 by the Liberal/Progressive Left and their minions; LGBT, go to polls November 6 and VOTE !

    August 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • helpful hint

      These companies put bible verses on their packaging and YOU feel verbally assaulted?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Sam

      Meanwhile your religious leaders are saying gays should be put to death. Get out.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Price

      Helpful hint: A famous herbal tea company puts inspirational thoughts on their cartons, so it is hardly a unique practice by Chick Fillet. Sam, the number of Christian leaders who believe gays should be put to death are a tiny, tiny minority who are generally avoided by the rest of us. C.S. Lewis' closest friend was gay; so was Rev. Gomes of Harvard, and Rev. Henri Nouwen (all were celebate). Both sides should be less hysterical and double-check facts before joining such a discussion.

      August 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  6. Patricia

    Faithy? CNN you are disgusting.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  7. Ken

    Why don't you list all the gay friendly businesses so I can boycott them, CCN hypocrites?

    August 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • MasterWooten

      In case you haven't noticed, CNN is to liberals what Fox is to conservatives. LZ Granderson is their excuse for Sean Hannity, and Piers Morgan is their Bill O'Reilly!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  8. TXZag

    Walmart can claim to practice servant leadership, but that doesn't make it so. Servant leaders by definition work to create environments that facilitate the personal success of all of its employees, not just managers and other important personnel. Servant leadership does not abuse or exploit employees, nor does it discriminate against different classes of employees. For many Walmart employees, the wages aren't enough to escape poverty or the need for a second income. Hardly the outcome you'd expect from a servant leadership-run organization.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • midwest3

      You are right on the money! And did you ever notice the small fans at the checkout counters in Walmart? The temperature is controlled from a central location. Heaven forbid that their staff should work in any degree of comfort!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  9. ron

    Walmart? Really? The home of underpaid under employed women. Walmart, among whose many products, are items produced in sweatshops across the world, (many of them MUSLIM countries). I personally know several people that have worked at Walmart. And the stories I've been told!...
    Oh yeah, they're just FILLED with fine Christian principles.
    Frankly, I feel religious belief is a very personal thing, and shouldn't be a company wide policy!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  10. Tonya

    Not all Christians feel the same. I don't. http://www.perrynoble.com/2012/08/01/ben-jerrys-chic-fil-a-political-correctness/

    August 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Tonya

      Also thank you Mike Huckabee for deleteing numerous comments on the FB CFA page to make it look like all Christians agreed with you.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  11. lavern

    I'll never understand the logic. Believe what you want; don't prevent others (or actively pursue ways to prevent others) from believing what they want. It's so simple. If everyone did that, just think of how much nicer everything would be.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  12. w w

    So, now, publish a list of Gay friendly businesses. When I was looking for bed and breakfasts to stay for our honeymoon, I really appreciated websites showing a pink triangle or rainbow – so I Wouldn't patronize them.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • bobs your uncle

      Wow. So youre going to avoid a business just because they take everyones money? Crawl back under that rock.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Asiandude

      w w, gladly! Here are some:
      Microsoft, Google, Apple, JC Penney, Starbucks, Hiltons, GAP Inc. (which includes GAP, BANANA REPUBLIC, OLD NAVY), Target, Amazon.com, MACY's, General Mills, Oreos ( I am sure this covers most Nabisco products), and some more others. Don't support these companies! The list goes on and on by the way.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • waffles43

      Whatever floats your boat, I guess

      August 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  13. Lightsinger

    I have no problem with companies run according to religious beliefs as long as they don't discriminate against anyone and don't contribute millions of dollars to causes specifically desigened to deny rights to any group of people. So rock on, Hobby Lobby, I can wait until Monday to pick up my craft items. Just don't deny my friends and family their rights.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  14. ted

    apparently Hell is for Liberals.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Tom

      Nope, Hell is for people who think Hell is for Liberals. Enjoy!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • MasterWooten

      If they want it to be so, it will be.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  15. Derek H.

    It's not the fact that Chick-fil-a is a Christian business that people are outraged about, it's the fact that they as a company (the CEO speaks for the company) they took a political stand against gay marriage. Gay marriage is a simple civil rights issue that echoes the plight of civil rights advocates of the 1960's. Until the LGBT community gets the same rights as straight couples already have then people will continue to be outraged but this blatant bigotry.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Grammar Conscious

      They also give a load of money to organizations that fight to deny rights to LGBT community. If you eat at Chick-fil-a, you are giving some of your money to these organizations.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • yoyo

      It wasn't a stance Derek – it was an opinion

      August 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Provingyouwrong

      Why don't idiots like you read the quotes and follow the stories? He never took a stance, period, especially a POLITICAL one. He was talking to a local, Baptist newspaper you idiot.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Media is a Joke

    This is news? This is jounalism? What a joke! CNN and all of the major networks are worse then congress. You all make me sick. Faithy? Unreal, Dan Gilgroff hold on to your job because you would never make it in the real world.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    What about Domino's Pizza? I had always read that the owner was anti-choice for women ending pregnancies.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • MasterWooten

      If that's so, Dminos is delivering at my house tonight!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  18. Hindu

    LGBT groups have turned 'bigotry' into a convenient and cheap word that is easily thrown at anyone who would disagree with their views. It gives you a glimpse into the ugly future when they come to control the govt, judiciary and education. Very scary! There is no room for dissent - very totalitarian approach that is increasingly becoming exposed.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  19. RtUp

    Faithy? That would be Religious. Thanks for the list; Chickifil-A for lunch and Walmart for groceries.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • MasterWooten

      Amen brother!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  20. Grumpster

    American Home Sheild...faith based...yeah...faith that they'll turn down your claim for just about any reason you could come up with to screw over the policy holder. What would Jeebus think about that?

    August 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • RtUp

      Ask Him when you see Him and you will see Jesus.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:21 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.