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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. YMM

    So Forever 21 is why I see young girls at my church dressed as if they are going to a nite club with stilletos and all.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Rae

      RIght ....hypocrisy at it's finest!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  2. FearNoGods

    No Man no woman, no overnment, no company, NO ONE "PERIOD" has the right to judge anyone for their beliefs....NO ONE ! !

    August 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    Nobody should give a rat's a$$ about any of these companies and their mythological allegiances, so long as they actually provide something worth wanting. I haven't seen anything offered by any of these outfits that's worth spending my money on, for sure. I can buy cheap and poor quality Chinese crap when I'm in China, I don't need to shop at Wal-Mart. Chick Fil-A?? Why on EARTH would anybody want to eat their food? Yeecccchhh. Those others? Well, let's see, Tyson makes its money on the inhumane practices of the poultry industry. I wouldn't buy from THEM even if they were intelligent and secular!!!! Because they're immoral.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Rae

      I thought the same thing about Tyson. Amazing these corporations infer they are morally astout by religious implication when the utlimate goal of any corparation --and as stated Tyson and Walmart have proven track records-is to gain profit at the expense of the financial stability of our communities, our environment and our health. Let's not also forget Walmart's practice of putting small business in America "out of business".

      August 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  4. Daniel

    The sooner the Human race gets over it's dangerous, insidious, insane, psychotic obsession with Religion and fairy tales, the better for ALL of us and the planet. Religion is the singular most horrible thing Human beings ever created. It is responsible for the vast majority of hate, wars, killings, etc. in the history of this planet. ATHEISM is the fastest growing non-religion on this planet and for VERY good reason. (the entire Universe created by one man in 6 days eh Bible Thumpers?? Yeah. RIGHT.)

    August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • NotSo

      BULL!!! Are you forgetting about Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Moa, or Pol Pot of Cambodia? Those dictators tried to wipe out religion in their countries and killed millions of innocent people... so don't give me that crap about religion killing more than anyone else... Christian Evangelicals and Protestants do more to feed the poor, hungry and sick in this world than any other groups...

      August 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  5. ce1233

    Hmmm – Walmart;. that's really interesting. If they are so Christian why do they
    have lawsuits against them for not treating their female employees as well as they
    do their male employees? Just wondering . . .

    August 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • FearNoGods

      Typical religious teachings– .....Say thing but meant that.....etc etc...

      August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Gerald

      They actually have male employees other than the ones that bring in the carts from outside?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  6. Rick in Zeeland

    Herman Miller has scored 100% on the HRC CEI for 5 years. This includes having an LGBT employee resource group, providing partner benefits, having a fully inclusive non discrimination policy and more. (check the web site).

    August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  7. dscon

    You know what is funny CNN...........
    The majority of CA voted against gay marriage in the prop8 vote.
    Do us a favor and boycott this POS state too!
    You and your lib friends are sooooo tolerant and diverse.
    rotflma

    August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  8. RobinMO

    The 2 companies I am familiar with, Tyson and Walmart, are notorious for exploiting their workers. IF this is corporate Christianity, then give me corporate atheism every time.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. allens47

    Thank you for the list. I now have the top ten companies that will get my business when I'm looking for products or services they offer. May GOD Bless each one of them. Again, thank you!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • peckbag

      You really think god gives a crap about where you buy a car battery?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • rjp34652

      God cares where any child of faith buys the things he needs or wants. It is said that He even directs their path. Even more, it is said that He counsels those who seek His advice.

      Those who don't know God walk alone in their own private darkness.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      August 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Charlotte

      LOL!! How funny!!! This gives me and most people a list of companies to NOT patronize. Of course nobody with a brain goes to Wal-Mart anyway, and isn't it funny that these so-called "religious" companies seem to include the oh-co-Christian practices of animal torture and sweat-shop promotion in their whoring after the almighty dollar. Nice morals, people. No wonder your goods aren't worth buying.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • sybaris

      rjp, "Those who don't know God walk alone in their own private darkness."

      Those that claim to know a god walk alone in their own private delusion

      But that's just me, hollering from reason and logic

      August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • FearNoGods

      Your such an A$$.....

      August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • FearNoGods

      @rjp34652 Open your Fuggen eyes, God is lazy,racist, a woman hater. and could care less about you, and gets a good laugh from his reality show, when people like you open their mouths.....

      August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  10. SHAIARRA a

    WOULD YOU FEEL YOUR FOOD/ PRODUCTS/SERVICES
    ARE SAFE IF IT/THEY ARE SERVED TO YOU BY THOSE THAT HAVE HATE AND/OR "RELIGIOUS OBJECTION" TO YOUR EXISTENCE!!!!!!, HATE KNOWS NO BOUNDS, AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE AND DAILYMOTION ARE HISTORICAL VIDEO THAT SHOWS THAT THE TRAGEDY IN COLORADO etc WAS A COMMON OCCURRENCE IN THE JIM/JANE CROW SOUTH, CIVIL RIGHT MOVEMENT ERA, GERMANY, POLAND, DAR FUR, THE ORIENT, AND MANY OTHER PLACES DUE TO EXTREMISM, SAME CLOAKED, OF "RELIGIOUS OBJECTION" CAN BE USED AGAINST AA, JEWS, WO-MEN'S EQUALITY, NATIVE AMERICANS, JUST LOOK AT THE INHUMANE "RELIGIOUS OBJECTOR" BILL IN MICHIGAN, BEING SMOKE SCREENED AS ANTI-GAY BULLYING BILL FYI KKKetc ARE RELIGIOUS ALSO

    August 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Dean

      Not quite sure who you are complaining about????????

      August 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  11. Stu

    Boycott all of them, libs. In fact, stop eating alltogether. Make us a better country.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Another rational fundie heard from. Next.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Nice to see we have input from the flat earth society, I was beginning to think none of you would chime in.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  12. M.E.

    I'm surprised the fundies didn't already hate the Henson Co. After all, they advocate inter-species marriage.

    I think companies can be for or against whatever they like, in fact I find it handy for me to weed out companies I don't want to give my money to. I shop at H+M instead of F21 for a reason.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  13. rjp34652

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
    Psalm 14:1

    Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O Lord, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.
    Psalm 74:18

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Prov 1:7

    The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
    Proverbs 12:15

    A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
    Proverbs 18:7

    No fool shall see the Kingdom of God.
    and that's me, hollering from the choir loft...

    August 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • sybaris

      Gasp!

      Bible verses!

      The ultimate conversion tool!

      not

      August 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • rjp34652

      sybaris-

      Those 'verses' usually do a fly over when scoffers are involved. The words are not shared for the purpose of illuminating the minds of fools nor for conversion. The heart of a fool is dark and blind and cannot percieve light at all. The verses are not for fools.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft..

      August 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Choir loft being apparently a euphemism for looney-bin. S'ok, Sweetie, you have plenty of rightwad company.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Obamabus

      Choosing between the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil – Jerry Garcia

      August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Dallas

      He who farts in church sits in pew! ~unknown

      August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  14. SurelyUjest

    Frankly I like to know if some businesses financially or otherwise support biggoted ideology. Im not a Christian and I do not think that any religion has cornered the market on "morality" or "goodness" or "family values". When a corporation wants to use its size to manipulate our freedoms buy investing in candidates and lobbys that actually infringe freedoms for my fellow Americans I want to boycott them and tell all the people I know to do the same. I do not shop at Walmart ever because I disagree with the way they treat their employee's and now I can add that they support an anti-gay agenda.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Raised By Wolves

      Glad to see someone here gets it.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. Morayo

    Is this suppose to be a shame list? Should the companies on this list now quiver in fear? Wow. This is sad. The world is growing even more intolerant in it's attempt to be "tolerant". Some of these comments here prove how INTOLERANT some of you "tolerant" people are.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • sybaris

      Sorry, we're just intolerant of willful ignorance.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Morayo

    Is this suppose to be a shame list? Should the companies on this list not quiver in fear? Wow. This is sad. The world is growing even more intolerant in it's attempt to be "tolerant". Some of these comments here prove how INTOLERANT some of you "tolerant" people are.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  17. Carl

    Wal-mart? Christian principles? I bet Sam would roll over in his grave if he could see them now!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  18. SHAIARRA a

    WHEN PUBLIC CORPORATIONS GET INVOLVE
    AS A "RELIGIOUS OBJECTOR" aka (JANE/JIM CROW) DISCRIMINATION, MY CONCERNS ARE, IF A CEO/CFO etc EXPRESS SUCH HATE, WILL THE SERVICES/ FOOD BE SAFE TO EAT, example, IF THE KKK OWNED / BOUGHT A SUPERMARKET/ RESTAURANT/ FOOD PROCESSING CENTER, WOULD NATIVE AMERICANS/ JEWS/ BLACKS-AA, HI-SPANISH/ ORIENTALS FEEL AND TRUST THAT THE FOOD WOULD BE SAFE FOR THEM AND THEIR KIDS???, IF A RADICAL BLACK/ SPANISH etc GROUP SOLD FOOD IN A NEIGHBORHOOD COMPOSED OF THOSE THEY TARGET WITH HATE SPEECH/ ATTACKS, WOULD THOSE PEOPLE BUY FROM THEM TO EAT WITH THEIR KIDS???, THINGS HAVE HAPPEN BEFORE

    August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • dmc64

      Chck-fil-A is NOT a publicly traded corporation. Try to remember that fact always trumps "motivated" reasoning.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bubba

      you're really kidding, aren't you? By the way, take the cap key lock off. Nobody is listening, even if you think you're shouting

      August 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Um – although I know there is a lot of social upheaval there right now, since when did Spaniards become radical and hateful for opening businesses in the U.S.?? I don't think people from Spain are a big demographic here.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • wttfff

      Um, yeah, because as soon as kids, or anyone, die from eating at a particular place (aka...there would be an investigation) do you think that the place wouldn't be shut down? Do you think CEO/CFOs etc would drive a business out of business because they might harbor an ill feeling toward a particular group?

      You're rant is rather incomprehensible, you're all over the map, but if you really believe that corporations, or any business would have an individual at the 'C' level who was promoting anything out of hate, you are completely ignorant, don't know a thing about the corporate world, and absolutely nothing about law, free markets, or economics.

      And it isnt lost on anyone that your name is a deliberate misspell of #sharia#, which isuspect is your religion, and is itself the one with a collective murderous conscience.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  19. LibertyBell

    So what are you even stating this news? Are you trying to create war on people who agree or disagree? Business people need to promote their own business, regardless of faith. This is not a media stage of trying to push protest who disagree with their beliefs. We need to create jobs, not close companies because you disagree.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Well said.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  20. Howard

    Blind faith is the last refuge of the ignorant.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Faith in God is not blind – as long as a man can see God's hand upon the days and times of his own life.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      August 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • joshmertz

      No one saw macro-evolution or the big bang...just saying...

      August 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • sybaris

      rjp34652, which god?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Sybaris-

      Which god?

      If you cannot see, why ask?

      Look hard until you think you see.....then go ask someone who does.

      that's me again, hollering from the choir loft...

      August 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • sybaris

      rjp34652

      Ah yes, the semi-clever responses of fundmentlism that rely on circular reasoning.

      Which god?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:06 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.